The World is Not Enough is Lesser James Bond

Pierce Brosnan and Denise Richards in The World is Not Enough. Courtesy of MGM.

The World is Not Enough is one of the worst films in the James Bond franchise and would get the franchise closer to a hard reboot.

An impressive boat chase on the River Thames is not enough to save the film. Pierce Brosnan does most of his own stunts, which helps add to the realism that we see on the big screen. But again, flashy and stylish action scenes–including the 14-minute pre-title sequence–cannot save a film brought down by its own screenwriting. It’s all downhill from there because it’s a real battle to get through the slog that are the final two Pierce Brosnan films of the franchise. Not surprisingly, the budget slightly increases from Tomorrow Never Dies as this film gets bigger and goes to even more exotic locations.

The gist of the film is that Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is assigned to protect Elektra King (Sophie Marceau) after her father, billionaire Sir Robert King, is assassinated. Victor “Renard” Zokas (Robert Carlyle) had held her ransom after he killed her father. During Bond’s assignment, he learns of a scheme surrounding petroleum prices, which would involve a nuclear meltdown. After visiting Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane) at a casino, Bond later encounters Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), a nuclear physicist, and they become allies in saving the world. There was more than meets the eye with Elektra King and Bond would eventually come to realize this. As for Denise Richards, I’ll have more to say about her character in a few minutes.

Michael Apted previously directed Sissy Spacek, Sigourney Weaver, and Jodie Foster to Oscar nominations. Only Spacek would win but that’s beside the point. Unfortunately, his previous efforts were not good enough when it came to the acting in this film. It’s not so much Apted’s fault in as much as it is on the writing and the casting. While “Christmas Jones” may sound great for a Bond girl’s name, there needs to be some credibility when it comes to her occupation. I’m sorry but I cannot but a person with that name as being a nuclear physicist. Her wardrobe also does her no favors. It’s like watching Bryce Dallas Howard running through Isla Nublar in heals in Jurassic World. Make it make sense!

The World is Not Enough is the Bond film that would introduce screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade to the franchise. The duo have been involved with the writing ever since. We’ll see if they’ll stick around for whoever is replacing Daniel Craig as James Bond. In any event, Purvis and Wade suggested a female villain for the main antagonist. It’s one of those changes that were probably necessary to freshen up the franchise. Unfortunately, it’s one of the few things here that work.

The other thing that works in the film is the music. Not only does David Arnold know what he’s doing but the theme song is one of the better songs in the history of the franchise. The composer goes for more electronic music in his second Bond outing. He also adds a theme for both action and romance, which are heard once again in Die Another Day.

I usually don’t discuss bonus features unless I’m covering a home entertainment release. Can I just say how awesome it is that The World is Not Enough has short featurette on making the teaser trailer?!? This isn’t something that one usually finds on the home release. A making-of documentary about the film is more common but not about the teaser trailer. But anyway, Tom Kennedy only had Pierce Brosnan for a few minutes when they shot the footage for the teaser.

Unfortunately, the film marks the final appearance of Desmond Llewelyn as Q. The actor died in a car accident in December 1999. His comic interactions with Bond are among the memorable parts of the franchise and the actor is missed tremendously. Had he lived, it’s probable that he would have appeared in Die Another Day even though he was training R (John Cleese) as his replacement, As for the Daniel Craig films, I don’t know if he would have appeared in them given the actor was a few years shy of turning 90 years old.

DIRECTOR: Michael Apted
SCREENWRITER: Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and Bruce Feirstein
CAST: Pierce Brosnan, Robert Carlyle, Sophie Marceau, Denise Richards, Robbie Coltrane, and Judi Dench

MGM/UA released The World is Not Enough in theaters on November 19, 1999. Grade: 2/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.