Nov 20, 2014

Review: The World is Not Enough (1999)

Now into the third Pierce Brosnan James Bond film out of four, this is where things really start to get problematic for this era. Interestingly enough, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were the writers for The World is Not Enough and they remained so all the way until Skyfall. Fortunes really can change can't they? To think that they're responsible for some of the biggest successes and duds of 007 is pretty impressive. It's important to remember that box office success has never been a problem for them though.

The World is Not Enough is probably most famous for the failed attempt at having Denise Richards as a Bond girl. She's definitely pretty bad and ill suited for her role but she's not the worst Bond girl there's ever been either. I still give that honour to Halle Berry who's so lifeless you might think she's in a zombie movie. We'll save that for another time though once I actually review Die Another Day.

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Genre: action, adventure, crime
Directed by: Michael Apted
Produced by: Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson, Anthony Waye, etc.
Written by: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Bruce Feirstein
Music by: David Arnold
Running time: 128 minutes
Production company: Danjaq, Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, etc.
Distributed by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corporation, United International Pictures, Filmes Lusomundo, etc.
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Budget: $135,000,000
Box office: $361,832,400 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Denise Richards, Robbie Coltrane, Judi Dench, Desmond Llewelyn, John Cleese, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Samantha Bond, Michael Kitchen, Colin Salmon, Goldie, David Calder, Serena Scott Thomas, Ulrich Thomsen, John Seru
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Synopsis


James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is tasked in fetching $5 million from a Swiss bank for British oil tycoon Sir Robert King (David Calder). A standoff ensues when Bond presses for more information regarding King and results in the death of the banker, killed by his assistant (Maria Grazia Cucinotta) to stop James from finding out the truth. Back at MI6, Robert King is killed by the booby trapped money which is set off by the same assistant from before. James gives chase on the River Thames but the assistant kills herself, leaving him with a dead end.

Review


The pre-titles opening sequence has a bit of a weird feel. It's the longest sequence in James Bond history at the moment and it doesn't end when you think it will. Originally it was supposed to end at James escaping the bank with the money in tow, but this was seen as too anticlimactic. It was extended to include scenes that would've been shown after the titles including Sir Robert King getting his money at MI6 and James giving chase on the River Thames.

Despite the atypical feel, it's a pretty good pre-title sequence and the boat chase is quite thrilling despite the gadgety feel of Bond's Q boat. There's a good mix of high action and comedy that feels very right. All together, the stunts are also pretty impressive.

The opening credits themselves are among my least favourite of the entire series though. The titles song "The World is Not Enough" is completely unmemorable and I couldn't even hum it if I tried. Don Black co-wrote the song with David Arnold and that's big because he's responsible for the lyrics in the title songs of Thunderball, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man with the Golden Gun, and Tomorrow Never Dies. The lyrics aren't really the problem though. It's pretty much everything else about David Arnold's composition that seems to try really hard to sound like classic Bond without trying to do its own thing. 

The story itself isn't all that inspired either and feels like it's been done before. It's thankfully a little less gadget heavy than Tomorrow Never Dies (I like to ignore the x-ray glasses) and it does have some pretty good action scenes. (Spoilers) The one thing I will highlight as quite inspired as far as James Bond movies go is the fact that Elektra King turns out to be a villain. (End Spoilers) I wasn't very impressed with Sophie Marceau's performance to begin with but I felt that she got better and better as time went on.

Now in terms of Denise Richards' Christmas Jones, the less that's said, the better. I don't think that there's a more eye-rolling worthy scene in all the series than when a soldier explains to James Bond that Jones is a nuclear physicist as she gets out of her protective suit, revealing the green tank top and shorts she's wearing underneath. Richards is fed lines to make her appear to be knowledgeable and intelligent but none of it is convincing in the least. It's not the first time we've seen an actress play a Bond girl with a job title she doesn't match though. A View to a Kill is another one I can think of with Tanya Roberts playing a geologist. We can all agree that Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist is a harder sell though.

I'm glad to see that Judi Dench as M has been recognized as being a big plus in past Brosnan Bond films, despite her very limited screen time. She gets loads more time and that's definitely a good thing. The passing of the torch from Desmond Llewelyn's Q to John Cleese's R is relatively well done and pretty emotional for me since I've always loved Llewelyn's presence. His exit could have been executed a little bit better though if you ask me. I was also pleased to have Robbie Coltrane back as Valentin Zukovsky from his first appearance in GoldenEye.

I really like Robert Carlyle as an actor, but he's hardly given any time at all to strut his stuff in TWiNE. (Spoilers) This is because the main villain of The World is Not Enough is Elektra King, not Renard (End Spoilers). I find his whole concept pretty badass though. There's a bullet lodged in his brain that's killed off some of his senses which includes his ability to feel pain. Imagine fighting a guy who doesn't feel pain and who could keep going no matter how much you hurt him. That's just cool and Robert Carlyle seemed like an interesting guy to do it. You just have to ignore his accent though because he's supposed to be from Bosnia.

The action which is of course the most important part of any James Bond film is either pretty good or pretty bad. Whether it's from misfired attempts at comedy, too much CGI or over-repetitiveness, there's not a lot of action that gets the job done. There's a ski chase with James and Elektra King which is exciting because ski chases from past Bond films have been some of my favourite action sequences of all time. This one is sleep-inducing though.

There are lots and lots of explosions in this Bond entry but that doesn't hide the feeling of emptiness from these action sequences. (Spoilers) Take the final confrontation between Renard and James Bond in the submarine. Everything that leads up to it is quite thrilling because of the fact that this is all taking place inside a nuclear submarine that's sinking and is going to explode pretty soon. The problem is that every punch that Renard and Bond exchange seems to lack oomph and both actors seem to just be going through the motions. (End Spoilers)

With a pretty good beginning, a middle that tries but mostly fails and a finale that almost works, The World is Not Enough is mediocre to the T. Pierce Brosnan does fine in his role, Sophie Marceau improves but then you have an underutilized Robert Carlyle and an ill advised Denise Richards. While Tomorrow Never Dies managed to be just OK, The World is Not Enough is a horrifying prelude to what is to come in Die Another Day.

Rating


5.5/10