After a media tycoon (Jonathan Pryce, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) 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 sends superspy James Bond (Pierce Brosnan, Seraphim Falls) to investigate.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“Great men have always manipulated the media to save the world.”
By 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 again I find myself swimming against the current. I found the well-received GoldenEye lacking in suspense and zest, 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 — 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 (Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche and Old School: Life in the Sane Lane), Tomorrow Never Dies has lots of elements that I thoroughly enjoyed. First, the narrative deals with the now topical idea of media manipulation (“fake news?”).
Tomorrow Never Dies also contains some terrific action sequences, specifically those with Brosnan and co-star Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), who is an action superstar in her own right. Yeoh plays a cunning and fearless Chinese spy — she single-handedly elevates the film to new heights of fun.
In addition, Yeoh has undeniably good rapport with Brosnan. 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 of the movie seemed unbelievable and completely 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 wish he had more screen time because he’s absolutely terrific. Joe Don Baker returns as Blond’s CIA friend (a thinly disguised Felix Leiter). Teri Hatcher (TV’s Desperate Housewives) is fine as Bond’s ex-flame. And, of course, Jonathan Pryce is wonderful as the sinister tycoon.
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. I tend to like the talented Crow, but she is given nothing to work with.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Tomorrow Never Dies is the first Bond movie made without any input from producer Albert R. Broccoli (“Cubby”), who 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. While not one of the best films in the franchise (not even close), this is an entertaining movie with lots of fun stunts.
James Bond will return
The World Is Not Enough (1999)