James Bond investigates media mogul Elliot Carver. Carver's
media empire appears to be involved in the manipulation of
international events, intent on provoking an armed conflict
between the United Kingdom and China...
the noticeably timid approach taken by GoldenEye, Tomorrow
Never Dies blasts on to the screen, oozing confidence
from every pore, just as a Bond film should. From the powerful
pre-credits sequence, via the exciting car-park chase with
Bond's remote-control BMW, to the handcuffed motorcycle ride
through Saigon, the pace of this movie rarely lets up.
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. Bond delivers
a degree of one-liners unheard of since Roger Moore's tenure,
but Brosnan manages to carry them all off with great panache.
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!" A friend
of mine recently likened GoldenEye to a Connery film,
with Tomorrow Never Dies being more akin to a Moore
movie, and he has 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 from Thunderball and the exploration
of the sunken wreck from For Your Eyes Only, even to
the point of Bond and his love interest getting captured by
the baddies immediately afterwards. And, of course, the notion
of a third party attempting to provoke a war has been done
several times before, but never mind.
Pryce has met criticism for his allegedly dull portrayal of
the villain, Elliot Carver, but I rather like his understated
eccentricity, his slightly quavering voice betraying his insanity.
Carver's media-mogul 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 villain's standard
desire for world domination - in this case, domination of
the world media.
female lead Michelle Yeoh, who is currently enjoying fame
in the western world once again with Crouching Tiger, Hidden
Dragon, more than holds her own alongside Brosnan. As
an Asian action-movie star in her own right, Yeoh's 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 familiar. The score culminates in the powerful end-title
song performed by k.d. lang, which unites various themes that
have been developed throughout the film, demonstrating a valuable
lesson that an effective title song really does need to be
written by the movie's main composer. Fortunately, this was
a lesson that the production 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.
The DVD's extra features range from an extremely useful isolated
music track to a rather pointless gadgets guide - which offers
a 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
the most part, though, this DVD - like the movie itself -
gives us Bond for the information age.