The James Bond series was a monumental series for me growing up and, as I planned on featuring one of the 20+ films in the series as a Key Movie, I just couldn’t choose. Since I can’t choose a single one, I am reviewing each and every Bond film continuing with today’s entry, Tomorrow Never Dies.
Welcome to Key Movies Of My Life James Bond Edition.
Today’s Key Movie:
Pierce Brosnan is back as Bond in the 18th official Bond film and this time he is up against media mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) who plans to use his influence to spark a war between China and the UK. With the aid of Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh), Bond must uncover the plot of Carver and stop him before Carver starts World War III.
Why this movie?
When Brosnan returned to the roll only two years after Goldeneye, I was excited to return to the theater to see another installment of one of my favorite franchises with one of my favorite portrayals of the legendary super spy. Brosnan had already positioned himself high on my ranking of Bond Actors and I was more than ready for yet another thrilling adventure.
Okay, you like this film, but is it really a ‘good film’?
After thwarting a nuclear catastrophe Bond finds himself investigating Elliot Carver (Pryce) who somehow managed to gain knowledge of an international incident mere hours after MI-6 learned of the event. Spoiler: Elliot himself caused the event in an attempt to start a war simply to make money off of the events and of course the news story itself. As the story progresses, Bond finds himself facing an ex, Terri Hatcher as Carver’s wife Paris, an unlikely ally in Michelle Yeoh and of course Carver himself.
Every Bond film has a villain and this one is no different. Played by Jonathan Pryce, Media Mogul Elliot Carver comes across as a blend of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and all of Fox News rolled into one. In 1997, this kind of villain was one straight out of a comic book but revisiting it twenty years later, Carver could actually exist. As usual, Pryce does a wonderful job portraying the super villain-esque Carver with no limits to who he kills and how. While he is not a physical match to Bond he is every bit as powerful as Blofeld using his own assassins and connections to fight the secret agent as Bond investigates the Media Mogul.
As for Bond Girls we are presented with two in the form of Terri Hatcher and, in a way, Michelle Yeoh. Hatcher plays Paris Carver, wife of Elliot, who also happens to be an ex-lover of Bond himself. Of course, Bond finds himself re-involved with Paris (under orders from M in fact) and, although Paris is married, he doesn’t hesitate to act on his impulses. In the history of the Bond franchise we have never seen our hero involve himself with a married man’s wife (at least that we know of) and this comes across as a little disingenuous for the character. I guess, as he is ordered to do so, he has an excuse but still, it comes across as a little forced for the sake of the plot. Hatcher herself does a great job in the vastly underused role. Nevertheless it was nice to see one of my favorite television stars in one of my favorite film franchises.
The other Bond Girl is none other than Michelle Yeoh in the role of Colonel Wai Lin. Calling Yeoh a Bond Girl is a little assuming seeing that Lin is more of an ally and equal to Bond as a fellow agent. Really not appearing until late in the film, I found her to be a nice addition to the story although tragically underused in the grand scheme of things. Frankly, I had hoped that she would appear again in later films much like that of Felix Leiter in earlier entries. Alas, this was not the case.
The theme song this time is by 90’s mainstay Sheryl Crow and it is one of the biggest highlights of the film. I had become an admirer of her work early on with the release of Tuesday Night Music Club in 1993 but when she was announced as the singer of the new Bond Theme I was a little skeptical. Sure she had the pipes for it, but I wasn’t sure she would be able to pull off a theme for one of the most successful film franchises of all time. I was wrong. Tomorrow Never Dies is an excellent addition to the Bond Theme lineup. Of note, there is also a second Bond Theme in this one written by composer David Arnold and performed by k.d.lang. You can find it in the end credits sequence and it evokes the classic Bond films with hints of Goldfinger. It’s pretty incredible.
When the film was released it was completely unbelievable for someone like Carver to exist. The thought of a single person having so much control over the worlds news seemed preposterous. Now, however, this seems like a story ripped from our very headlines. Sadly the pacing of this entry lacks the nuance of the previous film resulting in a by-the-numbers action film. Chock full of action and bad puns (Edifice Complex? Really?) This is necessarily a bad film but coming off the tremendous Goldeneye, it feels like a bit of a misstep.
OK, where do I get this movie?
Of course, the trailer:
Late To The Game 5/9/2019
If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.
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