BlogalongaBond: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) Print
Written by Ivan Radford   
Saturday, 30 June 2012 10:32

Tomorrow Never Dies titleBlogalongaBond. One Bond film each month until Skyfall turns up.

I can never work out where I stand on Tomorrow Never Dies. On the one hand, it’s a laughably ridiculous romp featuring some of the dumbest dialogue since Diamonds Are Forever. On the other hand, it’s a laughably ridiculous romp featuring some of the dumbest dialogue since Diamonds Are Forever.

Stealth boats? Titles that make no sense? German torture specialists? It may star Pierce Brosnan, but this is textbook Roger Moore bunkum. And yet it’s a LOT of fun. Partly because it features two of the franchise’s very best vehicle set pieces – Vic Armstrong, jumping from stuntman to second unit director, obviously took our James Bond driving lesson – alongside a genuinely independent Bond girl (a butt-kicking Michelle Yeoh). Partly because David Arnold's score does what Eric Serra failed to do and finish John Barry's journey into electro-tinged modernity. And partly because it has something Roger Moore’s era was missing: Jonathan Pryce.

Hammier than Jon Hamm eating a ham sandwich while playing with his Toy Story pig action figure, Pryce’s Elliot Carver chomps his way through the scenery like Christopher Lee’s bastard porky offspring. Some argue that Bond shouldn’t be wasting time on unthreatening, idiotic villains. I say bravo to Bruce Feirstein for turning Cold War 007 into 20th Century satire. After all, there are almost as many laughs here as In the Loop – albeit for some of the wrong reasons.

Does Tomorrow Never Dies’ Elliot Carver represent Rupert Murdoch, whose flagship tabloid publication The Sun was on 10 million readers a day in the year of the film’s release? That’s what most people think and it diminishes the film to a footnote in the post-News of the World scandal, a sort of Michael Bay’s Leveson: The Movie (thanks to @followthelemur for coining that one).

But it’s more than that. Indeed, it came before any of it happened. Based on Robert Maxwell, the media's other R.M., Tomorrow Never Dies is a blueprint for rival tycoons and wannabe successors - an overblown take on one man's legacy that only looks silly now because of the absurd events that have happened in real life. (That and the fact that he looks and sounds like Michael Howard.)

To wit, let’s take a look at this educational pamphlet I found in my DVD case...

How to Run an Evil Media Empire

Report events subjectively

Tomorroq Never Dies headlines


“Killed”? No, that’s a dull headline. Pick a more emotive word, like “MURDERED”. That’s how you get a response to your breaking news. And happy stories? Screw that. If it isn't a crisis, a war or a horrific disaster, it isn't front page stuff.

Do say: “There's no news, like bad news!"


Work with shady people

Tomorrow Never Dies henchmen


Spies. Politicians. Germans. Any dodgy character you can get into bed with, do so. Maxwell was supposedly working with the Mossad. Try to go one better. Maybe even a “techno terrorist” like Henry Gupta. Their beats are way more banging than most bad guys.

Do say: "What kind of havoc shall the Carver Media Group create in the world today?"



Kill anyone who gets in your way

Tomorrow Never Dies Pryce

Being ruthless is important in the media. Back-stabbing, front-shooting, what's the difference? Why else did you decide to work with those shady people?

Do say: "Mr Stamper, would you please kill those bastards!"


Blackmail people with secret recordings

Tomorrow Never Dies Carver


You never know when a tape recording could come into handy, so bug everyone you can. Then use that information to blackmail and climb your way to power. We're not talking Hugh Grant here. We're talking MPs, the President of the United States. To Maxwell, it was all fair game. Follow his example. And once you've got what you want, publish the scandalous stories anyway.

Do say: “Mr. Wallace, call the President. Tell him if he doesn't sign the bill lowering the cable rates, we will release the video of him with the cheerleader in the Chicago motel room.”


Say “delicious” like this:


Force people to upgrade

Tomorrow Never Dies software

Don't just sit their with your newspapers and satellites fiddling with your GPS all day. Get involved in computer software - that's where the big bucks are. Not just in owning a company like Mirrorsoft, a la Mirror Group Newspapers, but ensuring that each release is just crappy enough to keep people paying out for newer versions.

