RETRO REVIEW – The World Is Not Enough (1999)

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Agent 007, also known as James Bond, is one of cinema’s most enduring characters. From the moment Sean Connery came out with his iconic drawl, ordering martinis (shaken, not stirred) and taking out bad guys against impossible odds, the world has continued to follow the exploits of the agent through innumerable films and multiple recastings.

And that must mean this character, when done right, is damn popular, because this franchise has survived absolute drivel like whatever the hell this movie is meant to be.

When oil tycoon and close personal friend of M, Sir Robert King, is assassinated within the walls of MI6, the assassin is revealed to be “Renard”, a long time nemesis of MI6 and a man with a personal vendetta against King and his family. Agent 007, James Bond, is sent to protect King’s daughter and heir to his estate, Elektra King, and to investigate Renard’s movements to prevent him from launching any more attacks. Along the way, he enlists the help of a number of allies including a former Russian mafioso, and Dr. Christmas Jones – a nuclear physicist.

Let me start with this, Pierce Brosnan – what was the current Bond for this film – was completely let down by the writing in his era, and The World Is Not Enough is a prime example of this. If you give Brosnan a really solid Bond script, such as GoldenEye, then he really nails the role. If the films remained at that level, Brosnan would be an equal to someone like Sean Connery when talking about the great Bonds. But, alas, here he is reduced to a walking pun generator that occasionally performs ridiculous stunts.

Sophie Marceau, the French actress assigned to the role of Elektra, on the other hand, is really the shining light of this film. Given quite a meaty role, she comes off as having accidentally walked in from a much better movie to become the highlight. Several of the supporting cast were also highly talented performers, but the films squanders the talents and wastes Robbie Coltrane, Judi Dench, John Cleese and Desmond Llewelyn – an impressive feat really.

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John Cleese: The world’s foremost expert in being underused in big franchises

But most notable in this cast is fashion model Denise Richards in the role of Dr. Christmas Jones, and not really for the right reasons. I can see where the writers were coming from with the character, with the initial idea seemingly to create a Bond girl that was able to outsmart Bond and hold her own. The issue is in the execution, with the character doing nearly nothing of note at all, and Richards doing basically nothing to convince the audience that this character was as “brainy” as the script said she was. It was perhaps the worst execution of a Bond girl in a long, long time, and it led to the worst pun that Bond ever uttered, which is so horrendous that I refuse to publish it here.

It’s even a role that destroys the movie’s plot as a whole. The first half of the movie, mostly focusing in on either Bond on his own, or on Elektra King, comes on the verge of being a very good movie, with suspenseful action sequences and interesting developments. The only scene in that first half that doesn’t really work is a particularly on-the-nose bit where Bond puts on some X-ray goggles in a casino and has a nice time viewing ladies’ undergarments.

But once Christmas Jones arrived at roughly the half way mark, the movie grinds to a halt, as suddenly the interesting bits are all pushed away to allow for the “brilliant” Dr. Jones to take centre stage (and by that, I mean follow Bond around and complain a lot). Even the action set pieces in that second half become insufferable, with such genius set pieces like that time a bunch of helicopters with saws dangling below them sliced up Robbie Coltrane’s caviar warehouse. Brilliant….

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Why would they even use this method? It would have been more effective to just put a missile launcher in the helicopter like every other helicopter in Bond, right? Show offs…

Overall, this is probably one of the more ridiculous James Bond movies. It starts with a lot of promise, but the film falls apart very quickly after that, and ends with a whimper after what wound up being an excruciating 2 hours. It’s hard to recommend this film. If you’re in the mood for some James Bond films, there’s so many of them that are worth watching before this one. I recommend Goldfinger. It’s a very fun movie.

2.4/5 – Gains a lot of points for the opening half, but this isn’t a good movie.

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