Once again, thank you for taking some time to poke around in here and follow me with this insane Bondian project. Well, not insane like in an “The streets will run red with the blood of my victims, but at least the trains will run on time! Mwah-hahahahahah!” kind of way. But insane like “Hey, I’m going to start with the chocolate flavored Tootsie Roll Pops to get them over and done with first! Mwah-hahahahahah!” kind of way. But soft, let us hence to the travails at hand!
Ah, back in the days of when the interwebnet was just a newfound babe in the woods in our lives. I remember when I went to college and got my first bona fide email account! Pretty big deal, I can tell you. I would email mostly the fellow students that I shared a campus with, ate with, attended classes with, and hung around with all the bloody time. These were the people I would communicate with on a daily basis via email. Yes, it was new for me and yes, it was stupid.
How different it is today! Now there’s more clickbait on the net than an online virtual bass fishing game. Upload a video and try to get as many hits or likes or followers as possible. The same is true if it is a trailer of a film fans are drooling over. For instance, the Star Wars: The Merchandising Awakens trailer back in the dark days of 2015 got more people to watch it in less time than ever thought imaginable.
Quite the converse is the Star Wars Holiday Special which had less people watch in more time than ever though imaginable. Although I like to think there is one Grand Moff in Disney’s hierarchy that went after the Star Wars purchase from George Lucas merely to finally give the Holiday Special a proper official release on home video. I’m still waiting by the way…
But back in those barbaric medieval times, people really went to theaters to see trailers. Weird, I know! And way back in the ancient last days of the 1990s, the latest trailer for the latest Bond film was going to be shown in the theater and did I want to see it! Being a United Artists/MGM release, the trailer was going to be shown before another UA/MGM movie: Stigmata. A quandary emerged because like any sane person, I didn’t want to see Stigmata, yet I somehow had to see that Bond trailer. Hm. What to do?
As I attended the most not prestigious Lutheran college in the whole of New Ulm, MN, and as I did not have a car at the time, I was dependent on the kindness of people that I manipulated simply because they had transportation. Nevertheless, I was frequently able to find people that wanted to get out of New Ulm to go to an actual city and do actual things. Unable to find an actual city, we settled on Mankato because they had a mall. A mall with a movie theater! And Stigmata was playing! Exclamation point!
So we get to the mall and I told the group I was with that I wouldn’t be a moment because there was something quick I had to do. I was going to pay admission to the 3:15 PM showing of Stigmata, see the Bond trailer, and then duck out and rejoin the group. As no one in the posse wanted to see Gabriel Byrne priestly adventure anyway, they had no issue with this. Plus I like to think that I was not alone in my silly idea to see the Bond trailer this way. Millions of others must have followed this example, indirectly making Stigmata a moderate and inexplicable hit at the box office.
I paid for my ticket, sat down in a seat, and fully prepared myself for Bond, James Bond. The Bond trailer came on and I was entertained for the 3 or so minutes that it was on. I was ready and set for when the film would eventually come out that winter. As the trailer ended, I was getting up from my seat to leave when I saw…my group coming into the theater with assorted popcorn buckets and mega-gulp 72 oz. sodas! What was happening?!
I asked what was going on and they said that they were bored and since they couldn’t think of anything better to do, they decided to see this whole damn movie. But I didn’t want to see this, I wanted to leave and leave now. However, being a prisoner without wheels to escape in, I was trapped. So I sat through Stigmata. Perhaps this might just explain the bad taste I still had in my mouth when I eventually did see The World Is Not Enough.
The third Pierce Brosnan adventure as Bond is titled after the motto of the Bond family crest that was given in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The original motto was “Tomorrow Dies Yesterday Forever”, which is gibberish and should be ignored. Sorry I even brought it up. Good thing I never mentioned “Thunderballs With Goldfinger Love” because it is even more awkward and stupid. (Still, mix and match your Bond titles, folks! It will occupy you with fun for at least a quarter of an hour each day!)
After the script runarounds of the previous outing, Tomorrow Never Dies, the producers wanted to make a story that was little bit more substantial for Pierce. That they ultimately decided to not have satellites play a part for once was a huge step in the right direction! Everyone who has played the role of James Bond, well maybe not Roger, has wanted a meatier script to show that Bond has more range than a Nerf Air Blaster. At the end of the day, the plot of The World Is Not Enough is rather dense. At times it can get confusing but as there are things blowing up every 15 minutes or so, one doesn’t seem to mind at first.
Pierce by this point has filled the role of Bond quite well. As a matter of fact, he is just a touch more cynical in this outing than in others, which is refreshing. Bond’s reactions when falling for and eventually being betrayed by one of the female leads is in fact believable and not forced. I think it is his best, most well-rounded portrayal of 007 from his four Bond movies. Not that this heals all of the wounds of the story, but I like Pierce and I want to be generous.
Always good to see Desmond Llewelyn as Q in what would sadly be his last appearance in the series. Quite amazing that throughout every single change in the Bond movies, Llewelyn was a constant presence, managing to give gadgets and admonition to Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, and Brosnan. His loss was truly a great one. No jokes about his work are to be found here.
