***** (Spectacular) 10

****1/2 (Excellent) 9

**** (Very Good) 8

***1/2 (Good) 7

*** (Above Average) 6

**1/2 (Average) 5

** (Below Average) 4

*1/2 (Mediocre) 3

* (Awful) 2

1/2 (Abysmal) 1

0 (Worthless) 0

Friday, July 16, 2010



(Buxom, long-legged chicks with crazy names can have Ph.D’s, too, you sexist bastards)

Yes, damn it, I definitely AM a nuclear physicist!

CAST: Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Denise Richards, Judi Dench, Ulrich Thomsen, Colin Salmon, Samantha Bond, Maria Grazia Cuccinota, Desmond Llewellyn.

DIRECTOR: Michael Apted

WARNING: SPOILERS and good-girls-gone-bad right up ahead….

In 1997, TOMORROW NEVER DIES, the second Pierce Brosnan Bond flick was released. It did terrific business - especially for a film with a script that felt like it was cobbled together by a computer well-versed in the traditional Bond elements - instead of by a human being with inspired ideas. The only novel concept TOMORROW NEVER DIES had was promptly forgotten: a woman who is one of Bond’s numerous ex-flames who runs into him again - only now she’s married to the villain. Unfortunately, this potentially dynamic element was promptly fumbled when the writers turned her into a sacrificial Bond girl with barely enough screen time to register as a full-blooded character. Reportedly wanting more complexity in the next film, the producers pushed for a more unconventional story. In THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, they nailed it.

The story opens with the expected pre-credit sequence. This one sees Bond (Pierce Brosnan) retrieving a suitcase full of money from some sketchy bankers in Bilbao, Spain. See, the bankers don’t want Bond walking out with the money, and Bond doesn’t give a shit what the bankers want - so he promptly beats them to a pulp. One banker gets the jump on Bond and pulls a gun on him, but before Bond can either (1) beg for his life, (2) trade sexual favors for survival, or (3) piss his pants, someone in an adjoining building shoots the baddie through a window - but let’s Bond live. Before Bond can ponder this for too long, he hears the Spanish cops barreling up the stairs and executes a pretty bad-ass jump through a window - with a rope tied to a bad guy back inside the room to stabilize his drop. Good thing the schmuck’s fairly husky, otherwise Bond would quickly become very intimate with the taste of pavement mixed with his own blood - and this would be the shortest Bond movie ever.

Cut to London, England where Bond returns the suitcase full of money to its rightful owner: billionaire industrialist Sir Robert King. Evidently, M (Judi Dench) went to school with Robert and has a great admiration for him because (1) she tells Bond as much, and (2) you would need three mops to soak up the drool puddled around her and Sir Robert when Bond interrupts them in her office. A little miffed that Bond interrupted what might have been some hot office sex between her and Sir Robert, M orders Bond to update her on his mission.

Meanwhile, Sir Robert wags his tongue suggestively at M as a goodbye gesture, and also as a reminder that he’ll return to her office for that sex when Bond goes home. Bond, not wanting to impact his boss’s sex life since it’s probably the only action she’ll get before the millenium hits, quickly gives M a synopsis of his Bilbao trip. Unfortunately, this little meeting is interrupted when Bond has an “a-ha!” moment triggered by suds on his fingertips (don’t ask). Spazzing out majorly, he busts out of the meeting with his boss and barrels down the hall after Sir Robert.

Meanwhile, M is left wondering if: (1) Bond needs to use the restroom badly, or (2) he is bisexual and (3) very interested in Sir Robert despite the latter being, oh, 187 - which means (4) M has some serious competition now. Actually, turns out none of the above apply, as Bond has figured out that the money is rigged to explode if Sir Robert gets too close to it. All this from sudsy fingertips.

As I said, don’t ask. And explode, the money does. And flying everywhere in a million little pieces, Sir Robert goes. And back to her vibrator, M resignedly shuffles.

