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The World is not Enough

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The World is not Enough

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau
Director: Michael Apted
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 128 Minutes
Release Date: November 1999
Genres: 007, Action, Suspense

*Also starring: Denise Richards, Robert Carlyle, Judi Dench, Samantha Bond, Robbie Coltrane, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Desmond Llewelyn, John Cleese

Review by MrBrown
2 stars out of 4

Looking at all the hoopla surrounding the latest James Bond adventure starring Pierce Brosnan, _The_World_Is_Not_Enough_, it's funny to note that the announcement of Brosnan as the fifth actor to play Agent 007 was met with a raised eyebrow. The former Remington Steele was past his prime, detractors said, and his name did not guarantee an audience. Flash forward four years, and Brosnan has proven to be the most popular Bond since Sean Connery, with his first two efforts, 1995's _GoldenEye_ and 1997's _Tomorrow_Never_Dies_, becoming the highest-grossing 007 adventures in history. But while those films were both reasonably diverting entertainments, what they certainly weren't were classics of its genre (though _GoldenEye_'s deliciously sadomasochistic villainess, Xenia Onatopp, is one for the hall of fame).

For the first few minutes of _World_, the 19th installment of MGM's long-running action franchise, it looks as if Brosnan may have found his defining entry in the series, along the lines of Sean Connery's _Goldfinger_ and Roger Moore's _The_Spy_Who_Loved_Me_. The traditional opening action sequence--which, for once, actually sets up the film's main plot--is exhilarating, going from a daring escape from an office to a rip-roaring speedboat chase then finally to an exploding hot air balloon as Bond pursues a female sniper (_Il_Postino_ sex bomb Maria Grazia Cucinotta). After a very clever visual segue, the familiar silhouetted nude female dancers do their thing to what is easily the best title tune of the Brosnan Bond era, performed by Garbage.

However, to use the easy pun, _The_World_Is_Not_Enough_ truly is not. After an opening that effectively sets up the secret agent's mission--protect oil heiress Elektra King (Sophie Marceau) from terrorist Renard (Robert Carlyle), who had kidnapped her years earlier--director Michael Apted plays things formula-safe. (This is especially disappointing considering that it had been hoped, and to some degree been anticipated, that the drama and documentary filmmaker would bring something fresh to the series.) Granted, James Bond films are all about formula, but it's hard to get worked up over by-the-numbers ski stunts when, contrary to the famous line, somebody has done it better--Bond himself, in fact, in the film from which that song came, _The_Spy_Who_Loved_Me_. Ditto the submarine-set finale, which evokes an even stronger sense of déjà vu considering that the last Bond film, _Tomorrow_Never_Dies_, also ended in the water. The one avenue for something original--Renard's ever-increasing physical strength and invulnerability caused by a bullet lodged in his brain--is never exploited to its fullest potential.

As irksome as the lingering sense of unoriginality is, what makes this film the hands-down worst of Brosnan's 007 outings can be summed up in two words: Denise Richards. In all her previous films, Richards has already proven to be an attractive screen presence with little talent underneath. But familiarity with her unimpressive body of work (as opposed to her impressive body) does not quite prepare one for her portrayal of, ahem, nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones--a performance of Elizabeth Berkley proportions, even when considering the undemanding, credibility-stretching acting standards of Bond movies. It's a given that Richards fails to convince as anyone who's failed a science class, let alone a scientist; but she fails to be believable as a flesh-and-blood person, spouting off scientific jargon so robotically that one wonders how much of the film's huge budget went to her teleprompters and cue cards.

It's a shame that MGM focused its hype machine on her rather than Marceau, who is everything Richards isn't. She is a strong match for Bond (and Brosnan) in every way, a formidable mix of acting ability, charisma, beauty, and sex appeal. Richards may get all the va-va-voom costumes (such as hotpants, tank tops, and that staple of all nuclear physicists' travel wardrobes, tight evening gowns), but Marceau scorches with a simple glance, regardless of what she may be wearing (which, for the record, mostly consists of robes and seductively draped bedsheets). Richards may fit the physical mold of a traditional "Bond girl," but Marceau is a hot-blooded, full-bodied Bond _woman_--and therein lies all the difference.

Based on the early grosses, however, _The_World_ appears to be enough for audiences, who are poised to make this Brosnan's most financially successful Bond to date--which is just as well, as I suppose, for the supersuave Brosnan fits the role like a glove, and I would not mind seeing him in at least one more globe-trotting yarn. But if the Bond creative team doesn't get a much-needed dose of creative inspiration any time soon, the "James Bond will return" tag becomes less of a reassurance than a threat.

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