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The World is Not Enough: [Spoilers] when an oil tycoon is assassinated 007 is sent to protect the endangered daughter, a former hostage to one of the world’s most wanted men. After some success on the protecting front, Bond gets to the bottom of a scheme that will… erm… jack up the price of oil… (Note: villain aspirations were quite low in 1999, with Y2K getting all the attention)

Super mega cool submersible jet boat!!

Another Brosnan film, and another absolutely outstanding opening scene & mini-mission; Spanish bank robbery followed by MI6 bombing then the most ridiculously cool and insane boat chase ’round the Thames, over some streets (still on the boat!), wrapping up at the Millennium Dome.

Hot chick with a leather jacket and grenade launcher... <"blowing away" joke>

We sadly say goodbye to Q who, after the token gadget-based verbal jostle with Bond, Q says “always have an escape plan” and disappears before our eyes. While I may sound pathetic, this was hands down the most emotional and moving scene of the entire series for me (Sorry Mrs Bond). Not only is it’s laden with ‘he’s going to die soon’ overtones – he literally sinks into the ground – but it reminds you that Q has had the best relationship with every 007 for over 35 years and played a crucial part of Bond’s survival in at least 17 films. Q branch isn’t let down here, with some awesome gadgets like the X-ray specs, BMW, credit card lockpick, grapple watch and Q-boat!

One of 007's only friends (that didn't get killed)

Brosnan‘s still on a winning streak here, much aided by a whole lotta of shots of him pointing guns at people and looking angry and/or displeased. We also see Bond properly, and semi-convincingly, injured for the first time ever with a gammy shoulder for the film’s duration (although he did fall about 150 feet!). Most infuriatingly, Bond once again falls for the his one weakness, the oldest trick in the book, and the one thing that continually lands him in trouble… a vagina. If he carried out his job professionally he wouldn’t end up in so many perilous situations!!! (Although a procedural Bond movie would be pretty shit.) How many times has he been betrayed by a chick now!? Really?!

BOOM! Chestshot!!! Right in the tits!

The supporting cast and characters are such a mixed bag here. Robert Carlyle and Denise Richards seem to turn up and sleep through their scenes; sure they’re both vaguely memorable / strong / smart but they lack any presence. The character Bullion (Goldie) feels like his agent managed to sneak him in last minute, and no other henchmen do anything worth noting. On the upside Coltrane goes out in style as Bonds love-hate Russian contact, and Elektra King is played so, so well – Marceau’s beauty, strength and damaged background make her the perfect siren.

Another chick with a gun... someone in production must have a fetish

Other decent touches in this are the hypnotic oily credits, banking Pun-O-Rama, stereotype of ‘Bonnie Scotland’, “strictly plutonic”, “Christmas comes once a year” (Boom, Boom, Chiii!), classic nuke disarmament ultimatum, and Bond jumping from a normal house and landing in a submarine dock!!! There’s also a clear taste for new modes of transport: para-hover-sledge, mini super boat, pipe inspection pod, and the chopper chopper.

All aboard the tube! Next stop, nuclear warhead.

Even though you can’t fault the technical elements of most of the Bond pics, this one’s shot and framed particularly well. While it’s a good film, has a pretty interesting story and is well put together, this one feels like it’s missing some mojo and coherency. So many scenes feel gratuitous (let’s fly to somewhere snowy to have a ski-chase / let’s go to a casino so you can wear a tux…).  Despite some great twists and cool bits it just seems flatter and more lifeless than the previous few outings.

Score: 6/10

Bond's actual nemesis in this film... EXPLODING SNOW!?!WTF!!!!

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Anarcho terrorist thug with a headache and no feelings. 6
Henchmen: Skinhead Russians x100 / Gold-toothed Bullion / DREADful Gabor. 3
Bond Girl: Assassin – Cruz-esque. Elektra – foxy siren. Denise Richards – Lara Croft entrance/ purple dress – smocking – 8
Action: Opening 10 mins, ski chase, nuclear bunker fight, caviar factory, submarine fight. 5

Goldie looking a bit rapey in the background...

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Elektra looking a bit rapey in the foreground

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: A man lives his physical life backwards, from a pensioner to a baby while his mental age increases as normal – interesting premise. This reminded me a lot of Forrest Gump: extraordinary life, laced with American history, boats, war, walking troubles and romance all told in flashback. The main difference is that BB doesn’t rely on being fluffy and funny; it tackles the topic of death from the start, and was just a more modest, and believable (!) story. It does have some humour with the lightning strikes, Irish sailor, and general growing young antics. Every possible effect must have been used to make Pitt & Blanchett look young & old, and the scary pensioner-baby and man-child are like something from a horror film.  My only big problem was the thick southern accents (particularly the mumbling woman on her death bed) a lot was lost in translation for me. The heavy symbolism and long runtime were also minor nags. Fincher’s on top form here and it could arguably be his finest film to date – tough call though. It’s a great story, brilliantly acted, powerful, engrossing and tugs at the heart strings.

Score: 7.5/10