Tomorrow Never Dies: what went wrong?

Common criticisms of TND include. Extremely formulaic and predictable plot. Yeoh's acting. Lack of romantic chemistry. But I'll add a few more things.

1) The first 20 minutes. There's very little of Bond, or even dialogue from him. His introduction is sparse and forgettable.

2) The humor is forced and gets over-milked. The joke about Brosnan with the danish girl brushing up on his danish was funny, but then the "cunning linguist" comment overdid it. The joke about "pumping for information" was funny, but then kept on going. There are other examples, but you get my point.

3) The problem with heavy usage of machine guns isn't that it's too violent. But that it just becomes noise and filler without consequence. When have lackeys firing machine guns and missing every shot ever accomplished anything? When has an action hero firing machine guns at dozens of lackeys ever advanced a plot?

4) Imo, Brosnan is at his best when he's the urbane suit-and-tie Bond, using his wits and his smooth-talking to get out of a sticky situation. He's more suited for a casino, club, party or business meeting. As a hardened killer in the field doing action sequences and killing lots of people, he's not as convincing. And he doesn't really adapt his acting style to it as much.

5) While fiction allows characters actions to be enriched by sci-fi or fantasy elements, their motivations as a person still need to be believeable. I don't believe it's in Carver's interest to start WW3 just for ratings and profit. WW3 would risk everyone's lives; what if MI6 found out he's responsible for it and assassinates him? A smaller scale conflict with a non-nuclear countries would be more believable (i.e. Hearst and the Spanish-American War).

With journalistic integrity being more discussed in today's politics, you'd expect a film like this to get a greater appreciation. But it's not just what a film is about: it's how the film is executed. Yes, this film is about journalism. But does it really say anything insightful about it aside from "media is evil; dishonesty is bad".

This could've been more convincing it had some nuance. Real-life media moguls don't put giant pictures of themselves on buildings, and they don't even name the company after themselves; they usually just privately enjoy their wealth.

Real-life media moguls don't make it so apparent they're the villain. They'd draw less attention to themselves and paint other public figures as the villain.

This film portrays bad journalism as total fabrication. But there are shades in between: Information that starts as truth, but it embellished or stretched. Or information taken out of context.

In well-written fiction, no good guy is completely good; and even the villain has at least 1 redeeming qualities. What if the British government, Bond or MI6 did something morally questionable to make the public question them, and then Carver Media Group used that to discredit them; Bond + M16 would have an uphill battle in trying to change that and it would make for a more interesting plot.

There's some sort of balancing act. A movie would be boring if it were exactly like real life. But if it's too over-the-top and cartoony, it loses believeability.

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Comments

  • slide_99slide_99 USA
    Posts: 188
    Carver doesn't want to start WW3, he's in league with a Chinese general who wants to nuke Beijing to install a military junta that'll give Carver access to the Chinese market.

    TND's plot basically ends halfway through, from then on it's a bulletfest. It's enjoyable more as an action movie than a Bond movie.

    What they should have done was have Bond use his wits to outsmart Carver in some way, like maybe he takes control of Carver's satellites and broadcasts something that reveals his plan to the whole world or embarrasses him in some way. That would've been more interesting.

    But the most unrealistic thing about TND is that actual media moguls are way more evil. I can't even imagine Carver covering up the Rotterham rapes the way the actual British media did. I mean, damn.
  • Posts: 236
    The 'pump her for information' line would have worked much better if it had been left without Moneypenny sticking her oar in. I agree it went on too long.
    I love TND, it's possibly my favourite Brosnan, but I hate the way his Bond dispatches the villain with a quip. The "No, for me" worked in GE, but the "you forgot the golden rule of mass media" and all that, was a bit too convoluted. I'm glad they dropped that stuff. The way Craig shoots Safin was way cooler, Bond doesn't have to say a line everytime before he kills a villain.
    Brozza also had "she's waiting for you" and "time to face gravity" if I recal.
  • slide_99 wrote: »
    Carver doesn't want to start WW3, he's in league with a Chinese general who wants to nuke Beijing to install a military junta that'll give Carver access to the Chinese market.

