Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"The World is Not Enough" (1999)

Starring Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau and Robert Carlyle
Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Bruce Feirstein
Directed by Michael Apted
Rated PG-13 - Violence, sexual themes
Running Time: 128 Minutes

James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is injured when an assassin commits suicide rather than be captured after oil magnate Sir Robert King is murdered within the walls of MI6 headquarters.  Convincing his superiors he's fit for duty, 007 takes the assignment to protect King's daughter Elektra (Sophie Marceau) from a terrorist named Renard (Robert Carlyle) who had kidnapped her years previous.

M (Judi Dench) assigned 009 to kill Renard, but the bullet didn't kill the man.  Instead, it burrowed deep into Renard's brain, where it has numbed all his senses.  Renard is impervious to pain, making him even more dangerous.  While protecting Elektra, Bond begins to fall for her, even as he begins to suspect that something is not quite right with her.  He infiltrates her organization, and discovers that Renard is planning on stealing a nuclear bomb from a decommissioning site in Kazakhstan.

He hooks up with a nuclear physicist, Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), and discovers that Elektra is actually in league with Renard.  Elektra kidnaps M, and Bond and Christmas must travel to Istanbul to rescue M and stop Renard from destroying the West's access to precious oil.

Like "Tomorrow Never Dies" before it, the problem with "The World is Not Enough" is that the film just feels to pedestrian to really matter.  Nothing it does is particularly special, and none of the action sequences in the film live up to the promise of the opening London boat chase.

The greater role for Judi Dench's M is welcome, though the emotional connection in this film is really for M rather than Bond.  As a villain, the premise for Renard is interesting since he can't feel any pain.  It's kind of a callback to the ridiculous henchmen like Oddjob or Jaws, but Carlyle doesn't give Renard anything special to make him memorable, neither does the script really play with this concept other than at a couple of parts.  It even tries to make Renard a little tragic in that he can't feel pleasure from loving Elektra, but it's all very simple and basic.

The biggest failure of the film, though, is Denise Richards as Christmas Jones.  She's just a plain terrible actress, stumbling over her lines and unable to bring any kind of life to the role whatsoever.  She's not just unbelievable as a physicist, she's just painfully bad.  She's also the subject of the film's worst joke, the last line in the movie, which is a groaner of the highest-calibre.

The opening boat chase sequence is by far the film's best action, which is unfortunate.  A ski chase, and a ludicrous scene involving tree saws hanging from helicopters, even the film's climax aboard a sinking submarine never feel all that thrilling or engaging.  And building one sequence around Denise Richards having to disarm a nuclear bomb is... bad.  Even Bond's car and gadgets in this film don't feel particularly clever in any fashion.  He gets a grappling wire in his watch, and his car has some nifty features like rockets, but he only gets to use them briefly before the car gets sawed in half.  Oh, and, uh, X-ray glasses.  Yawn.

This is Pierce Brosnan's third go'round as superspy James Bond, but the problem is that aside from "Goldeneye," the movies are never as good as he is.  Brosnan is warmer and nicer than Connery or Dalton, but never a cartoon like Roger Moore.  He strikes a nice balance, and definitely gets the smooth operator aspects, and has no problem handling all the action sequences, either.  But his Bond is the best thing about the films he's in.

"The World is Not Enough" is warmed-over James Bond.  Despite a thrilling opening sequence, the film never rises up to the occasion and gives us anything really worthwhile.  And the miscasting of Denise Richards is a fatal flaw.

See Also
James Bond