Cut to the opening credits unfolding over images of black oil swirling around naked female silhouettes and that song by Garbage with lead singer Shirley Manson crooning lyrics like “I know what to show and what to conceal/we know when to kiss/we know when to kill/if we can’t have it all then nobody will…”, which is the first clue that a treacherous female is waiting somewhere within the twists and turn of this movie. Ahem.

After the credits end, we switch to Scotland - if the deafening bagpipe music is a none-too-subtle indicator - where Sir Robert’s left big toe is being buried. As the funeral crowd marches out of the cemetery, Bond and his dick catch a glimpse of Elektra King (Sophie “Goddess” Marceau). And let’s just say that both of our favorite spy’s heads are very interested, indeed.

Elektra, however, is a billionaire’s daughter and most likely has her pick of stud puppies. She barely acknowledges Bond - who vows that they will meet again. Determined now to reconnect with Elektra, Bond does some detective work and discovers that Elektra was kidnapped a year ago - but managed to escape from her captor: the “feared” terrorist Renard (Robert Carlyle) who, truth be told, looks like Blofeld’s runt brother.

At any rate, seriously jonesing for Elektra, Bond theorizes that Renard was behind the death of Sir Robert because: (1) the money in the suitcase was the exact amount of the ransom that Renard never got for Elektra because she escaped, and (2) Renard will probably go for Elektra next, and (3) Bond would say anything at this point to get an assignment that would bring him within fucking distance of Elektra.

M, sensing that 007 is letting his dick rationalize everything, but not wanting to be wrong if Renard does target Elektra next, reluctantly sends Bond to the Caspian Sea where Elektra has taken over King Industries and is finishing the construction of a vital pipeline. Bond is to shadow Elektra and keep her safe. M subtly warns Bond that “Shadows stand in front or behind - not on top.” To which Bond politely responds, “Front or behind is good - I love blowjobs and doggie-style.”

Anyhow, Bond arrives in Kazakhstan to warn Elektra that she’s in danger. Elektra patiently tells Bond that: (1) there are three competing pipelines that would love to see the King pipeline fail, (2) there are hundreds of villagers that would love to see the King pipeline fail, and (3) Bond can collect his “Thank you, Captain Obvious” sign on his way out the door. And could he please not let it hit his ass on the way out? Bond patiently stifles his temper (and boner) and explains to Elektra that he believes someone from her organization arranged her father’s death and is now coming after her.

This still doesn’t work, and so Bond strong-arms her into letting him tag along to “check the survey lines.” Apparently, “checking the survey lines” apparently involves: (1) riding a chopper to a mountain peak, (2) jumping out of that chopper, (3) skiing down the mountain, (4) getting attacked by a bunch of machine-gun wielding guys on flying snow-mobiles, and (5) getting buried in an avalanche.

Barely surviving the incident, Elektra is now convinced that Bond is not just trying to get into her pants - and someone might really be trying to kill her. Of course, she still lets him into her pants as a thank you for being such a good skier. While Elektra sleeps off all that marathon sex they end up having, Bond sneaks off and boards a transport plane that takes him to Kazakhstan.

There, he is driven to a nuclear facility in the desert that is being de-commissioned. Noticing that every guy in the vicinity is standing still with drool and a boner, Bond turns around to see - here she is, folks - Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) emerging from a radiation suit to reveal…. A fuckin’ hot body. Bond promptly spouts drool and sprouts a boner, too - until Christmas bursts his buzz by asking him what the fuck he’s doing there.

Bond, thinking fast, invents some techno-bullshit meant to convince Christmas that he is a nuclear physicist like her and belongs at that facility. Christmas, being smarter than she looks, lets him through - then gives him a devious look as he walks away, suggesting that (1) she secretly wants him, (2) she has mental issues, or (3) she didn’t believe a goddamn word he said and intends to look up his credentials as soon as he disappears down the elevator shaft.

Down in the silo, Bond unexpectedly runs into Renard - who says things that suggest he knows Bond and Elektra have been playing “hide-the-sausage.” However, before Bond can kill Renard in a fit of rage, Christmas and her lapdogs (with drool and hard-ons) comes barreling down the elevator. Evidently, Christmas is your basic Nancy Drew (but with much bigger tits) and has discovered that Bond is an impostor.

