Bond 19 is Pierce Brosnan’s 3rd outing as the British double-0 agent. This film is directed by Michael Apted, written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, with a screenplay by Purvis, Wade, and Bruce Feirstein. Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli are producers once again in their second solo outing since the pass g of Albert R Broccoli. This Eon film takes its name from the fictional Bond family crest with features the words “Orbis Non Sufficit”, or “The World is not Enough“.
In a nutshell: Bond is charged with babysitting the daughter of an assassinated billionaire tycoon but soon learns of a plot which could affect the world.
Gimme some more: Sir Robert King is assassinated at the hands of madman Viktor “Renard” Zokas (KGB agent turned terrorist), who also kidnapped his daughter Elektra. Bond is charged with babysitting her but he uncovers a mystery that leads him to suspect that Renard is planning something big which could destabilize world finances. Its revealed that Renard will be a formidable foe, he feels no pain thanks to bullet in the head from 009 which is trapped but gradually dulling his sense until he dies. Bond goes undercover to try and find out what is going on, but while Renard is messing around with a nuclear bomb, Dr Christmas Jones blows his cover. Renard hints that he is working with Elektra and then tries to destroy the place but Bond escapes with Dr Jones. While this is going on Elektra has visited and kidnapped M. Bond visits Valentin Zukovsky for info and with the help of Dr Jones figures out the plan that Renard has – to destroy Istanbul, which would destroy some of the world’s major oil pipelines, leaving King with the monopoly… wait, wouldn’t that make Renard just a henchman to a different mastermind?
With M kidnapped, Renard and Elektra on the loose, and very little time, it’s up to Bond to save the world.
Cast: I stand by what I have said about Pierce Brosnan in my other reviews, I like his performances in the role because he manages to channel the other actors’ styles of portraying Bond into his own performance. He is cool and slick but ready for action.
Robert Carlyle as Victor “Renard” Zokas is a worthy nemesis. I have seen Carlyle play an unhinged bad guy in other films, in this he remains a lot more unemotive due to the character, but he still manages to pull it off well. The only occasional issue I had was his accent which can occasionally be a bit transparent. It seems that Scots regularly get cast a Russians, most of the time it works too. Not only do we have Carlyle playing Russian here, but Robbie Coltraine returns in his role of Valentin Zukovsky, both do better than Goldie with his questionable accent – but let’s sidestep that.
Bond girls: Sophie Marceau and Denise Richards. Marceau plays Elektra King; she has lost a lot of confidence because of kidnapping that is mentioned at the start of the film. She is shy and withdrawn but does occasionally display moments of power. While she looks like butter would not melt in her mouth, she is more commanding than she suggests. Marceau plays this role really well and is a good fit for it. I have seen her in other films, but I enjoyed the range of acting she gave in this film the most. While I have lumped her into the Bond girl category, she is far from a typical bond girl, more a femme fatale as she demonstrates that she could be Bonds downfall. The Elektra character was something that excited producers Broccoli and Wilson when she was created by the writers. To Bond she may appear to be as precious as Tracy “007: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969), but she would turn out to be as deadly as Blofield. This character is given some good development and it’s not till the end of the film that audience viewers realise that the kidnapper has become the henchman, and the kidnappee has become the mastermind. Sophie Marceau is the first Bond villain that is female (believe me I know there have been other female villains in the franchise, but they were generally henchmen. The closest we get to a female lead villain is “007: Octopussy” (1983)but she ends up helping Bond).
On the other side, Denise Richards character of Dr Christmas Jones is more typical of the Bond girl title, right down to the name too. Richards was criticised for her performance in this film and for me she did not really fit the character she was playing, there was something not quite right. Her performance was a little camp and almost aimed at being comic relief at moments – and as far as portraying a credible nuclear scientist, err… no, just no. She did offer something to the progress of the film plot, but it almost felt that her purpose was just for the tongue-in-cheek “Christmas only comes once a year” line at the end of the film – that and getting her wet while putting her in a white t-shirt!
Judie Dench gets a larger role than most M’s in this film and she is pure class, condensed grit and tension. Dench makes M very human and fallible. In other reoccurring roles Samantha Bond and Desmond Llewelyn return as Miss Moneypenny and Q. An additional MI6 specialist is seen, R, played by John Cleese. He is an understudy to Q and will potentially take over the quartermaster role. He plays the role like something out of his comedy back catalogue, he’s comical but he is also quick to tell Bond off. I cannot say I was impressed with this addition but having a replacement in waiting was sensible and almost a weird premonition too. Llewelyn died in car crash following the release of the movie. He would be missed as he is the longest running stalwart in the franchise – between 1963 and 1999 he appeared in 17 of the 19 Bond films.
