The 007 Series: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Synopsis:

When China refuses to give him exclusive broadcasting rights, a media tycoon, Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce, Brazil), plots to manufacture a war between UK and China that he hopes will take down the current Chinese government. After Carver releases information about the sinking of a British vessel before anybody else, “M” (Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love) suspects that the tycoon is up to no good and she sends superspy James Bond (Pierce Brosnan, Mama Mia!) to investigate.

Reaction & Thoughts:

At the time Tomorrow Never Dies was made, James “007” Bond had been with us for more than 30 years, spawning a slew of imitators, including spoofs like That Man from Rio, Our Man Flint and Modesty Blaise. Let that info sink in for a second and then you will appreciate Tomorrow Never Dies a bit more — it’s a fun, energetic action-packed ride that shows no signs of old age.

Once against I find myself swimming against the current. I found the well-received GoldenEye lacking in suspense, while the usually panned Tomorrow Never Dies gave me a rush of excitement. Most fans found Tomorrow Never Dies a few notches below its predecessor, but I thought it was the other way around — Tomorrow Never Dies fixes most of the problems I had with GoldenEye, with Brosnan nicely growing into the character of Bond — it’s quite possibly my favorite Brosnan/Bond movie.

Directed by Roger Spottiswoode (Under Fire and The 6th Day) from a script by  American humorist Bruce Feirstein, Tomorrow Never Dies has lots of elements that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Firstly, the narrative deals with the now topical idea of media manipulation (“fake news?”). There are also some terrific action sequences, specifically the ones with Brosnan’s co-star Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).

Speaking of Yeoh, who is an action star in her own right, she single-handedly elevates the film to new heights of fun. Yeoh plays Colonel Wai Lin, a Chinese Bond, and her rapport with Brosnan is undeniably good. The relationship is based on mutual respect and genuine affection, which is why I didn’t think that the protracted final kiss worked within the context of the story — the romantic gesture near the end seemed unbelievable, unnecessary.

The supporting cast delivers some nice surprises. Vincent Schiavelli (Amadeus and Ghost), who plays Dr. Kaufman, steals a few scenes. The late Schiavelli plays a mysterious hit-man and I really wished he had more screen time because he’s simply terrific. Joe Don Baker returns as Jack Wade, Blond’s CIA friend (a thinly disguised Felix Leiter). Pre-stardom Gerard Butler (Olympus Has Fallen) is a crewman. I’m not a fan of Teri Hatcher (TV’s Desperate Housewives) so I was glad that her role is very small. And, of course, Jonathan Pryce, who is wonderfully evil as Carver.

The one thing I HATED, HATED about the movie was Sheryl Crow’s rendition of the theme song, “Surrender.” It doesn’t fit the movie at all. Shockingly, K.D Lang’s far superior “Surrender” was rejected in favor of Crow’s lame, horrendous interpretation.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Tomorrow Never Dies is the first Bond movie made without any input from producer Albert R. Broccoli (“Cubby”), who had died shortly after GoldenEye. The producer’s children, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, took over the franchise, but the film doesn’t suffer from the transition. Tomorrow Never Dies has a great cast and plenty of fun action sequences. I do have to say that the music quality took a dive during Brosnan’s reign — not a single great song, not one moment of great music. It coincides with Cubby’s departure. Maybe the elder Broccoli had better taste in music than his brood ( 🙂 ).

James Bond will return
in
The World Is Not Enough (1999)

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7 responses to “The 007 Series: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

  1. I’ll take anything by k.d. lang over anything by Sheryl Crow anyday, so I have to agree with you there…I don’t have a favorite “Bond” actor, but I’ve always thought Pierce Brosnan had a feel for just how seriously to take the whole thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoy Tomorrow Never Dies just fine. I think Goldeneye was better but its funny I often find myself defending Die Another Day which people like to rubbish in the Craig era. Brosnan was a great Bond, MY Bond if there is such a thing and this was a perfectly fine film. I particularly like the beating in the back room of the media launch followed by waiting in the hotel. I think it would have been nice for Brosnan to get to do more of that because he was keen on it but the producers only went for it under Daniel Craig’s era. Will have to look back over your Goldeneye review. Always enjoy your Bond reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

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