Monday, November 5, 2012

50 Years of 007 - The World Is Not Enough

Orbis non sufficit, as far as Cody is concerned.

White dots move across the screen from left to right, then becoming a gun barrel that tracks a man - James Bond - as he walks past. Mid-screen, Bond turns, pulls a gun and fires at us. Optical blood dribbles down the screen, the gun barrel wavers before becoming a white dot again and finding a place on the screen to settle. This dot then becomes our portal into the pre-title sequence, and for the first time in the series' history the film proper opens on a shot of James Bond himself. And he's wearing glasses.

Pierce Brosnan is back for his third turn in the role of 007, and when we catch up with our hero he's hustling down a sidewalk in Bilbao, Spain, right down the street from the Guggenheim Museum.

Bond is in Bilbao to meet with a banker named Lachaise at La Banque Suisse de L'Industrie. In Lachaise's office, Bond and the banker are joined by three guards, who make sure to disarm Bond and place his gun on Lachaise's desk, and a female assistant who offers the men cigars before she takes her seat, earning her the credit Cigar Girl.

A case containing 3,030,303.03 in cash, pound sterling, is brought into the office for Bond to return to Sir Robert King, who paid that amount to buy a report that had been stolen from an MI6 agent who was killed during the theft. Bond isn't interested in the money, he just wants to know who killed his fellow agent, information that Lachaise is not forthcoming with.

Tensions rise, a guard pulls a gun, and with a push of a button on his glasses Bond detonates an explosive charge in his gun on the desk, causing enough distraction that he's able to get the upper hand in the quick fight that follows. Bond then demands the name of the killer from Lachaise at gun point. Lachaise is now more willing to answer him, but only if Bond can promise him protection. Lachaise hasn't even fully vocalized his terms when Cigar Girl throws a knife into the back of his neck and runs out of the room.

Bond has no time to give chase. With police speeding toward the building, he has to make his escape from Lachaise's office. He's briefly impeded when a guard regains consciousness and again points a gun at him. Bond is saved when the guard is killed by a sniper shot through a window. That's a surprise to him; he didn't come with any official backup, but somebody's watching out for him. He doesn't have time to wonder who. He grabs the case of money, busts the glass out of the window, ties one end of a super long cord off the curtains around his belt and the other end of it on one of the unconscious guards, then uses the cord to descend what is at least four stories to the ground below.

That simple office scuffle and descent from the window was going to be all there was for action in the pre-title sequence. The intention was that the film would cut away from the sight of Bond hurrying away from the building to a scene where Cigar Girl meets with her mysterious boss, the man who saved Bond with the sniper shot, and they would have a brief exchange during which it would be made clear that Bond getting away with the money was part of their plan and Cigar Girl wants to kill Bond after he makes the delivery because he could identify her. Cigar Girl's boss, who we'll come to know as Renard, would pour two glasses of wine and make a toast to Bond, "We're in his hands now", and that would be the very low-key lead-in to the title sequence, probably less than 5 minutes into the movie.

Test screening audiences were not satisfied with that being the pre-title sequence, though, and so it was lengthened to include what was meant to be a big post-titles setpiece, and The World Is Not Enough ended up having the longest pre-title sequence in the series.

The scene with Cigar Girl and Renard was cut, so the film goes straight from Bond going off down the sidewalk in Bilbao to him delivering the money to MI6 Headquarters in London. Making his way to his boss M's office, he stops to banter and flirt with M's secretary Miss Moneypenny, who is desperate for a souveneir from his trip. He offers her a phallic-shaped cigar tube, she says she knows "just where to put that" and tosses it in the trash. Ungrateful.

Bond then enters M's office to find her visiting with an old friend from her Oxford days, Sir Robert King. Bond and Sir Robert are introduced, then the rich industrialist makes his exit to go collect his money. M offers Bond a glass of scotch while they discuss what has gone on, the mystery of who Cigar Girl was working for and why they wanted him to escape the office. Sir Robert has brought the stolen report the MI6 agent was killed for back to M. It's a classified report from the Russian Atomic Energy Department, which Sir Robert was led to believe would contain the identity of the terrorist who attacked his new oil pipeline.

Bond drops some ice into his drink, and the ice and the moisture on his fingers begin to sizzle, interacting with something that rubbed off on his hands from the money. Bond instantly realizes that he has to stop Sir Robert from reaching the cash...

