MoM’s ongoing feature Our Word Is Our Bond reaches the end of the 20th century, with Dawn Dabell offering her thoughts on The World Is Not Enough (1999) starring Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Denise Richards and Robert Carlyle.
Everyone says your favourite Bond actor is the one you grew up with. I was born in 1982 but my case is a little different: I grew up watching Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton on television in the 80s and 90s, but I never had the chance to see any of these Bonds on the big screen. When the UK-15-rated Licence To Kill came out in 1989, I was a mere 7 years old, and after its relatively quick and modest cinematic run it would be six years before 007 was seen in a movie theatre again. Imagine my excitement to learn that just after my 13th birthday the films were to make a comeback: a new actor would be taking up the Bond mantle, allowing a newer younger generation to have a Bond of their own. This was a chance for me to view 007 at the cinema for the first time, the perfect environment to witness such mind-blowing visuals. The film I refer to is Goldeneye (1995) which was covered earlier in the series by my daughter. I watched all the new Bond films and although they didn’t quite live up to what I was used to from the earlier Bond films, the Brosnan offerings were very in keeping with films from the era, with more emphasis on the action and body count than the spy elements of the story. Having watched both Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), I felt they were very middling offerings in the franchise, but nevertheless I was still more than happy to hear a new, supposedly better Bond film was due to be released a few months after I began working at a cinema. The hype surrounding this latest instalment – The World Is Not Enough (1999) – was certainly enticing, and was pitched with suitable media frenzy and sensation to get series’ fans rushing to the cinemas. Does the film live up to the hype or is it yet another average Bond film from this era?
James Bond (Brosnan) is sent by M (Judi Dench) to protect Elektra King (Sophie Marceau), the daughter of a recently assassinated oil tycoon. Elektra is overseeing the construction of an oil pipeline in Azerbaijan, but suffers from bouts of post-traumatic stress after recently being kidnapped by terrorist Renard (Robert Carlyle) and held for ransom. Renard is particularly dangerous and, what’s more, he has a bullet lodged in his brain which is slowly killing him but which, while he remains alive, has made him impervious to pain. The security forces fear that Renard wishes to abduct Elektra for a second time, hence the reason Bond is instructed to protect her.
Bond eventually discovers hat Elektra is merely playing the role of stressed-out victim. During her captivity, she actually fell in love with Renard and was instrumental in plotting the assassination of her own father. Now in cahoots, she and Renard are planning are to use stolen nuclear weapons to destroy Istanbul and a large section of surrounding oil pipeline, thus making her own pipeline.many times more valuable. Teaming up with nuclear physicist Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), Bond must stop the plan before it’s too late…
Pierce Brosnan is not the best actor to have played in the role of James Bond. In fact, he is widely considered to be the worst… but at the time his films were generally a huge success in monetary terms. As far as I’m concerned, Brosnan starred in the worst of all 27 Bond films – Die Another Die (2002). I could go in to detail about my thoughts on this offering but I shall allow Brian Gregory the chance to put forth his thoughts on that one tomorrow. When Brosnan was playing this role, it’s easy to see what the studio were aiming for: they were trying to put a slightly more handsome and universally appealing actor in the role. In his own way he succeeded in bringing Bond to a newer, younger audience, just as Daniel Craig has done for the modern generation (including my own kids, who think he’s great). Brosnan is an OK Bond, if lightweight, but it’s the scripts of the movies which let his tenure down more than the man himself.
Robert Carlyle as Renard is decent enough. He can always be relied upon, no matter what character he is playing. Here, he doesn’t have too much screen time, but whenever he is on screen he is menacing enough as the villain in the unique position of feeling no pain.
Sadly this film marks the last entry for Desmond Llewelyn in the role of our favourite gadget man Q. He died shortly after the film’s release in a car accident at the age of 85. Llewlelyn looks frail and seems to be struggling with his lines in the production, but for die-hard fans it is still wonderful to see him in his signature role one last time. He first starred as Q in From Russia With Love (1963), under his character’s given name Major Boothroyd, and continued to feature in the role under the codename ‘Q’ for a staggering 36 years! In The World Is Not Enough, Q is training a younger man (John Cleese) as his future replacement. John Cleese would return in Die Another Die (2002) as the new Q, but he doesn’t have the same charm as Llewelyn.
Denise Richards’ casting as Christmas Jones, the Bond girl, is generally considered a major faux-pas by fans of the franchise. Although she is a viewed as beautiful by many people, believing in her as a nuclear physicist is somewhat hard to swallow. Also her outfit of short shorts and vest top is more akin to the Lara Croft films than a female scientist meant to be viewed as serious by those around her. Sophie Marceau however does manage a more convincing performance as villainess Elektra King. She is vulnerable and seductive one moment, commanding the next. She’s be no means the best villain to feature in a Bond movie, but she’s not the worst.
As in the previous offerings, both Judi Dench (as M) and Samantha Bond (as Miss Moneypenny) are wonderful in their respective roles. They add a touch of ‘girl-power’ to the films and are quick to put Bond in his place whenever he starts getting a little too chauvinistic.
Although The World Is Not Enough is not the worst of the Bond films, it is certainly in the bottom half. It is however one of the better Brosnan offerings, and maybe even better than the worst of the Moore films – such as A View To A Kill (1985), which I consider to be one of the worst there is, just a fraction better than Die Another Day. The World Is Not Enough is easy viewing and predictable throughout, but it’s not terrible. It’s a film which demands a few beers and for the audience to not take it too seriously. After all, if you think about it how can you really take any film seriously which tries to palm off Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist?!
MoM Rating: 5.5/10