|BlogalongaBond: The World Is Not Enough (1999)|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Monday, 30 July 2012 14:17|
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...
How to drive a boat (by James Bond)
Steal someone else’s
The rule is always the same: don’t shit where you eat. In this case, your boat. And if you are going to shit on a boat, make sure it’s someone else’s. Shit, dent, crash, blow up, whatever.
If you’re going to steal someone’s boat, it better be for a good reason. No one wants to watch you steal Q’s retirement fishing boat and actually go fishing. Whether you’re driving the plot forward by hunting down a mysterious stranger or simply running after an evil git, you need a proper excuse to put your foot down.
… or get chased
And there’s not much better excuse to put your foot down than to get away from people trying to kill you.
Go somewhere famous
If you’re going to drive someone else’s boat really quickly, make sure you do it somewhere pretty. Or famous. Or both. Live and Let Die’s boat chase through the Louisiana bayous was originally written in the script as just "Scene 156 - The most terrific boat chase you've ever seen”. Try and top that. Venice. London’s River Thames. Any place where there are big bridges and massive landmarks is perfect – then drive into as many of them as you can.
In the old days, when Roger Moore was too old to operate a boat at high speed in case his wig fell off, they had to speed up the video footage afterwards. But we live in different times now – and in the 21st Century, it is a truth universally acknowledged that whatever vehicle you steal, whether it’s a boat, canoe, yacht or car, there is ALWAYS a button to make flame come out the bottom. Use it. That’s what it’s for.
Crash into everyone else
What’s that? You want to drive around the other boats? You have a stolen vehicle with fire than comes out of its arse that goes really quickly. You don’t have to steer for nobody – you can just cut them in half down the middle. Good news if you’re busy trying to ward off henchmen while keeping your wig in place. Bad news if you’re out for a quiet gondola on the Grand Canal.
Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge
You have to avoid those bullets somehow – so jump, duck, swerve, do anything you can to get ahead. Heck, do a 360-degree barrel roll if you have to. (Or at least get Wade Eastwood to do it for you when no one’s looking. The guy’s a nutter.)
Everyone knows that people with boats are cool. Jack Sparrow. Captain Nemo. Russell Crowe in that boat film. If you’re going to join their illustrious crew, try to look the part. Brioni suits are a good start, if not a decent naval uniform, or at least a hat. And remember: whatever happens, always straighten your tie. Or cuffs. Or wig.
Take a shortcut
Only boring people stick to the main rivers, so look for a shortcut if possible. Through a boathouse, across a bridge, along a canal: if you chose carefully when stealing your boat in the first place, you should even have a Sat Nav to tell you where to go.
Go on land
Boats aren’t just for water, you know. Especially boats with fire-breathing bums. Hell, you may even have a boat with a hovercraft underneath it. Whether you choose to drive through a restaurant or cut across a wedding, the important thing to remember is this: destroy as much stuff as possible. That includes wedding cakes.
Blow shit up
Did I mention your flame-spouting rear end? Well, you’ve got other burny things too. You see those buttons in front of you? Push all of them. Don't worry about what they do - thinking about your actions is for people with real jobs. Just sit back and watch shit explode. That's what boating is all about.
Always forget where you parked
Only losers return stolen vehicles. Besides, the owner will have plenty of chance to find their boat on the news headlines later.