BlogalongaBond. One Bond film each month until Skyfall turns up.
If Tomorrow Never Dies saw modern 007 occasionally dip into the Roger Moore hamper of vintage cheese, The World Is Not Enough saw Pierce Brosnan nibbling on stilton every few minutes - in between shooting people in cold blood.
From its very first conversation, mostly designed for Bond to whip out his banking puns, to the underwater finale (any Bond movie that ends with a submarine should be treated with caution), Michael Apted’s actioner appears all too happy to hark back to the camp days of the 1970s.
But despite the blossoming of mould on the film's yellowy surface, The World Is Not Enough is a stonkingly good ride. Why? Robert Carlyle is low-key enough to stop his I-feel-no-pain-until-I-die science bollocks from feeling too ridiculous; Judi Dench milks the chance to give M some backstory (a Spooks-style tactic about to be used again by Skyfall); the plot follows in TND's footsteps to stay topical and witty; and Denise Richards almost - almost - subverts the franchise’s T&A stereotype, presuming you can ignore the fact that she only exists to allow for one massive Christmas-themed innuendo at the end.
Which leads us back to cheddar-nibbling Brosnan. Three films into his stride, Pierce has nailed his cocktail of Moore and Connery. He knows how to be camp and cool, humorous and homicidal. Every time TWINE starts to smell a bit cheesy (hello to John Cleese), up pops Brosnan to devour the excess dairy. And let's be clear on this: The Bronhomme swallows Stilton like no other Bond. He’s damn good at it.
Even then, though, he’s not Apted’s secret weapon. Oh no. That, dear reader, is Elektra King. Slinking between femme fatale and tormented victim, Sophie Marceau’s Bond girl is impossibly sexy – and arguably the most complex female character in the franchise’s history. She sells her romance with Bond, but more importantly the passion of her own conviction. (Unlike a certain recent superhero movie, Marceau’s drive to continue her father’s legacy is developed into a full-on character motivation rather than treated as a token plot twist.)
It’s Marceau’s unforgettable performance, together with a confident Bronhomme, that makes TWINE such a good watch. Sophie's presence even distracts from some of the clunkier plot points, allowing Apted to blow up cars, snowmobiles, helicopters and – yes – submarines with enjoyable abandon.
And yet, for all the quality set pieces, steamy romance and daft underwater hijinks, the one thing everyone remembers from The World Is Not Enough is the opening. The movie’s signature set piece, an explosive boat ride down the Thames right up to the Millennium Dome, lets Vic Armstrong's stellar second unit get the story rolling – all ready for Elektra King to carry it to the end.
An inspired piece of location scouting, the ambitious wet pursuit (the longest intro to any 007 film) generates its buzz from both the characters and their surroundings to create one of the series' landmark chase sequences. It's witty, spectacular and feels like classic Bond.
Why? Because 007 loves boats. Just look at Roger Moore’s outings, half of which involved some form of farcical aquatic ceremony. Right after women, booze and killing people, boats are Bond’s fourth favourite thing. (Fifth, if you include the stilton.)
Which leaves one question: how do you drive a boat like Bond?
Fortunately, this instructional pamphlet was in my special edition TWINE DVD box...