Our James Bond retrospective comes to an often underrated – if flawed – entry in the franchise…
The Name’s Bond. James Bond: As with Tomorrow Never Dies, an effort is made to paint Bond as actually caring for the women he sleeps with (in contrast to Connery/Moore). James clearly loves Elektra – which makes it all the more dramatic when he has to kill her. Elektra’s death is one of Brosnan’s best as it shows how much of a ruthless b*****d Bond really is. His family motto is also mentioned for the first time since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: “Orbis non sufficit”.
The Song: “The World Is Not Enough” from Garbage is not usually seen as a particularly stellar Bond song. It does the job for me, though. It’s very 90s, but the lyrics are solid – it’s told from Elektra’s point-of-view, based around the scene where she tries to coax Bond onto her side. It’s one of the first to be explicitly linked to the events of the movie, actually, and would start a trend in Craig’s era.
The Gadgets: The World Is Not Enough is notable for being Desmond Llewelyn’s final appearance as Q – he gets a very moving exit, where he passes a few words of advice to 007 before sinking through the floor on a hidden platform. His last gadgets for Bond are a new BMW (“with six cup holders!”), X-Ray sunglasses, a pick-lock credit card, a grappling-hook watch and a jacket with an inbuilt airbag. Bond also steals Q’s “fishing boat” in the opening chase through the Thames.
The Women: I’ll never understand why Elektra King isn’t talked about with the best Bond girls. She’s immediately got more depth than an average Bond lady due to her traumatic backstory. And, with the twist that she is the true villain of the piece, she deserves to be applauded for being the only main female antagonist the franchise has ever had. On the other hand, there is Christmas Jones. A character so underwritten she basically only exists to give Bond a groan-inducing double entendre to make at the movie’s close.
The Villains: At first, MI6 believe that well-known terrorist Renard is behind the plot to sabotage King’s oil line. As played by Robert Carlyle, Renard has one of the most interesting Bond villain disfigurements – he has a bullet lodged in his brain that, while it is slowing killing him, also makes him impervious to pain. As it turns out, though, he is just a lovesick pawn of Elektra’s. Yes, The Dark Knight Rises basically stole its plot from this movie.
The Verdict: The World Is Not Enough is far from perfect, but personally I find it to be easily the second best of Brosnan’s Bonds. At the very least, it deserves to be commended for playing the tropes of the franchise and having the Bond girl and villain be one and the same. Personally, I think everyone’s dislike of Christmas Jones clouds people’s perceptions of this film. If you haven’t seen it in ages, I would really recommend giving it another watch.