Tomorrow Never Dies Reviews
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Look beyond that spectacle and it has to be said that the plot is fairly poor and the structure is pretty thinly laid out; particularly in the moment-to-moment build-up.
VERDICT: Sit back and enjoy the action - it's a return to fun from Bond with some really great moments. Shame it's just a little too formulaic.
Director Roger 'Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot' Spottiswoode doesn't help, treating things as superficially as his writer. Sure, a Bond director should avoid imposing a style that is at odds with what people expect from a Bond movie - *koff!*Tamahori*koff!* - but SOME style would be nice. The look of this movie has dated much more than those either side of it - both handled by skilled, seasoned directors who understood the aesthetics of a Bond film. This guy just...doesn't.
The villain, Elliot Carver, isn't exactly a formidable nemesis, and Jonathan Pryce plays him as an entitled, whiny little snot. Despite the heinous acts he has his minions carry out, he has no menace to him whatsoever. His henchman, Herr Stamper, is not a particularly distinctive character. Gotz Otto makes him come off like a scowling poseur. Again, no menace. The rent boy get-up doesn't help. The idea of Bond having to reconnect with a past lover is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the plot, but Paris is so annoying you can see why he left her in the first place. Or maybe that's just because she's played by Teri Hatcher, of whom I've never been a fan. Ricky Jay is OK, but his character, Gupta, seems to have wandered in from a different movie. Vincent Schiavelli could never disappoint me, but his character, the evil torturer Dr Kaufman, who could have been a classic henchman, is played entirely for laughs. While his scene is pretty funny, it could have been so much more had it not been treated with such a light touch. Moneypenny, who was modernised a bit in Goldeneye, reverts back to her old form here, and has probably the worst lines in the movie. Samantha Bond does what she can with it, but, like Brosnan, that isn't much. The talents of Geoffrey Palmer and Colin Salmon are pretty much wasted. Joe Don Baker's Wade, who served as comic relief in GoldenEye but still managed to qualify as a character, is here a buffoonish caricature in a ridiculous hat.
Wai Lin is just as badly written as everyone else, and Michelle Yeoh is ridiculously overqualified to play her. She's one of my favourite actresses ever to play a Bond 'girl', but there's just nothing she can do with such a bland character. There is one scene in which she gets to show off her kung-fu skills, but it feels like it's been spliced in from a better (though still not great) movie.
The motorcycle/helicopter chase is an interesting idea, especially the touch of having Bond and Wai Lin handcuffed together, forcing them to cooperate and trust each other. But it's stupid that out of all the bikes they had to choose from they chose the biggest, heaviest one there - that just happened to be a BMW. I remember someone (possibly Spottiswoode, but I don't care enough to check) saying they didn't want them to just happen upon a lightweight, zippy trailbike when they needed one, and wanted to give them a challenge. If that's the case, ALL the bikes should have been heavy cruising bikes, otherwise why the hell WOULDN'T they choose a lightweight, zippy trailbike?
And then, of course, Wai Lin removes her lockpick earring and opens the cuffs - AFTER the chase, because...I don't know.
The best bit of action is the car chase, in which they seem to have tried to make up for the lack of car gadgets in GoldenEye by cramming in every trick imaginable. It is very silly, with Bond using his tricked-out phone to drive by remote control from the back seat, but good fun. The only problem I have is that, again, it's a BMW, and this time it's a sedan. A BMW sedan. BMW. Sedan.
Sheryl Crow's theme song isn't great. It doesn't sound like Sheryl Crow, as though she's trying too hard to emulate the 'Bond theme' genre, rather than bringing her own style to it. The rejected original song, written by David Arnold and Don Black and sung by k.d. lang, is a better song, but too much of a throwback for my taste.
Despite some good action scenes, Tomorrow Never Dies suffers form a bland, rehashed story and a slow pacing.