Do say: "Mr. Jones, are we ready to release our new software?" "Yes, sir. As requested, it's full of bugs, which means people will be forced to upgrade for years."

Don't say: "Windows Vista what?"



Use the latest gadgets

Tomorrow Never Dies iPad

Big TV screens always give you a sense of power. But why not try something small? A stylish, portable, handheld device for computing tasks and consuming media could easily help launch a worldwide technology empire.

Do say: "How do you like them apples?"



Do anything for Chinese broadcasting rights

Jonathan Pryce karate gif

As anyone in the media baron business knows, China is a goldmine of broadcasting opportunity. Back in 1986, Robert Maxwell seized power by securing the rights to publish the country's official newspaper, China Daily, in Europe. In 1998, he wielded that power in response to the Chinese Government's crackdown upon protestors and suspended the publication altogether. Do anything it takes to beat his record. Even if it means making a prat of yourself by pretending to do karate.

Do say: "Soon I'll have reached out to and influenced more people than anybody in the history of this planet, save God himself."



Fire people

Tomorrow Never Dies fired

You're not going to get anywhere if you're surrounded by idiots. So fire the incompetent dolts and cut your costs - even it means losing an entire newspaper. After all, a couple more enemies never did anyone any harm.

Do say: "What do you mean, you don't know what's going on? You're fired! Get out of my sight!"



Protect your content

Tomorrow Never Dies printing press

You never know when some nosey parker is going to start snooping around your printing presses, especially if they're easy to reach, like Harmsworth Quays Printing in London's Docklands (now owned by the Daily Mail). So make sure they're full of armed guards and people ready for a punch-up. Like a human pay wall. With guns.



Plaster your face on a building

Tomorrow Never Dies skyscraper

You need to become more well-known than your empire itself. Remember: You're not just a name, you're a brand.

Do say: "The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success."



Hit on young women

Tomorrow Never Dies harrassment

Taking over the world? Already married? Don't let that stop you hitting on the staff. 95% of a career in the media is sexual harassment.

Do say: "I'm sure she won't resist. Too much."



Don't bother background-checking your staff

Tomorrow Never Dies Carver

Don't check your staff's background, just hire anybody to work on your newspapers. British secret agents, the Chinese People's External Security Force, Moon Nazis (cf. Iron Sky's Götz Otto). If anyone's C.V. turns out to be fake, just make them work as interns in the tearoom. Or commission them to write a novel. Or kill them. You know, whatever.

Do say: "You have a very vivid imagination... for a banker."



Have a luxury yacht

Tomorrow Never Dies stealth boat

Stealth boat. Luxury yacht. Potato potahto. Maxwell had a private yacht - and boy did he know how to use it. Not for meeting with David Cameron or other social occasions. In 1991, it was the place where he negotiated the takeover of the New York Daily News. (Missiles may or may not have been involved.)

Do say: "Hey, that real-life stealth boat is up for sale. I might buy it."




Tomorrow Never Dies Carver death

All the big media tycoons die sooner or later. Some of them do it by supposedly committing suicide on their yachts.

Do say: "Moneypenny take this release. Elliot Carver is missing presumed drowned on a cruise aboard his luxury yacht. At present, local authorities believe the media mogul committed suicide."



Follow all these steps and you'll go a long way in the media world.

Indeed, the fact that so many people confuse Carver's Maxwell-like career with Murdoch's own Voldemort-inspired existence is testament to Tomorrow Never Dies' prescient screenplay. If only it had the dialogue to back the brilliant premise up.

For anyone else who still complains that Brosnan's second outing is too camp and far-fetched to really work, rewind to the bit just before the magic stealth boat explodes and the psychotic German sadist is shocked by the death of his mentor at the hands of a giant pneumatic drill.

The bit where Pryce, in all his wonderful Michael Howard-like glory, taunts Bond: "Don't you realise how absurd your position is?" 007 hits back: "No more absurd than starting a war for ratings." Now tune into BBC or ITV News when The X-Factor or The Voice is on. Then stop worrying and enjoy the car chases.

 will return next month in License to Kill. For more BlongalongaBondage, head this way.



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