Ricky Church continues his countdown to Spectre with a review of Tomorrow Never Dies…
After the massive success and revival of the James Bond franchise with GoldenEye, production went straight to work on a follow-up for Pierce Brosnan’s next 007 adventure. While a little zaney at times, Tomorrow Never Dies is a decent continuation of Brosnan’s Bond in another story that is feels mostly grounded in reality.
After Chinese forces allegedly sink a British naval ship, Bond is put into action to prove what really happened before the situation escalates into a potential war between East and West. His investigation leads him to media magnate Elliot Carver and Paris, Elliot’s wife and one of Bond’s former loves. Bond also teams up with Wai Lin, a spy for the Chinese government, in order to discover Carver’s motives.
Brosnan once again delivers a good performance as Bond and, much like his previous film, shows off the agent’s vulnerable side a bit as he reconnects with Teri Hatcher’s Paris. However, this look at his vulnerable side doesn’t quite work as well as in GoldenEye or other Bond films. Brosnan also displays a bit more of Roger Moore’s tendencies in this film; in Tomorrow Never Dies Bond is much more prone to spouting off quips (some of them quite terrible) than he did in GoldenEye, but he still retains most of his cold demeanor in the film. It just seems the producers had a knee-jerk reaction to Brosnan’s seriousness and wanted to lighten the character a little bit.
Michelle Yeoh makes an outstanding addition to the franchise as Wai Lin. She’s every bit as strong as Bond and, unlike many Bond girls, actually resists his advances for the majority of the film. She’s independent, witty and has a charisma of her own, never needing Bond’s help in most situations. Interestingly, her character was so successful MGM nearly made a spin-off with her. Yeoh was also very keen to perform her own stunts, having already done so for multiple films, but, in an interesting twist, was prevented due to insurance restrictions.
Teri Hatcher makes less of an impact as Paris Carver. She’s got limited screentime and, despite being with Brosnan for the majority of her scenes, it doesn’t feel like enough of that is devoted to exploring the relationship her and Bond share, especially considering he fell so hard for her. It may have been better had Paris been an existing Bond girl in the franchise instead, rather than another one-and-done girl fans had never met before.
Jonathan Pryce is one of Bond’s more eccentric villains as Elliot Carver. A notable aspect about his character is that he’s not really menacing on his own, preferring his henchmen to get their hands dirty for him. Pryce chews up his scenes and is rather entertaining in the role, even if Carver ends up being one of the dumbest villains in the franchise (when you have James Bond at your mercy with a gun pointed straight at him, you pull the damn trigger!).
His ultimate plan to incite a national war to boost his ratings and company’s profits isn’t that far-fetched despite some of its apparent silliness. In fact, this is a plot that seems very relatable, especially in today’s media hungry world. There are also some easy comparisons to be made between Carver and actual well-known, and controversial, media moguls, including those who are alive today.
Tomorrow Never Dies also features some stellar action beats, particularly in its climax. While the idea of Bond’s cell phone acting as a remote control for his car is as ridiculous as Spy Who Loved Me’s submarine car, there’s no denying the car chase is just a ton of fun, especially as it takes place in the cramped confines of a garage lot. Likewise, the handicap Bond and Wai Lin are given in their motorcycle chase is quite clever, changing up the typical formula of Bond’s chase scenes.
Ultimately, Tomorrow may not be as good as GoldenEye and deliver some more campy moments, but it’s still a decent Bond film that has one of the series’ best Bond girls to date and continued to show off Brosnan’s capabilities in the role of 007.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★