The World is Not Enough (1999) – Film Review
Director: Michael Apted
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Robert Carlyle, Denise Richards, Sophie Marceau
by @Roger Crow
Back in 1999 I was so excited when I saw the trailer for Pierce Brosnan’s third outing as 007, it felt like Christmas. And that seasonal holiday provides one of the best double entendres of the 1990s saga. Just a shame the rest of The World is Not Enough isn’t as good.
“Degree of poignancy”
Problems begin from the off with that exhausting pre-credits sequence, which originally apparently ended when Bond jumps out of a window. But apparently the powers that be weren’t that happy with the scene set in Spain. Unlike Lord of the Rings, it was far too short. Too little Bilbao baggage you might say. So an epic boat chase down the Thames was added, with Brosnan chasing a femme fatale (Maria Grazia Cucinotta) over river and land at one point. Enjoying a cameo in one scene is a traffic warden from a documentary series of the time which nobody remembers now.
It’s always good to see London in the Bond movies, and trivia fans may note the finale at the Millennium Dome is just seven miles from where the pre-credits of For Your Eyes Only were filmed.
Eventually we arrive at those oily, striking opening titles and the magnificent Garbage singing the title theme; Shirley Manson would have been a great Bond woman.
With MI6’s big cheeses relocated to Scotland, there is lots of exposition, and then a degree of poignancy as Desmond Llewellyn bows out as Q to make way for John Cleese as the token MI6 gadget master. Des should have left the series at least a decade earlier, but obviously he was so loved by millions that he kept being brought back to explain the latest gizmo, despite the fact Llewellyn had no clue what any of it meant.
“Lots of problems“
After his stunning turn as psycho Begbie in Trainspotting, Robert Carlyle was recruited as Renard, a villain unable to feel pain. Just a shame any sense of psychosis was left on the cutting room floor.
On the plus side, Denise Richards is a fabulous heroine, Christmas Jones (clearly modelled after Lara Croft). Yes, she may have her critics, but Richards does a great job of selling the premise and dodging the bullets.
Braveheart‘s Sophie Marceau is also rather good as the other glamourpuss at the heart of the drama, and when it turns out she’s not to be trusted, the film goes off in another direction.
Judi Dench returns as M; Samantha Bond is Moneypenny, and Colin Salmon and Michael Kitchen are also on top form as Robinson and Tanner. So yes, there’s continuity, but there are a lot of problems with The World Is Not Enough.
There’s a random action scene while Bond is out skiing, though the David Arnold cue ‘Ice Bandits’ is rather good. He also does a great job throughout, with some pulse-pounding tracks, including one in a tunnel which is fabulous.
“Some good moments”
Goldie pops up as a toothy henchman called Bull (clearly a nod to Jaws), and Robbie Coltrane is back from GoldenEye as shady Russian Valentin Zukovsky. But the whole thing goes on too long, and the finale on a submarine is, if you’ll excuse the obvious pun, sub-standard.
Apparently Joe Dante and Peter Jackson were considered to helm the project at one point, which would have been fascinating. However, because Michael Apted was considered a good director of women on projects such as The Coal Miner’s Daughter and Nell, he landed the job. A phenomenal film maker, but I don’t think he was right for the job as there are too many scenes of people sat around talking.
TWINE is not the worst Bond movie in the franchise, but the fact this is only the third time I’ve seen it in 21 years might say a lot.
There are some good moments, and a fine cast, but things just fail to gel. Pierce deserved better, but he did get to film another day with arguably the most contentious of his 007 offerings…