By Marc S. Sanders
The 19th installment in the James Bond series is The World Is Not Enough from 1999. By now Pierce Brosnan is comfortably established in the role and an expert at pun delivery and suave debonair swagger.
Michael Apted more or less delivers a standard fare. Nothing new here, really, with the exception of John Cleese (perhaps playing the role of R) as the would be successor to exiting mainstay Desmond Llewelyn as Q, the gadget specialist. I wish Cleese could have lasted longer than just his two film internship. He’s hilarious and well suited for the super spy’s tongue in cheek universe.
The story is similar to other Bond films. The one who we eventually realize to be the main villain wants to wipe out oil pipelines so that only their pipe is the only one exclusive to the region in the European west of the world. Auric Goldfinger had a similar idea with his affection for gold. A View To Kill aimed for this with Silicon Valley. Gold, silicone and now, here the commodity is oil.
The World Is Not Enough has a lot of crazy stunts and gadgets that we are always eager to see, such as a boat chase along the Thames River, snow ski escapes from parachuting snow mobiles (a fun sequence), deactivating bombs within underground mines and pipelines, underwater heroics in and out of a submarine and another buzz saw device, only this is a big one connected to a helicopter that is not just for cutting down forestry. BMW also makes its 3rd appearance in the franchise with a spiffy convertible.
The Bond gals are also up to the task. Sophie Marceau is Electra King. A one time kidnapping victim, she has taken over her father’s oil business following his assassination, which Bond is investigating. Marceau is beautiful as expected, but she’s got a great, mysterious way about her.
Denise Richards is fine (QUIET, you haters!) as a geologist swept up in assisting Bond. Her name, Dr. Christmas Jones, is deliberately laughable but she’s works well with Brosnan because there’s hardly any approach at seduction. They’re partners more than anything else. At least, they are until the end of the picture.
I do wish there was more to do for Robert Carlyle, though, as the bad guy Renard. He is impervious to pain thanks to a bullet resting in his brain. He is rapidly heading to death without any sensory feeling, but he gradually gets stronger with each passing day. I don’t know how you diagnose that, but in a James Bond picture, you take it at face value. Carlyle looks perfectly dastardly but he’s hardly on screen and has barely any exchanges with Brosnan’s Bond. When the real villain is finally revealed, Renard doesn’t serve much purpose any longer.
Judi Dench is back again as M. She is positively one of the best casting choices in the entire franchise. Bond remains a chauvinist (early on seducing his gorgeous doctor during an examination), but Dench as M counterpoints that stance and it is more than welcome. She is given more material here as well.
The World Is Not Enough didn’t reinvent the passenger ejector seat or the exploding pen per the nature of 007 films. Yet, it has a neat twist midway. Yeah, you might see it coming, but still it’s appreciated to keep the story developments ongoing. As well, the action plays well with a very good cast.
Brosnan was 3-0 by this point with the franchise.