Tag: James Bond

James Bond: Just a Professional doing a Job – Brosnan #Bondathon

Brosnan Bondathon - James Bond

The fifth Storified set of ‘Tweet notes’ for each film in a complete (canon) Twitter #Bondathon leading up to the release of Skyfall and the franchise’s 50th anniversary. Typos as guaranteed as terrible one-liners.

FEW ACTORS HAVE HOVERED AROUND THE BOND ROLE WHILE SO NEARLY MISSING OUT.  But the fall of Bond movie profits and the inevitable legal issues that the early 1990s brought actually did Pierce Brosnan a favour. After contractual obligations forced him out of the running in 1987, he was able to make a superb entrance in 1995 and with that history it’s no surprise that when he put on the tux, it fitted like a glove. His Bond was the best of everything.  Ruthless but professional, a dead-shot and a wit.  Oddly, his hit the psychopathic brink more than any other while still delivering more one-liners than Roger Moore.

It’s rather a shame that Craig’s era looks likely to obliterate Brosnan’s.  True it’s dated quite considerably, but its main problem was one that had blighted the franchise before.  Roger’s Moore’s debut was a cool and confident one which, while it dated quickly, set a new direction for the series.  While Brosnan didn’t fall into the same trap of a lame second film, it only took him three films for the bar to rise beyond ridiculous.  The World is not Enough is a fairly preposterous epic, caught up with the Mi6 family that the Brosnan era honed, wonderfully filmed though it is.  Even there, the Scottish segments bring the Casino Royale spoof to mind.  However, it was Die Another Day that administered a death blow that seemed to catch everyone by surprise.  It’s pure science-fiction involving DNA manipulation and invisible cars.  Even in the heightened reality Brosnan era, it just ‘looked’ like sci-fi.

It really was a crushing disappointment, not least because it came with all the bluster of the 40th anniversary.  And as for the Technicolor CGI surfing… Well…

But perhaps this rapid shark jumping was unavoidable.  The franchise always had to cater for and respond to changes in the real world as well as the cinematic one.  And here, while cinema success was never in doubt, the reality posed a real problem.  The Brosnan films had to cope with the arrival of mobile phones and the internet, killer blows to any a spy franchise that couldn’t ignore them.  Hoisted on its own techni-petard, a return to Fleming was the only sensible option – they even toyed with setting it in the 1960s – and Brosnan was never given the chance to redeem it.  After Die Another Day, actually Brosnan aided his exit by constantly pushing for a Casino Royale adaptation directed by Tarantino.  That sounded good and, well, he was half right…

GoldenEye (1995)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
The World is not Enough (1999)
Die Another Day (2002)

BROSNAN #BONDATHON ON STORIFY

James Bond: You Should Have Brought Lilies: Dalton #Bondathon

Dalton Bondathon - James Bond

The fourth Storified set of ‘Tweet notes’ for each film in a complete (canon) Twitter #Bondathon leading up to the release of Skyfall and the franchise’s 50th anniversary. Typos as guaranteed as a cigarette in Q Branch.

WHAT A SCARY GUY THIS BOND IS. Even the way he says the word ‘that’ in his first tip of a hat to a one-liner… This guys is hard as nails, physically nasty, bloody quick with a gun and full of ruthless ideas.  Do not mess, generally.  Do not mess.  Or he’ll actually steal your cigarettes.

Dalton is probably still edging it as the closest screen representation of Fleming’s Bond.  Unlike Moore, he relished the nastiness of the character but was also able to effortlessly switch to romance mode.  There are significant benefits to having a brilliant actor on board but more important perhaps was the physicality.  Almost every stunt scene has Dalton acting the fall guy, a considerable leap forward from Sir Rog.  He’s also more sweary and takes a beating – to a staggering level in Licence to Kill.

In other scenes, Dalton’s  all round chemistry is brilliant – it’s just a bit of a shame that his Bond girls were all round  a little tenuous.  This Bond is clearly an established spy;  one who’s bloody good at his job and respected for it.  Unfortunately we never see him in naval uniform although he’s called Commander more than any other iteration in Licence to Kill.  His knowledge of global politics is significant and his loyalty to his peers palpable –  often resulting in revenge of some sort.  That said, this Bond has a cordial relationship with Russians when necessary, a strong relationship with Q there is even a welcome return to a fatherly/one-upmanship relationship with M.

