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by Tony Lee editor of
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!
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