The World Is Not Enough (1999)

reviewed by
John Beachem

Review by John Beachem
* *

Directed by: Michael Apted Written by: Neal Purvis (story), Robert Wade

Well my friends, it's official, James Bond is obsolete. The once suave secret agent has become little more than another goofy action hero. His gadgets are no longer impressive, his banter is childish, and his once interesting adversaries have been reduced to petty thugs. "The World is not Enough" should be a sad conclusion to what is possibly the greatest spy series of all time, but we all know that it won't end here. Bond won't be allowed to leave on this sad note. He'll suffer through four or five more films before exiting on an even sadder note. The Bond franchise is dead, and it should be buried, but like everything in Hollywood ("Star Trek", every horror series ever made) it will continue to be milked till reduced to a dried out husk of a film. Such is the way of things (sorry, I'm feeling strangely philosophical).

Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is back, and this time he's protecting oil tycoon, Elektra King (Sophie Marceau), from a villain named Renard (Robert Carlyle). Bond seeks the aid of Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane), an ex-KGB agent who is now a Casino owner, in finding out just what Renard is planning. Bond's search soon leads him to a plot involving nuclear weapons and a young, beautiful scientist named Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards). Renard strikes first, kidnapping Bond's boss, M (Judi Dench), and setting a bomb off at MI6 headquarters. However, just when Bond thinks he has things figured out, it turns out that nothing is what it seems.

Remember Bond's once witty exchanges with both his enemies and companions? Well, this is what they have now been reduced to: says "I need to get that back or someone's going to have my butt." Bond's response? "First things first." Very clever Mr. Bond, for a teenager perhaps. While we listen to these juvenile comments, we're treated to some of Q's (Desmond Llewelyn) famous gadgets. As everyone knows, Q's gadgets have only one use, yet Bond always ends up in a situation which requires them. However, they're really pushing it when they find a use for one of the devices here. It would appear that Q has gotten a bit too old for this business, and they have brought in a replacement named R (John Cleese). I personally believe that bringing John Cleese in was a brilliant idea. Cleese is a great comic actor, and should provide some much needed comic relief now that Bond has lost all of his wit.

As for the Bond girls, Sophie Marceau ("Braveheart", "A Midsummer Night's Dream") is adequate I suppose, but Denise Richards (while certainly nice to look at) couldn't act to save her life. In addition to her lack of talent, she has films such as "Starship Troopers" and "Wild Things" under her belt, which immediately destroy any chance of her being taken seriously. The reappearance of Robbie Coltrane ("Message in a Bottle", "Goldeneye") is certainly welcome, but something was done with his character that was completely uneccesary, but I suppose I can't complain about that one instance too much, as the entire film was rather unecessary. The largest disappointment here is the character of Renard. The previews for the film constantly bring up the fact that he is incapable of feeling pain, and he can drive himself harder and faster than any other man. Nothing whatsoever is done with this talent of his. Renard is nothing more than a petty little thug, who appears to feel pain just as easily as anyone else but can't push himself nearly as hard as Bond can.

So the question, is how can the Bond franchise be rejuvenated? I'm not entirely sure that it can. Bond's anitcs simply seem out of place in this day and age. People want explosions, gunfire, and lots of action. While Bond may contain these elements, they are not in sufficient quantity to satisfy most people. The problem is that rather than ending the series, the geniuses and MGM have decided to change Bond's image in a manner that is not welcome. "The World is not Enough" would already have been a bad film, but it appears even worse when compared to previous films in the franchise. The movie runs far too long at 127 minutes. Unless you're desperate for a new James Bond film, I'd recommend steering clear of this one. Even if you are desperate, I'd suggest waiting for video. I give it two out of five stars.

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* * * * * - One of the greatest movies ever made, see it now. * * * * - Great flick. Try and catch this one. * * * - Okay movie, hits and misses. * * - Pretty bad. See it if you've got nothing better to do. * - One of the worst movies ever. See it only if you enjoy pain.

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