(Michael Apted, US/UK, 1999)
If you don't know what to expect from a James Bond movie, what planet have you been living on? Like all the best recipes, the ingredients remain the same, but with each film, they come in bigger, brasher, louder, brighter amounts. There's no change for this one, either.
Opening with a typically breathtaking chase scene (this time brilliantly filmed on the Thames and taking in all the major riverside landmarks), followed by the expected title sequence of slinky female silhouettes, this latest version of Bond presses all the familiar buttons. There are excessive explosions, cringeworthy puns, designer outfits and gadgets galore: perfect 007 fare.
And, as usual, there are a few disappointments as well. Casting John Cleese as the successor to Desmond Lewellyn's Q (RIP) just isn't funny - who could honestly believe that Basil Fawlty would get a job with MI6? Neither is Robbie Coltrane's cod-Russian accent a good casting call. Both casting choices make me wonder whether the Bond producers are worried that the spoof spy hi-jinks of Austin Powers might have been too successful, and they feel like they need to catch up, as it were. This might also go some way to explaining why drum 'n' bass superstar, Goldie, is cast as one of the bad guys - oh, how very post-ironic. And I'm not even going to mention Denise Richards, except to wonder why is she dressed like Lara Croft?
However, if you ignore the bad bits, the good bits are worth your ticket. Pearce Brosnan makes a perfect James Bond and Sophie Marceau is marvellous. The auditorium positively sizzles with the on-screen chemistry between her and Brosnan. I was rather disappointed with Robert Carlyle's bad-guy persona, because he always struck me as a very sensitive actor, but here he seems rather wooden. Perhaps this is in fact a stupendous depiction of a man who no longer feels any sensations.
The explosions may be more excessive, the puns may be excruciating, the characters may be two-dimensional and the whole thing may be completely implausible, but this is not classical literature we're talking about. However, The World Is Not Enough is a classic edition to the Bond canon - a brilliantly enjoyable romp, it'll be perfect for a Sunday matinee when it's raining.
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