I’ll admit up front that I’ve only become a big fan of the James Bond films after I saw GoldenEye. I’ve seen one or two Sean Connery Bond films, one Moore, and all of the Dalton ones. Strangely, it was Dalton’s Bond that truly introduced me to the Bond franchise. But, it was Brosnan’s Bond that got me hooked. Dalton’s Bond was, well, terrible. Brosnan is the better Bond. And to stir some controversy, I think that Brosnan is a better Bond than Connery, I think that Brosnan is the best Bond of all.
So, it is to no surprise that I loved The World is Not Enough. It’s a Don’t Miss film, packed with action, intrigue, and well, everything that we’ve come to expect from a Bond film: “Bond, James Bond”, “Shaken, not stirred”, M, Q, beautiful women with funny names, and heaps of sexual innuendo. Brosnan’s Bond films have revitalized the Bond franchise. With each film getting better, The World is Not Enough is the best of the three Brosnan Bond films.
The storyline is convoluted and in the tradition of Bond storylines, it needs a lot of suspension of disbelief. I must say though, the story was a little more fleshed out than other Bond films, especially the characterizations. More on that later. An oil tycoon is killed and Bond is asked by M (Judi Dench) to protect his daughter, Electra King (Sophie Marceau), because she may well be the next victim. The terrorist that killed Electra’s father is a man named Renard (Robert Carlyle), who lives after having a bullet lodged into his brain by another MI6 agent. The bullet is killing Renard slowly, but with everyday it is lodged in his brain, he becomes stronger - don’t see Bond films for medical class. It seems that Renard has bigger plans than just killing Electra. Somehow, in this entire story a physicist, Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), gets sucked into being Bond’s sidekick. (Yes, I know what you’re saying, “Denise Richards? A physicist?” Yes, it’s true.) So, Bond must save the world from Renard and someone else, which you’ll find out in the film, but it’s not too hard to figure out. There are other little sub-plots in the film and they are, though light in treatment, well written. There is also an introduction of a new character to the franchise, R (John Cleese), which seems to be Q’s (Desmond Llelewyn) replacement.
If you’ve seen the last two Brosnan Bond outings and liked them, you’ll absolutely love The World is Not Enough. There are enough explosions, gunfire, and chases to make your heart glow. The film opens, like all Bond films, with a well-executed action sequence. The one in The World is Not Enough is an extended sequence that starts in an office goes to boats in the Thames and ends in a hot air balloon. Quite a rousing start to the film with the action gets better from there.
Brosnan is cast perfectly as Bond. He has just enough of a sly boyish charm to fill the shoes of Bond. Yet he has a detached front to all of it. This time around, Brosnan has gotten the role down pat, maybe gotten it down just a little too well. At times Brosnan seems to be bored with the role and looks as if he’s just going through the motions. At other times though, Brosnan seems to be going all out with the role - look at the scene with Brosnan and the sunglasses in the casino. He’s mixed in this outing, but he’s still the best Bond in my mind.
Carlyle is cast as the villain in this film, but he is only half the badness of the film. And, well, he’s not the memorable half of the badness. Known mostly, in America at least, for his part in The Full Monty, Carlyle’s part feels padded. His part is wholly forgettable and underwritten. He also doesn’t have enough menace in him to be scary on screen, at least not enough to be a good villain. Carlyle does what he can with his role.
Marceau is the standout performer of the film. She gives such depth to her Bond-girl role that the role can’t even be called so. She is classy in the role, giving it a full and rich performance that will be remembered for a while - and that is saying a lot since, as you may remember, this is a Bond film! Kudos to Marceau for putting such great effort into her character.
And, well, finally there’s Denise Richards. She can’t act worth a lick and I think the only reason she’s in the film is so that she can run around in tight t-shirts, tight shorts, and tight pants - getting the box-office grab from the male audience. Oh, and not to forget, she also gets a scene in a wet white t-shirt. Yes, Richards is the true Bond-girl of The World is Not Enough. She fills the role OK. She really can’t act, but she does seem to be putting in a good effort and it looks like she’s having fun with the role. Her role is fairly thin and her lines are even worse. But, I guess she’s there for eye candy and she works well as so.
The film is directed by Michael Apted, who is better known for his documentaries (7 Up series) and non-action films (Nell). Apted does just fine as the director of this film. Putting together some finely crafted action sequences that get the adrenaline pumping. I loved the opening sequence, the skiing sequence, and the caviar sequence. They are all well done. Apted is a notch better at action direction than Tomorrow Never Dies director Roger Spottiswoode. The cinematographer, Adrian Biddle (Aliens, Thema and Louise), works well with Apted and the film is strikingly beautiful. Maybe for Bond 20 the producers can sign John Woo into for the director’s chair and see how much better the action can be. The three Brosnan Bond films have been directed by directors not really known for directing action (Martin Campbell, Roger Spottiswoode, and Michael Apted). I’d love to see what kind of Bond film would come out of it being directed by a director strictly known for his action work.
What needs to be noticed in this film is the score by David Arnold (Stargate, Independence Day, Tomorrow Never Dies). Eric Serra scored the first Brosnan Bond film, GoldenEye. Serra took the stance that John Barry’s Bond theme was old, worn out, and, well, wouldn’t work for the new Bond films. Serra’s generic score for GoldenEye didn’t do the film justice. Serra dead wrong about Barry’s Bond theme. Arnold proved Serra wrong with his score to Tomorrow Never Dies, weaving Barry’s Bond theme into an original score, making the score reminiscent of Bond without copying Barry outright. Arnold’s score for Tomorrow Never Dies took me aback. The day before the release of The World is Not Enough, I bought Arnold’s score for the film. Arnold has outdone his Tomorrow Never Dies score with his The World is Not Enough score. This score is wholly original, yet it draws enough from Barry’s Bond theme that it seems quite familiar. The Bond feeling is back in the score and it works really well with the film. Kudos to Arnold for putting together a wonderful score.
Bottom line? Don’t Miss The World is Not Enough. This is the best Bond film to date.