Off screen, The Living Daylights  was evidently a shot in the arm for all involved.  It has a sense of spectacle, cinematography and fine plotting that had been missing fro the series for some time. As film-making, it’s by far John Glen’s finest directorial effort.  As the Cold War melted, it had the nouse to dip back into espionage as almost a last hurrah. It brought back Fleming’s world of SMERSH, a concept that even the 60s had barely touched on, instead veering towards the Volcano bases of SPECTRE.  It really isn’t an understatement to say that The Living Daylights is not only the best Bond film of the 80s, but probably the strongest Bond since the 60s.

The reach for authenticity in the Dalton era has been skewed by Craig’s current reign.  Licence to Kill, for all its reputation, actually features a higher number of one-liners than The Living Daylights, but is popularly regarded as Bond getting too serious. Aside from the hiatus that followed, the real problem seemed to be the merging of Bond’s greatest defence mechanism (exploitation) with a quest for realism. It surfaced as excess.  While it’s a knee-jerk response to cinema trends (80s American action films) was the same as Live and Let Die or Moonraker responding to popular, contemporary genres, Licence to Kill carries it through every part of the film. Villain, plot, score, location, script – all of it shouted 1980s action film.  Bond the Brit could feel particularly out of place there, but Dalton’s solidly angry performance carries it off. the problem was that the 80s actioner was already past its best in 1989.

The two years between Dalton the films saw the sharpest shift in cinema since 1977, and this time Bond came off worse.  There were hints in 1987, but while the superb The Living Daylights beat off Lethal Weapon and Die Hard convincingly, Licence to Kill was rather crushed by their respective sequels as well as the Connery starring Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and especially Batman.  It wasn’t a sea change at the box office, more obliteration. While Batman featured an older fictional character than Bond, it signalled a new kind of blockbuster mentality that persists today.

Arriving alongside this was a new introspection.  By the late 1980s, the critical reaction to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service had completed its 180 flip and duly provides a strong backbone to Dalton’s final performance and the plot’s storyline of revenge – if only it had been You Only Live Twice.  In that respect, not only was the loss of Dalton a shame, but also the hiatus that ground this momentum to a halt.

The second wayward son of the franchise, Dalton gets a rather unfair wrap in general, even two Bond’s later.  On many levels he’s at the head of the pack if not leading, but he’s undone by the fact that his tenure lasted only two films.  Perhaps his greatest function was to act as a perfect 80s segue between the financially successful Moore and Brosnan eras.  Think Licence to Kill is misguided?  Perhaps.  But its shadow certainly hangs over the Craig era: from the license revocation scene in Quantum of Solace through to the spy’s back-story and even the gun optical palm reader in Skyfall

Dalton really was the difficult middle child of the franchise, but like the short-lived Lazenby before him, that legacy is larger than the screen-time suggests.

The Living Daylights (1987)
Licence to Kill (1989)

DALTON #BONDATHON ON STORIFY

James Bond: The Tedious Inevitability of an Unloved Season: Moore #Bondathon

Moore Bondathon - James Bond

The third Storified set of ‘Tweet notes’ for each film in a complete (canon) Twitter #Bondathon leading up to the release of Skyfall and the franchise’s 50th anniversary. Typos as guaranteed as raised eyebrows.

LIVE AND LET DIE IS PROBABLY THE MOST SUCCESSFUL REBOOT THE BOND FRANCHISE WILL EVER SEE, leading to an uninterrupted doubling of the series in the hands of a man who could – but never really does – sleep walk the part.

A year older than Connery when he took over the role, Roger Moore’s age does become a factor, with stuntmen taking on the mantle of Bond for what looks like half of 1985’s A View to a Kill.  Moore is often used as a weapon in Connery’s defence.  But while his Bond was more vulnerable he was also more smug – a nice shift from superman arrogance of Connery but with no greater level of one liners nor simply a retread of Simon Templar or Lord Brett Sinclair.  While Moore looks very uncomfortable with Fleming ruthlessness or brutality, he is far less of a clown than his reputation suggests.

Unfortunately, it was the serious reboot of For Your Eyes Only, after the excess of Moonraker (a mirror of the producer’s response to Connery’s You Only live Twice), which came across as bland rather than dark.  However, this also a result and heralding of a shift in production team.  It would take director John Glen four films and a recast Bond to make a classic entry after his 1981 debut.  Still, there is a lot to enjoy in the slump of latter Moore: films that actually benefit from viewing in order unlike Connery’s.  A View to a Kill is in particular a rather subtle reboot of the franchise after Octopussy’s greatest hits failure.  So much so, it’s intriguing to imagine it as Dalton’s first film.

