There’s a strong argument to be made that the two longest serving Bonds both peaked at the time of their third film. Certainly Shir Schean’s heart was never quite in it after Goldfinger, and Roger Moore also may have never been as good as he was in The Spy Who Loved Me. So it comes as somewhat of a relief that Pierce Brosnan, after two films of alternating rather too frequently between fierce Dalton-like toughness and a shit-eating grin that spews out cheesy puns and desperate innuendo, manages to truly nail his portrayal of James Bond, balancing the humour and the drama far more successfully. But, as students of basic physics will know, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and for a stronger Bond we have Denise Richards as a Bond girl.
Denise Richards plays nuclear physicist Dr Christmas Jones, in a sentence so ridiculous I didn’t even manage to type it while keeping a straight face. Instead, I sobbed bitter tears of despair and regret into my keyboard at the thought of quite how good The World Is Not Enough could have been if it had nailed the casting. The Brosnan Bonds, now freed from the shackles of Fleming’s heritage, were starting to take few more risks, including injuring Bond in the pre-credits sequence and then not forgetting about it by the time the dancing ladies had stopped. They also had the first truly bad Bond girl in the form of Sophie Marceau, an equal match for Brosnan’s added bitterness and Robert Carlyle as a menacing henchman, but Michael Apted’s attempt at a Bond never quite knows how to gel the elements together.
There’s further misadventures with Robbie Coltrane’s dodgy (and dodgily accented) Valentin Zukovsky, but the elements just don’t get the correct weighting, and all of the good will built up by the solid first half goes crashing out of the nearest window without a bungee cord the moment that Denise Richards turns up and opens her mouth. It makes TWINE very much a film of two halves, and while the first is one of the stronger Bond entries, and easily at least the equal of Goldeneye in the Brosnan canon, the second half has only moments of greatness and ends on a joke so crashingly bad, even Roger Moore would have probably had second thoughts.
There’s some consideration to be made of the legacies, but for me The World Is Not Enough holds a particular place in my personal Bond history, alongside The Spy Who Loved Me (first Bond I can remember seeing on TV) and Goldeneye (first Bond I saw in the cinema); The World Is Not Enough is not only the first Bond film I owned on DVD, it’s one of the first two DVDs I ever owned. I received a DVD player as a Christmas present from my ever loving mother, along with TWINE and The Sixth Sense on DVD – handy, that – so I was able to not only skip easily to just the parts of the film that I enjoyed, and more quickly edit Denise Richards out of the film, but also try to see how much of The Sixth Sense held up the second time around. Which has nothing at all to do with Bond, but seriously, whatever happened to M Night Shyamalan? Such a one trick pony.
To the legacies, though, and The World Is Not Enough can count a decent number of firsts among its achievements, including being the first Bond film release by MGM after they had swallowed up the unfortunate United Artists, original studio of Bond, the first film to feature the Millennium Dome and the first Bond film made in Dolby Digital EX 6.1 – ideal if, like me, you have a 5.1 surround sound system at home that your wife never lets you turn on anyway because it scares the neighbours and bothers the cat. But the move to MGM hasn’t had a huge bearing on the series as a whole, and the O2 hasn’t had a huge career in the movies, although it has got a Cineworld with a giant screen in it. To my shame, I can only find one real legacy of The World Is Not Enough, but it’s enough to keep the run going.
1. The world’s least secret secret organisation
Apparently James Bond, and all of his mates, the spies – secret agents, supposedly – work in one of the most famous buildings on the modern London skyline. It’s the third time that it’s been in the Bond films, but it won’t be the last time we see a giant hole get blown in it in a Bond film, if the Skyfall trailer is anything to go by.
And that’s it. I blame Denise Richards.
Next time: Well, at least it can’t get any worse. It’s not like it was Madonna or anything. That would have been dread… oh. It’s Die Another Day.
Previous Bond legacy posts: Dr No / From Russia With Love / Goldfinger / Thunderball / You Only Live Twice / On Her Majesty’s Secret Service / Diamonds Are Forever / Live And Let Die / The Man With The Golden Gun / The Spy Who Loved Me / Moonraker / For Your Eyes Only / Octopussy / A View To A Kill / The Living Daylights / Licence To Kill / Goldeneye / Tomorrow Never Dies
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