The World Is Not Enough Review

"Oh, grow up, double-O Seven!"

After the fun but cut and paste Tomorrow Never Dies (which ran out of steam about halfway through) a slight change of direction was required for Pierce Brosnan's third adventure. Michael Apted, a director not known for action or adventure films, was chosen to helm the film. The emphasis was clear. Content that their stunt crews could handle the action, Eon decided to pick a director who could work with actors and give their cast more to do than simply run away from explosions. The World Is Not Enough would be the stripped-down and more realistic Brosnan Bond. Did they succeed? The answer is almost. Apted is the biggest strength of the film but also a weakness.

At the start of the film Bond has to collect Sir Robert King's stolen money in Bilbao. Things go wrong and he has to escape from a building several floors up. The scene illustrates how comfortable Brosnan is with the role now. "If you can't trust a Swiss banker, then what's the world come to?" Bond mocks to his host. He is given some reasonably good lines in this one and Brosnan could always deliver a deadpan one-liner. Back in London an attack on MI6 headquarters (done in a very clever way with explosive money) leads to a spectacular speedboat chase on the Thames. They throw in a huge comic-book sound effect as Bond's Q-boat launches into the air towards the water and you think "Yes!". This what you want from a Bond film. It's big, over the top and great fun. Brosnan was game for driving the boat and we clearly see him involved for much of the sequence, always a help in making us believe that Bond is really there in the thick of the action. Daniel kleinman's title sequence is superb as always and all in all The World Is Not Enough could not have begun in a more confident and brisk manner. Those expecting the film to go on in this vein might be disappointed. The rest of The World Is Not Enough is much more low-key.

Bond is assigned to protect Elektra King (Sophie Marceau). King's father was murdered in the attack on MI6 headquarters and MI6 are wary of Renard (Robert Carlyle) because Renard kidnapped Electra previously. Electra has taken control of her father's oil business and is now an important and possibly targeted woman in the region. Electra and Bond become close but she is using him.

Bond has a chance to kill Renard in Kazakhstan but fails and Renard steals a quantity of plutonium. Bond and M (who has arrived in the region at the request of Electra) are led to believe that Renard has planted a nuclear bomb in part of Electra's pipeline. Bond and Dr Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) go out to defuse the bomb but 007 lets it go off. It was a trick. The bomb wasn't nuclear and M has been kidnapped. Bond realises that Electra and Renard have been playing him for a fool but now, having made it look like he dies in the explosion, he sets out to stop them. Renard and Electra have hijacked a submarine and plan to contaminate the Bosporus. The end result will make Electra's pipeline incredibly important and lucrative.

What I enjoyed about The World Is Not Enough:

The script is a cut above the other Brosnan films. Written Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and Bruce Feirstein, the screenplay was further doctored by Michael Apted's screenwriting wife. This extra process has added more depth to the characters, especially the female ones. Judi Dench is much less irritating in this one. She's warmer and is given some good lines. "Remember 007, shadows always remain in front or behind... never on top."

Sophie Marceau is the best Bond actress for years and much better than any of the actresses in the last Bond film Casino Royale. Her character is somewhat tragic and deluded. She thinks Bond won't kill her whatever she does or tries to do. Her relationship with Brosnan/Bond is more complex and interesting than your average Bond/Bond girl banter. The film has a better cast than usual with Marceau and Robert Carlyle. Carlyle is excellent as Renard, a tragic but resigned villain who has a bullet in his brain which is slowly killing him but makes him impervious. You almost feel sorry for Renard with Carlyle's gentle but sinister performance. Having just said that the cast get more to do than usual in a Bond film (and Brosnan and Marceau certainly do) I should point out that Carlyle isn't used enough here. I could have done with more Renard in the film. Robbie Coltrane as Valentine makes a welcome return.

The Story is also better. It unfolds like a sixties Bond and picks up pace to get better as it goes on. The speedboat chase is wonderful and there is an exciting underground mine sequence where Bond uses his ingenuity and a few gadgets to escape.

Desmond Llewelyn's last scene as Q is beautifully done and quite touching. "I've always tried to teach you two things. First, never let them see you bleed," says Q.  "And the second?" asks Bond. "Always have an escape plan!" replies Q as he exits for the last time. John Cleese is introduced as the new Q and is suitably funny and pompous.

What I didn't like:

The film doesn't look very glossy or expensive at times, the casino scenes especially having a cramped feel.

Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist! Perhaps not the best piece of casting ever but then Bond films tend to cast the 'babe of the day' a bit too much. I don't know what Richards is doing now but in 1999 she was in-vogue enough to get the gig.

The waterlogged climax on a submarine. Really boring. It just involves Bond and Renard fighting as the water rises. There is no scope or clear intention. Recent Bonds have struggled with the ending and this is no exception. It's a shame that the film, a fine and interesting one mostly, went out with a wimper and not a bang. I didn't mind the corny ending with Bond and Jones and the usual innuendo. It's a James Bond film! I like a few jokes in there.

Overall, The World Is Not Enough is regarded as a terrible film by many Bond fans. I disagree. I think it is the best of the Brosnan Bond films thanks to excellent casting and a tighter script. Brosnan is very assured and comfortable in the role and has a bit of acting to do for a change. He's restrained and more three-dimensional in this one. Also, unlike Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, he doesn't overact in The World Is Not Enough's torture sequence (which was inspired by the Casino Royale novel). One thing people seem to have forgotten about Brosnan's Bond is that he was pretty ruthless and cold-blooded at times. There is a tangible element of cruelty in Brosnan's handsome face that they could have mined a bit more.

Some viewers may find that (the start aside) the film lacks spectacular action and big set-pieces. It's a fair-point but I think the film works better without too many. There is a ski sequence early in the film that just doesn't work because it seems so unnecessary. It doesn't gel with the rest of the film and sticks out. A big action scene at Valentine's caviar factory is fun but does remind one of a Hollywood theme park show. It's technically well staged but lacks that certain something. That 'certain something' is almost certainly a proper action director to amp everything up a notch.

Certainly one of the more interesting of the recent Bonds, if you prefer a bit of story and intrigue to explosions and gadgets you'll enjoy The World Is Not Enough. Not without faults but an enjoyable and underrated entry in the long running series.



c 2007 Alternative 007