Rewatching the James Bond films chronologically. Whenever people talk about 1999’s The World is Not Enough, the only thing they ever talk about is Denise Richards. Denise Richards, Denise Richards, Denise Richards. Here’s an idea: Let’s NOT talk about Denise Richards. Instead let’s talk about everything else in the movie, because once you take she-who-will-no-longer-be-named out of the picture, suddenly this one is really interesting and exciting.
Blond blurb: An oil tycoon and friend of M’s is murdered by a terrorist bomb. Bond is assigned to protect the man’s daughter, Elektra King. They of course get the romance brewing, but then Bond learns Elektra is actually working with the bomber. Said bad guy is Renard, an anarchist who is unable to feel pain, who is plotting to destroy an oil pipeline.
Bond background: M says Bond is the best agent she has, but further says she’d never admit that to his face. This is something else to keep in mind when we get to Daniel Craig. Also, Bond’s education at Oxford gets another mention.
Bond baddies: Our villains this time are interesting in the way they subvert the usual Bond tropes. In any other movie, Renard would be the henchman, but they went ahead and gave him the big job. More importantly, though, is how Elektra is a Bond girl and a Bond villain all at once. The concept appears to be “take a Bond girl and make her the villain.”
Bond babes: Once Bond and Elektra’s relationship takes a turn for the dark and torturous, it raises an important question previously unraised. Does Bond actually have any genuine feelings for all these women he’s been with, or his attitude merely “use ‘em and lose ‘em,” as he’s so often been criticized? Bond is furious when Renard mocks Elektra, yet Elektra slaps him when she believes he’s using her for bait. Bond’s final confrontation with Elektra, despite everything she’s done, is heartbreaking, and one of Pierce Bronsan’s finest moments as Bond.
Bond best brains: X-ray specs! Bond’s shades can show him who’s packing, and he can check out the ladies’ undies. His car is again ‘roided up with all sorts of gizmos. Most important, though, is this is the last outing with Desmond Llewelyn as Q. He gets to introduce is protégé, “R,” played with maximum goofiness by John Cleese, and he gets to have a nice final scene with 007.
Bond bash-ups: We start with a wild escape from a building, followed by an attack on MI6 headquarters and a hugely elaborate boat chase on the Thames with tons of great stunts — and all before the opening song/credits! There’s another ski chase, this time evoking extreme sports, with Bond jumping out of a helicopter onto a remote summit and then pursued by parasailing snowmobiles (!).Then there’s an escape from an underground plutonium mine (I think) and an outrageous fight in a factory among helicopters with giant sawblades hanging from them. How do they land those things? Bond’s final fight with Renard is pretty brutal, inside a sinking submarine among the nuclear rods.
Bond baggage: No more communists for Bond to fight? Bring on the terrorists. Although the movie is quick to point out that Renard is an anarchist, and not beholden to any one nation or ideology, all this talk about oil and terrorist bombings certainly shows how current events had changed.
Bond bygones: The movie’s title is a callback to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in which “The world is not enough” was introduced as a saying on Bond’s family crest.
Bond babble: See, when you take you-know-who out of the conversation, suddenly this is a great movie. Not only is there awesome action, but it has emotional stakes for Bond unlike what we’ve seen in the previous films. This is my pick for most underrated Bond film.
Next week: En garde.
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