The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

TOMORROW NEVER DIES (1997) ***

Pierce Brosnan’s second go-around as James Bond finds him matching wits with a Rupert Murdoch type media tycoon named Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce). Since Bond had a dalliance with Carver’s wife (Teri Hatcher), M (Judi Dench) sends 007 snooping around his media empire. He eventually discovers that Carver is instigating international conflicts just so his latest news station will have something to cover.

The plot of course, is ridiculous, but it has a Bondian type of logic to it. I mean Bond has fought villains obsessed with gold, diamonds, microchips, and cocaine, so a villain with a mass media empire isn’t too much of a stretch. Like many a middle of the road Bond movie, it helps if you just turn off your brain and try not to think about it too much.

The important thing is, the puns come fast and furious and so does the action. Bringing Supercop’s Michelle Yeoh into the mix was an inspired touch. Her Kung Fu skills are in top form and she is given several opportunities to show them off. The scene where she and Bond are handcuffed together and have to jump their motorcycle is pretty sweet and the big scene involving a helicopter is one of the best stunts in the Brosnan era of Bond films.

However, the other major Bond Girl in this one is rather dreadful. People always complain about Denise Richards being the worst Bond Girl, but I have to say Hatcher is far worse. We never quite believe that such a shrill and cold babe could make Bond care about her. And you never really buy that they had a previous relationship either. And to me, her inevitable death isn’t really all that impactful. I think if the filmmakers really wanted to sell the fact that Bond knew Carver’s wife, they should’ve really used a character that had an actual history with Bond (say for instance Izabella Scorupco from Goldeneye) than a character with a manufactured history. Plus, Hatcher’s line deliveries (“I’ve made my bed… you don’t sleep in it anymore!”) are so bitchy that you just don’t really give a damn about her.

Brosnan is once again pretty badass. I love the scenes where Bond needles Carver at his big gala and pulls the plug on his broadcast. And there’s a great scene where Q (Desmond Llewelyn) is disguised as a car rental worker. His interaction with Brosnan is hilarious in this one.

Tomorrow Never Dies is never short on action, but like most Bonds, it runs out of gas before the finale. Once Bond starts running around Carver’s ship, the shootouts and such get a bit repetitive. It’s a definite step down from the heights of Goldeneye, yet it’s still plenty of fun.

And now, the REAL Bond review…

The Pre-Opening Title Sequence. Like the movie itself, it’s solid and gets the job done. Bond hops in a jet and narrowly avoids getting blown up by an incoming missile. There’s also a cool bit where he plays chicken with another jet and uses the ejector seat on a dude trying to strangle him in the cockpit. ***

The Opening Title Sequence. Like most of the Brosnan title sequences, the special effects look too computery. I liked the stuff with the chicks dressed up like Tron. But for the most part, this sequence isn’t especially memorable or anything. ** ½

The Song. I like the retro vibe to this song. I think Sheryl Crow might’ve been the wrong person to sing such a silky sounding song, but she doesn’t do a bad job with it. I liked it. ***

Bond. We get another great turn by Pierce Brosnan. He’s great with the ladies (“I’m brushing up on a little Danish!”), and gets lots of funny lines (like when he uses the ejector seat on the guy behind him and says “Backseat driver!”). No matter how uneven a lot of the Brosnan Bonds got, he always gave 100%. ****

The Gadgets. A remote control BMW (with re-inflatable tires!), a phone with a fingerprint scanner, and Michelle Yeoh has a bunch of Chinese gadgets like a killer fan. *** ½

Bond Girls. Michelle Yeoh is great in this. She shows that Bond can have a female equal without being in your face about it. (Say, like Halle Berry in Die Another Day.) However, Teri Hatcher brings things down quite a bit with her annoying performance. (I still think she’s pretty hot though.) **** for Yeoh. ** for Hatcher. That makes an average of: ***

Action. As previously mentioned, the pre-opening title sequence is strong. There’s also a good fight where Bond tosses a dude into the newspaper press, causing blood to smear all over the papers. (“They’ll print anything these days!”) Bond’s escape in his remote control car is pretty cool too, but it’s Yeoh’s fancy footwork that makes the movie memorable. All of the stuff with Brosnan and her being handcuffed and jumping off buildings and riding motorcycles is great. It’s just a shame that the finale on Carver’s boat is pretty bland. *** ½

M. M (Judi Dench) does her briefing back of a car. Of her seven outings as M, Dench probably has the least amount of screen time in this one. That’s not a bad thing though. She gets Bond on his way quickly without slowing the plot down. ***

Villain. Elliot Carver is not a bad Bond villain. The way Pryce plays him is a bit wishy-washy, but I did like how he held his conferences and manipulated the news all from his giant TV screen. Plus, Pryce’s interaction with Brosnan was appropriately catty, so he did a solid job. ***

Villain’s Plot. It’s kinda cool. Carver is all about creating news and being the first one to print it. He’s launching a new news channel and wants a big catastrophe to cover for its big premiere. It’s silly, but it somehow works. ***

Villain’s Lair. Carver rides around on a big ass stealth boat. ***

Villain’s Henchmen. Yet another standard issue blond hair musclebound dude. **

Martinis. Bond drinks half a bottle of vodka while waiting for a would-be assassin. *** ½

Bond Movies Ripped Off. All the stuff on the boat at the end is a bit reminiscent of The Spy Who Loved Me and the Kung Fu scenes echo The Man with the Golden Gun a bit. ***

Tomorrow Never Dies is my 21st favorite Bond movie, which puts it in between Skyfall and Die Another Day.

Tags: action, james bond series, kung fu, sequel, t
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