GoldenEye was just a Bond rehearsal for Pierce Brosnan. Tomorrow Never Dies is the Bond performance. Brosnan was a tiny bit wooden in GoldenEye, understandably so, because the whole James Bond franchise was resting on his shoulders alone. He proved to us that he could be Bond in GoldenEye and in Tomorrow Never Dies, he proves to us that he is Bond.
I haven’t been a long time Bond fan and have definitely not seen all 18 of the Bond films, but I’ve seen my share of them. One or two Sean Connery and Roger Moore Bonds, all of the Timothy Dalton Bonds, and, now, both Pierce Brosnan Bonds. If you’re wondering, I think that Connery is the best Bond with Brosnan coming in a very close second (and Dalton being one of the worst Bonds). What I like about the Bond movies is that they never change. This I find as a good thing in the Bond franchise because it lets me walk into a Bond movie not expecting too much from the plot and just relaxing and enjoying the action, cool gadgets and Bond girls. This is the driving force behind the Bond franchise, the ability to let people just come and have fun at a movie without the need or worry of following a twisting and turning plot line. (In some cases this is the weakness of Bond films, for some of them don’t have enough fun, action, and gadgets to fill in for the plot.)
Tomorrow Never Dies has a fascinating amount of action, a large dose of cool gadgets, and not one, but two Bond girls. Not to mention a pretty cool maniacal evil man and a cool just-as-maniacal evil henchman to go with the evil man.
The plot is pretty simple. A crazed power hungry media mogul, Elliot Carver – played brilliantly by Infiniti’s spokesperson Jonathan Pryce – wants to launch a new satellite broadcast network. He wants the launch of this network to start with a bang and what better way to start out a news network than a world war? Carver devises a way to get the British and Chinese fighting and with this he creates tomorrow’s news today. Who do we have to stop this crazed media mogul? Bond, James Bond, of course!
What is fascinating about this 18th installment into the Bond franchise is the introduction of a Bond girl that can resist Bond’s every sly come-on and also has enough umph in her to kick both the bad guys and Bond around. Michelle Yeoh, whom we last saw in SuperCop with Jackie Chan, is this cool Bond girl. She plays Wai Lin, a female Chinese version of Bond working for the Chinese government trying to avert the world war. Yeoh steals every scene that she’s in, even the ones she shares with Brosnan. She is, so far, the only Bond girl that I would like to return for another installment in the Bond franchise.
The other Bond girl is the less vivacious and the obvious weak link in this Bond installment, and that is Teri Hatcher as Paris Carver, the former love interest of Bond who is now married to the media mogul. Hatcher gives a bland and wooden performance in Tomorrow Never Dies. And it looks as if her part was cut a bit short because of her pregnancy which occurred early on during the filming of Tomorrow Never Dies.
Jonathan Pryce is absolutely fantastic as Elliot Carver, the egomaniac on drugs of sorts. His performance has to been seen! And his quiet henchman, Stamper (Gotz Otto), is tough looking and a good match for Bond.
So, how’s the action? You may be wondering. Perfect, I would have to reply. The opening sequence was a bit on the weak side compared to some of the other Bond films (even to the opening sequence of GoldenEye), but it is an exciting opening for the movie. The action sequences are great. Two of them stick out in my mind. One is a car chase through a parking structure with James Bond driving his new BMW 750 from the back seat. His car is just cool, featuring all kinds of anti-theft devices and anti-bad-guys-in-car devices. The other is the motorcycle sequence in which Bond and Lin try to escape from a killer helicopter while on a BMW (can you say BMW product placement?) motorcycle and while also handcuffed together.
There was something about this film that I really liked as an addition and that was the humor. There was a heavy dose of self-mocking and also general humor in this Bond installment and that made the film feel more relaxed and homely feeling, which I think was a good thing. I found myself chuckling and laughing out loud in many places during the film.
Director Roger Spottiswoode (Air America, Turner & Hooch) does a good job with his directorial duties keeping the movie moving along at a quick pace. He also handled the conventional action sequences well, though I think he grossly mishandled the martial arts sequences with Michelle Yeoh.
Worth mentioning is the fantastic musical score by David Arnold. His score fits the movie very well and is well suited in all of the scenes. I at first cringed when I heard that he was going to be scoring this film because I thought is score for Independence Day was too over-the-top and melodramatic, but Arnold does a great job with the score for Tomorrow Never Dies. The title song though does not fair as well. Sheryl Crow was flat and boring during this title song and the song is wholly forgettable.
Tomorrow Never Dies is good installment of the Bond franchise and is definitely a Don’t Miss film. The mix of the familiar Bond character, action, cool gadgets, and humor makes for a good and fun movie. Look for great performances from Jonathan Pryce and Michelle Yeoh. And don’t forget…shaken, not stirred.