Director: Michael Apted
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Robert Carlyle, Sopie Marcue, Denise Richards
Release Date: November 19th 1999 (UK)
What is perhaps most interesting about this movie replete with an incredibly strong cast is that it made a fan of James Bond of my old French teacher. I’m about to argue it is quite a good, if flawed fin de millenial movie just like Office Space but is it the perfect entry point to Bond? I really do not think so.
The cast of this is headed of course by James Bond himself: Pierce Brosnan. This being his third film, he does follow the unofficial rule that the longest serving Bonds give us their best on their third film. Not that he ever gave us less than definitive 007, but here he adds subtle nuances such as his reactions when Bond is seen to be visibly confused when one of the people aboard the plane he tries to hitch a ride on demands Bond give him a pair of trainers. Small thing like this show that even after 37 years, there were still layers of the onion of James Bond to be peeled back and long may they continue. Denise Richards really does not serve as a believable Nuclear Physicist, or indeed someone who even graduated High School. But Brosnan plays so well opposite her that it is somewhat forgivable, after all it is not exactly unprecedented that Bond films will cast women for no reason other than their beauty, no matter how believable their performance is.
This is made up for to an extent by the excellent pairing of villains Elektra King and Renard (Sophie Marceu and Robert Carlyle respectively), who play off each other so well and while it is no great surprise that Carlyle turns in a great performance (have yet to see him do anything else), Marceu may be less familiar to audiences. She is an absolute revelation and is such a good actress, it is one of the few times where it is perfectly understandable that Bond would fall in love with her, much less after she has tortured Bond and captured M (Judi Dench).
One thing I must say is that this is the first film to be written by a pairing who will either write or help draft the scripts for at least the next six cinematic outings – Neil Purvis and Robert Wade. The pair wrote the 1991 movie Let Him Have It which is genuinely underrated among others. Their presence is more than welcomed. This is perhaps the most character driven Bond film since 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and it shows through in this being one to abandon completely the Bond formula in favour of a story driven by the men and women in it. It is not a perfect one by any means, there are some flaws but it is a nice change of pace and one which I would personally welcome if it made a return.
What is for sure is that for the next excuse of a film it was abandoned completely. Some theorise to add more resources to the shot of Bond wind surfing on a glacier, in a movie Lee Tamahori deserves to be locked up for, 2002’s Die Another Day.