Tomorrow Never Dies: when a UK ship sinks in Chinese waters all is not what it seems. After some rummaging about 007 uncovers a crazy man’s plan to start WWIII, for exclusive media coverage and ratings!
Another top-quality intro side-mission in the form of Bond gatecrashing a terrorist arms bazaar where he kicks the shit out of everyone, blows the shit out of everything (with the help of a jet fighter) then out-flies the shit out of a trained pilot; or as M calls it ‘doing his job’
This opening really sets the bar for Tomorrow Never Dies and the action throughout is second to none; soundproof studio fist fight, newspaper factory punch up, RC car chase, Hong Kong building traversing and bike chase, Jackie Chan inspired technical Kung Fu fight, stealth boat finale… the last three films have such a great action track record!
Bonds era-specific calling card for the 1990s appears to be technology. Not only is it becoming more prevalent in the stories, but one of GoldenEye‘s main baddies was a – then – rare and mysterious computer H4x0r! Upping the ante here, we have the visual stereotype of a IT virgin (fat, beard, probably plays Warhammer in his mum’s basement) branded a “Techno Terrorist” and given the same billing as the physically perfect and ruthless Stamper. As far as henchmen go, must try harder.
Q branch also rolls along with the times, producing two of the best gadgets to come out of the department: the burglar-and-bulletproof RC BMW, and the Phone/Taser/Car Control/Fingerprint scanner. What a combo! This is the very outer-limits of Bond gadgetry in that they seem completely plausible, but so ridiculously cool that they couldn’t possibly exist.
Brosnan pulls out what’s probably my single favourite Bond performance. He amplifies all of the traits displayed in GoldenEye, honing in on becoming even smoother, smarter and deadlier. Biggest improvements are the action, and dry one-line deliveries – “They’ll print anything these days” is delivered absolutely perfectly. This performance looks as effortless as the horizontal Bond controlling the car from the back seat of his BMW.
The supporting cast are all overshadowed by Pryce as Elliot Carver – who is fantastic at being restrained and subdued, yet ridiculously theatrical (especially in his eyebrows, scheme and super-ridiculous typing). Despite little screen time Teri Hatcher does well to convince us that she’s known Bond from way back.
With big GoldenEye boots to fill Tomorrow Never Dies is every bit as good a film, although it does switch the character development for more straigh-up action set pieces. There are plenty of hits, but it’s not without a few misses – the most cringe-worthy being a Mel Brooks style parody hitman. Another rock-solid stripped down Bond film.
Villain: Elliot Carver – dastardly pantomime baddie with insane delusions. 7
Henchmen: Stomper – another Red-Esque brute / Gunther: Fat beardy hacker / Weird-faced hitman. 6
Bond Girl: Mrs Carver – beautiful. Lucy Lui – hot, feisty and hold her own well. 8
Action: Terrorist Bazaar / Soundproof Studio / Newspaper Printer / Hong Kong HQ escape / Motorbike Chase / Kung Fu / Stealth Boat. 9