DOWSE guide to the movies                                                                                         

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the net guide for creative minds

  New Century of Cinema

DOWSE Guide to the Movies
by Tony Lee editor of Pigasus Press

The World Is Not Enough

directed by Michael Apted
123 minutes (12)
MGM widescreen 2.35:1
review by Jeff Young

Although it never quite recovers from the stunning, and now obligatory, pre-credits stunt sequence, this latest 007 adventure is certainly one of the better offerings in this series. What makes The World Is Not Enough (handy acronym, TWINE) so compelling is the combination of - for once, an actual backstory to the main plot, some nearly perfect casting, and the canny appointment of a real film director, in the shape of Michael Apted, who is eminently capable of investing the enterprise with a fair degree of drama to heighten the usual action and thrills we have come to expect from James Bond.
   French actress Sophie Marceau is certainly one of the best Bond girls ever and, in fact, here the term isn't that appropriate for her character, heiress Elektra King. For, being the hero's secondary antagonist she's far more than merely decorative. The traditional role of Bond bimbo is taken by Denise Richards, here playing the world's most unlikely nuclear physicist with a silly name, Christmas Jones. The main heavy is brain-damaged terrorist Renard (Robert Carlyle, capitalising on his success in The Full Monty), who knows he hasn't long to live due to a still-moving bullet lodged in his skull, and intends to leave his mark on both West and East by irradiating central Europe with stolen Russian nukes.
   One of the things that marks this film out from nearly all the other Bond outings is the greater screen time given to typically peripheral figures such as redoubtable 'M' (which I've always thought stood for 'mother', anyway, so having a woman as Bond's boss is more than interesting - to say nothing of it being true to life, what with Stella Remington having served a term in the spymaster's office), and a greater measure of fun at Bond's expense being dished out by the Quartermaster division. Desmond Llewelyn bows out here in a fittingly poignant moment. But, jeez, is he really to be replaced by John Cleese?
   The film's action supervisor (and second unit director) is Vic Armstrong, one of the most competent in the business. His involvement ensures that TWINE's various set pieces will make your jaw hit the floor just when things seem to have settled down into the routine of - villain shoots at Bond, he shoots back and everything goes up in smoke. That said, he presides over a spectacular snowmobile chase, a narrow escape from a missile silo that simply isn't as clever as the mine sequence in John Woo's Broken Arrow, and a surprisingly unexciting showdown inside a stricken submarine. As I said, the best action occurs early on. What keeps you watching, and waiting for the punch line, is the inevitable relationship between Marceau's spirited anti-heroine and the remarkably assured heroism of Pierce Brosnan, who has emerged from the shadow of Timothy Dalton to create arguably the finest Bond characterisation ever, such that I wonder what author Ian Fleming would have made of Mr Brosnan's distinctly post-millennnial interpretation of MI6's spearhead?
   DVD extras and an 8-page booklet form a magnificently comprehensive package.
Scene access in 32 chapters, 2 feature-length audio commentaries, a 'Making of TWINE' documentary, a Secrets of 007 section of 9 behind-the-scenes clips with storyboards and production artwork, an examination of Bond's enduring appeal in Cocktail, a tribute to the late Desmond Llewelyn, highlights of the 6-week shoot on the Thames in Down River, original cinema trailer, PlayStation game trailer, plus a music video by Garbage with Shirley Manson playing a killer android. Although slightly repetitive, all this material adds up to more than feature-length for yet another evening's viewing!

Jeff Young

Buy this title from Blackstar

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