Wednesday, February 18, 2015

All The James Bond Conceits In One Place: The World Is Not Enough Is Unfortunately Unremarkable

The Good: Characterization of Elektra King, Performances are good
The Bad: Formulaic plot, Dull, repetitive chase scenes
The Basics: By the time The World Is Not Enough pops up in the James Bond chronology, the conceits are overplayed and there is little to recommend the film.

It seems that I’ll manage to finish watching and reviewing all of the films in the James Bond franchise before the release of SPECTRE later this year. That’s exciting for me, though the truth is, I’ve been finding myself far less excited about the films themselves. Today, I finally took in The World Is Not Enough and, despite the intriguing start, soon found it to be plagued by all the most familiar aspects of the franchise with little that is truly original or even intriguing.

So there are chase sequences and The World Is Not Enough seems to have more than the usual two (in this case, speedboat, skiing, a scene formulated like a chase sequence in which the villain removes a nuclear weapon from an underground facility, ). There are the gadgets. There are the Bond girls. There is a megalomaniacal villain (who is essentially a super villain more like a Marvel adversary than a Bond villain). And there are the puns. Oh, so many puns. There is little compelling or even stunning in The World Is Not Enough, which is pretty much the death knell of an action adventure movie.

Opening in Bilbao, Spain, Bond recovers money belonging to Sir Robert King, who has illegally bought MI-6 reports (Bond is trying to determine how). While Bond escapes and is able to bring King’s money back to M (where King is very much alive), it turns out to be a trap that results in an explosion of the MI-6 headquarters to which the money is brought. After a high speed chase, Bond’s quarry kills herself rather than allow herself to be captured. With their only lead gone, Bond realizes that the murder of King is related to the prior kidnapping of his daughter, Elektra, who is now inheriting King’s construction business. M and Bond reason that the kidnapper, Renard, is going to come after Elektra and Bond is sent to Azerbaijan to protect her.

After Bond encounters Renard along King’s pipeline in Kazakhstan where his team is removing nuclear materials, M comes into the field. Alerted by Bond’s suspicions, M manages to survive being captured by Elektra King. Bond and the nuclear physicist Christmas Jones have to recover the plutonium stolen by Renard and King before they can kill M and hold the world hostage with their weapons!

The World Is Not Enough is notable for being the final appearance of Desmond Llewelyn, who has appeared in the Bond franchise as Q (albeit by a different name) since From Russia With Love (reviewed here!). Llewelyn was given a fine exit, which was emotional (if subtle) for fans of the franchise. He is one of the few classic Bond actors who was given a proper send-off (others simply disappeared or the actors died between films).

The other notable aspect of The World Is Not Enough is the character of Elektra King. King is initially characterized as a victim who is fighting to be strong. She is entirely convincing, as an early scene has her and Bond getting trapped in a small area and she freaks out, as one would expect from someone who was captured and confined in a small space. It is rare in the Bond franchise for characters to suffer realistic consequences for their experiences. King starts intriguing and, despite her goals, is one of the more realistic Bond villains, at least as far as her motivations go.

Renard is an adversary who seems initially like a Bond villain before being exposed as an exceptional villain’s lackey. He might not have the name recognition of Odd Job, but he is basically an enforcer like he was. He also has a bullet in his head from 009 which is slowly killing him.

The World Is Not Enough is the Bond film that features Denise Richards and her performance is one of the least-convincing of the entire film. Robbie Coltrane keeps a consistent Russian accent and Judi Dench adapts very well to having M in a more physical role, but Richards is terrible and there are a disturbing number of times when Pierce Brosnan does not get eyelines or emotions quite right. Instead, there are moments Bond is in pain or exertion that Brosnan seems to phone in and that is disappointing (I’ve always felt bad that Brosnan was unceremoniously dropped as Bond and thought he did well in Die Another Day, reviewed here!).

But the mixed performances are not enough to sink the film. The World Is Not Enough is unfortunately formulaic and familiar; the puns fall short, the chases have the tension choreographed out of them and the reversals are unsurprising. Anyone who loves James Bond might enjoy the scope and moments of character in The World Is Not Enough, but the film is entirely unremarkable.

For other works with Robbie Coltrane, please check out my reviews of:
The Harry Potter Saga
Van Helsing
Blackadder’s Christmas Carol


For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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