In James Bond's Latest Outing, `The World' is Flat by Homer Yen (c) 1999
The latest installment in one of the most durable franchises in Hollywood history has been released. And by now, either you've seen it or you've already made up your mind to pass on James Bond's latest escapade. If you've decided to pass, you're probably making the correct choice. `The World Is Not Enough' has all of the ingredients that make for a fun Bond film, but it lacks spark and ingenuity.
Before I bring out the three major weaknesses of this film, I do want to say that the Bond formula has worked again and again for a couple of reasons. Bond films are not about character development or an absorbing story line. It's about the beautiful women, the exotic locations, amazing gadgets, sexual humor, and breathtaking action sequences. In the beginning of this film, there is a terrific water chase through the Thames River that probably ranks as one of the best beginning sequences among all of the bond films.
This chase occurs because of a bombing that has occurred within MI6 Headquarters (home of the British Secret Service). The victim in the accident is a wealthy business tycoon who is in the midst of constructing a new pipeline from Russia to Europe. It is vital that this pipeline be completed to help ensure the West's supply of oil for the coming millenium. Now, his daughter, Electra, must take control to finish the project (Sophie Marceau). But there are plenty of people that would like to see this project fail. The British Ministry, headed by `M' (Judi Dench), believes that the person most capable of carrying out such a plan is the baleful Reynard (Robert Carlisle), a rogue KGB agent. In the process of protecting Electra, Bond meets up with the nubile Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards). Why is her name Christmas? I think that the only reason is so that the film can end with one of those silly double-entendres. She's a nuclear scientist, and her importance remains unclear until at some point in the film a nuclear warhead is stolen. This is an abrupt turn of events, but true Bond fans should be able to stay the course. Others who are not as devoted will instead laugh every time Dr. Jones speaks about the internal workings of a bomb (which is what happened in my theatre). She's less convincing as a scientist than a bed pet for Bond.
Up to this point, I'm only enthused for the first 20 or 30 minutes of the film. Then the energy of the film begins to wane. Why is that? Here are those three weaknesses. 1) There is no wacky, evil sidekick. The best spy films have a cool sidekick like Oddjob, Jaws, or even Mini-Me. 2) The women are nothing but pretty pin-up posters. In the last film, they were smart to introduce the karate-kicking Michelle Yeoh. Here, Denise Richards didn't seem like a necessary addition to the cast. Meanwhile, Sophie Marceau, while adequate, couldn't punch her way out of a bag. 3) Brosnan was excellent in the sophisticated remake, `The Thomas Crown Affair.' Judi Dench is an Oscar-winning actress. Robert Carlisle is a great actor whose credits include `Trainspotting' and `The Full Monty.' Here, they are tremendously underutilized.
Let's face it. James Bond is not great detective. He lucks his way in and out of situations that gets him closer to his final encounter. Guns equipped with laser sights still manage to miss him and despite his need to be covert, he always smugly gives out his real name as Bond, James Bond. Watching 007's exploits is a guilty pleasure through and through.
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