    TND's plot basically ends halfway through, from then on it's a bulletfest. It's enjoyable more as an action movie than a Bond movie.

    What they should have done was have Bond use his wits to outsmart Carver in some way, like maybe he takes control of Carver's satellites and broadcasts something that reveals his plan to the whole world or embarrasses him in some way. That would've been more interesting.

    But the most unrealistic thing about TND is that actual media moguls are way more evil. I can't even imagine Carver covering up the Rotterham rapes the way the actual British media did. I mean, damn.

    Can’t argue with any of this. TND starts off pretty well, and it’s a fun watch throughout, but it does just turn into a generic 90s action movie by the end. And yeah, while Pryce was fun and they got a couple of fun evil villain moments out of “tomorrow’s news today”, I can’t help thinking that Rupert Murdoch as a Bond villain was just as wasted an idea as the villain’s wife being an old flame. He has flashes of being evil and manipulative, but not enough. I also have to agree with @M16_Cart. Whether he’s starting world war 3 himself or helping a Chinese general for the sake of ratings, it’s still just too big and played out a scheme. The media angle stops it from feeling entirely derivative of YOLT and TSWLM, but why go there at all? Why not lean into the media angle and come up with something more grounded and political? I thought Sherlock’s use of Murdoch as a villain was much better.

    I do think it’s commendable that they went there at all though, and I’d like to see the next Bond go for something similarly timely and relevant. I guess Bezos is probably off the table now, but if they wanted to go a bit more OTT and spy-fi again to set the next guy apart from Craig, how about a villain based on Musk?
  • DraxCucumberSandwichDraxCucumberSandwich United Kingdom
    Posts: 200
    Many things went wrong . It’s probably my least favourite of all Bond movies, and not one I ever really care to watch.
    I don’t even know where to start. I’ll put in just a few things that jump out at me:

    -Humour from a ‘Loaded’ 90s lads mag
    - Terri Hatcher
    - the talents of Michelle Yeoh completely wasted
    - Pedestrian action scenes
    - Terrible bland finale
    - song is ok (but nowhere near as good as KD Lang’s closer, or Saint Etienne’s rejected effort) but the performance of it is a screeching horror
    - Half baked script that runs out of plot halfway through
    - Brosnan giving a disconcertingly mixed bag of a performance with all sort of tonal whiplash (sad/guilt over Paris Carver but then schoolboy glee over remote controlled car in consecutive scenes)

    The worst offender has to be Jonathan Pryce’s completely misjudged hammy ‘look how evil I am mrah ha ha’ performance. It’s unbearable to watch .
  • Posts: 458
    Bond doesn't have to say a line everytime before he kills a villain.

    This. A lot of things in Bond films feel forced just to check a box. Before adding a scene, the directors should ask: is it necessary? how much entertainment value does it add for the film?

    And regardless of how well a trope has worked for previous films, all that matters is: does it work for this film?

  • Posts: 170
    The first hour or so isn’t bad. Not a fan of the final act though. It’s probably just a me thing because I’m not a fan of the final acts of YOLT, TSWLM, or MR either.
  • TND gets more stick than it really deserves. I blame Rupert Murdock...
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Riding a white swan to Matera
    Posts: 12,377
    Not much went wrong at all. It's a great Bond movie. He really came into his own. I love GE and I love TND. I don't find much fault with it at all.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,663
    Not much went wrong at all. It's a great Bond movie. He really came into his own. I love GE and I love TND. I don't find much fault with it at all.

    Same here. I even like TWINE & DAD (although DAD goes down better with a stiff pint).
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython The Black Lodge
    Posts: 5,172
    It’s the second worst Bond film in my ranking.

    So it did a lot wrong.
  • CraigMooreOHMSSCraigMooreOHMSS Dublin, Ireland
    Posts: 6,591
    Not much went wrong at all. It's a great Bond movie. He really came into his own. I love GE and I love TND. I don't find much fault with it at all.

