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"GoldenEye" proved that James Bond could not only survive the Cold War, but can be updated for the current generation (Even though I personally feel this reinvention is unnecessary). So for the next film, originally called "Tomorrow Never Lies", producers decided that they would continue down the path paved by Pierce Brosnan's first outing, amplify it, and add more Roger Moore innuendos. While this worked for his second film, later titled "Tomorrow Never Dies" and the next one, it all culminated in the disaster known as "Die Another Day".
Many critics have slammed "Tomorrow Never Dies" for having too many one-liners, too much action, and for being an all together bad film. True, while some lines are cheesy, there are some definite witty ones. The motorcycle chase, the kung fu fights, and the ending (which is far too clichéd) are pretty bloated, but everything else works fine. And the movie has an infectious energy to it, especially the early scenes, and even though it doesn't have the flair of "The Spy Who Loved Me", it's first and foremost a Bond film.
The movie puts a nice spin on the "madman plans to gain power by any means necessary" plot line and combines it with the "start WWIII between two countries" idea first used in "You Only Live Twice". Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) is a wealthy, but obviously insane, media baron. He has the power to reach any one on the Earth, except China, who has refused him broadcast rights. To get to the Chinese, he sends a British ship, the HMS Devonshire, off course into Chinese Territorial Waters. Carver's stealth ship then sinks the Devonshire and destroys one of the two MIG's that were circling 'round the ship.
Bond is sent in, and after poking around, naturally finds out that Carver was behind the attack and tries to stop the villain's next move, which is to launch a missile into Beijing, killing foreign heads-of-state, which would in turn guarantee a huge war. Then an ally of Carver would take power of the country and give him the airtime that he so desperately needs. All this sounds far-fetched, but it's handled in an interesting and unique way, not to mention it's clear and easy to follow.
While the movie follows "GoldenEye"'s example of action and humor, the dark realism is ditched in favor of a lighter, flashier, and more colorful atmosphere. This is demonstrated in the use of more gadgets, stunts, and jokes. None of this is inherently bad, like I mentioned before, but the final 45 minutes teeters on overload, and that's the part of the film where the fresh energy disappears and the plot becomes more and more frantic, as if even the filmmakers don't know how to top everything that came before it. This is partly true, because the script was actually being rewritten as the movie was being shot.
Brosnan is much more comfortable than he was in his previous outing, but there's still the sense of trying to find his own identity. This can unfortunately be said of all his films, but for "Tomorrow Never Dies", he brings us a competent Bond that also has some demons, shown in the scene where he drinks alone in his hotel room. Pryce chews up the scenery in an enjoyable way, but it's also hard to take him seriously as a threat to Bond, and we know that his fate will be decided by the end of the film.
One standout performance is, ironically, almost a cameo appearance. Vincent Schiavelli, who plays Dr. Kaufman, lends a creepy presence to his one scene and his look would have been perfect as the central villain. Even Judi Dench's M is more tolerable, and stands as a strong authority figure, while Hong Kong star Michelle Yeoh plays Bond's love interest, Wai Lin, and proves to be one of the better "Bond equals". Unfortunately, Götz Otto as Stamper and Teri Hatcher as Carver's wife, Paris, don't have a lot to do and don't leave a memorable impression in the Bond series.
Continuing with the cons of the movie, the role of Carver's ally, General Chang, isn't clearly defined and it's almost as if he was forgotten about late in the shot. The martial arts, while capturing Yeoh abilities nicely, don't add to the plot and scream "overkill". They don't seem to have worked in any other Bond film, and "Tomorrow Never Dies" is no exception. Finally, the second half loses focus when compared to the rest of the movie, with the last shoot-out aboard the stealth ship being fairly uninspired, even though the special effects are top-notch throughout.
The movie can still boast David Arnold's best and most distinct score, hearkening back to John Barry's earlier successes . The gadgets don't call attention to themselves, being inventive and fun, while two action scenes, the pre-title sequence and the remote-controlled chase in the parking garage, are highlights of the series. All-in-all, the film is more fractured than the early classics, but the quick pace makes up for it, causing "Tomorrow Never Dies" to become an enjoyable film to watch. Don't expect "From Russia With Love", but it's not "A View To A Kill", either. 7/10
Well then, @Soundofthesinners, @bondboy007, why don't you put your back into it, huh? ;-) Sit down for an hour or so per film and right the best damn review in your life. Anyone who drops by here will be able to read your thoughts on the films. :-)
TND is a bloodbath full of thousands of spraying bullets, constant, neverending relentless action afforded by a massive budget. It's intense and the pacing is quite fast. It's more serious than the levity of the Moore movies, but the violence never has the dark sour tinge is has in Dalton and Craig's movies. Perhaps, this is the perfect balance. TND shows us plenty of the gadgets Bond is practically famous for. A real-life remote control car that is bulletproof, a cellphone that zaps enemies and scans fingerprints. The gadgets are certainly the highlight here.