The Moore era really suffers the best and worst of everything Bond, but in the absence of SPECTRE it was the changing state of cinema that proved to be his greatest foe.  Bond was seven films old when Jaws (of the Shark kind) came out and Moore steered the spy through Star Wars and Indiana Jones, although the effect of both those franchises is evident in Moonraker and Octopussy – rather odd for a franchise which was still guaranteed a yearly top five box-office:  Bond was no longer leading the pack, but struggling to stay relevant.

It’s a mercy that Moore’s tenure ran out in the same year as Back to the Future – but still, maintaining the franchise through those turbulent times was probably a more difficult trick than beating off Bourne and Powers has been in recent years.   Crucially Moonraker was the film where film profits changed dramatically as budgets soared against returns.  It’s no accident that Bond suddenly became more aware of its history.  Moore’s Bond is a seasoned veteran from, Bond’s reputation is preceding him wherever he goes – rather strange for a secret agent.  In the whole chronology, it still feels like we’re watching Bond’s latter years, far after Craig, Lazenby, Brosnan, Dalton or even Connery.  He certainly had some scores to settle before his dotage.  For all the pointed fingers, Moore really is acting at the start of For Your Eyes Only, finally carrying out Lazenby’s decade long revenge. One that Connery had earlier ignored…

Live and Let Die (1973)
the Man with the Golden Gun (1975)
The Spy who Loved Me (1977)
Moonraker (1979)
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Octopussy (1983)
A View to a Kill (1985)

MOORE #BONDATHON ON STORIFY

James Bond: All The Time in the World – Bond reviews from the archive

Connery, Lazenby, Moore and Brosnan reviewed

Well, it’s kind of a Bond week, so to complement (and possibly disagree) with my Tweet notes on each film, I’ve dug out my reviews of six Bond films that were published for the release of Casino Royale in 2006.  It’s like some kind of 007 Legends, but only one of these made it into the game…

Originally published on 6degreesfilm.com

Dr No (1963)

Dir: Terence Young. 1962 USA, Britain, 105 mins
Cast: Sean Connery, Joseph Wiseman, Ursula Andress, Jack Lord, Bernard Lee, John Kitzmiller, Eunice Gayson.

AFTER MEETING the daunting challenge of casting James Bond with a young Scottish actor, cameras were set to roll on the film which was to kick-start a multi billion pound franchise from Ian Fleming’s novels.

With the first Bond book, Casino Royale, destined not to be officially adapted for forty years, the producing partnership of Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, decided to adapt the sixth book of Ian Fleming’s Bond series, Dr No, mainly due to legal issues and its suitability for filming.  The result is a fairly faithful adaptation of a fairly simple tale and an excellent choice for introducing Bond to the big screen.

Bond (Connery) is dispatched to Jamaica after the disappearance of a British agent who was investigating interference in the American space program.  Aided by the CIA, Bond’s detective trail leads him – via superstition, fear and Honey Ryder (Andress) – to Dr No (Wiseman), an operative of the international crime syndicate, SPECTRE.

Filmed between Jamaica – where Fleming owned a house, GoldenEye – and Pinewood Studios – which was to become the franchise’s spiritual home – the film stretches its meagre budget to some impressive locales and Ken Adam’s impressive sets.  Especially the control centre of the climax, in which lurks the titular, radiation maimed criminal.  Here, Joseph Wiseman sets the pattern for Bond villains to follow, cutting a dapper and menacing figure despite not appearing onscreen for over an hour.  In particular, No’s rather sinister prosthetic hand is demonstrated with a subtler touch than later films may have given it.  Despite this, it is tempting to think of what might have been if Fleming’s original suggestion of Sid James had taken up villain duties.

As the first Bond girl, Ursula Andress has rightly become an icon thanks to one of the best entrances in film history.  However, cast just before filming, she would never have expected to be spoofing herself just five years later in Casino Royale.  Opposite her, Connery proved an excellent choice for Bond, cutting between the suave and ruthless elements of the script with ease and it’s no wonder he is still the Bond against which all others are measured.

Despite most of the boxes being checked, the formula would not be truly established until Goldfinger two years later, but as a pilot for one of the world’s largest film franchises, it’s remarkably consistent with what follows.  A simple and effective adventure that more than justified a sequel.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

Dir: Peter Hunt. 1969 USA, Britain, 136 mins
Cast: George Lazenby, Diana Rigg, Telly Savalas, Ilse Steppat, Gabriele Ferzetti

NOTORIOUS, YES.  The black sheep, yes.  But once you’ve got that out of the way, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a long way from You Only Live Twice, and potentially the high point of the whole series.

