James Bond
The World Is Not Enough
Ultimate Edition 2-Disc DVD Set

Starring: Pierce Brosnan
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RRP: 16.99
Certificate: 12
Available 17 July 2006

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...

Having 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").

However, 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.

The 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 Moonraker.

On 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.

And 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.

TWINE 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.

It's 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?"

Composer 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.

The 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.

A gadget worthy of Q himself, a weekend will not be enough to fully explore the joys contained within this double-disc pack.

Richard McGinlay

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