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TOMORROW NEVER DIES(director: Roger Spottiswoode; screenwriter: Bruce Feirstein; cinematographer: Robert Elswit; editors: Dominique Fortin, Michel Arcand; music: David Arnold; cast: Pierce Brosnan (James Bond), Jonathan Pryce (Elliot Carver), Michelle Yeoh (Wai Lin), Teri Hatcher (Paris Carver), Ricky Jay (Henry Gupta), Götz Otto (Stamper), Vincent Schiavelli (Dr. Kaufman), Judi Dench (M), Desmond Llewelyn (Q), Samantha Bond (Miss Moneypenny); Runtime: 119; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Michael G. Wilson/Barbara Broccoli; MGM; 1997)
“The winsome pic gives the people what they want. At least, what they want from the Bond franchise.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

In the 18th bankable Bond film, Pierce Brosnan is 007 in his second turn at playing the Brit agent. He’s no Connery, but is better than the other wannabe Bonds. The winsome pic gives the people what they want. At least, what they want from the Bond franchise. It has all the violence, car chases, gadgets, action sequences, martinis shaken not stirred signature Bond stamps of sophistication, double-entendre remarks, two gals for Bond to play with, and a high tech car as a fighting machine. It’s finely written by Bruce Feirstein and capably directed by Roger Spottiswoode (“Air America”).

The villain is a power hungry William Randolph Hearst and Rupert Murdoch-like international billionaire media-baron, Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce), who wants to control the news and wishes to get high ratings by starting a war between Red China and Britain. This way the ruthless megalomaniac schemes to get exclusive broadcast rights in China after they are crushed. The mogul’s credo is “there’s no news like bad news.”

It starts off fast with Carver’s heavies taking out a Brit naval vessel in the South China Seas, the H.M.S. Devonshire, by altering its position while it was in neutral waters by using a secret Red Box (a computer controlled device created by the mogul’s techie genius henchman Gupta) and covering it up to look as if the Red Chinese did it. It’s up to Bond to avert WWIII, as he has 48 hours before the Brits plan to retaliate against the Chinese unless there’s proof China is innocent. Assigned to Hamburg by M (Judi Dench) to spy on Carver, Bond poses as a banker to attend Carver’s bash over his inauguration broadcast of a new satellite. Bond meets Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh), posing as a journalist but really is a Chinese security agent. He then hooks up with his former girlfriend and now Carver’s wife, Paris (Teri Hatcher), who is angry he never showed for their last date. When Carver suspects Bond of being a government agent, he dispatches his hit man Stamper (Gotz Otto) and other heavies to eliminate Bond. But Bond escapes Carver’s headquarters, steals the Red Box and in the film’s sensational centerpiece action sequence he drives his super car out of the garage filled with heavily armed thugs. Bond then appears in Southeast Asia and hooks up again with martial arts expert Wai Lin, who is scuba diving to find the sunken remains of the Brit vessel. After a few adventures together that include an exciting motorcycle escape, the two agents climb aboard Carver’s stealth ship and avert the firing of a cruise missile aimed at Beijing.

Though flawed and too much by-the-numbers and certainly not realistic, it still worked for me: it was lots of fun. There was plenty of action, as the romance stuff took a back seat.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”