Stuff: The story in this film is inspired by real events, with the collapse of the Soviet Union different oil companies where vying for control of untapped oil reserves in the Caspian Sea. Barbara Broccoli considered this to be a scenario ready for a Bond villain to exploit. After discussing it further with production partner, Wilson, this hired writers to flesh it out. Enter Purvis and Wade who had worked on “Plunkett and Maclean” (1999), who incidentally would go on to write on all the following Bond films up to the 2020/21 “No time to Die”. Michael Apsted was brough on board to direct, one of the key decisions to for this was due to his ability to portray strong female characters, some of his previous films had earned Oscar nominations for their leading ladies – Sissy Spacek, Sigourney Weaver, and Jodie Foster. Apsted’s wife helped in an uncredited role to re-write the female characters a little to strengthen them. Bruce Fernstein was brought back as a screenwriter as he had previously worked on the Bond role so having him back to do the screenplay for the character again seemed an obvious choice. The budget for this film was $135 million, which it recouped at the box office with takings of $361.8 million. At 125 minutes, this film crammed a lot in to satisfy it’s audience, from car and boat chases, to stunts on the Millennium done, and then to dodging helicopters with giant rotary saws attached to them.
Music: The theme song for this Bond film was “The World is Not Enough”. Performed by Garbage and written by David Arnold and Don Black. This was the fifth film tune co-written by Don Black after “Thunderball”, “Diamonds are Forever”, “The Man with the Golden Gun”, and “Tomorrow Never Dies”.
The musical score in the film was composed by David Arnold.
Wrap up: Brosnan does well as Bond and I have no issues with him. Carlyle is brilliant as a main villain despite his occasionally dodgy accent and Marceau, who is initially lukewarm become better the longer she is onscreen thanks to some good writing. The combination of Carlyle and Marceau is one of the cleverest parts of the film, while a lot of people looks at Carlyle as the main villain, it is actually Marceau that should be given that credit. Carlyle may start off as the main bad guy, and everything we learn and see points to him too, but by the time we see him on-screen he’s transitioned into a henchman role – doing the bidding of a secret mastermind, who happens to be somebody who he previously kidnapped – Elektra King (Marceau). It’s not until the end of the film that the truth comes out, and then it gives the film a little bit of a different feel. A Bond film where a woman is the main criminal mastermind and it somebody that’s been right underneath the hero’s nose since the opening of the film. As good and clever as that was, I was baffled by the inclusion of Denise Richards. She is hyped up as being the cleverest person in the film, but throughout she is constantly clueless and baffled by occurrences. I do not think the production team were treating this character seriously with the likes of Ginger Spice (Gerry Halliwell) being given an audition too, despite no prior big screen experience (barring “Spiceworld” (1997)). There is no wonder she won a Golden Raspberry for her role. I also wasn’t rerally sold on John Cleese ebing sold as Desmond Llewlyn’s replacement – I don’t think the level of humour being brought was right for the film.
I enjoyed the film. It is not the perfect Bond film by a long way, and there are issues with some parts of it, but it makes up for it by being strong in other areas. At times though it does feel like this is a Bond by numbers exercise again: gadget – check; women – check; villain – check; over the top escape sequence -check.
There is an attempt to step forward, making it cooler, darker, younger and more modern. But the film also takes a step back too with plot issues and predictable scenes and outcomes. It may have been Bronsnan’s best outing as the hero in the franchise, but other things in the film detract from how good it could have been. The stunts are big, the antics are excessive, explosions, gadgets…. All the usual really, but something just doesn’t feel right. The more I think about it, the more I get confused as to what it is… so I won’t think abut it anymore.
This 12 -rated film is fun and watchable. You do not need to have seen the entire franchise to appreciate it. It isn’t too complex, the themes and content are not too adult that I couldn’t put younger viewers in front of it and with good action and plenty of nostalgia it should be good for the older audience members too.
Title Song: The World is not Enough – Garbage
In terms of Bond films this is a 8 out of 10.
In terms of movies in the long and illustrious history of film I would give this a 7 out of 10.
Bond, James Bond, 007 – Ranking
|1||007: Goldfinger (1964) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: Goldeneye (1995) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|2||007: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: License to Kill (1989) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: A View to a Kill (1985) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: Dr. No (1962) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: The Living Daylights (1987) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: The World is Not Enough (1999) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: From Russia with Love (1963) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|3||007: Thunderball (1965) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: Moonraker (1979) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|4||007: You only live twice (1967) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: Diamonds are Forever (1971) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: For Your Eyes Only (1981) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: Octopussy (1983) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|007 (Unofficial): Never Say Never Again (1983) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|5||007: Live and Let Die (1973) ⭐⭐⭐⭐|