Tomorrow Never Dies (12)

Directed by Roger Spottiswoode
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher, Judi Dench, Desmond Llewellen, Samantha Bond, Vincent Schiavelli

Yes, Bond is back and this in possibly one of the best all out action films of the year. In a successful mix of the old fashioned Bond ingredients and todays state of the art effects ans explosions, the franchise should have another winner. Chief strength is Pierce Brosnan, who really was born to be Bond it seems. Suave and charming but with a believable hard edge, Brosnan manages to make Bond likeable as well as sexy- something Connery never did in my opinion.
The action centres around that old chestnut of a meglomaniac wanting world domination, but, this being the 90's, this baddie- played in full pantomime mode by Jonathan Pryce, is a Murdoch/Maxwell media magnate who wants the viewing rights to the entire globe. In this time of girl power, Bond gets his first decent female sidekick in ages, with the spunky Michelle Yeoh as a Chinese agent Wai Lin, who has the same agenda as Bond. Yeoh is a star of some Hong Kong action films, and her acrobatic martial arts fighting is fab!
Add to these the familiar characters of Q, with yet more gadgets including a wonderful remote control BMW, Judi Dench and Samantha Bond as M and Moneypenny, a doomed femme fatale(Superman's Teri Hatcher), the usual gratuitously outrageous pre-credits set piece, and a wonderfully retro theme song from Sheryl Crowe and this is as much fun as you could possibly expect from a Bond film.
For what its worth, the plot concerns media mogul Eliot Carver(Pryce), who wants a media foothold in China, that great unconquerored market. To this end, he tries to arrange a war between the west and and China, hoping to step in with exclusive pictures of the event. James Bond gets to race around Europe, where he gets re-aquainted with ex-lover Teri Hatcher who now is Carver's wife. He also meets Wai Lin(Yeoh). Next stop is the China Seas to look at a Navy ship sunk by Carver's people and a reunion with Wai Lin. When they are handcuffed together another chase involving motorbikes follows.(BMW again- how much did they pay!!) The finale is pure Moonraker and probably quite a few other Bond films as the plucky pair must prevent the Chinese and British Navy going to war.
Really though, a Bond film is as good as its action sequences, and the ones here are excellent with the usual wit Bond films inject. The car and motorbike chases are well executed. However, one of the most memorable bits is probably Vincent Schiavelli's cameo as a highly unusual hit man sent to despatch Bond. He is an unusual actor, and his character seems to be from another film, something by the Coen brothers I should think. Less successful is Jonathan Pryce who overacts horribly without ever seeming really threatening. He is merely annoying. I did like his Maxwell type ending though. Teri Hatcher also makes little impression in a role that was said to have been cut heavily due to preview audiences not liking her very much.
I am often moaning about the poor quality of action movies, but this one is a lot of fun thanks to a good central performance by Brosnan, ably supported by Yeoh. A thin plot just about holds together thanks to brilliantly coreographed action set pieces. The traditional factors expected of a Bond film are all there down to the wierd scantily clad dancing girls during the credits, and that theme song. You know what to expect of Bond, and this film delivers it all, in a well put together package. 8/10.

December 1997

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