Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
There's No News Like Bad News
Warning: this review does contain a few vague spoilers.
Tomorrow Never Dies, the 18th Bond film, stars Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher and Ricky Jay. 007's mission: To stop a news tycoon from starting World War III.
I just want to say, I detest the modern news agencies. The complete focus on the dark horrors of the world does nothing but incite fear amongst the populous. Since this movie is about Bond fighting one of my most hated entities, Tomorrow Never Dies actually felt surprisingly good.
Although, thanks to this movie using a standard cookie-cutter approach to a Bond story, they could have made it about Bond trying to stop PETA from killing seal hunters and it would have still been entertaining. If you look back at some of the best 007 movies, they seem to follow the same pattern, with a few slight alterations, and the bad ones are when they try something new, or completely mess up the plot or characters. It's a little sad when you think about it that way, but is true.
The awful villains hurt this movie, though. The main villain, Carver, was just so ridiculously dumb, as was his plan, that he felt like someone who would have never been able to create the media empire he was in control of. Even his best henchmen felt like they suffered from a few too many head-traumas. But the worst came from the fact that many of Bond's adversaries weren't hired mercenaries or soldiers, but simple employees of a news agency, mainly security. That's right, he beat up and killed normal people who were just doing their job by attempting to stop an intruder. Who's supposed to be the bad guy again?
Ever since Q's first appearance, no Bond movie has ever been the same without the latest inventions by MI6's quartermaster, and Tomorrow Never Dies has some fantastic ideas. Sure, it always feels like Bond has the exact gadgets for his missions, (Q is obviously just that good) but James' neat ways to use those toys is always a highlight of the movie. I especially loved the back-seat driver scene. So what if his control was too perfect, it was fun and entertaining!
As much as I loved watching Bond play with Q's toys, it was nothing compared to his action scenes with Wai Lin. I don't know why, but it seems like the best Bond Girls are always spies themselves. Maybe it's my curiosity of what a female 007 would be like, or it could be their strength and ability to fight alongside Bond that make them feel special. Whatever the reason, Wai Lin was certainly a very welcome addition to the story.
Although, Bond's luck seems to be running out, and fast. Yeah, he does still escape from situations that would kill any other spy, but the frequency he is finding himself in those life-or-death conditions is growing fast. It's as if the writers think we need to see Bond in situations where he is vulnerable, or something. But since we know nothing bad will happen to him, they certainly aren't adding any suspense. Perhaps it's time for something really bad to happen to 007, and not just his friends.
So, Tomorrow Never Dies is a bit of a mixed bag. It follows the typical entertaining Bond format, yet it suffers from some very serious flaws, especially with the villains. It's still a good movie, but not much better than average, and certainly nowhere near the quality that makes up the best of the franchise.
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