I have nothing but luke warm feelings towards Tomorrow Never Dies. From the main titles to the explosive ending I was mostly bored. This is a pretty lame James Bond film, though far from the worst in the series. (That’s coming.)
For me, the most disappointing part of this movie is the villain. The villain can make or break a 007 film, and the baddie presented here is not as interesting/crazy as I’d like. Eliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) is a media mogul who plans to orchestrate a war between the UK and China to boost ratings for his fledgling news channel. Pryce is excellent in the role, it’s just that the character himself is just so… normal. I don’t know if that’s the best word to describe him, but he’s definitely no Blofeld.
Two great aspects of this film are the Bond girls, played by Teri Hatcher and Michelle Yeoh. Hatcher is the “tragic Bond girl,” the one who inevitably winds up dead simply for being associated with Bond. She’s a gorgeous woman, but more importantly can hold her own against the British spy. Sure, most her dialogue is sexually charged and her purpose in the story is to be seduced by James for information, but it’s clear that Hatcher is having fun with the role. She’s fun to watch, and I actually felt sorry for her when she dies. Yeoh is the more active of the two, the Bond girl who is 007’s unofficial partner in crime, so to speak. She’s great with the action, a spy able to go toe-to-toe with the best. Here character feels a little underdeveloped, though I wonder if this is because Hatcher is just so memorable that she overshadows Yeoh.
I’m also not crazy about the title credits song, “The World is Not Enough” performed by Sheryl Crow. The song itself is nice, I’ve always liked the melody. It’s Crow’s performance that I don’t care for. She can be great, but it feels like this song is a bit too much for her particular brand of singing. Also, this is one of the rare Bond films that had a second song recorded for the end credits, with k.d. lang performing “Surrender”. In this case it’s actually stronger than the signature tune.
When this film came out, I did not find it that entertaining. The big villain was a newspaper seller who was not in the least bit threatening. As time has gone on though, and the media has so much more impact in our daily lives, this film seems far more relevant today than it did when it was released in 1997. If someone told me Rupert Murdoch was trying to start a war or creating disasters so he could sell newspapers, I would probably believe you. In the nineties though, this seemed very farfetched.
The second Pierce Brosnan Bond film shows the British secret agent being asked to investigate a UK submarine that was destroyed after it inadvertently sailed into Chinese waters and was attacked. Turns out the sub was led astray and sunk by men working for media baron Elliot Carver (Jonathon Pryce). Carver wants to start a war between the UK and China and have exclusive media rights for the coverage. Bond must stop him by using his connection with Carver’s wife (Teri Hatcher), who is a former flame. Bond is also assisted by a Chinese special agent (Michelle Yeoh), also looking to prevent a war between two of the biggest nations in the world.
Brosnan is a lot of fun again as Bond. He has the right mix of charm and sarcasm that works for a character like Bond. One of the best parts of Bond are his gadgets, and Tomorrow Never Dies delivers. Bond’s latest gadget is a souped up BMW that he can control using his mobile phone. There is an exciting set piece in a parking lot where Bond controls the car from the back seat. It is a lot of fun. The biggest let down for me was the Bond girls. At the time, there was a lot of press about Teri Hatcher being a Bond girl, as she was riding high from playing Lois Lane on the very popular Lois & Clark. She should stick to television though because she come across as wooden on the big screen. Michelle Yeoh is ok, but none of these girls hold a candle to the amazing Famke Janssen from GoldenEye.
As I mentioned earlier, Elliot Carver was not an intimidating villain when this was released, but as society has changed, Carver has become a more relevant bad guy.
Tomorrow Never Dies is a fun Bond adventure. It is nowhere near as good as GoldenEye, but still a fun action flick.