    Yeah, I'd be the same.
  • peterpeter Toronto
    Posts: 5,927
    I think the first half was the perfect Brosnan film— cheesy lines and all. He seemed so well suited for the tone during this first half, and his performance seemed effortless.
    But then the halo jump happened and everything became a slog. My brain then switched off during the Rambo-style climax and yes, there was no chemistry and no point in making Michelle Yeoh his love interest.
    I’d much rather watch the first half of this film than any other Brosnan Bond film. I also think he looked his best in this one.
  • DraxCucumberSandwichDraxCucumberSandwich United Kingdom
    Posts: 200
    I’d much rather watch the first half of DAD than any other Brosnan film. And I think he looked terrific in that - he aged really well into the role
  • Tomorrow Never Dies was a tricky one for me for such a long time. It was one of the earliest Bond films I ever saw, and so many moments from the film are now firmly planted into my brain. For a long time, it always ranked towards the middle for me, but it wasn’t until my last viewing, where the movie experienced something of a rebirth, at least in my eyes. It has tons and tons of flaws, but it’s plot is actually quite ahead of its time IMO, with the hysteria, and genuine mistrust some people have of news organizations (particularly here in the US), Wai-Lin is a stand out Bond girl, and of all the “Tough Bond girls” who can match him physically and mentally, she’s the best. Elliott Carver can be a bit overly hammy, you can certainly tell he’s playing it up for the camera in some moments, but he does it with such delight and a tongue in cheek quality that I end up enjoying the performance. The side characters are where the film falls apart, Stamper is a generic “Red Grant” like character with little to no personality as well. Gupta’s magic card tricks being cut from the film result in him being yet another boring henchmen, and a less amusing version of Boris from Goldeneye. The idea of a former flame coming back into Bond’s life being married to the films villain is incredibly captivating, but Paris Carver is yet another forgettable character in the film, and her death serves little to no impact on the series, despite leading to one of my favorite scenes in any Bond films where he confronts Dr. Kaufman. Perhaps if Carver was rewritten to be Silvia Trench, or any other previous Bond girl, it’d be much more interesting, although I’m not sure if the blame can be put purely on the writing for that character, perhaps Teri Hatcher’s performance could’ve also been an issue with that character. Looking back in retrospect, it’s easy to see why Tomorrow Never Dies maybe disappointing to some, especially following up the smash success of Goldeneye, and perhaps the filmmakers could’ve benefited from an extra year of production, but compared to some of the films that would follow, Tomorrow Never Dies stands out as being a highly entertaining action thriller, whilst in playing into the elements of the formula that have made the franchise so successful. In other words, it’s a Bond film that relishes in its heritage, and without being unabashedly afraid to do so. All in all, a solid Bond film, if a bit flawed.
  • Despite the business with Paris in the first half (which did work for that part of the film and which was wisely only subtly referred to in the second half without overshadowing the proceedings with "This time it's personal"-ness), Tomorrow Never Dies was the last unabashedly fun, all about the mission, "This time it's not personal" Bond film. As much as I enjoy the work of P&W and seeing loftier storylines attempted, I do madly crave a straightforward, formula-embracing Bond adventure again. Part of me really wonders if we ever will see another such film or if Bond will forever have to be going rogue or fighting shadows from his past or from M's past or from Mr. Mendel's past (you get the idea). Doesn't anybody believe in good old-fashioned world domination anymore? Why's it gotta be personal all the time?
  • Posts: 331
    Who says I have no personality? I'm reporting this thread!
  • Posts: 458
    Part of me really wonders if we ever will see another such film or if Bond will forever have to be going rogue

    Hopefully neither. There's a lot of possible creative stories for future entries; MGM's producers need to hire actual writers that write fiction for adults.

