Okay, someone answer a question for me. Who are Bruce Feirstein and Michael France, and who let them write this script? The 21st installment of the Bond series seems to be an exercise in seeing what an action movie would be like with soap opera dialogue. By now, James may have settled into a dependable formula, based on gimmicks, high-tech toys, chases, elaborate stunts, and the battle to foil the madman's evil schemes, but I still expect a script that doesn't make me squirm in embarrassment for the poor actors. And with talented actors like Robert Carlyle (Full Monty) playing the madmen, Dame Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) returning as m, and Robbie Coltrane (Cracker), The World is Not Enough comes across as hardly acceptable.
This time around, after an oil tycoon is killed at MI6 headquarters, Bond travels to Azerbaijan to protect the tycoon's daughter. Doesn't sound like a Bond film? Don't worry, I promise there's a plot to control the world.
I've always been bothered by the fact that, throughout the James Bond series, Bond has been replaced by different actors. When Sean Connery was replaced by the crusty, bourgeoisie Roger Moore, why didn't they make Moore's character a different MI6 agent? Call him 004 or 009.
I know Moore's Bond movies were still based on Ian Fleming's novels of the James Bond character, but the last Bond film to have anything to do with Ian Fleming was the Living Daylights. Why still pretend? When people go to a Bond film, all they care about is seeing action and misogyny with a lot of double entendre thrown in. I'm sure they can invent another promiscuous secret agent to fight bad guys while courting women 20 years younger than him.
The World is Not Enough offers some hope though. While in the past all of the stock characters in Bond movies have been replaced by different actors, World is the last movie for q, the technical wizard behind Bond's gadgets. q, played by Desmond Llewelyn since 1963's From Russia With Love, passes the torch to r, played with clutsy comic relief by John Cleese.
And there's hope for future Bond films. Directed by Michael Apted, The World is Not Enough seems to be taking a page out of the heralded Alien series which treated each film as an opportunity for an "auteur" to make his or her mark. Apted is famous for his Up documentaries, in which the British director revisits a group of people whose lives he has been chronicling since they were children. Apted gets the job done, sometimes excitingly (except for a ridiculous action sequence involving skis), often with style.
Despite the complaints of those who long for the days when Bond was played by Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan is a decent Bond. My one complaint about Brosnan is that the movie doesn't even try to hide the fact that the 46 year-old actor can't do his own stunts. The face of his stunt man is so visible the guy deserves second-billing. Brosnan's face is only briefly intercut into the many action scenes when to give his obligatory Peter Parker-type quips.