After the success and quality of both Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies, the exciting new direction of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond was never going to last. The World is Not Enough isn’t a terrible Bond film, (it is still better than almost all of Roger Moore’s) but compared to the first two in Brosnan’s tenure as James Bond, this film struggles.
It starts strongly and has one of the best pre-credit openings that any Bond film does. It is the longest in the series so far and utilises that well. The chase down the Thames is an exciting one and it’s testament to Brosnan and director Michael Apted that they manage to mix action, humour and some great London locations into the five minute sequence. It is also one that has a lasting effect on the movie, not least in the injury that Bond sustains at the climax of the scene.
The injury to Bond’s collar-bone is the perfect example of the main issue with The World is Not Enough: it feels incomplete and under-utilised. There is a lot to like about the film but they never seem complete or manage to fulfil their full potential. Bond has a major injury but this is only referred to when it suits the story and is then ignored the rest of the time.
The same comparison can be said for the stunts and action sequences, none of which are exactly ground-breaking or unique. Bond returns to the snow and another scene with the spy on skis. Yet again it’s a chase and it offers little that is new. The same for the high-speed trip through an oil pipe which has a weak conclusion and the finale in the submarine which doesn’t really go anywhere either. These are all good ideas but their execution is average.
You can extend this to the villain too. Robert Carlyle is a great choice for a villain who can’t feel pain. Unfortunately, he is used in all of about twenty minutes of screen time and most of that is him shouting or getting his ass-kicked by Bond. He lacks the depth and motivation that could really make the character memorable, rather than a glorified henchman.
The real villain does have a much more interesting story and is far more developed. It is great to see a Bond Girl as what is really the principle villain for the film and Sophie Marceau fills that role well. She does scared and weak, sexy and dangerous all in one, extreme character and it leaves a lasting impression.
Much more of an impression than Denise Richards as Dr Christmas Jones. She is never a full damsel-in-distress but is hardly an effective character for the movie. When she could help Bond, he doesn’t allow it and when he does need her, she proves mostly useless. She is the perfect example of how not to write a Bond Girl.
Luckily on the female front there is an extended role for Judi Dench’s M who is coming into her own as 007’s superior. Even this excursion out of the office doesn’t really lead to anything good and again, the story strand feels wasted.
Overall, The World is Not Enough is full of plenty of good ideas but none that are really utilised as well as they could be. There is a great villain who gets little screen time, poorly written characters or other original plot points which feel rushed too. The action sequences have good beginnings but poor conclusions and compared to what Brosnan had achieved so far as Bond, this feels way below par.
Rating – 3
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)