James Bond uncovers a nuclear plot when he protects an oil heiress from her former kidnapper, an international terrorist who can’t feel pain.
If you can’t trust a Swiss banker, then what’s the world come to?
‘The World Is Not Enough’ was a Bond film that I loved at the time (I was 11) and have enjoyed every time I’ve seen it, although this was my first time viewing the film as an adult. It was released at a point when I was truly getting into James Bond, from enjoying the old classics on the television (ITV on Saturday afternoon’s at my Grandads), to playing the games on the consoles of the time, so I was a target audience to which it was always going to appeal. Perhaps it was nostalgia that made me look back fondly on ‘The World Is Not Enough’ because it is not a great film nor a great Bond, but there’s a lot I like about it nonetheless.
The film’s plot is convoluted even for James Bond, bringing in an assassinated billionaire, a kidnapped daughter and a terrorist with a nefarious plan to increase petrol prices by triggering a nuclear meltdown underwater (underwater and ski chases, also featured here, are of course staples of the Bond series). For my money, the film overcomes this through a series of enjoyable performances and an approach to the story that balances action, comedy and a knowing wink to the audience reminiscent of some of Roger Moore’s finer outings. There are several preposterous elements of the film, not least the casting of Denise Richards as Bond girl Christmas Jones. The Bond series has been known for ridiculous character names over the years but it doesn’t help to lend any credence to Richards unlikely role as a nuclear scientist. Richards herself is very attractive but she isn’t a great actress, nor believable as a nuclear scientist and she doesn’t develop any real chemistry with Pierce Brosnan, albeit it doesn’t help that Sophie Marceau is doing such good work in a far better role.
Sophie Marceau is one of the film’s highlights as the duplicitous Electra King, more in the mould of a classic Bond girl than Richards lightweight and she provides great value with a scenery chewing performance. King’s motivations don’t make a great deal of sense (which could be said for a lot of things in the film) but I’m willing to forgive when Marceau is electric every time she’s on screen. As the film’s primary villain, Robert Carlyle struggles to really bring Renard to life with a performance too stoic and static, although he does imbue the character with a certain menace that emphasises the psychotic nature of the man. In the smaller roles, there’s a return for Robbie Coltrane’s former mafia boss from ‘Goldeneye’ and Judi Dench is given an enhanced role as ‘M’ (although not as enhanced as ‘Skyfall’ many years later). This is also the last of 17 Bond films to feature the legendary Desmond Llewelyn as ‘Q’, who tragically died in a car accident shortly after the film’s premiere.
The film came out shortly before the new millennium and there’s several nods to this milestone with references to the millennium bug and a stunning opening sequence that manages to incorporate the Millennium Dome into proceedings. This would be the strongest action scene in the film, as the standard thereafter is generally weaker than we’ve come to expect with a heavy reliance on explosions and gadgetry at the expense of taut direction and good choreography. Another highlight is Garbage’s excellent theme tune, which is the strongest from the Brosnan Bonds in my opinion, as well as being one of the finer entries in the series overall. I never really liked any of the title sequences from the Brosnan era and this doesn’t change here, although it helps having a good song to go alongside it.
Overall I still find ‘The World Is Not Enough’ to be an entertaining, over the top Bond outing, but like ‘Goldeneye’ it hasn’t aged particularly well and it’s definitely fallen down in my rankings on rewatch. Next up, the only Bond film I’ve yet to see in ‘Die Another Day‘, Pierce Brosnan’s fourth and final outing in the role.
Directed By: Michael Apted
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Denise Richards, Robbie Coltrane, John Cleese, Serena Scott Thomas, John Seru, Ulrich Thomsen, Goldie, David Calder, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Colin Salmon, Judi Dench, Samantha Bond and Desmond Llewelyn