James Bond investigates the ruthless media mogul, Elliot Carver,
who is attempting to provoke an armed conflict between the
United Kingdom and China so that his media empire can obtain
exclusive rights to the coverage. 007's investigation is hampered
and then helped by a resourceful female Chinese counterpart,
the noticeably cautious approach taken by GoldenEye,
Tomorrow Never Dies blasts on to the screen, oozing
confidence from every pore, exactly as a Bond film should.
From the powerful pre-credits sequence, via the exciting car-park
chase with Bond's remote-controlled BMW, to the handcuffed
motorcycle ride through Saigon, the pace of this movie rarely
the success of the action sequences can be credited to director
Roger Spottiswoode and second-unit director Vic Armstrong,
thanks must also go to writer Bruce Feirstein for a script
that is richly laden with wit and cheeky innuendo. 007 delivers
a degree of double entendres unheard of since Roger Moore's
tenure, but Brosnan manages to carry them all off with aplomb.
Even Samantha Bond's Moneypenny and Judi Dench's M join in
with their respective classic lines: "You always were a cunning
linguist, James," and "Pump her for information!" At the time,
a friend of mine likened GoldenEye to a Connery film,
with Tomorrow Never Dies being more akin to a Moore
movie, and he had a point.
Feirstein's script regurgitates several elements from previous
Bond classics, sometimes to the point of resembling a greatest
hits compilation. These elements include the underwater theft
of nuclear missiles (Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved
Me) and the exploration of the sunken wreck (For Your
Eyes Only), even to the point of Bond and his love interest
(Michelle Yeoh) getting captured by the baddies immediately
afterwards. And, of course, the notion of a third party attempting
to provoke a third world war has been done several times before.
Bond appears unable to use a keyboard with Chinese characters,
which would seem to contradict You Only Live Twice,
in which Bond states that he gained a first-class degree in
oriental languages at Cambridge. Perhaps he was just boasting
to Moneypenny at the time, or maybe the course was oral rather
than written - after all, he is a cunning linguist!
Pryce has met with criticism for his allegedly dull portrayal
of the villain, Elliot Carver, an amalgam of Ted Turner, Rupert
Murdoch, Robert Maxwell and Bill Gates. However, I rather
like Pryce's understated eccentricity, his slightly quavering
voice betraying his insanity. Carver's media-baron status
provides a topical brand of Bond villainy, akin to the silicon-chip
industrialist Zorin in A View to a Kill or the drug
lord Sanchez in Licence to Kill. Clever inter-cutting
of one of Carver's speeches emphasises his own variation on
the Bond baddie's standard desire for world domination - in
this case, domination of the world's media.
female lead Yeoh more than holds her own alongside Brosnan
(who beefed up and got a haircut after GoldenEye).
As an Asian action-movie star in her own right, her experience
with martial arts and stunt work greatly benefits this movie.
the action every step of the way is David Arnold's dynamic
soundtrack. Traditional and modern in all the right places,
the impact of the musician's work cannot be understated. It
delivers all the essential requirements of the "Bond sound",
paying homage to the classic soundtracks of John Barry while
also adding contemporary techno-pop elements, with which Arnold
is also intimately familiar. The score culminates in the powerful
end-title song performed by k.d. lang, which unites various
themes that are developed throughout the film, demonstrating
a valuable lesson that an effective and integrated title song
really does need to be written by the movie's main composer.
Fortunately, this was a lesson that the production team learned
in time for The World Is Not Enough.
The main title song, performed by Sheryl Crow, is weaker by
comparison, but works well in context when set against another
excellent Daniel Kleinman title sequence. (Pulp also wrote
a theme song for the movie, which was ultimately rejected
by the producers, but later appeared on the B-side to the
single "Help the Aged" as "Tomorrow Never Lies".)
DVD extras range from an extremely useful isolated music track
to a rather pointless gadgets guide - which offers scant few
details on three devices, but nothing that cannot be gleaned
from the movie. Storyboard presentations of nine sequences
are rather let down by the fact that, laid out as they are
on top of the movie action, the drawings are difficult to
decipher. As with the other Brosnan DVDs, there is plenty
of production information, including two feature-length commentaries,
but scarcely any analysis of the movie's pre-production development,
including its infamous last-minute script revisions (which,
by the way, are not evident in the bold and strident finished
product). Additional, never-before-released material (which
was not available for review) includes deleted, extended and
multi-angle scenes introduced by Roger Spottiswoode; the hour-long
1997 TV special Highly Classified: The World of 007,
hosted by Desmond Llewelyn (Q); and Moby's remix of "The James
two-disc set, like the movie itself, truly gives us Bond for
the information age.