Age Rating (UK/US): 12A / PG-13
Continuing with watching the Pierce Brosnan James Bond movies, after watching Tomorrow Never Dies I am now on the 19th James Bond movie in the series, The World Is Not Enough.
Note: This review does contain some spoilers.
The movie’s opening sequence begins in Bilbao, Spain, with Bond meeting a Swiss banker Lachaise for Sir Robert King who is a British oil tycoon and collect money for him. Bond also interrogates him and wants to find out the identity of an assassin who killed an MI6 agent. However, before Lachaise reveals the name he is killed by an unnamed woman in the room (credited as Cigar Girl) and Bond is forced to escape through the window.
Back in London, Bond delivers the money to King at MI6 but it is laced with explosives and kills him. Bond spies the woman on a boat so chases her along the Thames. Eventually he catches up with her as she tries to escape on a hot air balloon at the Millennium Dome, which she then blows up and kills herself in the process, Bond survives the fall but is injured.
The sequence is exciting, especially the boat chase section which was intended to be after the opening credits but the movie is significantly better for it and makes for a fantastic opening. However on repeated watch I have noticed in this scene in particular the weather continuity is all over the place with shots going from bright sunlight to grey and overcast within seconds. Obviously that is the risk of filming in Britain but does take me a little bit out of the sequence whilst watching it but it is still a bold opening and one of my favourite opening scenes. Also a A fun fact that until No Time To Die came out in 2022 this was the longest James Bond pre-credits sequence at almost 15 minutes.
We then have the title song, performed by rock band Garbage which I quite like as it sounds lush and Shirley Manson’s voice goes from soft in the verses to really epic balladry and is definitely a great entry into the cannon of theme songs.
After the opening scene we see King’s funeral where Bond spies his daughter, Elektra King (played by Sophie Marceau). MI6 has also relocated to Scotland and are looking for the inside man who switched King’s lapel pin for a detonator for the bomb. We also learn Elektra’s was kidnapped a few years ago and held to ransom. Bond does some more digging into the money that he picked up from Lachaise and realises it is the same amount as what was asked for in the ransom demand, making him suspect the terrorist who kidnapped her is back.
Bond speaks to M and we learn King came to M when Elektra was kidnapped for advice and she told him not to pay the ransom. In the meantime, she sent an MI6 agent after the kidnappers and discovered it was Renard, an anarchist (played by Robert Carlyle). However, before he caught up with Renard, Elektra escaped but the MI6 agent eventually did catch up with him and managed to put a bullet in his head.
The bullet is still there working it’s way through his brain and killing off his senses, so will kill him but he will get stronger each day until he dies. M sends Bond to watch over Elektra but as the plot thickens there maybe more to the situation than meets the eye and Bond may have to team up with American nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones (played by Denise Richards) to stop a nuclear catastrophe.
The movie’s plot is very enjoyable with plenty of twists and turns whilst watching it. Pierce Brosnan again does a great job playing Bond and I also really liked Sophie Marceau’s Elektra King and I can still remember the first time watching it being shocked that she is in fact the villain as her innocent act at the beginning of the movie is very convincing and it is only really when Bond meets Renard that we discover there is something not quite right about her when they both say “there’s no point in living if you can’t feel alive”. Indeed Marceau is a fantastic Bond girl and villain and I really enjoy her scenes in the movie.
I also really like the action sequences in this movie. As said above, the boat chase is amazing, as well as the scene at a Russian base where Bond meets Christmas Jones and has to fight Renard and his men and stop them stealing some weapons grade plutonium. There is also a ski sequence in the Caucasus mountains and at Zukovsky’s caviar factory which is really inventive and exciting to watch.
I would say on the casting side, Denise Richards and Robert Carlyle do let the movie down a little bit. Renard’s character trait is meant to be he can’t feel any pain and can push himself further than any man, but Robert Carlyle just doesn’t have a massive physical presence on screen to look like a real threat to Bond. When compared to other Bond henchman like Oddjob or Jaws he is just very meh in the role.
Also when the movie came out, Denise Richards’ Dr. Jones was criticised and many people vote her as one of the worst Bond girls in the series. Whilst I actually don’t think she is totally awful, there are some lines that she says that are cringeworthy and it is obvious in the opening scene that they wanted her to look a bit like Lara Croft with the green tank top and shorts. Also it is in lines where she is meant to appear tough and strong that she actually comes across as a bit soap opera.
Overall it is an enjoyable movie and I would recommend giving it a look.