He's too late. Sir Robert enters the vault, walks up to his money, and a transmission from his lapel pin causes the cash to catch fire and then explode, blowing the vault up and blasting a hole in the side of the building.

Through the hole, Bond spots a heavily armed Cigar Girl on a speedboat on the River Thames. She speeds off and Bond follows in an unfinished, gadget-packed boat that he steals from the Q Branch lab. Bond and Cigar Girl cause a lot of damage over the course of the chase that ensues, during which Bond puts the prototype boat to the test. The Q boat has rocket boost, is armed with torpedoes, gets ramped through a boathouse and makes a shortcut across land, and can even be made to dive underwater for a short period of time.

One of the most iconic moments in GoldenEye was when Bond took the time to straighten his tie while causing mass destruction in St. Petersburg, Russia during the tank chase, and that moment gets a callback here during the boat chase - Bond straightens his tie underwater while the Q boat dives.

The first cut of the boat chase, when it was going to come after the titles, was 18 minutes, though it's unlikely it would've stayed that long anyway. The cut that made it into the final film is almost six minutes long. At the end of the chase, the boats are ditched and Bond catches up to Cigar Girl as she attempts to escape in a stolen hot air balloon. He catches onto a rope dangling from the basket as the balloon lifts off the ground and offers Cigar Girl a deal if she tells him who's behind all this. He promises her that he can protect her, but she disagrees. "Not from him." Rather than face the wrath of her employer, Cigar Girl chooses suicide, blowing herself up along with the hot air balloon and sending Bond plummeting through the air.

Bond lands hard on the Millennium Dome, then goes tumbling down the sloped roof, finally catching on to some wires. Bond dangles in the air, obviously in pain, and that's when, nearly fifteen minutes into the movie, we finally segue into the title sequence. Extending the pre-titles to include the boat chase was definitely the right choice, it gets things off to a very fun start.

The title sequence is again designed by Daniel Kleinman, returning from GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies. The title itself is a callback to On Her Majesty's Secret Service, in which "The world is not enough" is revealed to be the translation of the Latin motto on the Bond family crest. The theme song is performed by Garbage, a band I was a fan of in the '90s, so I was quite happy when they were announced to be entering the Bond world, and I think they did a great job with the song. The lyrics were written by composer David Arnold and Don Black, who also wrote or co-wrote the title songs for Thunderball, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man with the Golden Gun, and Tomorrow Never Dies. Another returning Bond veteran is Peter Lamont, back as production designer after missing TND due to his work on Titanic.

In the search for a director, one contender was Joe Dante, the Piranha '78/The Howling/Gremlins/Innerspace director who was fresh off of making Small Soldiers at the time and if hired would've been the first American to direct a Bond. Also considered, on the strength of Heavenly Creatures, was Peter Jackson, but presumably producer Barbara Broccoli was unfamiliar with the type of films Jackson had made prior to that one and reportedly took him out of the running after a screening of The Frighteners.

The focus was intended to be more on character this time around, so in the end the director hired was a man who mostly worked on dramas: Michael Apted. Apted's filmography included Coal Miner's Daughter, Gorillas in the Mist, and Nell, and though he hadn't done anything nearly on the scale of Bondian action, he had worked in the thriller genre with films such as Gorky Park, Thunderheart, Blink, and Extreme Measures. He's most well known for his documentary work, being the filmmaker behind the wonderful 7 Up series, which has taken a look into the lives of the same group of people every seven years, starting when they were seven-year-old school children. The latest installment, 56 Up, just had its debut in 2012.

For his cinematographer, Apted chose Adrian Biddle, whose previous credits included Aliens, The Princess Bride, Willow, and Thelma & Louise. Biddle's final film before his death in 2005, at the age of just 53, was V for Vendetta.

The story originated from writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, beginning their long association with the series that has continued on up until this year's Skyfall. Purvis and Wade's script was given a rewrite by Apted's wife Dana Stevens to enhance the female roles, and when that rewrite was found to have made the women overshadow Bond, GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies writer Bruce Feirstein was brought on to punch up 007's material and add more humor. Purvis, Wade, and Feirstein share screenplay credit. This was the last Bond film Feirstein worked on, but he has remained involved with the character in the video game world, having written Everything or Nothing, the 2005 From Russia with Love game (for which Sean Connery returned to voice Bond), the 2010 version of GoldenEye, Blood Stone, and the most recent, 007 Legends.

