July 18, 2011

#5byBond: Tomorrow Never Dies

This week's #5byBond is Tomorrow Never Dies, the eighteenth EON Bond production. It's the first after the death of longtime producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, whom singlehandedly brought us the later Roger Moore Bond flicks, and all they entailed.

This week's villain is Elliot Carver, played by Jonathan Pryce. Pryce also played the villain Seamus O'Roarke in Ronin, one of my all-time favorite films. He makes a good, bad guy.

This is also the second Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan as the British spy. Since I missed last week's #5byBond, GoldenEye, during vacation, this is my first in this series with Brosnan.

My notes:

  • the cruise missile flying through the opening action sequence brought back bad memories of Roger Moore's endless skiing scenes.
  • a stealth catamaran is pretty cool. I want one for the pool.
  • Carver makes for a good Rupert Murdoch doppelganger. He's megalomaniacal, although no-one has ever accused Rupert of being psychotic.
  • the Aston Martin returns! Sweet auto. The story paints that old car as Bond's private vehicle, not a government ride.
  • the in-car briefing worked very well. M swills a cocktail as Bond gets his assignment, Moneypenny working the details on a laptop. Moves right along, very slick. The production looks good throughout the first part of the film.
  • Q is in the field, again! Delivering a dated, but technically sweet BMW 750. The car can be driven with a specially adapted wireless phone. There's an app for that!
  • Teri Hatcher is the Bond girl. And yes, they're fabulous.
  • Stamper as a villain is reminiscent of Red Grant in From Russia With Love.
  • Gupta is a great hacker geek. Ricky Jay has played other interesting characters, often in David Mamet productions.
  • the first hint of the Bond musical theme comes as he is escaping the newspaper plant.
  • Dr. Kaufman: torturer, marksman, bad-guy. Yet he's funny 'cause his face is droopy!
  • the missiles coming out of the roof of Bond's BMW are just goofy shit.
  • good lord, Joe Don Baker is back as CIA buffoon Jack Wade.
  • Michelle Yeoh as Chinese secret agent Wai Lin: excellent casting. They should have used her martial arts acting more.
  • Bond and Lin escape a helicopter on a BMW motorcycle, handcuffed. The helicopter can apparently hover in alleys while tilted 45 degrees forward, remaining motionless. That scene, and the hovering helicopter, were flat-out ridiculous.
  • I kept expecting to see Scaramanga's sidekick, Nick Nack, to appear on the Chinese junk Bond sailed on. Turns out they re-used the Phuket, Thailand site from The Man With the Golden Gun for this film.
  • and Bond saves the day.

This one was actually pretty good. These later Bond flicks continue to surprise me with how much better they were than the later Roger Moore examples.

The action here was, for the most part, tight, yet not ridiculous. Brosnan's Bond was efficient, though not as subdued as the previous Bond, Timothy Dalton. (I think I might actually prefer Dalton to Brosnan.) Pryce was a convincing, psychotic global media baron, a la Rupert Murdoch. Given the recent scandal at one of Murdoch's British newspapers, Pryce's performance is timely. Michelle Yeoh's Chinese agent was terrific for her martial arts acting prowess, seen elsewhere to great effect.

Things are looking up for Bond since the recasting of the lead. We have just one more Bond in the wings, but another two films before he appears.

Up next: Pierce Brosnan returns as 007 in The World Is Not Enough.