I thought I had seen all four of the Bond movies starring Pierce Brosnan. It was evident, fairly quickly, that I had never seen this one. I like Brosnan’s Bond, though the excesses of the series by the beginning of the 21st century had just gotten so large that they had to go back and start from scratch with Daniel Craig. I’m glad they made that choice, though I’d never seen any particularly Bond movie that I did not at least enjoy. Until now…
I watched THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH (1999) on 2.17.13. It was my first viewing of the film.
This movie was made after Austin Powers came out, yet they somehow managed to take all of the stuff that was so famously skewered by Mike Myers and plop it all into a new Bond film. It was as if they were saying “Oh, you think we were over the top and obvious before? Watch this!” I mean, the villain, Renard (Robert Carlyle) even looks like Dr. Evil:
I’ve always liked what Brosnan has done with the character of Bond. He plays it straightforward, he doesn’t answer questions about himself, he keeps a distance even as he sleeps with every woman who comes into his circle. He is believable with the action stuff, even if he isn’t as gritty and tough as some of the others. My problem with THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, surprisingly, has nothing to do with James Bond.
The action set-pieces in this movie are just so zany and overblown as to be comical. A boat chase leads to an attempted hot air balloon escape. A ski excursion turns into a flying snowmobile attack. A nuclear bomb sent through a pipeline leads to a weird luge sequence. A helicopter with a giant phallic set of saws cuts through a building leading to a potential villain swimming in caviar. A nuclear submarine is under attack, and sinks to the floor of the sea, whereupon Bond (knowing the intricacies of a Russian nuclear submarine, naturally) swims outside and lets himself back in.
Look, I can see past a few eccentricities, this is a Bond movie after all. But, for me, those eccentricities need to create bigger and more exciting action, even if the world becomes unbelievable. The most damning thing I can say about this movie is that it is uninteresting. Maybe I am spoiled by the new generation of Bond and its ability to make you think Bond might not make it, even if we all know he will. In THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, the danger just isn’t there for me. Except in one scene utilizing an archaic torture device, it all feels too easy and too choreographed.
I haven’t even gotten to Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones. Arguably the worst Bond girl of all time, the requirements for the audition seemed to include the ability to look good while swimming in a white tee shirt. There are dozens of examples of strong Bond girls, this film even has a decent one in Sophie Marceau, but Denise Richards just cannot pull off a believable nuclear physicist.
So, hey, it isn’t all terrible. There are some funny lines. The introduction of John Cleese as Q’s replacement creates a funny scene. Brosnan still brings chram to Bond, and he is likable throughout. But, truly, when the action in a Bond movie is flawed, the movie is going to lack success. Especially when there is nothing new to be discovered. Bad guys still kidnap bond and the other heroes rather than killing them. The same tried-and-true formula is never broken. That can work if the formula is used to create original moments, but this movie fails to do so. With all of the good entries in the Bond series, I can’t see why I would ever watch THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH again.
FILM: 3; MOVIE: 4; ACTING: 4; WRITING: 2
FINAL SCORE: 3.25