James Bond is assigned to protect Elektra King, the daughter
of a murdered oil tycoon. She could be the next target of
her one-time kidnapper, Renard, a ruthless terrorist who is
unable to feel pain because of a bullet lodged in his brain...
firmly established Bond as an action hero for the '90s in
Tomorrow Never Dies, the creative team strive to give
us even more for the new millennium in The World Is Not
Enough. The action is still up-front (the opening boat
chase on the River Thames ranks among the finest examples
ever) as is the sly innuendo (from Samantha Bond's Moneypenny
telling Bond "I know exactly where to put that" to Brosnan's
inevitable but no less hilarious "I thought Christmas only
comes once a year").
Brosnan and director Michael Apted ensure that their film
also offers depth, human interest plus a few surprises, the
likes of which we haven't seen since the Dalton movies. A
friend of mine once likened GoldenEye to a Connery
film and Tomorrow Never Dies to a Moore movie, while
this is decidedly like one of Dalton's. Brosnan displays a
distinctly mean streak, from his opening confrontation with
Swiss banker Lachaise (Patrick Malahide) to his shocking showdown
with Elektra (Sophie Marceau) and also develops Bond's humanity.
Not only is 007 vulnerable to injury, a factor that proves
pivotal to the plot, but he is also susceptible to Elektra's
charms. Unlike many of his previous, more casual conquests,
Bond is unable to shrug off her betrayal.
surprises provided by scriptwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
and Bruce Feirstein include the very nature of Elektra (or
rather, this would have been surprising, had the film's
pre-publicity not spilled the beans). Thanks to a splendid
two-faced performance by Marceau, Elektra defies Bond-movie
convention by being both a Bond girl and a villain on equal
par with Robert
Carlyle's sadistic yet almost sympathetic Renard.
The heavy involvement of M (the dependable Judi Dench) is
also extremely welcome, and the danger in which she is placed
quite unexpected, though it does owe a debt to Kingsley Amis'
Bond novel Colonel Sun. The writers may also have found
inspiration for Elektra as villain/love interest in John Gardner's
For Special Services. Nor is the work of Ian Fleming
overlooked. Aside from the title (which is the Bond family
motto first mentioned in On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
the torture chair used on 007 is very Fleming, being a more
brutal and less fantastical instrument than the usual Bond-movie
devices, such as Goldfinger's laser or Drax's centrifuge in
the subject of the title, The World Is Not Enough is
about as relevant to the plot as A View to a Kill's
title was back in 1985, being justified only by a single name
check in the dialogue.
while I'm splitting hairs, if Renard has no sense of touch,
how come he is able to climb without constantly having to
check the positions of his hands and feet? It would be like
trying to climb a ladder with numb limbs.
is also note-worthy for marking the touching swansong of Desmond
Llewelyn as Q. It is eerily uncanny that the actor died in
a road accident so soon after completing this movie, which
introduces his successor (John Cleese, who provides an amusing
couple of scenes). Disc 2 includes a tribute to Llewelyn,
with a medley of the gadget-master's greatest moments.
also great to see the return of Robbie Coltrane as GoldenEye's
Valentin Zukovsky, in a significantly larger role this time
- larger in terms of screen time, I mean! And Denise Richards
provides glamour, conviction and witty repartee as Bond's
ultimate love interest, Dr Christmas Jones, who is also involved
in the thick of the action. Great lines include Jones's, "The
world's greatest terrorist running around with six kilos of
weapons-grade plutonium can't be good. I gotta get it back
or someone's gonna have my ass," to which Bond replies, "First
things first," and, "You wanna put that in English for those
of us who don't speak spy?"
David Arnold develops the deliberately traditional style of
his action music in Tomorrow Never Dies, adding punchy
layers of synthesised dance rhythms, a similar but more intricate
approach to that taken by John Barry in The Living Daylights.
The title song, performed by Garbage, is one of the better
examples in recent years.
original single-disc release of this film was already packed
with special features, including two audio commentaries; three
documentaries; two trailers; the Garbage music video; and
The Secrets of 007, which deconstructs nine stunt or
effects-based sequences, revealing storyboard excerpts, various
views of the filming, and individual elements that went into
creating the finished product. However, those awfully nice
Sony people (as Cleese used to call them) have decided that
these features are not enough, and have added the 25-minute
"making of" TV programme, James Bond Down River, covering
the filming of the Thames chase; Creating an Icon,
which details the making of the teaser trailer; and the Hong
Kong press conference for the movie. In addition, there are
eight deleted, expanded, alternate and/or multi-angle scenes,
all introduced by Michael Apted, some of them with optional
commentaries. These include material that was cut when the
Thames chase was moved from after the opening titles to become
part of the pre-titles sequence.
gadget worthy of Q himself, a weekend will not be enough to
fully explore the joys contained within this double-disc pack.