WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, THE
(director: Michael Apted; screenwriters: Bruce Feirstein/Neal Purvis/Robert Wade/story by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade; cinematographer: Adrian Biddle; editor: Jim Clark; music: David Arnold; cast: Pierce Brosnan (James Bond), Sophie Marceau (Elektra King), Robert Carlyle (Renard), Denise Richards (Dr. Christmas Jones), Judi Dench (M), Robbie Coltrane (Valentin Zukovsky), Desmond Llewellyn (Q), John Cleese (R), Samantha Bond (Miss Moneypenny), Michael Kitchen (Bill Tanner), Serena Scott Thomas (Dr Molly Warmflash), David Calder (Sir Robert King), Claude-Oliver Rudolph (Colonel Akakievich), Maria Grazia Cucinotta (Cigar Girl), Michael Kitchen (Tanner), Colin Salmon (Robinson), Goldie (Bull), John Seru (Gabor), Ulrich Thomsen (Davidov); Runtime: 121; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Barbara Broccoli & Michael G. Wilson; MGM; 1999-UK)
“The theme song is performed by Garbage, as the band’s name perhaps tells you all you want to know about this thriller.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The World is Not Enough was the nineteenth James Bond film (twenty-first if you count the non-series entries). The theme song is performed by Garbage, as the band’s name perhaps tells you all you want to know about this thriller. Classy ‘A’ film director Michael Apted (“Enough”/”Enigma”/”Nell”) has James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) travel to Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea and Istanbul in a race against time to defuse an international power struggle over the world’s oil supply.
The first two Brosnan features as Bond, “GoldenEye” and “Tomorrow Never Dies,” grossed a whopping series-best $353 million and $345 million worldwide, respectively. Writers Bruce Feirstein, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade do nothing to stop the Bond commercial vehicle from marching ahead to the tune of big box office, as they adapt the story by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and keep in all the usual formulaic essentials but do not seem inspired to bring more to the table. Nevertheless, for Bond fans this one should be decent enough as it has the unflappable one back again to womanizing and doing those easy to watch impossible stunts in exotic locations to overcome the baddies.
The fourteen minute sequence in the pre-credits action, the longest ever in the Bond series, includes Bond retrieving ransom money from a shady Swiss banker in Bilbao, Spain and escaping in daredevil fashion from a bombed hi-rise building; the returned money exploding in M16 headquarters and killing its owner oil magnate Sir Robert King (David Calder)–M’s dear friend from Oxford; and then a speedboat chase on the Thames between Bond and a woman sniper dressed in red leather (Maria Grazia Cucinotta), that culminates in an exploding hot air balloon beside the Millennium Dome.
With her old man’s death, the beautiful Elektra King (Sophie Marceau) inherits the oil empire from her murdered father and is continuing his project of building a pipeline through a network of unstable former Soviet republics. Elektra was kidnapped and tortured by the anarchist terrorist Renard (Robert Carlyle), who had a bullet lodged in his head that can’t be removed. He’s now a walking dead man, but is inspired to greater action because he no longer feels pain and is no longer concerned with dying.
As for Elektra, her dad didn’t pay the terrorists ransom following M’s advice and she had to escape on her own. This has left her embittered. But with the new pipeline being an important project for the oil starved world and Elektra still in danger from Renard, Bond is sent to the Caspian Sea by M to protect Elektra. What he finds is that Elektra’s actions are suspicious, and he aims to uncover what actually happened during her kidnapping several years earlier and if she’s still in the clutches of the evil Renard. Bond explains Elektra’s strange behavior as the effects of the “Stockholm syndrome,” as she fell in love with her captor. That she can’t be trusted, puts the guilt-ridden M in a bad spot as she seeks Elektra out because she feels responsible for not being of better help without realizing how much she’s hated.
This leads 007 to numerous battles with the psychopath anti-capitalist terrorist Renard and his henchmen, as the bald terrorist is using the resources of King Enterprises to get his hands on a nuclear bomb and wreak havoc on the hated M16. Bond along the way must escape from hang-gliding bobsleigh killers attacking him while he’s out skiing, must escape from an ex-Soviet missile silo that is bombed with him trapped in it, and the film’s money shot of Bond escaping from helicopters dangling giant chainsaws and causing explosions while chasing Bond on a narrow dock.
Bond encounters Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), who talks like a Valley girl and looks like a Playboy bunny while wearing a cut- off T-shirt and short shorts and we are asked to believe she’s a nuclear physicist working in Azerbaijan in a Soviet silo as one of the world’s leading nuclear experts. Her name comes in handy for the by now familiar Bond quip, as when she’s in his arms in Istanbul and Bond remarks: “I’ve always wanted to have Christmas in Turkey.” Richards was chosen by fans as the worst Bond girl ever, which might be true unless you got the subtle deliberate joke the filmmaker was having in choosing such a crass American to be a leading scientist.
John Cleese has a heavy-handed comic moment when he’s seen as Q’s new bumbling assistant R. Russian mobster Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane) is a womanizing Soviet capitalist who will make deals with any side, and provides a few corny comic relief moments.
The film’s obscure title comes from the Latin: Orbis non sufficit, which is Bond’s family motto as revealed in the novel On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
REVIEWED ON 3/3/2009 GRADE: B-