The World Is Not Enough (1999)


James Bond (Pierce Brosnan, Dante’s Peak) is assigned to protect an oil heiress (Sophie Marceau, Braveheart) from a madman (Robert Carlyle, The Full Monty) who had kidnapped her years earlier when she was a young woman. While guarding the wealthy lady, Bond discovers an international plot to manipulate the world’s oil supply.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“There’s no point in living if you can’t feel alive.”

I rather liked The World Is Not Enough, which seems to have very few admirers nowadays. When I saw it in the theater, I too felt severely underwhelmed. But time does strange things to you and now I have to say that I enjoyed it immensely. It has a good plot, fine acting and lots of thrilling action sequences.

 Directed surprisingly well by Michael Apted (Coal Miner’s Daughter), a filmmaker known for character-driven films with a strong social message, The World Is Not Enough doesn’t have a pre-title sequence in the traditional manner — this rather long sequence (the longest in the series) functions as a prologue to the main event.

The screenplay was written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and humorist Bruce Feirstein. This is one of the few entries in the franchise not based on an Ian Fleming story (the title was taken from Bond’s family motto, but in the film it means something else). The script tends to be more serious in tone than Brosnan’s previous entries. Humor is kept to the minimum and some sequences are outright nasty.

Bond goes as far as killing someone in cold blood, an unarmed woman to boot! It’s a chilling scene because the killing feels unnecessary. You have to give credit to Brosnan for playing the sequence so convincingly. Not long after this ugly moment, the film cavalierly returns to the expected eye-popping action set-pieces. The comical ending feels contrived because it ignores what preceded it. This is all very interesting and very strange.

Anyhow, The World Is Not Enough has a glaring flaw: Denise Richards (Wild Things). I don’t want to sound ungentlemanly, but Richards fails to make an impression as a nuclear physicist named “Christmas” Jones (!). Fortunately, the rest of the cast is able to pick up the slack. Sophie Marceau is wonderful as the troubled heiress and Robert Carlyle is scary as the villain who can’t feel pain. And, as usual, the great Judi Dench (Mrs. Brown), who plays “M,” brings gravitas and credibility to the proceedings.

This is Desmond Llewelyn’s last performance as “Q.” He died in a car accident a few weeks after the movie was released. It’s almost as if Llewelyn knew he was going to die, because he not only gets to say goodbye (his last line is prophetic), but also gets to train his replacement, the wonderful John Cleese (Monty Python’s Life of Brian) — the film is dedicated to Llewelyn (1914-1999).

Finally, let’s talk music. I feel the quality of music & songs have deteriorated since Roger Moore left the franchise — A View to Kill (1985) is, in my opinion, the last Bond film with a solidly good song & score (I have yet to see Daniel Craig’s entries). The World Is Not Enough‘s title song was performed by alternative rock band Garbage (vocalist Shirley Manson) and I was totally unimpressed. I didn’t care for the music score (written by David Arnold, Independence Day and Stargate) either.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

The World Is Not Enough is rock-solid entertainment, a nice crowd-pleaser. No, it isn’t one of the best Bond movies, not even close. There are a few things that prevent it from being great — actress Richards, composer Arnold’s flabby score, etc. — but it gets the job done. Brosnan is a fine, fine Bond — he’s growing on me. And the film has top production values. The World Is Not Enough is a pretty good action flick for the most part.

James Bond will return
Die Another Day (2002)

8 responses to “The World Is Not Enough (1999)

  1. As queen of the Typo can I be the first to say I love the idea of Robert Carlyle as a madam! Sophie M makes a welcome return with Daniel Craig in the hot seat and she’s so good here. I liked this one a lot but I agree with a lot of your comments on its flaws … Brosnan is so good!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review Eric. As a teenager I saw The World is Not Enough and after the rollicking opening on the Thames I was impressed but as the film goes on I found it a bit disappointing. I went back to it a couple of years ago and was still disappointed. As a kid of the times and a fan of Garbage I liked the song and Brosnan is my Bond but it’s still an underwhelming film for me. I liked Brosnan’s performance and Dench getting kidnapped and the idea of a female villain playing Bond was done well but it feels like a lot of missed opportunities and the fight scenes were really a let down. Compared to Goldeneye I thought Begbie and Bond would really go at it but alas. So I’m happy to hear you liked it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Never let them see you bleed.” A great line to end on, I did not know he died in a car accident, I thought it had just been old age and that’s why he retired the role. Desmond was also a World War II vet, captured early in 1940 and spent five years as a POW. He pointed this out to an American crew member once who told him World War II was from 1941 to 1945.

    Liked by 1 person

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