In contrast, Richards is somewhat bland as Dr. Jones. Her mannerisms occasionally seem wooden, almost as if she is posing in lieu of acting. In all fairness to the actress, Christmas Jones is underwritten, and Richards has little to do. Some have questioned the credibility of Jones as a nuclear physicist, which is understandable considering her tedious delivery. Others, however, have criticized her attire (she’s donning a tank top and shorts when she’s first shown), an objection which is speculative in and of itself by insinuating that a physicist must dress a certain way.
Though it is exciting and entertaining, The World is Not Enough does play it safe by staying true to certain Bond conventions. The spy introduces himself (more than once) with last name first, he’s armed to the teeth with gadgets, and his martinis are shaken, not stirred. Likewise, action scenes take place on a snowy mountain, in speeding boats, and inside a submarine, all of which are familiar 007 terrain. Carlyle’s Renard, with his shaved head and drooping eyelid (or ptosis, resulting from the failed assassination), almost resembles Bond’s previous three-movie nemesis, Blofeld. This does not make the movie less enthralling, but rather turns the whole affair into a relaxing guide through well known territory. It’s difficult to criticize a movie for wanting its audience to be comfortable.
This is not to say that the movie does not sometimes pull away from the series’ more traditional qualities. The narrative is a subtle appraisal of Bond’s treatment of women. Early in the film, he seduces MI6’s female doctor so that she will sign off on a clean bill of health and allow 007 to return to his duties. This act, in part, comes into question later when Bond begins an intimate relationship with Elektra and afterwards doubts her validity as a kidnapped victim. Whereas the spy manipulates with seduction, he is also visibly angered when believing that he was exploited in a similar fashion. Another change in convention is M’s personal investment in the mission. She is not only a good friend to Sir Robert King, but was also involved in handling the terrorists’ demands when his daughter was kidnapped, which has ties to the main story.
In the film, Q appears to be turning the gadgetry reins over to R (John Cleese), a name suggested by a sardonic Bond (although it does appear in the closing credits as such). Monty Python alum Cleese is quite amusing as the bumbling apprentice (his first words to 007: “And you might be...?”), an obvious antithesis to Q. Though it would appear that Q, having been portrayed by Llewelyn in nearly every Bond film, is retiring, the actor stated in an interview that he would not be leaving the role. Tragically, Llewelyn died in a car collision a mere month after the film’s premiere. Cleese is officially called Q in the subsequent Bond film, Die Another Day (2002).
Michael Apted, in his sole Bond effort, expertly handles the film's direction. Screenwriting partners Neal Purvis and Robert Wade made their Bond debut with The World is Not Enough (co-written with Bruce Feirstein, who co-wrote GoldenEye and was the credited writer for 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies). Purvis and Wade would handle script writing for the remaining Bond films, reportedly to include the 23rd film of the series, tentatively scheduled for release in 2012. The film’s title is, as the spy says, the Bond family motto, initially referenced in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). The movie’s title song is one of the best. It was written by composer David Arnold and lyricist Don Black and was performed by the rock band, Garbage.
Critical reception to The World is Not Enough was decidedly mixed, although the film performed admirably at the box office. I rank the movie as the best Bond outing starring Brosnan: likable villains, enjoyable action scenes (particularly the flooding submarine sequence near the end), and the always regaling Brosnan. What are your thoughts? Are there other The World is Not Enough fans?
Bond Is Forever will return next month with For Your Eyes Only (1981).