PG-13 for Bond style violence and sexuality. The World is Not Enough, specifically, has a little bit more skin than usual when it comes to Sophie Marceau. While there isn't any outright nudity, there is little left to the imagination with two of the women in this movie. The opening credit sequence, however, is fairly tame compared those those scenes that we would see in the classic Bond era. Also, I need to stress: This movie has the most over the top innuendo joke in a Bond movie ever. It's the last line of the film. I refuse to write it out. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Michael Apted
It's going to be one of those that I have to rewrite after I lost all of my work. It's been a while since I've had to do that, so be patient with me. For my readers who have followed me through multiple Bond films, you are witnessing my childhood through a fandom. I acknowledge that a sizable percentage of my readership are probably people who know me, so these stories might bring about a sense of nostalgia. Regardless, The World is Not Enough (or as I tended to use the shorthand TWiNE) was the height of my Bond mania. This was the halcyon days of Quicktime videos over 28.8 modems. (I may have had a 56k modem by this point. I'm really bad on remembering specific years for things. When someone says, "I did this and that in 1994" or something, I'm flabbergasted.) But I would sit there and watch the trailer for The World is Not Enough and watch it frame by frame over and over again. Oh, and this wasn't in just one sitting. I would reload that video time and time again. I mean, I would just keep watching it. So me writing about The World is Not Enough as a grown man, who enjoys these movies but simply as movies, it's new. It's a new thing. Part of me was most curious about The World is Not Enough simply because so many people say this movie is terrible. Well, what's my final takeaway?
The one thing I will say is that I have always acknowledged that Denise Richards as Christmas Jones might be one of the worst casting decisions of all time. I'm so sorry, Ms. Richards. I am not an artist. I write a daily film blog that few people read. I hate ever commenting on an individual's performance when it isn't good. But Denise Richards is the least appropriate casting I've ever seen. I'm going to talk about a wealth of reasons that she's miscast. So just strap in. If you either are a Richards stan or Richards herself, I'm already apologetic. Can I just go for the jugular? In the first draft, I took a different route. But with the benefit of hindsight, I have to comment on Richards's age in this movie. Besides the fact that she makes what might be one of the classiest Bond movies into kind of a teen movie, the age difference between Brosnan and Richards just seems really icky. I mentioned that For Your Eyes Only that the filmmakers at least commented on the idea that Bond has an age rule. But the movie pretends like Richards isn't a ten-year-old in this movie.
Instead, they pretend that she's a nuclear physicist. Come on. There's a line. There's willful ignorance and then there's what is happening in The World is Not Enough. There's a line in the movie that completely illustrates how insane this casting decision was. It seems like I'm going to be harping on something, but this was the moment where I thought that maybe the Bond films weren't perfect. There's a scene where Bond explains to Christmas Jones that the bomb is jury rigged. Now, to give Richards a little bit of leeway, it is a phenomenally stupid line. Bond explains that the bomb is jury rigged and Christmas Jones says, "Someone's tampered with the bomb." Now, I put a YouTube link on that quote. Listen to that line reading. I know. I shouldn't let it bother me. But that line delivery sums up the entire problem I have with the casting of Denise Richards. It also shares the same problem I have with Keanu Reeves in Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula.
Now, Keanu Reeves is a national treasure. I dare not sully his good name considering the good he has done in these dark times. But some of his performances are less than stellar. I reference Dracula because it is an amazing parallel for what is happening in The World is Not Enough. There's a scene where Reeves' Jonathan Harker is sitting across from Anthony Hopkins's Abraham Van Helsing. When Anthony Hopkins is chewing the scenery and acting the heck out of every syllable, Reeves's performance becomes so much more wooden. Denise Richards is a bad performance in a movie filmed with classy performances. Maybe it is the fact that the Bond producers think very little about Americans, shy of Holly Goodhead in Moonraker. I mean, look at the Bond girl in A View to a Kill. The Brits probably loathe Americans. Everyone in this movie is just so classy and she just can't pull it off. It's almost as if the screenwriters wanted her to look cultureless and vapid. There's a scene where Zukovsky falls in his own caviar. Bond tells a great joke. "All we need is some champagne." Cool. Joke delivered. Then Jones gets a tag, "Maybe some sour cream." The champagne joke does the job. The sour cream makes the sad trombone sound. It's just a movie full of this.
And that's when I am over the dumb stuff of this movie. I know that it is reviled by a lot of people. But I really feel like The World is Not Enough might be one of the fanciest Bond movies in the series. It has this very cinematic feel, very much like GoldenEye did in the wake of Licence to Kill. Sophie Marceau as the villain of the piece is classy as all get out. I know that the movie throws Renard the terrorist as the red herring in there, but Elektra King is interesting. We've had villainous Bond girls before, but they have always served to be henchwomen to the big male bad. But I like the inversion. In this watch, I feel like the Brosnan era has been an exploration of the changing of the roles of women in the story while trying to maintain the formula that has served Bond well for so long. While I don't think that The World is Not Enough could be, by any means, considered woke, it does at least makes a major step forward in understanding that women don't have to be two dimensional characters. If there's an evil woman, there might be something complex going on there. Bond doesn't have the ability to turn people to good. (Bond nerds will know that's actually kinda sorta consistent. It is a misunderstanding that all Bond girls fall madly in love with Bond.) But King is complex. I know that the Elektra narrative is a bit of a hint about parental relationships, but I like that there seems to be a greater mythos to Bond introduced into it. I mean, it doesn't deserve the title of the film. You'd think that it would be more of a throwaway line, especially considering that it is the Bond family crest.
But this brings up the idea that the villain needs to have a personal tie to the characters. The Craig era would thrive on the elements that are touched upon in The World is Not Enough. Elektra has a thirst for blood when it comes to M in this movie. We'd see this done potentially better in Skyfall. But watching the modern era close together has made me realize something: for all the gravitas that Judi Dench gives M, her M is wildly incompetent. She has that smirk with everything she does. There are these moments where M comments when Bond is away that he's the best agent she has and that she cares about him. But really, many of the story elements surround M making a gross error in judgment and Bond has to fix her mistake. I mean, I adore the dynamic that Dench brought to Bond. The idea that Bond cares for few people as much as he cares for M is great character development, especially considering her introduction in GoldenEye. But really, is M a good boss? She puts her faith in 007, but regularly ignores the warnings that tend to be right. In this one, she refuses to believe that Elektra might be the one who killed her father, which leads to her getting kidnapped. Luckily, her kidnapping is the fatal flaw in Elektra King's plan because M just happens to have a tracking device on her. But Bond almost allows a nuclear submarine to get away because he has to save M. (Mind you, he also feels the need to make out with Elektra King's corpse, so there are all kinds of odd judgment calls going on.)
But I really enjoyed this one. There's something about it that really gets to me. Maybe it is because it is Desmond Llewellyn's last film. Maybe it is because it feels like Brosnan is in his stride. But I'll mostly defend this film. I know that Denise Richards is...rough. But besides that, this movie rocks. I will stand by my unpopular opinion.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.