To start the new era, franchise producer’s Saltzman and Broccoli returned to books, crafting a close adaptation of the source book and wiping the slate clean.  For the most part, this is a gentler, more epic film than Connery’s Bond entries, helped in part by Lazenby’s less bullying, persona.

When Telly Savalas’ super smooth Ernst Stavro Blofeld crafts a germ warfare plot that could kill millions, Bond must join with SPECTRE’s rival criminal organisation Union Corse, for – thanks to the series reboot – a fateful first meeting with his nemesis high in the Swiss Alps.  Ironically as the super spy heads to Blofeld’s cover operation, an allergy clinic full of models, it seems his womanising ways are behind him.  But can James Bond ever settle down in peace?

Well, maybe not, but OHMSS tries hard to show a new life for Bond, with romantic scenes set against a marvellous score, including ‘We have all the time in the world’  This is a tightly plotted, finely acted and beautifully filmed adventure, and it’s certainly beyond Lazenby’s rare woodenness to ruin that.  The Australian’s only attempt at the role, on the back of hardly any acting experience, is in no way a disaster.  The former model actually gets more character to play with than Connery received in any of his films.  As the film opens, Bond has been trying and failing to locate Blofeld for two years, and is prepared to tender his resignation when removed the task.  But there is intention to do more than just deepen Bond’s character.

Peter Hunt had worked on several Bond films before stepping up from being editor to the director’s chair, and the change from the previous five entries is noticeable.  There is something quite European about the film despite being the only one with an Antipodean Bond.  Hunt employs jump cuts among other techniques to create a highly artistic film, while the substance is ably supplied by a good cast.  Rigg and Savalas in particular set a high standard for Bond girl and villain respectively.  Lazenby and Rigg’s chemistry is crucial to the plot and they certainly rise to the occasion making for not only the most moving scene, but the finest ending of any film in the series.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service sets heights that the franchise was not near again for many years.  It’s not surprising that the critical stock of the film rose significantly in the decade following its release, a fact acknowledged 12 years later when Roger Moore was to visit his wife’s grave in 1981’s For Your Eyes Only.

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Dir: Guy Hamilton. 1971 USA, Britain, 120 mins
Cast: Sean Connery, Charles Gray, Jill St. John, Lana Wood, Jimmy Dean, Norman Burton, Desmond Llewelyn.

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER arrived like clockwork, two years after its predecessor On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  But for the first time in the series’ history, it was clear a reboot was required.  Bond box office had slipped from its early sixties height and once it became clear that Lazenby wouldn’t be returning, Connery’s return must have eased some pains, even at the expense of a world record salary.

Effectively, to get back to the good old days, the production team chose to copy it.  The original Bond was back, so they looked to his finest hour – unarguably Goldfinger – even rehired that film’s director, Guy Hamilton, to recapture the magic.  Given that they even sought to bring back Auric Goldfinger – or even his diamond obsessed brother – it is a mercy that one standout part of the film is Charles Gray’s ebullient Blofeld.  That he is so vastly different from the villain’s previous incarnations is strange, but top marks must certainly go to his plastic surgeon

Sent to investigate the smuggling of diamonds from British mines in Africa, Bond infiltrates the trade, meeting the Amsterdam contact Tiffany Case (St John) on route, and helps her smuggle diamonds across the Atlantic.  In Las   Vegas it becomes clear that the spy’s old nemesis Blofeld (Gray) has seized a billionaire’s business and is using it as a cover to receive the diamonds he needs for a laser satellite weapon

Following the Lazenby lead, faithful and lovingly crafted adaptation, Diamonds Are Forever is a vastly different film, and a significant pointer for where the series would go during the Moore years.  Space buggy chases, ‘decoys’ of the main villain and an oil rig finale, it could have been when the series jumped the shark, but it is mainly some excellent villains – particularly henchmen Wint and Kidd – and Connery that hold it together.  Certainly, it would be hard to see Lazenby’s Bond in this world.  In fact, the events of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service are never even alluded to, the slate wiped clean.

Oddly, considering its ‘greatest hits’ Diamonds Are Forever is only film with just one main Bond girl, but a role that Jill St John copes well with the role.  Initially part of the opposition to Bond, by the end sequence where Blofeld holds her captive she has retreated to screaming, useless comic relief.

