Monday, June 30, 2014

The World is Not Enough (1999)


6/10

The 19th Bond film is okay but has some major flaws both in casting and storytelling.  The film starts off well enough with Bond looking for the killer of a fellow agent in Bilbao, interrogating a Swiss banker who is killed before he can talk by his secretary.  Said secretary then kills Sir Robert King, an old friend of M's which kicks off a quite excellent boat chase between her and Bond.  Really, if you just take the first fifteen minutes if the film on their own, they make for a pretty damn good movie alone.  Sadly, the film can't really follow it.

Bone ends up on the trail of Renard (Robert Carlyle), a notorious terrorist who has a bullet lodged in his skull that somehow makes him impervious to pain.  This isn't really played up much outside of a few scenes and along with this, Bond falls for Sir Robert's daughter Elektra (Sophie Marceau) who turns out to be in league with Renard.  Aided by an atomic scientist named Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), Bond races to stop the villains from causing a nuclear disaster in Turkey.

The big problem with the movie is how uneven it is.  On the one hand, you have a fairly serious tale about Bond avenging the death of M's friend which was also an attack on MI6 itself.  The Elektra subplot fits in here as well and it is all played fairly straight.  Not exactly well, but straight.

The big problem here is that while Pierce Brosnan is a capable actor and a fine 007, he overplays the stuff with Elektra.  He's supposed to fall for her based on a photo of her in a news article about her being rescued from Renard who kidnapped her.  Brosnan isn't the most subtle actor when the script is good, let alone when it's a bad one as we have here.  Bond can work when given a streak of humanity, in fact it's sort of essential if we are to root for him, but it really works better when done in a low key manner.

On the decidedly not low key side of things, we have the stuff with Renard which is okay (Renard is sort of a boring character and Carlyle doesn't really do much with the part) but what really shoots the film to hell is the casting of Denise Richards.

The character as a concept is not bad but the casting of Richards is just wrongheaded in the extreme.  In a film where you are putting out a fairly serious story, it doesn't really work to have a Bond Girl with a cheesy name played by an actress best described as "eye candy".  Richards doesn't do anything really awful save for a horrid line reading during the finale but to be honest, the dialogue is so haphazardly handles that even Meryl Streep would have trouble making it sound good.

Another issue the film has is some rather bad action scenes.  Apart from the opening stuff and a rather neat bit with helicopters with huge saw blades hanging from them at a caviar factory owned by Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane who was earlier in Goldeneye), the action sequences are blandly shot, as is the rest of the film.  There is a ski chase that falls flat and the finale on a submarine tries like hell to make suspense but with a bland villain like Renard it's really hard to give a crap.

There are things in the film after the first fifteen minutes that do work.  Sophie Marceau makes for a pretty solid villain, giving Elektra sort of a petulant demeanor that is interesting but her scenes with Bond don't quite fly like they should.  It's probably not a good thing that the best scene they have together is the one where Bond shoots her in the chest. The regulars to the series are good of course, Judi Dench is solid as M.  The problem is that the script does them no favors at all.  I'm not even going to mention the John Cleese cameo because anytime the man doesn't make me laugh... Well, let's just say that if he had a larger role, based on how not funny he is here, this film would be getting an even lower rating.

The World is Not Enough is a pretty disappointing outing for 007 with a weak, uneven script and one really poor casting choice.  The action is only good occasionally and the villains aren't quite up to snuff.  The film is let down by its script, from which elements would later be used to much better effect in Skyfall.

3 comments:

  1. I was JUST thinking of this movie during my last comment. Hate to say, this movie killed Bond for me for many a year. Didn't care for Goldeneye one bit (heresy, I know!), and this movie just disappointed the hell outta me, and embarrassed me in front of my family (it had been my idea to see this movie, and I had pushed for it so hard....)

    Elektra King coulda been one of the best Bond villains ever. Seriously. How many once-if-not-still-sympathetic Bond villains have we seen? Any? I dunno, I still haven't seen all the Bond films. Can't imagine that Christopher Lee ever played a sympathetic character, let alone in a Bond film. That leaves Moonraker and Octopussy. I like my odds. Of not finding any sympathetic villains, I mean. She coulda been a genuinely tragic villain, a once-good person psychologically beaten into becoming a delusional almost-psychopath bent on avenging herself on those who had once tried to help her. It really, REALLY coulda been GREAT.

    And then everything else about the movie (everything aside from Brosnan and Dench, of course) completely $#!+ the bed, so they say. It was awful. Forget Christmas Jones. That's like blaming every fault of the Prequels on Jar-Jar. She's the most visible catastrophe among many, but hardly the most fundamental.

    Horrible, horrible, movie. Along with Diamonds are Forever, and, yes, Goldeneye, one of the few Bond films I genuinely dislike. And even Goldeneye was better. I don't know what takes the #1 spot. It would probably involve a rewatch. And I'm just not going to do that to myself.

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    Replies
    1. Well, you're not gonna like the next few Bond reviews since I dig GE and DAF (at least the first half).

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    2. I already know you give no Bond anythings a rating below 6/10. I also know you, apparently, love Bond more than anything. I can understand that latter bit. I mean, it's not my favorite franchise. Prolly only my second-favorite. Figuring in the quantity vs. quality factor. I still like 'em, overall. But....well....it ranges from really, really damn good to embarrassing crap with RL baggage attached leading to involuntary seizures at the very thought. So it runs the gamut. Which is fun.

      Anyway, point being, just do whatcher gonna do. I already know the floor. I already know the ceiling. I got ALL the context. I can dig it.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.