When the title sequence ends, Bond, whose fall onto the Dome injured him enough to put his left arm in a sling, and his MI6 cohorts are in Scotland to attend the funeral of Sir Robert King. Among the mourners is Sir Robert's beautiful daughter Elektra (French actress Sophie Marceau, best known outside of Bond for Braveheart), who is the sole heir to his fortune and business.

MI6 have a local office set up in a castle, where M's Chief of Staff Bill Tanner, Michael Kitchen returning to his role from GoldenEye, shares the duty of briefing an assemblage of agents, including 007, with his Tomorrow Never Dies stand-in, Colin Salmon as Robinson. Tanner gives the details on the assassination of Sir Robert - the money was coated with urea, making it a sort of fertilizer bomb, an anti-counterfeiting strip in one note was replaced by magnesium, acting as a detonator that was set off by a radio transmission from Sir Robert's lapel pin, which had been switched out with a duplicate. Robinson adds that the person who set Sir Robert up had to be someone close to him, but they have no leads. M tells her agents that they are to bring Sir Robert's killers to justice no matter what it takes. Folders containing assignments are handed out to all of the agents... Except Bond, who is told he is off the active duty list until he gets cleared by medical.

And so Bond, even though his collarbone was dislocated and if any more tendons snap he'll be out of action for weeks, seduces Doctor Molly Warmflash (Serena Scott Thomas) to get her to clear him for duty. Lucky for him the doctor is an attractive woman.

While waiting for Warmflash to make out his clean bill of health, Bond goes to the castle's makeshift Q Branch lab to visit his Quartermaster. Q has a bunch of gadgets waiting for him despite the fact that he's still on the inactive roster.

At the request of actor Desmond Llewelyn, this scene was written as a sort of farewell to his iteration of the Q character. Having joined the series with 1963's From Russia with Love, he went on to appear as Q in every Bond film over the next thirty-six years, with the exception of Live and Let Die. Llewelyn was in his 80s at this point and thought it was about time that his Q should retire. In fact, the boat Bond stole earlier was not intended for field use, it was part of Q's retirement plan, the boat that he was going to take on fishing trips. A bulletproof boat armed with torpedoes. Q obviously takes fishing very seriously.

Q introduces Bond to the man who's being groomed as his replacement, John Cleese as a character Bond jokingly refers to as R. R bumbles around, takes a quick disliking to Bond, and is the butt of jokes as he shows Bond his new, fully loaded BMW and demonstrates a winter coat that, with the pull of a tag, becomes enveloped within a protective ball of inflated material. Seems odd that Bond would be equipped with this before anyone knows where his next assignment will be, a winter coat wouldn't be of much use if M were to send him off to the Bahamas or somewhere like that, but of course it will come in handy later in the film.

The scene ends with a poignant moment between Bond and Q, men who deeply care for each other at this point. Q leaves Bond with two points of advice - never let them see you bleed, and always have an escape plan - then slowly descends through the floor on a lift. Q disappears from view, marking the exit of Desmond Llewelyn from the series. At the age of 85, Llewelyn was tragically killed in an auto accident just one month after the release of The World Is Not Enough.

Bond goes on to do some searching through MI6's computer archives, finding reports on Elektra King having been kidnapped and held for ransom for 5 million U.S. dollars. Converted to pounds, that's the same amount as the 3,030,303.03 that blew up Sir Robert. As he searches for further information on Elektra, he finds that access to her files has been restricted, Level One clearance is required. M is the only one who could've done that, so he goes directly to his boss for the information.

With holographic visual aid, Bond learns that Elektra's kidnapper was a terrorist named Victor Zokas, a.k.a. Renard, an anarchist out to create chaos in any way possible. Since his old school friend had become head of the British secret service, Sir Robert King came to M for help in dealing with the situation, and she advised him not to pay the ransom. She sent 009 to kill Renard, but before the agent could complete his mission Elektra had already escaped from her captor. 009 still tracked Renard down and put a bullet in his temple... but that didn't kill him. The bullet remains in Renard's head, slowly working its way through his brain, killing off his senses. The bullet will eventually kill Renard, but so far has only wiped out his senses of smell and touch, he's now incapable of feeling pain.