There's rarely a dull moment here. The action scenes themselves have wit, including one scene when Bond fakes his death with a guard's body. And instead of the usual typical Cold War story (even Goldeneye treaded too close to these waters), it takes on a new enemy: corrupt journalism, as it tries to frame a war between Britain and China much like William Randolph Hearst did between the United States and Spain.
In terms of originality and innovation, this is where the movie suffers. Apart from a different kind of villain, it follows the Goldfinger formula in every way. Even though it gets a bit political, it's still a mindless blockbuster popcorn action flick that's overall very entertaining.
Theme Song: Some really dislike this but I found Sheryl Crow's caterwauling voice great. It hit the high notes that the other singers didn't really hit. With a mellow soothing instrumental as well.
Bond Girl: (Wai Lin) Atop of being attractive, she's intelligent, a fighter, and in many ways Bond's equal. The villain's mistress, on the other hand, has become a tired trope at this point.
Villain: (Carver) Is your standard corrupt media mogul, eccentric and evil. Good enough. Stamper is yet another "Red Grant" clone.
One-Liners: "Consider him slimed." (That's all I could find)
Overall Rating - 6/10 (Good)
When Bond and Wai Lin escape Carver's building and use the larger poster of Carver's face to descend the side of the building... Bond goes "ooh, woah, arrgh!" etc and this felt out of character. In the previous film, Goldeneye, Bond bungee jumped down the side of a vast dam. I doubt he went ""ooh, woah, arrgh!" He is not scared of heights.
I accept that Bond and Lin didn't know if they would slow down in time. The poster could have peeled off the side of the building and Bond and Lin would have fallen to their death, but accepting that wasn't going to happen I felt Bond's reaction was out of character. Likewise, Bond referring to smoking as "a filthy habit" in the pre-credit sequence was totally out of character. But the main thing that bugged me was Brosnan's Bond losing his cool when I feel the scene would have been better had Bond and Lin descended the side of the building with some composure.
I do find the film entertaining. ;)
The PTS is a pretty solid start; not one of my personal favorites, but still good. The action scenes in the film are very well done, and many are some of my favorite action-based scenes in the series (the car and motorcycle chases). Brosnan himself gives a cool and assured performance the whole way - probably his overall best performance as 007. Michelle Yeoh makes for a good Bond girl - somewhere in my Top 15 most likely. I'm not a big fan of Elliot Carver or Stamper, but they aren't terrible. Q makes a great appearance like he did in GE and TWINE; he had great chemistry with Brosnan! M and Moneypenny are both good here as well. Dr. Kaufman and Paris Carver are pretty solid characters too, even though they have short-lived appearances.
The film overall does have more a by-the-numbers feel than most other Bond films, and is maybe lacking identity outside of the technology ideas, but it's still a fun ride for the most part. It doesn't have a lot particularly wrong with it and does less to mess up like TWINE and DAD. Brosnan's second-best outing, and not too shabby on the whole IMO. I like it.
TWINE and DAD have been classic Bond films as well overall, but both have something that has the "unusual" feel about it.
In TWINE it's the plot twist with Elektra and in DAD it's the sci-fi stuff like the invisible car, the Icarus and the Robo-Suit.
As I said overall I'd call both still classic Bond but not to 100%.
Tomorrow Never Dies has all the ingredients it needs, to be the 18th film in line with all that came before.
TND had the great misfortune to come after the worldwide loved GoldenEye that even wrote pop culture history. Even with TND not really much weaker than GoldenEye, it never had the "magical aura" that GoldenEye had two years earlier.
But because it's after GE, the film in general became underrated, a fate that happened to quite a few Bond films that came after pop culture influencing Bond films.
Pierce Brosnan was the definite Bond for the nineties and 00s. His tenure was cut short for all the wrong reasons but there is no doubt he would have continued the great success he had with his four films for EON with a fifth and possibly sixth film.