What is noticeable about Diamonds Are Forever, is how quickly the 1970s hit the franchise.  Just nine years after his debut, Connery is looking far older, though clearly glad to be back.  But it’s the clothes, cars and style that suggest the franchise was throwing itself into its second decade, or at least showing it wasn’t just a product of the sixties: the seventies had arrived with a kiss kiss bang bang, and Diamonds are Forever arrested the slump with pure brute force.

The Man with the Golden Gun (1975)

Dir: Guy Hamilton. 1974 USA, Britain, 120 mins
Cast: Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Herve Villechaize, Bernard Lee, Soon Taik Oh, Richard Loo, Desmond Llewelyn.

ROGER MOORE’S second outing followed hot on the heels of his first, but while Live and Let Die delighted in reinventing Bond and breaking the formula, MWTGG serves up some of the worst points of the era.

This is a shame, as the idea behind it is irresistible. Bond receives a gold bullet with his number on it, the calling card of ex-KGB operative now gun for hire, Francisco Scaramanga; no-one can match him, no hitman can catch him with the single bullet in his golden gun. But it soon becomes clear that, while Bond faces the closest battle of his career, his nemesis has higher ambitions than the million a shot he currently commands.

The casting of Lee as Scaramanga is the films strong point. A cousin of Fleming, the author had suggested the British actor as Bond himself, but his fit with Bond nemesis was always the most irresistible. Here is the perfect anti-Bond, and the first villain to take precedence over the super spy in the opening sequence. Evenly matched, if not surpassing 007 as a sharp shooter, he is a mirror image – glimpses of his lifestyle, tastes for wine and gadgets suggest what Bond could have become in different circumstances.

But opposite Lee, Moore is a Bond at his most misogynistic and Britt Ekland’s Mary Goodnight is one of the most irritating Bond girls in the franchise’s history. If she’s the standard of agents M16 recruits its no wonder M is so grumpy, constantly telling Q to “shut up.”

As often in the Moore era, ‘bandwagon’ seems to be the keyword. But whereas Live and Let Die had carried its Blaxploitation with style and later Moonraker was to at least incorporate its Star Wars intentions into a plot, here the Eastern promise of Golden Gun’s martial arts stylings is squandered. Few Bond moments drop as low as Bond’s completely irrelevant trip to a Karate school, only to get left behind by his allies. The open road car chase does make a comeback after Live and Let Die’s city traffic dodging, but the less said about ‘that’ car stunt sound effects the better.

The film does look lovely for the most part, with suitably exotic locales. The M16 base hidden in broad sight in Hong Kong harbour is a particularly good idea and impressive set, but for the most part, The Man with the Golden Gun seems very much a waste of good ideas. Most unforgivably, it’s gadget light. Scaramanga gets the flying car, the lighter-kit golden gun and laser and Bond gets, well, just a third nipple. So balanced in favour of the villain is the film, that it makes the anticlimax all the more disappointing as Bond and Goodnight pratfall around Scaramanga’s base. Very much style over substance for long parts this is real popcorn Bond but at least it delivers a belter of theme song at the end.

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Dir: Roger Spottiswoode. 1997 USA, Britain, 114 mins
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Judi Dench, Teri Hatcher, Ricky jay, Gotz Otto, Vincent Schiavelli, Desmond Llewelyn.

PROVING THAT nothing ages you like playing Bond, Brosnan was no longer the rather skinny, slight super spy of GoldenEye when he returned to the role in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies.

Considering the previous film did such a good job of recasting Bond for the post Cold War world, it seemed a bit odd that the sequel grabbed the nineties with such abandon. Everything about TND should shout ‘dated’, but in fact is one of the strongest in the franchise. If you are looking for a straightforward, artfully constructed action film, look no further. Any doubts are quickly dispatched by the stunning pre-title sequence, where Bond saves the Royal Navy from nuclear disaster embarrassment, thanks to some sharp flying.

Following a lavish tech savvy title sequence, with Sheryl Crow’s understated theme song. The Pacific is dragged to the brink of war when the Chinese seem to launch a devastating attack on a Royal Naval frigate. But M16 quickly dispatch Bond (Brosnan) to see if it’s a coincidence that Elliot Carver’s (Pryce) Tomorrow newspaper carried the story front page, especially when he harbours ambitions in the Chinese territory. M (Dench) presumably hopes that, for once, 007’s previous relationship with Carver’s wife Paris (Teri Hatcher) will aid the mission. But, of course there are two sides to every story and Bond soon meets his match in Chinese agent Wai Lin (Yeoh). Can the two work together to find out who is really behind the attack and avert the imminent war?