A version of this idea had been originally conceived for the henchman character Stamper in Tomorrow Never Dies, at one point he was going to be said to have a brain injury that caused him to register pain as pleasure, but that didn't make it into the final film.

Renard has managed to get revenge by killing Sir Robert and humiliating MI6, and Bond suspects that his next target will be Elektra. Warmflash has given Bond the all clear (Moneypenny has an idea why and she's not happy about it), so M assigns him to go to Elektra, who is overseeing the completion of her father's oil pipeline near the Caspian Sea, keep her safe from Renard, and find out who switched Sir Robert's lapel pin.

Bond catches up with Elektra in Azerbaijan, where King Industries crews are clearing out trees to make way for the eight hundred mile long pipeline, which will stretch clear across this country, the neighboring Georgia, and down through Turkey. Locals in the area of Azerbaijan they're currently in are rioting, attempting to sabotage the construction, unhappy that the plotted route will require the demolition of a church. Elektra negotiates peace by agreeing to change the course.

Bond introduces himself to Elektra ("Bond. James Bond.") and they discuss King Industries and the pipeline - she inherited the company from her father, but this all started when her mother's family discovered oil in the area - and the fact that she may be in danger. She's fully aware that she's in danger, this pipeline is dangerous business. Bond doesn't tell her that it's her former captor she should be afraid of.

During their conversation, Elektra asks Bond if he's ever lost a loved one, a question that he avoids answering. Though the Daniel Craig films taking Bond back to the beginning of his career was widely publicized as the first reboot of the series, the Brosnan movies did something similar, in a more subtle way, back before anyone would've even thought of calling it a reboot. The Brosnan era is very insular, at least until the references to the past really start flying in the next movie. He had the same Q as the other actors did and the rapport with Moneypenny, but a new M and his CIA buddy is Jack Wade instead of Felix Leiter. He was already a 00 in 1986, he's a Cold War veteran and probably lived through all of the previous movies, but at this point you have to accept that the continuity exists on a floating timeline, because Pierce Brosnan was only nine years old when Sean Connery was going up against Dr. No in 1962. Brosnan Bond would've had to have been foiling Dr. No in the '80s. Or maybe the Brosnan films exist alone in their own timeline. Given this film's title is a link to On Her Majesty's Secret Service, a fan could take Bond avoiding Elektra's question as him not wanting to talk about the death of Tracy. Just within the Brosnan era, Tomorrow Never Dies' Paris Carver could be his great loss, even if he was having a good time in the parking garage sequence immediately after. Or he could be hiding away the pain from the loss of several loved ones, including his parents, since Bond was orphaned at a young age. One can read this moment however they want.

Elektra has no interest or faith in Bond's help, MI6 has already failed her family twice. Still, Bond is able to join her as she checks the survey lines, which requires them to ski along a snowy mountainside. Thanks for the winter coat, Q. As Bond and Elektra look down on the point where the two ends of the pipeline will meet, their day is disrupted by the arrival of armed assassins driving Parahawks, parachuted snowmobiles that are able to fly due to the large fans on their back ends. The Parahawks mainly focus on Bond, who uses his skiing abilities to avoid their machine gun fire and grenades and is eventually able to wipe them all out. On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, and A View to a Kill ski sequence guru Willy Boger did not come back to work on this one, but second unit director Vic Armstrong, returning from Tomorrow Never Dies, handles it well.

The explosion of the final Parahawks causes an avalanche that Bond and Elektra get caught in, but his coat's inflatable protective ball shield is able to save them. The Parahawks were added specifically for this film, but the idea of Bond and a thrill-loving girl skiing and getting caught in an avalanche also happened in The Lost Dalton Film. Then again, it could be another callback of sorts to On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Elektra is taken back to her home in Baku, where she, apparently won over by Bond's handling of the Parahawk situation, attempts to seduce him. Bond keeps in mind his duty and the order from M that he not get personally involved with this situation and declines.

