James Bond Retr007pective: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Our James Bond retrospective continues as we look at Pierce Brosnan’s second film, Tomorrow Never Dies…

 

The Name’s Bond. James Bond: Pierce Brosnan returns for his second outing as 007. Much of the deconstructive edges from GoldenEye have been sanded off, but we do get a fascinating short glimpse behind the suave facade. When Bond discovers Paris’ body, it’s the most cut up we have seen him since Tracey’s death in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. 

The Song: Sheryl Crow provides the titular ‘Tomorrow Never Lies’ theme. While the backing music from David Arnold is memorable, Crow’s voice is a little weak and insipid to match up to the divas we are used to in this franchise. Most fans agree that K.D. Lang’s ‘Surrender’ – the movie’s original theme that was later bumped to the closing credits – is superior.

The Gadgets: Q – in Desmond Llewelyn’s penultimate appearance – provides Bond with a new BMW. As well as a security system which deploys an electric shock and tear gas to thieves, the car is remote-controlled via Bond’s new mobile phone. The phone also contained an electric lockpick and a stun-gun capability. Finally, Bond gains a new gun – the Walter PP9. He will keep this model all the way until Quantum of Solace. 

The Women: Former Lois Lane Teri Hatcher plays Paris Carver, two Bond Girl tropes blended into one –  she’s both the ‘villain’s moll turned good’ and the ‘doomed first girl’. At least, there is her previous history with Bond to flesh her out a little. Much better is Michelle Yeoh’s Wai-Lin, a fellow spy for the Chinese secret service. She’s not a particularly well-rounded character, but she is one of the most kickass Bond Girls in the whole franchise.

The Villains: Jonathan Pryce is perfectly cast as Elliot Carver, a Rupert Murdoch-alike media mogul who is attempting to start a war between the UK and China. He’s a gleefully evil villain – few baddies look so constantly smug as Carves does – who, in his own words, is after “worldwide domination.” His henchman is the burly blonde Mr Stamper. Vincent Shiavelli also has a far too brief role as creepy German assassin Dr Kaufman.

The Verdict: Tomorrow Never Dies is probably the most purely action-orientated Bond of the Brosnan era, as the plot is one of the slightest and there isn’t much character-based material. Thankfully, there is a fairly feminist Bond girl and a scenery-chewing villain that linger in the memory. Snappy (if slight) escapist entertainment, this one is comfortably a decent middle-grade Bond flick.

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