The World Is Not Enough
Directed by Michael Apted
EON Blu Ray Region A/B/C
Warning: Okay, as unusual as it is for a Bond film to need
any kind of spoiler warning, this one needs one, I think.
Right then. I think this may turn out to be a fairly short review because I don’t have much to say about it either way but, I think what we have here is, probably, the last great Bond movie. That is to say, the one where the producers, writers, actors, actresses, composer and director got the formula absolutely right and as it should be for Bond... for the very last time, to date.
Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not the best Bond movie since sliced bread and it’s not even, quite, the best of the Brosnan Bonds, I believe that honour goes to GoldenEye... but it certainly runs GoldenEye a close second and I believe one of the winning factors is that it gets the mix between action and the pauses for breath, character and plot development absolutely right once more, as it was with Brosnan’s debut movie. My main problem with Tomorrow Never Dies was that, spectacular as that movie was (and it really was), the action scenes kinda took over and it was too top heavy in that department. Here, Brosnan’s Bond is firmly back in 007 territory and playing a secret agent with an action bent... not just another action hero.
I knew Michael Apted from his work on Gorky Park and, though this movie is nowhere near as good as that one, he certainly injects a sense of real people into the proceedings, even though at least one of them has almost superhuman abilities... in the shape of Robert Carlisle’s Renard who, due to a bullet in his head which is shutting down parts of his brain, can feel no pain and is therefore not hampered by that in a fight. Actually, that character trait was originally earmarked for the blonde henchman in the previous film but it somehow got lost in the mix, so to speak.
There are some nice performances in here... Judy Dench, Samantha Bond, Michael Kitchen, Colin Salmon and Robbie Coltrane are all back in roles from previous movies, as is Desmond Llewellyn who is training his Q branch replacement, John Cleese. Actually, Cleese’s scenes don’t really work that well, it has to be said, but Llewellyn’s quips about retirement and his exit from his last scene here, drifting down and out of shot on an elevator while telling 007 to “always have an escape plan”, becomes doubly poignant when you know that, even though this was not pegged as being his swan song from the series just yet, he had died before the next movie got made and Cleese took over on that one too (though, to be honest, not even Llewellyn could have sold me on the idea of an invisible car, I reckon).
Now I remember seeing this at the cinema and watching the first part of the opening sequence in disappointment, as Brosnan escapes Douglas Fairbanks style from the window of an office using a henchman as ballast... but the sequence carries on to a debriefing session which is interrupted by, frankly, one of the best action sequences in the series. Now I have a theory about this because, once the utterly brilliant speedboat chase is over and Bond plummets onto the “not yet opened at time of shooting" Millennium Dome, literally falling into the opening credits sequence, the post credits sequence is more debriefing. However, the pattern of the previous two Bond films, which also had incredibly strong pre-credits sequences, were immediately followed post-credits by another explosive action sequence... the car race in the case of GoldenEye and the sinking of the Devonshire in the case of Tomorrow Never Dies. However, my theory is this...
I reckon the original opening sequence was supposed to conclude with the office window jump and then go into those titles. However, I suspect when the producers saw a rough cut of the movie they were left similarly underwhelmed by this and decided to move up the speed boat chase... to become what is, arguably, the best pre-credits sequence in Bond history, actually. I don’t know for sure if that’s what happened, obviously, but that’s what I’d put my money on.
Okay, so this Bond features a new element to the narrative with the introduction of a “twist” villain... or in this case, villainess. It’s not until about three quarters of the way in that Electra King, played brilliantly by former D’Artagnan’s Daughter Sophie Marceau is, in fact, behind all the shenanigans that 007 is trying to put a stop to (including the elimination of her father) and that Renard, her former kidnapper, is in fact working for her. I believe this is the first time that this tactic has been used in a Bond film and it hits home very well as the revelation comes with the brutal gunning down of various key members of MI6 and the kidnapping of M.
The other Bond girl in the movie is played by Denise Richards and, honestly, I think she does an okay job and is not nearly as bad in the role as people seem to like to say she is. I quite liked the clone Lara Croft costume she sports throughout the majority of the movie and she does come across as someone who knows what she’s doing and can help Bond get out of a tricky situation with her science-tech knowledge. So I think her role and her performance on this film has been much maligned in the past.
The other truly great thing about this movie, of course, is David Arnold’s wonderful score. As well as bringing back a little cameo of the Barry Bond Is Back theme, which he reintroduced in Tomorrow Never Dies (read my review highlighting this here), he also has some of the more romantic John Barry style compositions which wouldn’t have seemed out of place in any of the 1960s big screen Bond adventures (although the main one I’m thinking of seems sadly missing from the soundtrack release). Of course, he also weaves in his trademark techno shenanigans, which he does so well, and all I can say is that he manages to match the kinetic cocktail of speed and power in that opening speed boat chase with one of the best action cues the series has ever had. It even works in, as does much of his score, the melody from the title song, which was performed by Garbage but written by Arnold and regular Barry collaborator Don Black. Arnold lost the title song battle on his first Bond feature but won it on this one and the film is much stronger for it. Also, the song is pretty good stuff and, I might add, due to it’s lyrics and dark but theatrical tone, an excellent background song to use during D/s play, as it happens (not that I would ever admit to indulging in that kind of activity I’m sure - wink).
And that’s about all I’ve got to say about The World Is Not Enough, it seems. At time of writing this, it’s the last great Bond movie, as far as I’m concerned. Well worth a watch and a much better way to remember the Brosnan era by than his fourth and final film, which I will be having to sit through again to review for you soon...
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