    The going rogue trope has been done to death too. And the "retired but coming back" too.
  • GadgetManGadgetMan Lagos, Nigeria
    edited November 19 Posts: 3,880
    I see no single wrong in TND. It isn't the best Bond film, but it's my favourite. Brosnan's confidence is infectious!!! It's almost as if Arnold played his score right there on set for Brosnan to hear and move with.
  • NickTwentyTwoNickTwentyTwo Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts: 5,083
    I like TND a lot as well. Haven't seen it in ages though. I love the over the top cartoony-ness of Carver and Pryce plays it up in a really entertaining way.
    I find it to be a particularly violent Bond film though.
  • GadgetManGadgetMan Lagos, Nigeria
    edited November 19 Posts: 3,880
    Brosnan's Bond breaking in and out of Carver's factory in slick fashion, has got to be one of the highlights of the franchise. That whole sequence is pure spy Bond!
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 20,022
    GadgetMan wrote: »
    Brosnan's Bond breaking in and out of Carver's factory in slick fashion, has got to be one of the highlights of the franchise.

    Agreed. I also love the PSE. Another highlight for me. And the backseat driver sequence is better 'nineties' action than Speed.
  • Posts: 331
    I agree, TND is the best Brosnan Bond. He has a machine gun and kills people.
    He crushed Carver to give the people what they want.
    Michelle Yeoh is wearing leather.

    GE in comparison, you have this russian woman wearing too short clothes and Brosnan brooding. Come on. TND is the best Brozza Bond ever. All it needed was an Oasis song to be perfect.
  • GadgetManGadgetMan Lagos, Nigeria
    Posts: 3,880
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    GadgetMan wrote: »
    Brosnan's Bond breaking in and out of Carver's factory in slick fashion, has got to be one of the highlights of the franchise.

    Agreed. I also love the PSE. Another highlight for me. And the backseat driver sequence is better 'nineties' action than Speed.

    Exactly! Great Bondian scenes as well.
  • GadgetManGadgetMan Lagos, Nigeria
    edited November 19 Posts: 3,880
    Stamper wrote: »
    I agree, TND is the best Brosnan Bond. He has a machine gun and kills people.
    He crushed Carver to give the people what they want.
    Michelle Yeoh is wearing leather.

    GE in comparison, you have this russian woman wearing too short clothes and Brosnan brooding. Come on. TND is the best Brozza Bond ever. All it needed was an Oasis song to be perfect.

    Yeah, I feel GE is the better film. But I just love TND for what it is.
  • Posts: 331
    you seem to have developped an attachment to both films.
  • GadgetManGadgetMan Lagos, Nigeria
    Posts: 3,880
    Stamper wrote: »
    you seem to have developped an attachment to both films.

    Yeah, like any Bond fan it's possible. But I just mean one's favourite Bond film, isn't necessarily the best one.
  • Stamper wrote: »
    Come on. TND is the best Brozza Bond ever. All it needed was an Oasis song to be perfect.

    Said it before but it’s weird in hindsight that the Brosnan era never cashed in on Britpop. Pulp could’ve done a good one. And Oasis at the peak of their popularity could’ve boosted the box office a bit. But instead we kept getting American artists all through the 90s.
  • mattjoesmattjoes Me lleva el chanfle
    Posts: 4,732
    Stamper wrote: »
    you seem to have developped an attachment to both films.

    Haha!

    I miss Pierce. Next week I'll watch some of his Bond films.
  • edited November 19 Posts: 12,512
    I do think Brosnan seems to being reappraised a bit lately, just as Dalton was when Craig took over. About time imo. I know he wasn’t always best served by the scripts, but I always thought the sudden shift in fan opinion when CR came out was harsh. It was the 90s. We needed a cool, flashy action hero Bond, and Brosnan played that perfectly. We’d never have even gotten to CR if it wasn’t for him, and I think he bought more to the role than his detractors give him credit for. He was the most emotional Bond we’d
    had at the time, and TWINE in particular is basically a proto-Craig film.

    I think we’ve been quite lucky really when it comes to the actors. I don’t think the role has ever been miscast, and every new Bond has been just what the series needed at the time. I’m gutted Craig is gone, but it’ll be exciting to see whether they can keep that streak going.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,663
    mattjoes wrote: »
    Stamper wrote: »
    you seem to have developped an attachment to both films.

    Haha!

    I miss Pierce. Next week I'll watch some of his Bond films.

    Be sure to watch November Man also. Very Bond-like....
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