On the other hand, we do get introduced to the always wonderful John Cleese as Q’s eventual replacement. As quick-witted as Bond is, he met his match with Cleese and it is a crying shame that he was gone after Die Another Day. Also, it is always good to see Robbie Coltrane and his return as his Russian mobster character from GoldenEye. It is a pity that his character died in this exploit however. Oh, spoiler alert on that! I’m always late with that, darn it!
What about our villains? Well, the best thing about them is that they are not flat out awful. Robert Carlyle’s terrorist character is just not that memorable. The script goes to great CGI lengths to explain how he was shot in the head earlier, how the bullet lodged in his brain, and how he is impervious to pain as the bullet continues to move in his head. But he doesn’t take enough of a licking to keep on ticking in this movie as far as I’m concerned to make him any different than a bevy of villains or henchmen that have appeared in the series.
That reminds me: a story point brings up how the bullet in his head will eventually kill him but that he will grow stronger every day until the day he dies. That nugget even made it into the trailer. I had hoped that by the end of the movie, Carlyle would have been throwing cars at Bond while crushing coal into diamonds. Yet the way this movie shows this character trait is…well, I don’t know. But I’m sure this little plot tidbit is in there somewhere. Probably. I might have missed it. (UPDATE: I didn’t!)
On the other hand, Sophie Marceau is quite well…interesting. She is very lovely and definitely manipulative. However she comes off as being more of a petulant, spoiled brat at times rather than evil. Actually I would have preferred M kill her rather than Bond doing it. If you have a chance to chart the plot, relying on graphs and coordinates, you’ll notice that Judi Dench’s M gets abducted by Marceau’s character. While certainly a new development in the Bond series, having the boss of James Bond be a helpless captive is fairly insulting to a certain extent given the strength that Dench brought to the role.
Tucked in the middle of that previous paragraph I brought up the plot. Now I don’t mind plots that make you think whatsoever. I do mind plots that make you apathetic, just looking for the next explosion. The World Is Not Enough gets rather convoluted and the magic that comes from not having any satellites doesn’t hold forever. Yet screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have been on every subsequent Bond movie since this entry. Given the ups and downs of the series since their involvement, I don’t know what to make of them. Die Another Day, Quantum of Solace, and Spectre are all bleh or worse. The World Is Not Enough is okay. Skyfall is a little better than okay and Casino Royale is good. And No Time to Die will be released in 2067 so I don’t know what to think other than I examine this far too closely.
Astute readers should have noticed by now that I haven’t brought up the single worst glaring problem in this movie. Yes, dear reader, let’s talk about Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones, nuclear physicist extraordinaire Now certain Bond girls are just great and have stood the test of time. Dr. Xmas is not one of them. The only true comparable miscast Bond girl would be the aforementioned Tanya Roberts in A View To A Kill as the best example. Wow, is Denise Richards hard to watch. Oh don’t get me wrong, she looks great but when she starts to act or speak, it just makes one want to giggle.
And she is a nuclear physicist? Yep, of course she is. And she speaks fluent Russian? Sure, why not! I guess after dealing with overwrought dialogue scenes with Marceau, Brosnan just wanted to kick back and dumb it down with Richards.
The action scenes range from a great opening boat chase, a non-exciting skiing chase, a shootout in a missile silo that has shooting in it with some shooting sprinkled in, a fairly entertaining sawblade-laden helicopters attacking a caviar factory event, and a “oh my sweet Lord, when will this movie end” scene inside a submarine fight that Bond has with the main terrorist whose name I’ve already forgotten. (Fun Tip: try holding your breath as long as Bond does onscreen as he swims in and around and outside of the submarine. Fun Follow-Up Tip: Don’t do this while driving your car as you’ll pass out.)
David Arnold’s score is a welcome blessing to the movie, as is the title track as performed by Garbage. Shirley Manson’s vocals have a rather sultry quality to them. Only the best singers could make Don Black’s lyrics seem like they sound better than they are. This is the same man that wrote the don’t-dwell-on-them-too-long words to the title songs for Thunderball and The Man with the Golden Gun, for crying out loud.
At the end of the day, the best parts cannot overcome the sum weakness of the script. This has always been a problem with the Brosnan Bonds. From GoldenEye on through Die Another Day, the screenplays just got progressively worse. Which is a shame because I really do like Pierce as Bond. Granted the flaws of the scripts didn’t really affect the box office. But they did have an impact on the shelf life of those movies.
Oh, and the principal reason that this movie gets ranked this low with me is something I haven’t mentioned yet. Of course I can overlook many sins and my sympathy for Pierce is great, but I cannot forgive this. After going through the entire movie, which isn’t an easy task, and seeing plot points come at you fast and furious, you finally get to the payoff. And that’s where we see Bond and Dr. Jones doing some…well…debriefing I suppose you’d call it and Bond says, “I thought Christmas only comes once a year.”
Oh my stars and garters. Absolutely shameless with that level of groan inducing. Even Roger Moore didn’t have the brass cajones to make that level of sex pun when bedding down at the end of A View To A Kill. Think about it, he was with a “geologist”. He could have looked at the camera and with a wink asked her if he “rocked her world” or if she “feel the earth move”? But no, even Rog knew better. What does that tell you?
And somehow, some way, Stigmata is to blame. I just know it.