Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released November 19, 1999 in the US and November 26, 1999 in the UK
Directed by Michael Apted
Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Bruce Feirstein
Cast: 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
This was my first viewing of The World is Not Enough since I’d seen it during its original theatrical release, and believe it or not, this 19th installment of the James Bond franchise didn’t mortify me as much as it did twenty-plus years ago. In fact, I had a surprisingly good time with it this time around, thanks in part to an excellent pre-credit sequence, another serious portrayal of 007 by Pierce Brosnan, entertaining direction from Michael Apted, and dynamic cinematography, locations, and sets that actually did justice to the long-running series, and kept you captivated throughout.
In this outing, Bond tries to thwart a terrorist plot to increase oil prices via a nuclear meltdown near Istanbul, while at the same time protecting the daughter of an assassinated oil tycoon. The terrorist, named Renard, is a former KGB operative who’s tangled with MI6 in the past, and received a bullet in his brain for his efforts. With the lodged bullet slowly killing him, Renard now seeks revenge on MI6 and the tycoon’s daughter, and hopes to steal weapons-grade plutonium and pull off his deadly scheme before Bond—and a hot nuclear physicist—can stop him.
What made this all so tantalizing for me (and less so for others, apparently) was the story’s restrained and level-headed attitude, which more closely followed the tone of the Ian Fleming novels; this wasn’t a grandiose madman craving mass chaos and world domination, but merely a dying terrorist who wanted to destroy a European oil pipeline (and yes, I know, cause a nuclear meltdown as well). I also liked how Brosnan played Bond in this one: tough, a bit ruthless, and with a slightly reigned-in sense of humor, all of which harkened back to the glory days of Connery.
Unfortunately, the film was tainted somewhat by one of the silliest and most ill-fitting Q Branch sequences ever—which introduced former Monty Python member John Cleese as a wise-cracking and bumbling assistant to Q—and then was nearly decapitated by the most misguided and hell-bent casting choice of all time in actress Denise Richards, playing the improbably-named Dr. Christmas Jones. Her sex-bomb nuclear physicist character incurred the wrath of appalled viewers and reviewers everywhere, and stopped the film dead in its tracks whenever she appeared on-screen.
In the end, however, it remains an enjoyable yet underappreciated entry in the Bond series, and if it weren’t for those two cataclysmic misfires mentioned above, this film might’ve earned a more respected spot in the 007 universe. Either way, it was a marked improvement over the previous Brosnan efforts, and though many critics consider this one of the worst Bonds ever, in my opinion it wasn’t all that bad, and for me was the best 007 adventure since For Your Eyes Only. (7/10)