When watching this movie, a viewer quickly realizes there isn’t enough oil in the world, or enough money or enough power. And if you’re a fan of 007, there is never enough James Bond either. This was Pierce Brosnan’s third turn playing the character, and the last time Desmond Llewelyn played Q (the actor died shortly after the premiere). Despite the nonstop high voltage thrills, the story is a sobering late 20th century treatise on greed.
Bond’s love interests are played by Sophie Marceau and Denise Richards. Marceau has more screen time and much better close-ups. As oil heiress Elektra King, she’s gorgeous and dangerous. She beds the super agent in record time, but he notices there is much more to her than meets the eye. The film’s prologue details a botched mission where she was kidnapped and then used as bait by M to draw out a Russian terrorist named Renard (Robert Carlyle). Elektra’s father had refused to pay the ransom and he was subsequently killed. We find out that his death came at the hands of his unforgiving daughter who committed patricide with Renard’s help.
Initially the British intelligence agency is unaware of this double-cross. During the early portion of the story M sends Bond to the Middle East to protect Elektra from Renard. He gradually learns that Elektra has a twisted relationship with her former kidnapper and things become increasingly dicey. Caryle is perfectly creepy as the villain (he has a face that would have made him a star in F.W. Murnau’s silent films about vampires). He brings the right amount of understated menace to the role.
I like how Judi Dench has considerably more to do in this installment. At one point M is tricked by Elektra to visit the site of her pipeline, which is to ensure that M will be on hand to watch the killing of Bond, before Elektra turns M over to Renard. Of course, Bond has faked his death with the help of nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones (Richards’ character), and he works with a Russian casino owner to thwart Renard and rescue M. The casino owner Valentin is portrayed by Robbie Coltrane, reprising his earlier part from GOLDENEYE.
There are many exciting action sequences. The first one involves the use of Q’s new unfinished boat which Bond races down the river Thames in pursuit of an assassin working for Renard. A skiing segment that takes place in the mountains is also breathtakingly good. And I thought the part where Bond and Christmas try to defuse a nuclear reactor was suspenseful if far-fetched.
However, some things might have been better. For instance, I felt the gunfire and explosions became very repetitive, as if the producers were afraid that if there wasn’t a loud boom every five minutes the audience might get restless. And some of the dialogue needed fine-tuning. There was a strange line where Bond told Elektra that because of her relationship with Renard, she had suffered from Stockholm Syndrome. It didn’t feel right for him to tell her this in such academic terms. Instead he should’ve just said “you’re hung up on Renard” or “you have an unusual connection to Renard.” Viewers could’ve figured out she was experiencing the effects of Stockholm Syndrome without Bond having to tell her this for their benefit.
I did enjoy most of the characterizations. M realizing she had caused some of Elektra’s psychological problems was excellent. Valentin turning out to be a good comrade in the end was great. And Bond understanding that sleeping with Elektra was in essence like sleeping with Renard. Brosnan played the scene perfectly– his repulsion when he figured out he had slept with the enemy couldn’t have been topped by any other actor as James Bond.
THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH is directed by Michael Apted.