Film Review: Tomorrow Never Dies

Well the 18th “mission” for James as the DVD likes to refer to it and amazingly enough, against most critics opinions, I think Pierce Brosnan brings Bond back to the screen in a way that works. Unlike GoldenEye where he seemed to be channelling his over the top inner Roger, this time his return is toned down and matured. This feels like a decent portrayal of 007. This feels believable.

Sadly though, where Brosnan improves other parts of the film falter. Mainly through the casting. Geoffrey Palmer as Admiral Roebuck is just one example. I’m sure that it’s a conscious decision with Judi Dench playing M, head of the Foreign Intelligence wing of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, that Palmer is used as the head of the British Navy but it does instantly force As Time Goes By into your head and that serves not as the lightheaded, pleasant nod of appreciation that I’m sure it is intended as but rather, as a distraction that lightens what should be a serious start as they set up the story and plot of the entire movie. They could only have made it worse by walking Phillip Bretherton out as Alistair!

Teri Hatcher is another good example of my problems with the casting. In 1997 she was a big name star coming off the back of playing Louis Lane, in this she is essentially given nothing more than a fleeting cameo that serves no purpose to drive the plot forward or add any depth to the film. You can easily remove her from the script and not lose anything to the story. And that is a shame because she provides the writers with a way to link good and bad through Bond and Carver and instead is trotted out as nothing more than a name to sell tickets and a bit of on screen “Totty for the boys”. The only good thing is that her role is so small she’s not around long enough to do any lasting damage.

I actually like Tomorrow Never Dies. I may be lamenting it’s casting policy, but underneath there is a plausible and engaging story that results in entertaining and engrossing film. Brosnan once again looks right for the part of Bond physically and Michelle Yeoh brings the strength needed to act as a Bond girl. I am convinced that Bond films work best when the Bond girl is essentially an equal to 007 and not just a ditzy, whimsical, scatterbrain who is there to serve no purpose other, than from time to time stroking the ego of a drunkard sailor. “Oh James….”

I still haven’t got Bibi Dahl out of my head!

Q branch can’t even turn my off enjoyment of Tomorrow Never Dies. The over the top stunts that make Bond so famous are lovingly dialled down to 8. Just enough to be in keeping with the traditions of Bond stunts and gadgets but not enough to ever have you going “oh come on that just wouldn’t happen”. Everything has a sense of plausibility and believability to it. The only let down in the slightest, is Brosnan taking Bond through his BMW car phase. Bond just doesn’t look right parking a boxy, silver BMW 7-Series in front of a swanky hotel.

I wouldn’t say that Tomorrow Never Dies is the first Bond movie I’d reach for if I planned to spend an evening in his company, that accolade still goes to Licence To Kill, but it is certainly a long, long way up the list of which Bond films I enjoy. And for a portrayal of Bond by Brosnan I am fully aware that I am therefore, in a minority. And to be honest, I don’t care.

8 out of 10 stars (8 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

Comments are closed.