Bond heads out to the L'Or Noir casino, where the sunglasses provided to him by Q Branch gives him x-ray views of all the patrons, showing him that all of them are armed. Somewhere in the casino is producer Michael G. Wilson, making his traditional cameo. Bond goes to the bar, orders a vodka martini, "Shaken, not stirred", and requests a meeting with the casino's owner, Valentin Zukovsky. A lackey called Bullion, played by British musician/DJ Goldie, leads Bond into a back room for a meeting with Zukovsky, Robbie Coltrane reprising his role from GoldenEye. The former arms dealer has reformed, or so he claims, into a legitimate business man. In addition to running the casino, he also owns a caviar company.

On the Parahawks was the emblem of the Russian Special Services, Atomic Energy Anti-Terrorist Unit and Bond had the hope that Zukovsky might have some insight into Renard and his Russian connections. Zukovsky isn't much help. Renard was cut from the KGB years earlier, works freelance now, and any number of people could have hired him to go after Elektra, including the owners of four competing pipelines. Bond knows all of this already.

Bond and Zukovsky's chat is interrupted when Elektra comes walking into the casino. Whoever wants her dead may be in the casino, and she tells Bond she wants them to see she's not afraid. She gets her father's seat at a private table and gambles the $1 million credit he left behind on one card high draw. As she says, "There's no point in living if you can't feel alive." Bond does his best to make sure Zukovsky's dealer doesn't cheat, but Elektra still loses when her Queen of Hearts is bested by the Ace of Clubs.

Bond accompanies Elektra back to her home, where he does go to bed with her this time. T
here, she confides in him that she escaped from Renard by seducing the guard, then grabbing a gun and shooting her way out.

Meanwhile, her head of security Davidov has the night off and is spending his free time meeting with Renard at a Hindu religious site called The Devil's Breath, an area spotted with natural flames that never die out. Davidov is punished for the unsuccesful Parahawk attack, while another man at the meeting, Doctor Arkov of the Russian Atomic Energy Department, is killed for suggesting they abandon their plans, worried about the trouble they'll be in for not being able to return the Parahawks. Davidov will need to take Arkov's place on the flight that's the next part of their plan.

Davidov doesn't make it onto the flight, either. Snooping around the security office with the aid of a skeleton key hidden within a credit card, Bond spies Davidov making himself a photo I.D., finds Arkov's corpse in the back of his vehicle, and eventually shoots the man and takes his place on a private flight aboard a plane loaded with Russian henchmen in jumpsuits. In the plane's restroom, Bond replaces Davidov's picture on the I.D. he made with his own picture, cut off of his Universal Exports cover I.D.

The plane lands in Kazakhstan and Bond has to impersonate Doctor Arkov at a decommissioned nuclear silo. He manages to Arkov his way past an IDA physicist named Christmas Jones, played by Denise Richards in short shorts and a tank top cut off at the midriff, puts on a radiation tag and enters the silo. On the surface, Christmas is dealing with hydrogen bombs leaking tritium, down below there is weapons grade plutonium.

Inside the silo, the Russian henchmen are removing the warhead from a missile, and their boss is there to supervise their work. One hour into the film, Bond finds himself face-to-face with Robert Carlyle as the villainous Renard. He pulls a gun on the terrorist, who proceeds to mock him, telling Bond that he's been working for him ever since Bilbao, he sealed Sir Robert's fate and now he's brought him a plane on which he'll get away with a nuclear bomb. He says that Elektra will be killed if he doesn't make a phone call in twenty minutes, and seems to know that she and Bond have slept together, as he tells Bond that he broke her in for him. Bond knocks Renard to his knees and prepares to put a silenced shot into the back of his head. Renard reacts to this with a great line, "A man tires of being executed." Then he kind of awkwardly fits in a repeat of Elektra's "There's no point in living if you can't feel alive" line.

Before Bond can kill Renard, Christmas comes hustling in with a group of soldiers, having checked the files and figured out that Bond isn't old enough to be Arkov. The guards hold their guns on Bond and let Renard get away from him, Renard grabbing Bond's hurt shoulder before he walks off. But the Bond-Arkov slip has made the head of security uncertain of all the new faces around the site, which includes Renard's, so Renard and his men have to shoot their way out of the silo.

Bond chases the baddies as they make their exit, at one point using a gadget - a grappling hook and retractable wire fired from his watch - to move from one level to another. Renard boards a glass-doored elevator with the warhead and Bond catches up to him before the lift can begin to rise. From the other side of the glass, he fires a bullet into Renard's forehead... but the glass is bulletproof.

