The World is Not Enough (1999) / Action-Thriller

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence, some sexuality and innuendo
Running time: 128 min.

Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Denise Richards, Robbie Coltrane
Director:  Michael Apted
Screenplay: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Bruce Feirstein

Review published November 21, 1999

The plot: A British oil tycoon is killed in the MI6 HQ. His daughter inherits his fortune along with his precious oil deposits in the Caspian Sea. British super-agent James Bond is assigned for her protection as her father's killer (who formerly kidnapped his daughter for ransom) is after her.  The man is an amoral and quite vengeful man named Renard (Carlyle, The Full Monty), and taking him down proves quite a chore as he has a bullet lodged in his brain that causes him to feel no pain.

The World is Not Enough is a well-directed and lavishly produced chapter in the James Bond series, with some terrific eye-popping stunts (the opening sequence is probably the best I've seen in a Bond film to date). While still largely conforming to the conventions of the series, this film has some very nice touches not seen in other Bonds: more insights into M's character, a goodbye to Q (and an introduction to John Cleese (Silverado) as his replacement), and probably the most vulnerable James Bond portrayed on film. Outside of some obligatory puns and one-liners, the film is the most probably the most serious in tone since For Your Eyes Only, eschewing the tongue-in-cheek cartoon adventure of Brosnan's (Mars Attacks!, The Thomas Crown Affair) last two outings. However, as good as these things are, it is also the dullest of Brosnan's tenure as 007, with not much in the way of genuine thrills and chills. Even though the acting is top-notch, the production is the highest of any Bond, and the directing quite competent by the experienced Apted (Agatha, Continental Divide), the overall plot is just not interesting and unfortunately the film does tend to drag as a result.

If there is a legitimate major gripe, it comes from the casting of Denise Richards (Wild Things, Loaded Weapon 1). Suspension of disbelief is a must for all Bond films, and with all of the grandiose stunts and gadgets, nothing in this film shatters the suspension of disbelief more than the notion that a 20-something, well-tanned and athletic woman with a boob job and tattoos also happens to be the world's top nuclear physicist. I suppose she's attractive enough to be a Bond girl, but there are so many beautiful women in Hollywood that I'm a bit mystified they couldn't find one who looked less like a Baywatch babe than a world renowned scientist.

When all is said and done, The World is Not Enough is about as smooth a Bond film as there's been in a while, but I can only give it a marginal recommendation.  The excitement is not enough.

-- Followed by Die Another Day

Qwipster's rating:

1999 Vince Leo