A fake Fabergé egg and a fellow agent's death lead James Bond to uncover an international jewel-smuggling operation, headed by the mysterious Octopussy, being used to disguise a nuclear attack on N.A.T.O. forces.
James Bond is back. An oil tycoon is murdered in MI6 and Bond is sent to protect his daughter. Renard, who has a bullet lodged in his brain from a previous agent, is secretly planning the destruction of a pipeline. Bond gains a hand from a research scientist, Dr. Christmas Jones who witnesses the action which happens when Bond meets up with Renard, but Bond becomes suspicious about Elektra King, especially when Bond's boss, M goes missing. Bond must work quickly to prevent Renard from destroying Europe. Written by
In November of 1999, a very strange thing happened. An intelligent action film filled with well-drawn characters, an unconventional plot structure, and a storyline that required you to pay attention. Stranger still, it was a James Bond film, a series widely regarded by the mass public as `fluff' when Bond films have actually been among the prime example of properly done plot-motivated action pieces. The highly underrated `The Living Daylights' comes to mind.
But the strangest thing is the critical thrashing `The World Is Not Enough' received. From Entertainment Weekly singling it out as a reason to overhaul the Bond franchise, to Internet critics (cough Harry Knowles cough) soundly trashing it in long, diatribe-filled electronic pieces. The fact that Harry praised the previous entry `Tomorrow Never Dies' (or as a friend described it, 12 pages of script and 90 pages of storyboards) as the best entry since `The Spy Who Loved Me' only leads to my conclusion that the critics and movie-goers of today have firmly and finally `checked their brains at the door' so to speak.
The range of critiques for TWINE is stunning. I have read dismissals of the first fifteen minutes as nothing more than one action sequence after another, despite the fact that the opening teaser has direct relevance to the storyline and contains more complex plot structure than the aforementioned previous entry, TND. Claims of it being `boring' and `dull' were often tossed about. Even the fact that Bond actually expresses discomfort was singled out as a major flaw. See my above `brain-checking' comment. But I am not here to make TWINE look good exclusively in comparison to TND, so here goes.
TWINE had me from the start, from Bond's instant realization of the money bomb. I knew I was in good hands from that point on. Indeed, in an era of clumsily handled twists and blindingly obvious revelations, the Electra King twist completely threw me. I had my suspicions, just as James himself wisely did, but I didn't want to believe it. Again, just like James. I could go on for a good half-hour about M's shock when she sees exactly what she and MI6 have created in 007. His cold-bloodedness has never been on bigger display in recent ventures, save a few select moments. (`For England James? No. For Me.') Make no mistake about it. Bond is first and foremost a trained killer in this outing, firmly focused on carrying out the will of MI6, even at the cost of.
The action sequences serve the story for a change, and each carry emotional weight, resulting from character's needs beyond that of eliminating Mister Bond. Two of the primary sequences are ploys by the main villain, blatant attempts to misdirect rather than outright kill for the sake of killing. Indeed, misdirection and misreading motivations are the primary plot movers. By the end, everything believed by our antagonist neatly shifts into reverse. And thankfully, the `one-man army' Bond of late is greatly reduced here, pitting Bond against more realistic odds.
The small moments count too. The high-backed chairs at the MI6 briefing. Zukofsky's small moment of delight upon seeing Bond's new Beemer sliced in half. The expertly placed shot toward Renard's head, blocked by safety glass. Elektra's emotional breakdown when trapped inside the avalanche (but faked or not?) And Zukofsy's silent communication to Bond to take care of business for him. Reverence and respect is held for the series' past, even Bond's marriage is referenced as he dodges Electra's query as to whether he's ever lost someone that he loves. Heck, these days even a lone `Universal Exports' reference would be considered gold, but the writers of TWINE have obviously done their studying.
If TWINE has any weaknesses, the action sequences are not always staged at the series' prime. Although the raid on Zukovsky's factory is executed beautifully and is a superb set piece for Bond, some clumsy editing and lensing weakens the ski sequence and the climactic fight on board the Victor II sub. David Arnold's score is under-mixed; giving the movie a bit too much subtlety in moments the grandness should be spilling into the theater (commercial or home). And of course, Denise Richards is just plainly miscast for the part of Christmas Jones, which screams for someone of greater maturity. As someone on the Internet said `Bond girls should have class, not be late for it.' Can't argue much there.
In closing, I hope the producers choose to ignore the gnashing of hypocritical teeth and continue on a similar path for the next Bond film. Do not return to a one-set-piece-after-another film. Have faith (however small) that the audience will wake up. I know I for one will be there, hoping that the next film will live up to the lofty (if unappreciated) standards of 'The World Is Not Enough'.
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