Renard escapes and Bond and Christmas are trapped in the silo as a bomb goes off. Bond, hanging onto chains and riding along a pulley system, is chased down a tunnel by a fireball, a moment that comes off as lackluster because it takes too long, it seems to happen too slowly. A lot of action moments in the film have that problem; things are shot awkwardly and shots go on a bit long, slowing things down, making the action feel a little clunky.

That same slow fireball chases Bond and Christmas all the way up and out of the silo, and he introduces himself to her as they make their escape. "The name's Bond. James Bond." As they exit, they witness Renard's plane taking off. And they won't be able to track him down because he removed the warhead's locator card.

With Bond missing and Davidov's corpse having been discovered, Elektra puts a call in to MI6 requesting that M come to Baku personally to keep her company and watch over her. M agrees. Soon after that call has been made, Bond returns to Elektra's home, knocks out her bodyguard Gabor, and with thunder rumbling on the soundtrack confronts Elektra over his newfound suspicion that she and Renard are working together.

As Bond accuses Elektra of suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, of having fallen in love with her captor, I find moments of Pierce Brosnan's performance to be horrendous. He's got some awful delivery, intonation and hand gestures in this scene, particularly when he's saying that Renard "knew about my shoulder, knew exactly where to hurt me". In my view, that's the worst moment of acting anyone has ever done in the role of Bond. I don't think it fits the character.

The scene ends with Elektra receiving a phone call. Renard has struck at the pipeline, leaving ten men dead. Bond follows Elektra to the pipeline control center, where he meets up with M when she arrives. He hands the locator Renard moved from the bomb over to his boss while telling her that she should not be there, that Elektra might be working with Renard, but M isn't convinced.

An observation and repair rig is detected moving through the pipeline when it shouldn't be, speeding along toward a terminal at seventy miles per hour. Renard must've loaded the bomb onto it. Bond needs to enter the pipeline and defuse the bomb before it reaches the terminal. Luckily, nuclear physicist Christmas Jones is there to help him.

Bond and Christmas pilot a rig through the pipeline and catch up to the speeding bomb rig. Christmas finds that the bomb contains just half of the plutonium that would've been in the warhead, meaning the explosion wouldn't be nuclear. Once she has removed what plutonium is in there, Bond decides they should let the bomb detonate. They bail off their rig, the bomb continues down the pipeline and eventually explodes.

As far as the people back in the control room know, Bond and Christmas were killed. And that's when Elektra shows her hand, gifting M with her father's real lapel pin before having her men kill M's guards and take the head of MI6 captive. The World Is Not Enough is an original story overall, but the kidnapped M aspect is reminiscent of the first post-Fleming continuation novel, Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis/Robert Markham.

Bond believes that Elektra had part of her own pipeline blown up to make herself look innocent and to cover up the theft of the plutonium, making it appear to have been wasted on a dud. Now Bond and Christmas need to find out what she and Renard are going to do with the other half of the plutonium.

Renard delivers the second half to Elektra personally, meeting his lover at the Maiden's Tower in Istanbul, where she has now taken up residence. M is locked away in a cell in the tower and Renard pays her a visit, during which M blames him for turning Elektra bad, but he gives M all the credit. She's the reason Elektra was left in the presence of someone like him for too long, since she advised Sir Robert not to pay the ransom. Renard finds an old alarm clock in the room and sets it on a stool in front of M's cell so she can see it, telling her that she'll be dead when the clock reaches noon tomorrow. That gives her sixteen hours to live.

In bed that night, Renard displays jealousy over Elektra's time with Bond and laments that he can longer feel anything, not even her skin against his. When I first heard that TWINE would feature a bad guy who couldn't feel pain and could push himself harder than a normal man, I expected him to be a tough, unstoppable, rampaging beast. That's not Renard. Though he does receive some wounds that don't slow him down, his lack of sensation doesn't play into his confrontations with Bond as much as it's an emotional issue for the character.

Bond's investigation takes him back to Valentin Zukovsky. Zukovsky enters his office at his caviar fishery to find Christmas waiting for him in a purple dress and denim jacket, but his spirits drop when he realizes that Bond is also there with a gun. Bond has figured that Elektra's million dollar loss at Zukovsky's casino was some kind of payoff, but before he can get to the bottom of things the fishery is attacked.

