Published Nov 27, 2012Widely considered to be one of the worst Bond films of all time, and more specifically the worst of the Brosnan entries—presumably to those too distracted by Halle Berry's bikini in Die Another Day to notice how dreadful the film was—this nineteenth installment, The World is Not Enough, is perhaps more campy and overblown than the franchise status quo. This is even considering the inherent absurdity of Moonraker and A View to a Kill, as well as the inconsiderate, broad destruction of public venues in GoldenEye.
Established early on, this late '90s action-adventure has the longest pre-title sequence in the history of the series, featuring motorboats, leaps from buildings, booby-trapped money and, eventually, a hot air balloon explosion. Within this protracted excuse for action excess, Bond manages to hand Moneypenny a cigar (phallus), doling out some suggestive commentary about where she should put it.
As such, while crude and ridiculous—and resultantly alienating die hard Bond fans—the aim here seemed to be that of obtaining a youth audience. Unfortunately, in doing so, some of the plot elements don't gel entirely, despite the core theme of the film—that of applying the mantra of refusing to negotiate with terrorists to innocent victims—having more complexity and heft than the majority of the titles in the franchise up to that point.
The core story, which involves oil tycoon Robert King's daughter Elektra (Sophie Marceau) being kidnapped by an ex-KGB agent—Renard (Robert Carlyle)—with a brain injury resulting in the inability to feel pain, finds M (Judi Dench) having to reject Renard's request for money—not negotiating with terrorists and all—much to the potential harm of Elektra. This helps exacerbate her Stockholm Syndrome and resultant need to enact revenge on MI6.
In itself, there is a lot to play with given the character dynamics and political discourse, especially considering that Bond is protecting Elektra without knowing her involvement. But because this story in itself wouldn't generate much action, there's an added plot by Renard to inflate the costs of Elektra's oil by blowing up Istanbul with nuclear arms, which brings Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) into the mix, along with jokes about Christmas only coming once a year and Bond "having her ass."
Once Denise Richards starts prancing around in a tank top and cut off jean shorts, babbling about nuclear arms, almost any potential integrity is lost, leaving only the big whorish explosions and increasingly convoluted plot to drive everything forward. Of course, from a camp perspective, the ridiculousness of it all does hold up well as (not entirely) inadvertent comedy gold.
The World is Not Enough screens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox as part of the Shaken, Not Stirred: Bond on Film retrospective at 12:30pm on Sunday, December 2nd. (MGM)