Bond, angry that he underestimated Christmas, challenges Renard and his buddies to a gunfight. Unfortunately, Renard and his gang manage to not only trap Bond and Christmas in the silo, but also take a small nuclear weapon with them as a souvenir. Fortunately, Bond and Christmas manage to escape through an elevator leading up to, I guess, a back door. They leap out of the hatch - just as a fireball the size of Montana rips ups into the air behind them.

Watching Renard’s plane disappear into the distance, Bond makes a mental note to himself never to assume that a woman’s intelligence is inversely proportionate to the size of her breasts. Christmas, for her part, makes a mental note to have her implants removed so that she is not taken advantage of so often by sexist bastards like Bond.

Back at Elektra’s house, Bond confronts his one-night stand and accuses her of working with Renard towards the goal of… well, Bond’s not sure yet. But, goddamnit, he’s going to find out. Good luck with that, Elektra basically says to him as she flies off to her pipeline’s control center. Turns out that Elektra called M in London while Bond and Christmas were busy annoying each other in Kazakhstan, and the old biddy fell for it like one of Sir Robert’s pick-up lines back in school - and flew out to the Caspian sea on the next flight.

At the control center, all the players converge to discover that Renard has apparently put the nuclear bomb in the pipeline and attached it to a rig that is barreling towards the control centre with the velocity of a Great White shark closing in on a bleeding seal. Bond demands to know what he needs to disarm a nuclear weapon.

Christmas responds by shaking her head in disgust, rolling her eyes, and heading out to the pipeline with her tools. Bond, not missing a beat, winks at a nearby technician and brags that he trained Christmas well. Then he runs after her, panting.

In the pipeline, Christmas discovers that half the plutonium is missing from the warhead. She removes the plutonium, but before she can disarm the bomb completely, Bond orders her to let it explode. Reacting to her “Are you utterly insane?” look, Bond gallantly throws her off the moving rig and leaps after her. Just as the rig and the dud bomb explode into smithereens.

Back at the control center, M and Elektra and the remaining crew see the explosion on the screen, which is as close as they can get to proof that Bond and Christmas are toast - besides the charred bodies, of course. “I’m soooo sorry,” coos Elektra in a way that suggests she is anything but. In fact, her eyes are pretty much dancing with joy as she presents M with a present. M, thinking this is an odd time for a present and also starting to think that maybe - just maybe - Bond was right earlier when he said that Elektra might actually be working with Renard, reluctantly accepts the gift.

No - it’s not a new vibrator to help M get over the memory of Sir Robert, but rather, one of Sir Robert’s lapel pins - which chagrins M greatly because it won’t go with anything that she owns. Anyhow, this also makes her realize that Bond was absolutely right about Elektra. Just to not go down without a fight, though, M smacks Elektra across the face. Elektra just caresses her cheek and wills herself to calm down by imagining M being dangled over an oil well by her ankles.

This soothes our villainess long enough to have her goons take M to the chopper for her ride to what will surely be - if Elektra has a say - an extremely uncomfortable cell.

Meanwhile, Bond and Christmas recruit the help of fat bastard Zukovsky, who has ties to Elektra. All three of them arrive in Istanbul, where Zukovsky tells Bond that his nephew is smuggling some machinery for Ms. King. Unfortunately, through deductive reasoning from Bond and vital information stored in Christmas’ tits, the duo figure out that Elektra is trying to create a monopoly on the world’s oil supply by triggering a nuclear meltdown in the Bosphorus to block the oil supply from the competing pipelines - making her the Queen Bitch of the Universe.

Unfortunately, right after this revelation, Elektra’s men attack the building, injuring Zukovsky - and forcing Bond and Christmas to find another fat fuck to be their guide. Before they can even open an ad for applicants, Elektra’s men nab them and take them to the Maiden’s Tower - Elektra’s obligatory Bond-Villain-Lair. As these things go, it’s pretty nice.

