Bond 17 – Goldeneye, 1995, Martin Campbell
Bond 18 – Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997, Roger Spottiswoode
Bond 19 – The World Is Not Enough, 1999, Michael Apted
Bond 20 – Die Another Day, 2002, Lee Tamahori
Goldeneye deserves an honourable mention for a good reboot of the franchise, but it is completely upstaged by the N64 game which is one of the best games ever, so the best Brosnan film is……..
Best: The World Is Not Enough.
This is a good Bond. It starts with a simple scene in a swiss banker’s office in Bilbao (Spain) but decides that that’s not enough for a pre-title sequence so we end up with an iconic motorboat chase on the Thames finishing with Bond sliding down the Millennium Dome. It’s great to see real stunts in a Bond film and that’s what we have here. We also have a nod to the classic ‘I sure am boy’ Roger Moore car-flipping stunt from ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’.
After the titles, what follows includes a developing of various landmark characters (Judi Dench’s excellent M and a final, emotional outing for Desmond Llewelyn’s Q) a return role for Robbie Coltrane’s loveable rogue Valentin Zukovsky (who’s dodgy accent is entirely forgiven as he makes you smile whenever he’s on screen) and the introduction of Sophie Marceau’s Elektra King (excellent in the alluring but dangerous role, although again when you think about it why has she got a French accent?) Denise Richards as Christmas Jones (which leads to the inevitable though still funny one liners and I think she actually holds the role together quite well) and Robert Carlyle as Renard (who has a classic Bond-esque disability/superpower of a lodged bullet in his brain which dulls his senses – conveniently here just touch and smell – so he gets more powerful as he gets closer to death, but to be honest he is the weakest of the bunch).
We also have a sprinkling of some good gadgets without going ridiculous, the x-ray specs perhaps being the highlight! Chases on skis, bomb-defusal rushing through a pipeline, a multi rotating saw suspended beneath a helicopter, lots of varied locations and lots of Pierce Brosnan grunting.
Perhaps the one think lacking is the title song. It’s functional, but it pales against Sheryl Crow’s ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ which is the standout of the Brosnan’s.
Worst: Die Another Day
Well, where to begin. It starts off okay with some actual surfing, presumably meant to be under cover of darkness although it just looks like daytime with a harsh filter on the camera (you can even see the shadows!) and Bond disguises himself as an illegal weapons buyer, trying to to get to the bottom of what is going on in North Korea. As it turns out he is eventually captured by North Korean troops and as the credit sequence rolls we see him being tortured. 14 months later and Bond has long hair, a beard and a dishevelled look from the ordeal. It’s a bold and promising start to the film but sadly it’s all downhill from there, quite quickly actually as you realise that the title song by Madonna is boring you with a bland wave of generica. Afterwards, M’s character has apparently reset and it’s as if the depth and development in the previous outing hasn’t happened and this film has plummeted within minutes.
What follows is a long, formulaic, emotionless walk through some Bond conventions and a load of boring special effects. I only have to mention the invisible car, the ice palace and the ridiculous CGI kite surfing sequence and I’m sure you’re remembering them and wincing. It’s far too long and the final completely ridiculous showdown on a 747 can’t be over quick enough.
The baddies are boring (and why does one of them leave the diamonds embedded in his face? They could be removed easily and must be worth a fortune) the CIA are annoying, Rosamund Pike’s character of Miranda Frost has potential and Halle Berry’s Jinx could offer a new angle, but they fall flat and look fed up. Pierce Brosnan looks angry to be involved in the whole project and with the lines he is given comes across more embarrassing leary Dad than sexy international spy.
As Halle Berry emerges from the sea (set in Cuba but actually filmed in Cadiz, Spain trivia fans!) echoing Ursula Andress from ‘Dr No’, Bond’s exchange is just painful! It’s like watching ‘Anchorman’ try and chat someone up. In fact, it’s so bad I think it deserves reprinting in its entirety just to see in black and white how far Bond has fallen since the last outing.
Bond: [Learing at Jinx] Magnificent view
Jinx: It is, isn’t it. Too bad it’s lost on everybody else.
Bond: Mojito? You should try it.
Jinx: [Extending her hand] Giacinta Johnson. My friends call me Jinx.
Bond: My friends call me James Bond. Jinx you say.
Jinx: Born on Friday 13th.
Bond: Do you believe in bad luck?
Jinx: Let’s just say my relationships don’t seem to last.
Bond: Hmmm, I know the feeling. [Glancing at the group drinking at the bar] Predators usually appear at sunset.
Jinx: And why is that?
Bond: It’s when their prey comes out to drink. [Looking at Jinx drinking the mojito] Too strong for you?
Jinx: I could learn to like it, if i had the time.
Bond: How much time have you got?
Jinx: Until dawn. What about you?
Bond: Oh I’m just here for the birds. [Waving binoculars] Ornithologist.
Jinx: Ah, ornithologist huh. Wow, now there’s a mouthful. So you’re gonna be busy tonight with the owls then, huh.
Bond: No owls in Los Olvanas. Nothing to see until the morning. [Raising eyebrow] Not out there anyway.
Jinx: So what to predators do, when the sun goes down?
Bond: They feast. Like there’s no tomorrow.