Surfacing from one of the most problematic shoots the franchise has seen, the first two acts of TND are astonishing. The script tight – in fact Bond has far less dialogue here than any other film – and high quality action sequences stack on top of each other, all with the plot to carry it. But by the end – a raid on Carver’s stealth boat seems so far, so Spy who Loved Me.

Pryce’s Murdoch-lite may be an acquired taste, but he’s actually a great villain and just the megalomaniac the series demands. While his stealth boat sounds and looks rather silly, the idea of a powerful media network, here the Carver Media Group Network, manipulating a war for its own benefit seems less far fetched every day.

Improving on his already engaging performance in GoldenEye, Brosnan really comes into his own here. His is a ruthless Bond, without the bullying of Connery, and the best equipped Bond actor to cut between pun and stun. In fact, despite a plot far removed from the books, he puts a valid case for being the most faithful page-to-screen Bond yet.

On the Bond girl front, Tomorrow Never Dies provides a curious assortment. Teri Hatcher’s casting smacked of stunt at the time, and while a weak element her tragic figure is suitably cast, making a believable lover of both Bond and Carver. On the other side, Michelle Yeoh’s Wai Lin is certainly not the first woman to give Bond a run for his money, but unfortunately like most she inevitably needs saving by the end. Something that certainly cannot be said of the franchise at this point.

The World is Not Enough(1999)

Dir: Michael Apted. 1999 USA, Britain, 123 mins
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Judi Dench, Denise Richards, Robbie Coltrane, Desmond Llewelyn.

SURELY THE best start of any film in the franchise, The World is Not Enough’s pre-title sequence is breath-taking, well escaping its Cool Britannia roots as a boat chase on the Thames culminates at the Millennium Dome. That said, the repeated viewing it practically demands highlights that it is far too long, delaying the titles for almost fifteen minutes.

But the filmmaker’s had their reasons. The franchise’s return to connecting the pre-title sequences with the main plotline is continued as Bond (Brosnan) becomes an unwilling participant in an attack on M16 and the murder of one of M’s (Dench) oldest friends, the British oil mogul, Sir Robert King (Calder). Later, after an all-out title sequence, Bond is assigned to protect King’s orphaned heiress daughter Elektra (Marceau) from constant attempts on her life. However, this rather un-00 agent activity takes a turn for the complicated when Elektra’s one time kidnapper and the world’s most dangerous terrorist Renard (Carlyle) gains possession of a nuclear weapon and the future of oil supply to the west is placed in jeopardy. An ambitious, twisting plot then, but one that delivers on many levels.

The title’s acronym, TWINE, is apt. Surprisingly this film has a nasty little sadistic streak running though it. With torture, mutilation and degradation stringing the set pieces together. Here Bond occasionally wanders into completely deranged mode – maybe not surprising as he’s caught in the middle of other people’s games for most of the film. The ruthlessness Brosnan demonstrated with efficient effect in Tomorrow Never Dies has been upped to the next degree, and most of his puns are really not intended to be funny all. But, if you doubt the entertainment of Bond with an edge, you just have to look back at Octopussy.

Like Tomorrow Never Dies, TWINE displays willingness to subvert Bond archetypes. So many parts have been twisted from even the ‘reality’ of Bond’s world – the vertical submarine, the ‘car chase’ in the tunnel – the science fiction direction of its sequel, Die Another Day, is clearly signposted. Still, the filmmaker’s seem willing to take more risks with the formula, picking up some of Brosnan’s confidence – in a film he probably considered to be his mid point in the role.

The most science-fiction element here, Renard – a villain unable to feel pain thanks to a bullet working its way through his brain – is the film’s weakest point, as the character is criminally underused, a victim of a complicated plot. Probably the most criticism is levelled at Denise Richard’s Dr Christmas Jones. Yes, at last, a bond girl who is a rocket scientist. If this was an attempt to redefine the archetype, it fails badly and is a rather odd step back from Tomorrow Never Die’s Wai Lin.

Still, this is a truly great entry into the series, with the clear ambition to up the bar in every way, and represents the high point of the Brosnan era. GoldenEye may be a brilliant reboot and Tomorrow Never Dies the perfect Bond actioner, but The World Is Not Enough strives to have it all, and it really doesn’t miss that much.

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