Tomorrow Never Dies Marks 25th Anniversary

Pierce Brosnan and Michelle Yeoh in Tomorrow Never Dies. Courtesy of MGM.

The second James Bond movie starring Pierce Brosnan, Tomorrow Never Dies, marks the 25th anniversary of its 1997 theatrical release.

This was the first James Bond film that I watched on the big screen. I’ve seen everything else on the big screen ever since. My family saw the film over opening weekend since we saved Titanic for December 25. It’s the film that would lead me to buy the 30 Years of James Bond album with a gift certificate to Hawley-Cooke Booksellers. I’ve since upgraded the album to a more recent one but I digress.

The film starts out with Bond infiltrating a a terrorist arms bazaar and taking until the very last minute to get out of harm’s way. While he’s having all the fun, an encoder ends up being stolen by one of Elliot Carver’s (Jonathan Pryce) associates, Henry Gupta (Ricky Jay). Not long thereafter, the HMS Devonshire sinks and CMGN knows the news hours before intelligence agencies even learn of crisis events. The fact that they know about a British ship sinking before MI6 is particularly frightening. If Carver has his way, he would get launch WWIII with UK going into war with China. At some point, MI6 is going to put two and two together. This is where James Bond comes into play. It helps that Paris Carver (Teri Hatcher) is also an ex-girlfriend of Bond’s. Will she be helpful or not? We learn the answer in due time, of course.

It’s fascinating to watch this film now with the antagonist being a media mogul-gone-mad. Could Elliot Carver be a stand-in for someone like Rupert Murdoch or worse? Oh, definitely. I doubt that Murdoch would start WWIII but a similar mogul probably would if they were in a satirical film. Knowing what we know about media moguls and how media empires work, screenwriter Bruce Feirstein definitely gets it ride. It’s one of the reasons why this film holds up on its 25th anniversary. Being a Lois & Clark fan, it is certainly a bummer to watch Teri Hatcher’s character get killed. Oh, well–you can’t go with the film you want but with the film they give you. Years later, Hatcher later regretted her role in the film. It’s not a particularly great role to begin with but this isn’t because of her but the writing itself.

The film also served as my introduction to Michelle Yeoh as an actress. Outside of her work in Hong Kong, the film played a role in making her a household name. She’s the other Bond girl in the film, Wai Lin. Lin is a Chinese Ministry of State Security agent who is also investigating the HMS Devonshire sinking. Bond meets her at the party where Carver is launching his new network. It is not until later in which they realize they’re both spies.

Tomorrow Never Dies benefited from its mid-to-late December release date and brought in $333 million. It was one of three December releases to finish its run as one of the top earners of 1997 releases–the other two were Titanic and As Good as It Gets. If Titanic was sold out again, audiences could see something else or just turn around and go home. Interestingly enough, the film’s $110 million budget is almost twice the size of GoldenEye‘s production budget.

Musically, David Arnold takes over composing duties. Producers initially wanted John Barry but were unable to agree on salary. The composer adds some contemporary techno elements but otherwise uses the traditional sound that we’ve come to know and love. The first Bond theme comes during a car chase sequence in the parking garage. Overall, it’s a tense and exciting use of the score. I mentioned earlier that this was my first James Bond movie but I would later watch all of the earlier films through Netflix DVDs and the James Bond marathons on TNT. David Arnold brilliantly captures the sound that best represents the British spy in music, even borrowing from John Barry’s From Russia with Love score.

Tomorrow Never Dies brings non-stop action and thrills in a fun installment of the James Bond franchise.

DIRECTOR: Roger Spottiswoode
SCREENWRITER: Bruce Feirstein
CAST: Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher, Joe Don Baker, and Judi Dench

MGM/UA released Tomorrow Never Dies in theaters on December 19, 1995. Grade: 4/5

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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.