Thursday, November 8, 2012

The World is Not Enough - Dir. Michael Apted (The Bond Project #19)

The World is Not Enough (1999)
Dir: Michael Apted

The Best Brosnan Bond
Jay Maronde

                While many people have complained that The World is Not Enough is simply, not enough, it’s easily the best of the Brosnan Bonds. It does have a mightily convoluted plot, but ultimately the film is beautifully made and a perfect example of the “Bond Formula.” The movie also has a few Bond firsts, and plenty of allusions to other Bond films—including the title itself, which is supposedly the James Bond Family Motto as first espoused in the much earlier On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
                This movie starts with by far the longest pre-credits sequence in the entire Franchise, which is almost a mini-movie in itself. Right from the very first scene where Bond is in Bilbao, Spain in front of a Guggenheim Museum, the viewer realizes that this Bond is going to be a classic with epic locations that really highlight the globe-trotting character of Bond. Here Bond is recovering some a large sum of money and in true James Bond fashion the spot gets blown and Bond has to fight his way out. As he does, the Bond theme plays and Bond escapes with the money achieving his mission. I should point out that the credits were originally supposed to roll right here, but test audiences found the scene lacking, so the sequence continues back to MI6 headquarters where the money is being handed over to Sir Robert King, who happens to be a very old friend of M and apparently a person who needs to die, as the money explodes, killing King, destroying MI6 HQ, and exposing an assassin floating on a yacht in the Thames. Bond steals a fantastic speed boat from Q’s workshop, and jets out after the assassin. This is easily the best boat chase in the entire series and it’s worth noting that Pierce Brosnan did all of the boat driving and stunt work himself as in real life he is a power boat aficionado. The chase is great and eventually ends with Bond catching up to the assassin and offering her protection in exchange for information before she commits suicide on a hot air balloon leaving Bond to fall precariously onto the roof of the just finished Millennium Dome (at that time). Bond suffers a dislocated collar bone from the fall and this leads to two of my other favorite parts of this movie. Part one: Bond is injured and fights and spies with a broken collar bone the entire film. While this comes into play several times, it really seems to highlight how tough James Bond is as a character. He keeps fighting his way through the mission even with an obviously painful injury. Part two: being injured, Bond needs to obtain clearance from medical branch, and as such seduces the doctor in fantastic James Bond fashion, and indeed after he copulates with her, she notes in her documentation clearing him for active duty that he has incredible stamina.
                Once Bond is returned to active duty he immediately gets back on the case and is sent to protect Elektra King, the daughter of the assassinated Sir Robert King. Elektra is a wonderful Bond girl and played very convincingly by the beautiful Sophie Marceau. This is a Bond first here as it actually turns out Elektra is actually the very first Bond villain to be a woman. Bond spends almost the whole movie discovering this, and in the end eventually puts a bullet into her even as she swears he could never murder a woman he has loved. I personally think this Bond first is great as it clearly highlights Bond’s personal coldness and willingness to do whatever for the mission with no compunction towards whatever personal feelings he may have had.
While Bond blunders about thinking with his penis, he and Elektra go on numerous worldwide adventures. These include a skiing adventure which clearly brings to mind all the fantastic Bond skiing scenes from throughout the Canon, and also features some of the finest cinematography in the entire Franchise. The sprawling mountain skiing scenes are absolutely gorgeous.
                Another highlight of this movie is the return of former Bond villain but ally since GoldenEye, Valentin Zukovsky, again played wonderfully by Robbie Coltrain. Now if you remember correctly, Zukovsky walks with a limp and a cane because Bond shot him in the hip. As this movie races to its dramatic conclusion, Zukovsky is shot and uses his dying breath to shoot Bond’s restraints (freeing Bond from another precarious situation) with a secret one shot gun hidden inside the cane that he only carries because of Bond.  This is that fantastic Bond magic that can only occur within such a long and well established Franchise.
                The one major complaint that others have had about this movie, is really a tremendous gift to the viewer, because honestly, who doesn’t like Christmas—Dr. Christmas Jones that is. Bond’s ally Bond girl in this film is played by none other than Charlie Sheen’s abused ex-wife, Denise Richards. I would like to comment first off, that Miss Richards is definitely in the peak of her beauty in this film, you can easily see why she was in Playboy and many have often noted that her white shirt during the flooded submarine scene could have crossed a few tableaus, BUT SHE IS AWESOME. Bond girls should always have fantastic names, But DOCTOR Christmas Jones is definitely on level with Plenty O’Toole, Holly Goodhead, and Pussy Galore. While maybe she is not quite as outwardly scandalous, Richards provides sooo much sizzle that it doesn’t matter. Also many people have complained that she’s far too ditzy for the role of a nuclear physicist, but she’s a Bond girl nuclear physicist, so the fact that she’s clearly reciting lines that she has no idea about only makes the movie better.
                The World is Not Enough also features the title song The World is Not Enough, as performed by Garbage. I really like this song as I feel it elicits many of the aspects of the great Shirley Bassey Bond songs of yore while still having it be performed by a modern rock band with more modern instrumentation. Also worth a note is that it’s the last film with Desmond Llewelyn in his classic role as Q. He died shortly after filming and the film is dedicated to him.
                This movie has had a lot of mixed reviews, but in the end I feel as though it’s the best of the Brosnan Bonds. The movie is exciting and features a very epic pair of villains bent on complete world catastrophe. The movie features exquisite Bond girls, a very active Bond, and fantastic scenery and filming locations.  

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