Tomorrow Never Dies is probably the strongest second film of any actor except Sean Connery, but it even can be argued that DN-FRWL is not a much stronger vehicle than GE-TND, it's all a matter of taste and those are of two very different cinematic times naturally.
The cast in TND is superb and it has many colourful, wonderfully over the top characters and the big contrast to them in Wai Lin who is everything but OTT, even in acting, she is subtle, precise and has great on-screen presence.
Jonathan Pryce is the perfect villain of our times. Still. A media mogul that wants to dominate the news world, creating news and even fake news. There are even hints at Bill Gates omnipresent Microsoft in the nineties.
Elliot Carver remains to date the most realistic of villains that is so deliciously over the top at the same time. We did get LeChiffre who I would rank to be the best villain in the series overall, even if his "masterplan" was only making money and a poker game.
Stamper the cliché German bad guy is played with such panache by Götz Otto. Every second of screen time is a treat and he is such a perfect fit to Elliot Carver.
And there is the secret sensation of the film, if not one of the true sensations of the franchise.
Vincent Schiavelli's Dr. Kaufman.
Vincent was known to put a universe of character depth into his tiniest roles. He got his recognition, finally with Ghost and became forever remembered through TND. His Dr. Kaufman has more depth in the five minutes of screen time than most villains that came after him.
Pierce Brosnan is at the top of his game in TND, his tenure is especially even concerning him owning the screen as James Bond and his acting and looks.
The fun Pierce has playing Bond is visible in about every scene he is in, something that is true for DAD especially and TWINE as well. Even in GE it's obvious he feels privileged to play Bond, and his few moments of obvious on-screen nervousness are easily forgiven.
This level of fun playing James Bond has since been lost, tragically.
Spottiswoode does a good job, unspectacular (except the PTS) he directs the film precise and visually straight-forward. If anything then it is maybe a bit too "sterile" directing in some parts.
The cinematography is very good and the film is colourful and visually realistic, no nonsense with colour filters, that of course were already present and used in the 90s.
David Arnold is giving his first score of many to follow. David Arnold is the definite successor to John Barry, while he can never outdo him like nobody can ever outdo Sean Connery, he still is almost as iconic.
The score is gripping, rhythmic, melodic, it perfectly underlines the action, the quieter scenes as well. The use of the two main songs of the film is also one of Arnold's strength that he repeatedly showed again in future film.
The story and plot of TND is still so very "today" and "tomorrow". The manipulating media mogul, dominating the media world, it's still there today.
The endgame on the stealth ship gets often criticised. Personally I love it and it was not the first time Bond is using a machine gun in a fight. Moore did it in TSWLM if only briefly. Dalton used assault rifles repeatedly and of course Craig without one is unthinkable.
Therefore to call Brosnan the "video game" Bond as I often hear is completely false.
TND is the definite 90s action/spy film, more than GoldenEye who has a very nice almost 80s feel to it.
The PTS is my personal favourite in the series. The execution, the score, the action, it is its own short full film. Look at the many wonderful actors that participate in that PTS. Judi Dench is having fun and I claim it's the highlight of her tenure.
TND's PTS is more Bond than much that came in next decades.
The quotability of TND is wonderful. So many great lines and so much humour. Every single word spoken by Dr. Kaufman is priceless and unforgettable. Dialogue has always been a strong suit of the EON Bond films up to this point.
Tomorrow Never Dies is 20 years old this year. It's incredible how well it has aged and it could be re-done more or less the same and showed again. The new spy films are all very full of humour, self-parody, colourful and OTT action.
TND is the blueprint to what we should get these days.
I do have to mention Paris Carver. She has been treated very unfairly over all the years due to Teri Hatcher who had an unfortunate time shooting her scenes. She is not the bad actress everyone seems to claim. I rather like her in her few scenes but sure, overall she remains rather boring compared to what came before and what came after her. Her character though is important for the plot and it gives Brosnan wonderful opportunity to show his emotional side which he does so good. He is always believable.
TND has it all, the dialogue, the score, Brosnan in the zone, the action, the fun, the humour, the story, the looks, the wonderful characters.
Unlike most of the second films, TND could have been Brosnan's first and it would not have made a difference on the success of Brosnan's tenure. Imagine that with QOS, LTK or TMWTGG.
....last but not least....Desmond's Q in TND
It is my favourite appearance of Desmond. There may be a few that can be called better but then Desmond always was just perfect.
