Tomorrow Never Dies is everything I want a Bond film to be. It has a great Bond, a kick-ass Bond Girl, a villain with a smart and effective scheme and best of all, some great, ambitious action sequences. Where Goldeneye rebooted Bond effectively, Tomorrow Never Dies carries the torch brightly and delivers another excellent instalment in the franchise.
It is the ambition of the film of that shines brightest. There are many exciting moments that showcase how far the franchise has come and what makes it the benchmark for spy movies, and some action movies, to try to reach. For starters is the car chase in the multi-storey car park. Bond drives a BMW by remote control and manages to use a multitude of gadgets, cause mayhem, explosions and crack a smile while he does it.
Follow this up with another impressive chase sequence, this time on a motorbike through the streets of Saigon. This involves some ambitious stunts, a death-defying jump over helicopter blades and another under helicopter blades. Considering this involves little to no CGI, it can’t help but impress.
Another real-life stunt is the jump from the skyscraper using an advertising banner to help break the fall. The fact that these stunts are done for real just highlight how exciting and the step-up that this film is compared to others in the series.
Bond Girl Michelle Yeoh, playing a kick-ass spy herself called Wai Lin, is involved in the latter two stunts. This shows how much of a match the character is for Bond and why she is an improvement on the usual damsels-in-distress. She gives Bond someone to play-off and their chemistry is much better for it – even if the final scene involving them doesn’t really seem to “fit.”
Even with a “bolted-on” romance, Michelle Yeoh is at least better utilised than a seemingly wasted Teri Hatcher. Considering the profile of the actress when she filmed this Bond movie, you’d expect her role to be bigger and more necessary, rather than another conquest for Bond and way to anger the principal villain.
The principle villain this time is Elliot Carver, played with relish and delight by Jonathan Pryce. Carver seems to be the first time that Bond does satire and the comparisons between his character and media mogul Rupert Murdoch are not hidden well. It does make for a very good story though and the idea of the media causing war to sell papers is at least a unique one, for Bond anyway.
Although Carver will never be a physical match for Bond, both Pryce and Pierce Brosnan face-off well. They have some great scenes together and Brosnan uses his version of Bond’s wit and way with a pun to wind-up Carver effectively. Brosnan still seems a great choice as Bond here and is even more confident with the action, innuendo and arrogance.
Overall, Tomorrow Never Dies has everything you’d want from a Bond film. A great villain, an even better Bond Girl and a decent story for Bond to be involved in. Add to this some of the best stunts we have seen in the Bond series so far and you have a great “sequel” to the foundations that Goldeneye had effectively laid.
Rating – 4.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)