I believe this was the film Bond film I saw in the cinema. That’s it. That’s all you’re getting from this pre-amble. Fuck off.
The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Going through the series, it’s interesting to see where all the Bond actors hit their strides as 007. Connery hit his with Goldfinger, Lazenby only had the one so doesn’t count, Moore’s was The Spy Who Loved Me, Dalton’s was Licence to Kill and Brosnan’s is definitely The World Is Not Enough. It often means a better film, because if your lead is comfortable in the role, they’re more likely to take a few risks and play around with the character a bit, as Brosnan does here. Whilst GoldenEye is the superior film, TWINE has the superior BrosBond.
After an oil industrialist is murdered, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is tasked to protect his daughter and heiress to the business Elektra King (Sophie Marceau). Meanwhile, Bond uncovers a plot to steal a nuclear bomb by the known terrorist and former King kidnapper Renard (Robert Carlyle), a man who thanks to a botched assassination, feels no pain. Bond gets help from nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) and ex Mafia boss from GoldenEye Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane) to stop the nuke going off and killing millions. I think TWINE‘s plot is pretty decent. It doesn’t steal ideas from previous Bonds and actually has some things we haven’t seen in a Bond flick before. I’m going to talk spoilers here, so if you haven’t seen it, skip to the last paragraph, watch the film, come back here and buy me a yacht, since you’re clearly the suggestible type. To have the big baddie turn out to be Elektra, not Renard is a decent twist. All the Bonds up to this point have been without major twists and turns. I like the bluff with Renard and Elektra (the series’ first and to date only female main villain) does the femme fatale thing very well.
As I said, Brosnan really got Bond with this film. He has an interesting urge to protect Elektra in the beginning. It’s the first time we’ve seen BrosBond show a more complex side. I don’t feel they did enough with Robert Carlyle’s Renard. Carlyle is a fantastic actor, but he’s not given too much to actually do. The film can’t make up its mind whether Renard is an evil bastard or a tragic character. It keeps flitting between the two and as a result it gets hard to get a lock on what you should be feeling towards him. When typing the above paragraph’s fourth line, Chrome put a red squiggly line under the whole thing. Even a web browser knows that “Denise Richards” and “nuclear physicist” don’t go together. She’s pretty wretched in the role and whilst she’s just there to be Bond totty, it’s annoying they didn’t cast someone who could actually act. She reminded me quite a bit of Tanya Roberts’ Stacey Sutton from A View to a Kill. Star of the show though is Sophie Marceau. She’s brilliant. Elektra is a complicated character and Marceau covers all her facets expertly. Not to mention she’s breathtakingly gorgeous. I’ve had a soft (read: hard) spot for her since Braveheart. We get to delve into M’s character a bit more this film and it works. She’s very protective over Elektra and there’s a great scene where Bond confronts her about locking King’s file. Dench is the best. Talking of one-letter wonders, this is regrettably Q (Desmond Llewelyn)’s last film. Whilst he was retiring from the series anyway, it was tragic he died in a car accident soon after completing the film. The Q Branch scenes have always been some of my favourite bits in the series and owe that in no small part to Llewelyn’s lovable grouch.
Can you say best pre-credits sequence ever? I sure as hell can. In the longest pre-credits bit of the series (clocking in at about 14 minutes) Bond has an exciting encounter in Bilbao, MI6 HQ gets blown up, Bond chases a suspect in a Q boat on the River Thames which concludes with Bond dangling on a rope hanging from a hot-air balloon high above the Millennium Dome (or “The O2” as I guess it is now). Suspect blows up the balloon, Bond falls and is left hanging and injured on one of the Dome’s wires. Boom! Titles. It’s breathless stuff. One of these setpieces would have sufficed, but it’s like three in one. I’d forgotten how much fun the opening was. The boat chase is Bond magic. Amazing stunts and some really inventive ideas. Part of the fun of the chase is seeing how drenched Brosnan gets during the sequence. It doesn’t hurt that the titles and title song are class to boot. As with all the Bond flicks, the action’s great. There’s a unique skiing bit where Bond and Elektra are attacked by parahawks (military snowmobile things with parachutes) and an amazing sequence at Valentin’s caviar factory where multi-sawblade wielding helicopters cut shit up. The conclusion on the submarine is pretty decent too.
The rest of the film is good, but doesn’t quite deliver on the stonking opening scenes. I really like that with Elektra, we have echoes of Tracy and there’s even a bit in the skiing sequence which is very similar to a bit in OHMSS. It’s clever to remind us of this because we really feel Bond’s betrayal. He let himself care, dammit! Now he’s strapped to a torture chair that’s slowly breaking his neck (a really good scene, by the way). The conclusion to Elektra’s bit is bittersweet and very well handled. As for the bad, there’s not too much. Richards drags the film down occasionally with her leaden acting. Renard ends up being a weaker villain than a character with his gimmick deserved and the film sags in the middle. The “comedy” bits can fuck off. I really don’t like John Cleese as the new Q. The man’s genuinely funny elsewhere, but his lines are dreadful here. Also, can we stop having the scene where Bond’s superiors are shocked to find 007 enjoying a post-successful mission shag? It’s just what he does. The guy just saved the world. Let him get his end away in peace.
So yeah, TWINE is damn good. It’s the second best of the Brosnan era and when the first is GoldenEye, there’s no shame in that. It’s a really satisfying Bond adventure. It’s just a shame we all know what’s coming next…