This action sequence finds Bond having to fend off helicopters that have columns of buzzsaws suspended from them, a tree-trimming device that he saw in action back in Azerbaijan. A sequence featuring a buzzsaw column-equipped helicopter was originally written into an early draft of GoldenEye by Michael France, and had the helicopter chasing Bond and the heroine while they were on skis. In France's script, there was great moment where Bond ends up hanging onto the buzzsaw column, his feet and hands just inches away from the spinning saws. Unfortunately, that didn't make it into the caviar fishery version.

Buzzsaw helicopters are a cool concept and the sequence is fun overall, but again the action suffers from lackluster shooting and editing, like the moment when Bond very slowly climbs out of his BMW as the saws are ripping the vehicle in half. (Capped with a nice laugh line, "Q's not gonna like this.")

Once the helicopters are destroyed and the armed men who exit from them defeated, Zukovsky admits that Elektra's million dollars was payment for his nephew to smuggle machinery for her.

Zukovsky's nephew Nikoli is the captain of a nuclear submarine and though he thinks Renard is just going to load some cargo onto his sub during its unscheduled stop, Renard actually intends to steal the vessel - which he achieves by serving Nikoli and his crew poisoned refreshments. With a nuclear submarine now in his possession, Renard's next step will be to put the plutonium in the sub's reactor, setting off an instant catastophic meltdown that will wipe out Istanbul and all eight million people in it, contaminating the Bosphorus. After such an event, the only way to move oil through the area will be the King pipeline. Renard didn't turn Elektra, it was she who took complete control over him.

M puts struggle and effort into trying to get the alarm clock into her cell, and when she finally gets the clock she attaches its battery lines to the warhead locator card, sending out a signal on emergency frequencies. That signal is picked up by a worker at the Federal Security Bureau headquarters, where Bond, Christmas, and Zukovsky are trying to figure out where Nikoli's submarine might have been able to surface undetected. M's signal points them in the direction of Maiden's Tower... and then Goldie turns out to be a traitor, setting off a bomb in the headquarters. Most of the people in the room are killed, injured, or knocked unconscious, leaving Bond and Christmas to be taken captive by a group of henchmen that includes Goldie and Gabor.

As the plutonium is fashioned into a rod for insertion into the sub's reactor, Renard and Elektra say their goodbyes. He is hopelessly devoted to her, no matter how obvious it is that she's only using him for her personal gain.

Bond and Christmas are delivered to Maiden's Tower, and Elektra has Christmas put on board the submarine while she has some fun with Bond. Elektra tells Bond that she could have given him the world, to which he replies with the film's title. "Foolish sentiment." "Family motto."

Bond is clamped down to an antique torture device, a chair which has wheel on the back of it. With each turn of the wheel, a bolt is pushed further into the back of Bond's clamped neck. Six turns and his spine will be snapped. As Elektra slowly kills Bond, she admits to taking control of Renard when she realized her father wasn't going to pay the ransom, reveals the depths of her conniving ways, that she even went so far as to mutilate her own ear to keep up the appearance of the kidnapping, and looks forward to her post-meltdown future.

When Bond is "one last screw" away from death, Zukovsky and his men raid Maiden's Tower. Amidst the ensuing gunfire, Bond is freed to rescue M and get one last chance to foil the plans of Elektra and Renard and save Istanbul.

Bond's last interaction with Elektra is fantastic. She has always had a power over men and thinks she knows all that Bond is capable of. She's proven wrong, and the moment is only slightly weakened by what Bond does after delivering his final words to her. He should've gone straight from saying his line to continuing on with his mission instead of taking the pause that he does.

The climactic action takes place on the diving submarine, Bond and Christmas vs. Renard, and the meltdown comes very close to happening. But anyone reading this knows that Bond's not going to let eight million people get killed.

The film ends with a comedic scene of the exact same sort that the Roger Moore entries often ended with, M and Q (in this case the Cleese Q or R) in some way intruding on Bond's bedroom shenanigans. A reference is made to the "Millennium Bug", firmly placing this movie in 1999, there's a very naughty pun about Christmas, and then a cut to black. And a promise: James Bond will return.

