MGM's Description: From the banks of the Nervion River in Bilbao, Spain, to a spectacular high-speed boat chase up Londons River Thames and through the highlands of Scotland, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan, in his third appearance in the role of the worlds best-known secret agent) barely survives a potential nuclear explosion in a vast oil pipeline in Turkey all in the name of protecting beautiful oil heiress Elektra King (Sophie Marceau) from notorious international terrorist Renard (Robert Carlyle).
There is only one word I can think of to describe The World Is Not Enough: brilliant. Although the box-office responded positively to Brosnan's previous two outings, the producers heard the underlying cries of the fans: bring Bond back to his roots. Bond movies were meant to develop the characters and make the audience interested in them. Recently they have been more about the pyrotechnics and action than the people involved. This movie marks a return to a more classic Bond where you know the people involved. The relationship between 007 and Elektra is slightly reminiscent of On Her Majesty's Secret Service at first. When they meet, Elektra is cold towards Bond and wants nothing to do with him. However, by the time they are skiing together I couldn't help but be reminded of the ski scene with Lazenby and Rigg.
As the movie progresses and we learn that Elektra is in fact the villain, their relationship gets even better. Bond realizes that he is taken in and you can see that he is hurt by it. He realizes that he is indeed human. This brings me to the next point that helped make the movie so good: the fact that Bond actually gets injured. At the end of the pre-title sequence Bond falls onto the top of the Millennium Dome and dislocates his collarbone. After the title sequence he is seen WEARING A SLINGT. This is unheard of in a Bond film and really works. Although he quickly sheds the cast and gets a clean bill of health from his beautiful doctor, he still suffers from pain and Renard uses it against him.
Renard, while he starts out as a very promising villain, winds up being nothing more than a passing memory after the film ends. Elektra is the true villain and pretty much steals the show after that is revealed. Renard turns out to be merely a tool that Elektra uses to get her way.
Perhaps the worst part of the film was Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones. While she may be stunning to look at, her acting is comparable to a cardboard box. Every time she said a line the entire audience began to laugh; needless to say, they were not laughing at what she had to say, rather, how she said it. It was a poor casting call by the producers that reminded me of Tanya Roberts in A View To A Kill.
An excellent call by the producers was the superb usage of M. She went from being a minor role in the past two movies to being a central figure. She also opened up a lot with true emotion. Good examples of this are when she is at Sir Robert King's funeral, when she tells Elektra that "Bond is the best we have, although I'd never tell him that", and when she sees Bond kill Elektra at the end. During all of these scenes you can really see why Judi Dench is one of the most respected actresses of her venue. Also, on a small M related note, another nice touch is Bernard Lee's portrait hanging in the MI6 Headquarters in Scotland.
The end of the movie also contained an excellent scene where Elektra was torturing Bond. As opposed to previous movies where Bond is tied up but ready to get out and in no pain, he was grimacing in this scene. And while Bond riled in pain, Elektra taunted him. This reminded me of the torture scene in Ina Fleming's Casino Royale. Perhaps this is why I liked the movie so much; it brought back so many of the details that made Bond great so long ago. I felt like I was watching a real Bond movie for the first time in years.
Living up to the pre-title sequence in Tomorrow Never Dies was a tough task that was accomplished brilliantly. While these scenes usually act as a small prelude for what's to come, this fifteen-minute marathon leaves nothing out. Beginning with Bond escaping from a banker's office in Spain, the sequence returns to MI6 Headquarters in London. It is here that Elektra King's father is killed, and in turn, a large chunk of the building is destroyed. Bond subsequently takes Q's newest boat and chases after the assassin on a breathtaking pursuit along the River Thames. Ending atop the Millennium Dome, this pre-title sequence can easily be ranked the best of the series.
While the title sequence was far superior to that in Tomorrow Never Dies, it was still lacking something. The originals were simple cutouts with nude sillouettes. Now they seem to be high-tech messes with the hint of a girl in there somewhere. Frankly, the dripping oil made me sick. The theme by Garbage was, surprisingly, very good. It went along well with the images on the screen. Still, the producers should look back at why the original sequences were so loved and perhaps re-evaluate their evolution.
Once again third time is the charm. As was the case with Connery and Moore, Brosnan's third outing is by far his best. Leaving out the fact that he had a much better script to work with this time, he just seemed more in place. His aging also helps; he looked a bit too young in GoldenEye. In Tomorrow Never Dies he didn't seem to have the timing just right. However, in The World Is Not Enough I have absolutely no complaints. Brosnan was gritty enough to inspire fear in the villains while being debonair enough to win Christmas Jones. Once again he kills in cold blood and it is all too believable. Even when he is forced to kill Elektra in the end when she is unarmed, it looks right. Let's hope he stays around for longer than just one more movie.
For the past thirty-five years, Desmond Llewelyn's Q has been the only constant in the Bond franchise. However, this time around he has a new partner: R. When he is first talking to Bond he speaks of his retirement. As the scene progresses he introduces R and orders him around a bit. Then, when R is out of the scene one of the most touching moments of the entire series occurs. Bond asks Q "You're not really going to retire...are you?" To this Q replies with a witty retort and ends it with "...and always have an escape plan." These words are being spoken as Q is going down some kind of lift while slow, almost romantic music begins to play in the background. This is the first time ever in the series that they two of them express just how fond they are of each other. Despite close to four decades of bickering, these men have perhaps the closest relationship of any characters in the series. Now that LLewelyn has passed on, this scene gains the tragic irony of being his touching farewell to the series that he helped define. Let's hope they honor his memory with a funeral scene in Bond 20.
David Arnold does it again with his magnificent score. While GoldenEye's techno-filled score was a disgrace to John Barry, this one succeeds. Fusing just the right amount of electronic sounds with the classic theme, the music helps move the scenes along with seamless beauty. The music in the casino scene was oddly reminiscent of early Bond movies while the ski chase screamed of the modern action scores of today. Arnold seems to be starting his own legacy and I have nothing but the utmost confidence in his bringing Bond music into the 21st century.
THINGS THAT BUG ME:
After four viewings there are some things about the movie that don't quite sit right with me.
- In the opening sequence you can clearly see the stunt-man's face in the boat on numerous occasions.
- How did Elektra orchestrate the whole para-ski attack on Bond on about 10 minutes notice. She knew M was sending someone, but she had no idea who it would be or that he would want to come inspect the survey lines.
- Bond "accidentally" sinks the sub at the end, yet Bond holds the rank of Commander in the BRITISH NAVY!
- Most of Denise Richard's lines