Ricky Church continues his countdown to Spectre with a review of The World Is Not Enough…
Over the years The World Is Not Enough, James Bond’s 19th adventure, has proven to be a rather divisive film. Some fans love it for its somewhat grounded plot and strong female roles while others hate it for the few crazy elements and nearly goofy villains. While perhaps not the best in Pierce Brosnan’s time as Bond, it is certainly not the worst of his films or of the franchise.
After playing an unwitting part in the assassination of an oil baron, MI6 assigns Bond to protect Elektra King, the late man’s daughter, from the terrorist Renard. This leads him into a conspiracy to destroy her family’s pipeline, but Bond soon discovers things are much murkier than they appear, especially in Elektra’s case.
Brosnan does a better job this time around than he did in Tomorrow Never Dies. Unlike the previous film, he doesn’t quip nearly as much, coming off a little more serious in the role. Bond faces a little bit of development as well, especially as he forms a connection with Elektra and takes the mission very personally. Where the movie truly shines though is putting a spotlight on his relationship with Judi Dench’s M.
For the first time in the whole series, M actually has a significant part to play in the plot instead of simply relaying Bond’s mission and the MacGuffin he’s after at the start of the film. Dench absolutely sells M’s deeper characteristics, showing the conflict she faces as the head of an intelligence organization versus her commitments a friend to Elektra, her father and, most especially, Bond. It is also great to see that she’s capable of finding her way out of trouble as well. While Brosnan is fun to watch, it’s really Dench who stands out in World Is Not Enough.
This film actually does a lot for its female roles. Sophie Marceau does well with what she’s given as the film’s manipulative villainess, though her motivations seem a little one-note towards the end of the film. Still, it’s clear she enjoys the role. As the franchise’s first main female villain, one who isn’t simply a henchwoman, Marceau is another good aspect of the film. However, where World fails on its female front is the main Bond girl Christmas Jones, as played by Denise Richards. Richards doesn’t have the same chemistry Marceau does with Brosnan and is rather weak in the role. She certainly doesn’t make for a very convincing nuclear physicist either. She is definitely the film’s weak link.
Robert Carlyle’s Renard is one of the goofier elements of the film. While he’s fine in the role, he remains largely a one-note villain, even after the plot twist, and his motivations aren’t fleshed out too well. The goofiness comes from the fact that Renard survived a bullet to the head, slowly dying as the bullet makes its way through his brain. The trade off, however, is the fact that he’s now impervious to pain as the bullet has cut off his brain’s nerve senses. For a fairly grounded movie, this sticks out like a sore thumb.
The supporting cast does well in their roles as well. Robbie Coltrane returns from GoldenEye as Valentine Zukovsky and John Cleese is introduced as Q’s replacement. One of the reasons this film is so notable is the fact that its Desmond Llewelyn’s final appearance as Q. Llewelyn was retiring after this film, but remained open to the possibility of a cameo for Bond 20. Unfortunately, just a few weeks after World’s release, Llewleyn died in a tragic car crash, making his farewell scene bittersweet. If you have The World Is Not Enough DVD or Blu-ray, I highly encourage you to watch the emotional tribute to Bond’s master of gadgetry.
Overall The World Is Not Enough has some fairly good acting and character development, especially in the case of its female leads. While it is not as action packed as Tomorrow, much of the action is quite well done, from the ski chase (I’m always a sucker for those) to the warehouse fight. It may not be the most memorable Bond adventure, but it is still a decent one.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★