Bond: Pierce Brosnan - 2 tusks
For the most part, I have no major problems with Pierce Brosnan. He really does a good job taking the style of Roger Moore and infusing action into the role. There are glimpses of ruthlessness in this movie that I think do harken back to Connery and even Dalton. He really does quite well with the role. Too bad the script had to take away from all that.
Girl: Denise Richards as Christmas Jones - 0 tusks
Not the worst Bond girl ever, but pretty close. Denise Richards doesn't play "hot scientist" very well. It's hard to take her seriously as she says her lines like she's reading them. Bringing in her character was unnecessary. She offered no real contribution to the story and just fills the "pretty damsel in distress" role.
Gadgets: several - 1 tusk
Glasses that trigger an explosion...that's fine. X-Ray specs...that goes too far for my tastes.
Opening Theme: "The World Is Not Enough" performed by Garbage - 1 tusk
It's an okay song, but the vocals comes across as a little whiny. Which is a little weird because the Sheryl Crow song seemed a little whiny, too, but I liked that one.
Villain: Sophie Marceau as Elektra King - 1 tusk
Some may argue that Renard was the main villain, but in the end, Elektra King was the one pulling the strings. She was crazy, but I think they should have made her crazier. Marceau under plays the role a bit too much. And for as much as I want to give her props just for being a Braveheart girl, she doesn't really exude villain all that well. It's like she needed to go farther with the role than she did.
Henchman: Robert Carlyle as Renard - 1 tusk
Often listed as the villain, he really turns out to be the henchman. I wasn't a big fan of the fantastical element to his backstory. He has a bullet lodged in his brain that will kill him at some point in the future. Of course, everyone will die at some point in the future, so that's not really all that big a deal. The whole can't feel pain or pleasure thing seemed very underdeveloped. It didn't play nearly enough into the story. So why bother with it? Even more so, it seems like his demise should have been being shot in the head by Bond, you know, the right way. Impalement by reactor rod seemed anti-climactic and unfitting.
Pre-title opening sequence - 1 tusk
Incredibly long and too short at the same time. I think it could have used something more at the beginning and then move some of it to after the credits. There was a lot of exposition that they seemed to move through too fast. That said, setting off an explosion in MI-6 and having some sort of action take place in England is actually a first for a Bond movie. It did seem to strike a chord to hit so close to Bond's home like this.
At times, this movie plays as though it were written by soap opera writers and then given a slight re-write by an action writer. This movie is full of potential but absolutely fails to successfully turn into a great film. Or even a good film. The story relied on forced drama without enough substance to back it up.
I like the attempt to make this more personal and a little off-formula. At least initially. By the middle of the movie, they really drop all pretenses of telling a story and just string action sequences together relying on the typical formula. I thought it might have been interesting to see Bond find some sort of connection to his family in the middle of the plot. This would have been appropriately foreshadowed with the title "The World Is Not Enough," the Bond family motto according to this movie and previously established in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Of course, the main character's family is where you go when you run out of ideas. So, yeah, that sounds about right.
The absolute best part about this movie is Dame Judi Dench. I was glad to see her have an expanded role in this movie. The downside is that the writing was not suited to her strengths. But, in the same way Patrick Stewart can make technobabble sound like Shakespeare, Dench makes her stuff work. When an actor can play a scene, say not one word yet convey a multitude of messages, they're absolutely brilliant. There's a particular scene late in the movie where M has just witnessed Bond do something devastating. As Bond runs off, with one expression, we see M show sadness, shock, a touch of anger, and a slight sense that suddenly she understands Bond more than she ever has before.
As an ending note, the return of Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky shows exactly what I was talking about in the previous two movies. How much more effective is his appearance and ultimate demise knowing that he and Bond have a history? The set up is there in just one scene from two movies ago. What if they had plotted these three movies out a bit differently? How much cooler would it have been to see Sean Bean show up in a movie or two (maybe he could have been the one that fails to kill Renard) and then turn bad in his third appearance? What if Paris Carver was the Bond girl from Brosnan's first movie and then showed up in his third? By this point, the character has 19 movies. Yet it is rare that they really mine the past. However, when they do, it really is cool.
Special note...I would be remiss if I didn't mention Desmond Llewelyn in his final appearance as Q. It is speculated that had he not died after this movie was made, he would have made an appearance in the next movie. But the way his final scene is written, it's as though he doesn't plan to be back. Either way, he consistently turned in some great performances and even in the last few movies, his scenes were a delight. He never lost his touch.
Previous Bond Movie Reviews
From Russia With Love
You Only Live Twice
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Diamonds Are Forever
Live And Let Die
The Man With The Golden Gun
The Spy Who Loved Me
For Your Eyes Only
Never Say Never Again
A View to a Kill
The Living Daylights
License to Kill
Tomorrow Never Dies