Which is a good thing, because it’s probably where Bond will spend his last minutes. Elektra has her goons strap Bond into some exotic torture-chair-machine-thing, the tells them to take Christmas to Renard - who, by the way, has commandeered the Russian sub and is on Cloud 9 pretending to be Sean Connery in THE HUNT FOR THE RED OCTOBER.

Upstairs, Elektra straps Bond to a torture chair where she proceeds to… serve him scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast. NO! SHE TORTURES HIM! OBVIOUSLY! DAMN! Okay, calm down…. Anyway…. Just as she’s about to succeed in snapping Bond’s neck, our favorite fat fuck Zukovsky shows up to shoot Bond free, but not before Elektra mortally wounds him with her own gun.

Freed, Bond chases Elektra up to the tower room of the lair. Sneering at Bond, Elektra tells him that he’d never kill her because he’d just miss her. Bond confirms that she’s right by blasting her in the chest - then cocking his head and saying, “Hmmmm… I guess I do miss you a little…. But then again, it’s been 36 hours since I either jerked off or fucked something, so there may be an objectivity problem here.”

Anyhow, Bond decides the best way to find out if he misses Elektra is to get rid of his randiness - by screwing Christmas. He dives off the tower’s balcony in pursuit of the departing sub below. Long story short, Bond gets on board, finds Christmas, finds Renards, wrestles with him a little, tells him Elektra is dead, admires Christmas’s tits which apparently act as flotation devices, and then finally kills Renard with the very same plutonium rod that the runt Blofeld was trying to use to trigger the meltdown. The end - of Renard, anyway.

For Bond and Christmas, the story goes on just a little bit longer, as they celebrate averting the disaster by drinking champagne on the roof a building in Istanbul. Meanwhile, back at MI-6, M is getting her rocks off by spying on her favorite spy via satellite as he reminds Christmas just how many times the holiday, ahem, occurs in a year. “Come again?” she asks. “Sure, why not?” Bond responds. And at MI-6, Tanner and M exchange a high-five.

BUT, SERIOUSLY: After the adrenalin-madness and cookie-cutter-extravaganza that was TOMORROW NEVER DIES, THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH was a welcome return to a more character-oriented and plot-intensive action-thriller. Also, it’s the first Bond film to have a Chief Villain who is female. Definitely a first for the series. Compared to TOMORROW NEVER DIES, this movie is downright Shakespearean.

The cast is an interesting and varied mix: Pierce Brosnan turns in a nicely-layered performance as Bond, taking ownership of the role. Sophie Marceau is simply dazzling as Elektra, and turns her character into a compelling blend of good and bad - more bad, though. With the wrong actress as Elektra, the whole movie could've fallen apart, as Elektra is the film's emotional center. But Marceau makes Elektra complex, hypnotic, and irresistible, even when she is finally revealed to be the villainous mastermind. Like Bond, we are drawn to her inexorably.

Robert Carlyle is the model of low-key menace as Renard. He may not be the most threatening villain in the pantheon, but he is one of the most dimensional. His twisted relationship with Elektra is not your basic villain-henchman association.

As far as the film’s true Bond girl (Elektra is really a Chief Villain), Denise Richards does her best as Dr. Christmas Jones - a role that was meant to be more than eye candy, but is often labeled as such because of the actress playing her. Truth is, Dr. Jones is one of the most fun Bond girls, but one who is also relevant to the plot because of her knowledge - and because she saves Bond at least twice.

This film is also notable for giving M an active role in the story, instead of standing on the sidelines for most of the running time. Indeed, I dug the female-centric slant of this adventure: at the heart of the story is the M-Elektra problem - and Christmas figures prominently in most of the action scenes. The women are most definitely not just eye candy.

To sum up, THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH is an admirable attempt to create a Bond film with depth and unexpected elements - and it succeeds. While not as action-packed as the other Brosnan Bond films, this outing is probably the most grounded and atypical one. And therefore the most refreshing.