For the first time since The Living Daylights, there isn't a second original song playing over the end credits. David Arnold and Don Black did write one together, a song called "Only Myself to Blame", performed by Scott Walker, but it didn't get used in the film. It was included on the soundtrack album.

Since Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli became the lead producers on the Bond films with GoldenEye, they've made it clear that they're interested in delving more deeply into the character of James Bond, as evidenced by the personal connection he had to the villain of GE and the psychological discussions in that film, as well as the Paris Carver element of TND. Wilson and Broccoli have also shown a tendency to be experimental with the formula in recent installments, and the early seeds of that are in The World Is Not Enough. An attempt was made to make this film more character-based than most of its predecessors, and they show that Bond is not the invincible superspy he has sometimes been portrayed as by injuring him in the pre-title sequence. He is still just a man, no matter how cool or capable he is at his job, and he can be hurt. All of the familiar formula elements are still in place around the drama and experimentation, but they'll become bolder with shaking that up eventually as well.

This attempt at doing something a little different is a mixed bag.

Bond does get injured, but his injury isn't played up all that much beyond the Scotland scenes, he'll only wince occasionally during an action scene and it's mainly just used as a reason for him to suspect Elektra after Renard gives his shoulder a squeeze. They could've done a bit more with it, taken it further, his shoulder could've taken even more damage over the course of the film. His tendons could've snapped like Warmflash warned and he could've ended the film with his left arm hanging useless at his side. He'd have the weeks required to recuperate once he finishes this job and the end credits roll.

Some viewers feel that TWINE features Brosnan's best performance as Bond. I might be in agreement, although it's a hard call for me to make because I find his delivery in the Stockholm Syndrome scene so appalling. He gets to do more dramatic acting in the role this time around and he handles most of it well, he has a couple good moments of being intense, while also pulling off the comedic beats that I deemed his strongest point in the TND write-up. I don't know, I'm really ambivalent about Brosnan overall, moreso than any other Bond actor. He's strong at times and cringeworthy at others.

As split as my personal opinion on Brosnan is, the fan opinion on The World Is Not Enough is just as split, although the lean is toward negative. The film has its supporters, while others think it's one of the worst in the series. Myself, when I first saw the movie on opening weekend in 1999, it immediately became my third favorite in the series. I can't remember what my top two were at that time, although Goldfinger and On Her Majesty's Secret Service were firmly in those slots for many years, so I might have already come to that decision. TWINE has slipped from the #3 spot over time, but I certainly wouldn't rank it among the bottom of the bunch.

I appreciated the added character work, and though the focus on the relationships between Elektra, Renard, Bond, and M isn't greatly executed and the writing could be better, I do find it admirable and think Sophie Marceau and Robert Carlyle are both quite good in their villain roles. One thing that hinders the serious character work is the fact that it's still happening within a Pierce Brosnan Bond and the rest of the movie around it feels like a '90s version of the Roger Moore era, yearning to be over-the-top and silly. Thus, also in the mix are things like a less convincing character and performance, Denise Richards as a provocatively dressed nuclear physicist.

The action is another issue fans have, and I've pointed out my own issues with it in this write-up. The lifelessness of some of the sequences is often blamed on Apted's inexperience and that probably plays a part in it, but the editing could've picked up the pace at points as well. Editor Jim Clark's cutting doesn't deliver Peter Hunt levels of excitement here, and since this is the only 007 film he worked on, comparisons can't be made to see if he would've done Bondian action better with footage from a different director.

TWINE is definitely a flawed film, but I don't think it's anywhere close to being the disaster that it's often made out to be. It was a good try, and its success led to better tries.


  1. We had a busy day on Dawson's the Friday this premiered, so I did not make it to the first show - but I was released early to make the 7pm show. I liked it a lot - still do. Nice write-up.

  2. Although I doubt a nuclear scientist would ever look and dress like Denise Richards does in this movie, that dubious casting choice isn't enough to stop me from liking The World is not Enough or TWINE for short. It's probably my favourite Brosnan Bond film. That's because I think it had the best balance of action and humor without feeling too dark like Goldeneye, or as over the top as Die Another Day. And I find it more entertaining than Tomorrow Never Dies.
    The Bond reviews are great. They hooked me in and now I've read them all.