What I love about this appearance is that it's his last solo Q as in TWINE there was R as well.
Furthermore THAT SUIT!! And just look, look at Brosnan's reaction!!!!! Watch that scene now. Honestly, I miss such things...
THIS is how I define Bond, the looks have to be right.
View wonderful pic here:
Missiles being fired on terrorists. Tensions rising with China. Sensitive technology being targeted by hackers. An American president being blackmailed. A media mogul manipulating events. No I'm not talking about 2017, believe it or not I'm talking about a nearly twenty year old James Bond film called Tomorrow Never Dies, Pierce Brosnan's second outing as Ian Fleming's venerable British spy. It's a film with surprising topicality, something which helps given it is sometimes a by-the-numbers Bond outing.
Let's start with the things I just mentioned. For a film that was being made twenty years ago as I write these words, it's surprising how much of it still seems fresh. True, the idea of firing one cruise missile to “take out half the world's terrorists” in the teaser sequence seems laughable now, but much of the plot is relevant to today. Without hopefully sounding terribly political, one only has to look at headlines - the threat of renewed Western tensions with China and issues regarding the hacking of sensitive technology - to see echoes of Tomorrow Never Dies in the here and now. That it then proceeds to make a throwaway reference to the American president being blackmailed by the villain over a potential scandal feels like icing on the cake. In fact, update the technology being used a bit while making mention of the rise of social media and I suspect you could make this film or something close to it today.
There's something else that helps that: the villain of Tomorrow Never Dies isn't your typical Bond villain. He isn't the head of SPECTRE or some terrorist, but a media mogul named Elliot Carver played by Jonathan Pryce. Carver is, along with perhaps with drug lord Franz Sanchez from Licence To Kill, perhaps the most realistic of all Bond villains and time has only made Carver more plausible as a character. One can see Carver as an extension of media moguls like Robert Maxwell or Rupert Murdoch, the ties with the later coming across stronger and stronger over time. More than that though, Carver has other ways in which he could have been pulled out of today's headlines. Carver after all is a man who seems warm and friendly in public while in private he can be mean-spirited and prone to outbursts, with more than a hint of being an abusive husband, and at least one moment in the film where the two merge. That Pryce plays the role almost perfectly, finding the right balance between the various elements of the character, ranging from menace to the comedic, makes it all the better. Indeed, if there is anything that helps the film stand up after nearly two decades, it's Pryce as Carver.
Because looking at it across the years, Tomorrow Never Dies feels like something of a mixed bag. In terms of its plotting, how it gets its characters from point A to point B, it feels very much like a by the numbers Bond outing. There's a sense that we've seen this all before somehow, with the disappearance of a British warship involving a ship owned by the villain and Bond teaming up with a Communist agent to defeat a villain all having been done before two decades earlier in the Roger Moore outing The Spy Who Loved Me. Elsewhere the threat of war (including a potential nuclear exchange) between great powers and the Asian locations bring to mind You Only Live Twice, itself a decade older than the aforementioned Moore film. Then there are the matters of yet another blond henchman who is little more than a set of muscles on legs and not a particularly interesting one at that, and what should be a tough female agent who is promoted as Bond's equal but ends up being rescued by him in the finale. While all this is perhaps something that helps to make the film watchable then and now, the almost generic feeling at times is something that does it no favors when viewed with a more critical eye.
Thankfully the perhaps lackluster plotting is salvaged by some good points. There are some solid action sequences including the teaser sequence that builds and builds to a satisfying conclusion and a unique car chase inside a parking garage. The script, for all the issues with the plot, is helped by its central notion of putting a media mogul as the villain as well as both some nice one liners (including a particular favorite delivered to Carver by Bond when threatened with torture: “I'd have thought watching one of your TV shows was torture enough.”) and the occasional nice inversion of established Bond formula. Add onto that a fabulous music score courtesy of composer David Arnold, which finds the right mix between the classic Bond sound of John Barry and more modern electronic elements that is perhaps best highlighted by the aforementioned action sequences. These elements don't make it a great Bond film (though Arnold's score is among the better non-Barry Bond scores), but they help it significantly.
Like so many works of “art”, Tomorrow Never Dies is perhaps best described as great ideas let down by their execution. The plotting of the film is generic Bond and it is something that doesn't help it stand out among the ever increasing pack of Bond pictures. Yet it's basic premise, the idea of the media as the villain and a number of other elements make it oddly undated and even topical. How many Bond films can you say that about?
Starting out with the positive aspects, we have another amazing and stellar performance as Bond from Mr. Pierce Brosnan, a Pretty damn good Main Villain with Elliot Carver played by the pretty great Jonathan Pryce, Great Henchmen with Stamper (easily the best of the Red Grant clones imo) and Dr. Kaufman (Kaufman is quite underrated in my eyes) and a pretty dang good Bond girl/Bond ally with Wai Lin. This film also marks the debut of David Arnold into the Bond franchise and boi he came in firing on all cylinders and delivered a pretty good soundtrack for the film even if it used the Bond theme quite a lot. TND also just imo has great and fun to watch Action sequences from start to finish with the standouts being the PTS, The Car Chase and the Motorcycle Chase as well as the pretty epic Finale on the stealth boat.
The Humor here I also find to be very enjoyable, from the usual charades with Desmond's Q, to Brosnan's 1 liners, the Humor and outlandish nature of The scene where Bond messes with Wai Lin's gadgets and even down to Bond's briefing with M in the car about his mission. I generally liked the locations of this film and really enjoyed the set pieces, some of my favorites are the Carver media Headquarters, the Stealthboat, and the Party scene. Another really great thing here that isn't often mentioned is how good and genius the Plot really is, having an evil Steve Jobs manipulate the media to cause global war just to get that Broadcasting rights is honestly very compelling but is very believable as the real world media has been known to manipulate the population before and here it's very well thought out and executed.
I also must say that Dr. Kaufman is just really great And just feels like the most over the top villain but it works so wonderfully and every second he's on screen is a highlight. And last but not least, I just need to bring up the introduction of Charles Robinson in this film, while he's essentially like Bill Tanner I feel as if he's just better and just feels more impactful with how he reacts to the situation at hand, thankfully he would get 2 more Bond films.
So now that we got all of those positives out of the way, let's look at a few not so positive things this movie has. First up is Mr. Gupta, now I actually like this character and feel Ricky Jay plays him very well but my issue is that we don't really get to see much of him at all mainly because they cut out like 3 scenes involving him, I wish the character had more development. Another character related issue is Paris Carver, but unlike Gupta I feel that this character just feels really shoehorned into the plot and exists to add some spice that frankly may not have been needed, she doesn't really add anything and she's gone not to long after first popping up, as if she was only there to have sex with Bond and nothing more.
Speaking of Bond my last issue and probably biggest is that well Bond feels depowered, and what I mean by this is that in GoldenEye, Bond was kicking some serious ass and even his toughest opponents he was pretty much even with, so why is it here that he struggles against some everyday thugs? It just doesn't make any sense and it makes Bond look kind of weak which is never a good thing to do to your lead badass agent, thankfully this only really happens in 2 places but I feel it's still a negative.
But other than that I have no real complaints with this movie and the issues certainly do not ruin the absolute fun this movie provides in my humble opinion, if you loved GoldenEye or are just a fan of action movies then you'll certainly enjoy this one, it's a lot of fun from start to finish and I feel it unfairly gets a negative reputation.
My final Rating is a 9.5/10
It has a very standard, colour-by-numbers Bond movie plot (once again, James will have to prevent World War Three in the nick of time), with action, romance, and exotic globetrotting, but it does it all pretty well.
New here is that the bad guy (played with relish by Jonathan Pryce) is a Robert Maxwell/Rupert Murdoch type media tycoon (the real-world super-villains), and that Michelle Yeoh plays a love interest for whom the term 'Bond girl' would do her a disservice: her character is so resourceful and self-reliant, she could have her very own spy franchise.
Tomorrow Never Dies is a very rewatchable Bond: a go-to movie if you just want some easy entertainment. It's solid, but also very safe and unchallenging.
I was slowly collecting the films on VHS before TND, but afterwards I started picking up the magazines, it was really when the first phase of my collection took off. I had a magazine with that neat image of Brosnan holding the folding rifle from the PTS. Wish I had it here but it's interstate.
Was this film anyone else's first in the cinema? What are your memories of it? Do you love it as much as you did when it came out? Do you have any cool TND items?
Not only was it my first Bond in theatres, it was the first film I ever saw in theatres full stop. For that alone, it has a place in my heart.
The fact that it's an exciting, fun adventure film helps too!
Please continue there. Thank you. 😊