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We open on, literally, “A Terrorist Arms Bazaar on the Russian Border,” which must also sell homemade potholders and Christmas ornaments, judging by every other bazaar I’ve been to in my life. A camera robot (?) zooms in and out, R2-D2’ing it all over the place, while some steakhead back at mission control gives the rundown that we’re looking at a terrorist arms bazaar to M. This is a pretty good-looking command center, what with the big projection screen and all. They identify one dude as some Berkeley radical hippy that now sells his terrorist skills to the highest bidder. Meanwhile, some military commander that looks like Punky Brewster’s stepdad (it might actually be) tells M to buzz off and that it’s now a military operation. M says hey, my guy is still in there, but Punky’s dad says tough cookies, we’re about to blow these jerks up.

We see a missile launch from a battleship while the unseen dude on the ground (it’s Bond) tells these silly gooses that there are crazy powerful nuclear torpedoes on the ground and it’ll be a disaster if they can’t stop that missile. Of course, that missile is already in the air so their man on the ground (it’s Bond) is stuck in this sticky wicket. Fortunately, they reveal the guy on the ground is Bond (didn’t see that coming!), who lights some terrorist fuck’s cigarette and then give him a hand full of face punch, quipping, “filthy habit,” which is a pretty good one as far as Bond goes. He then tosses a grenade and blows up a bunch of shit so the terrorists just start wildly shooting. Some more punches, another grenade, and an assault rifle later, Bond becomes a one-man wrecking crew as he tries to get these bombs out of there. After firing like a maniac around him from the seat of a cockpit, Bond throws some more grenades while the terrorist dudes flee like the cowards they truly are.

Behind the wheel of the plane, Bond just starts mowing everybody down around him with its rail guns and smaller, non-nuclear missiles because this movie was apparently written by a 5-year-old boy. He starts taxiing down the runway while everything around him explodes so this must be his dream come true. Wheeling down the runway, another terrorist piece of shit starts chasing after him in his own plane. That missile is 30 seconds away, and Bond times it just right so that he takes off just as that flying tube of death destroys the entire goddamn bazaar. Oh no! The Christmas ornaments!

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“My potholders are on fire! Also, I’m dead.”

Now in flight, he has to deal with the dude he knocked out, who is now strangling him from behind. Come on, Bond, you just killed, like, 50 people–why did you spare this guy? So he starts wavering like Amelia Earhart in the sky while dodging missiles from the other shit terrorist chasing after him. But then he ejects the dude in the back seat, which launches him through the floor and into the back seat of the other plane that’s flying directly above him, which makes the plane blow up for some reason. I guess that other guy was filled with dynamite. Bond quips, “backseat driver,” which is another on-point one-liner for Bond. Too bad nobody’s around to hear it. Well, I guess we are, but he’s not supposed to know that. He makes contact with mission control and asks where they’d like the bombs to be delivered. Everyone starts cheering and that’s the opening sequence, which was pretty good.  

The opening credit sequence starts and it’s very “modern” looking, which means it looks like a VH1 promo bump from this era, like it’s a commercial for Pop-Up Video. I see Teri Hatcher’s name and wondered if Lois & Clark had concluded by the time she shot this. I’m trying to figure out who’s singing the theme song because I don’t like the woman’s voice. The song’s pretty good, but the woman’s voice is kind of thin for it. Was Gwen Stefani not available? Oh, turns out it’s Sheryl Crow. She kind of doesn’t have the voice to hit the higher notes nor the power that the chorus demands. Oh well. I hope she made some money from this.

So the movie proper begins with a battleship off the South China Sea just kind of cruising along. The general alarm is sound and everyone starts freaking out. Chinese fighter jets zoom over and the pilots tell them that they’re in Chinese waters, so this could have been filmed yesterday. The British commander on-board says that they’re in international waters so fudge off, wankers. Meanwhile, we cut to some media corporation that seems to be screwing with the satellites to mess with these guys. The British Navy dudes get ready to launch on the fighter planes while some shady figures get communiques from some other secret ship about phase one being complete. The fighter planes make another pass and  on the mystery ship, a drill submarine (what?) is launched towards the British ship. This drill sub (mmm….drill sub) looks like something out of the later Matrix movies, and indeed it begins drilling into the ship, breaching its hull and starting to flood it. Then it starts chomping its way through the ship, cutting and smashing its way like a drill sub would. What is this thing being powered by? It seems to be defying the laws of thermodynamics and physics and general. Then I remember that it’s a James Bond movie and my brain releases some endorphins to calm my agitated mind.

Anyway, shit’s going down on this ship and it’s sinking quick. Every Brit is jabbering away about how the Chinese have sunk them and they start abandoning ship. They keep calling the Chinese “migs” and I don’t know if this is a racial slur that I missed or what. But they fire a missile at the migs anyway and blow one up. And the secret ship just keeps on cruising. The British boat sinks and apparently they’re using one of those terrorist decoder thingies from the bazaar to scramble their final transmission so the British never find the ship. Meanwhile, at that media corporation headquarters, a dude writes a headline on a giant projected screen for the next day’s newspaper that British sailors were killed. This bad guy’s name is Carver, and he wants the exact number of dead and survivors for his headline from his henchmen on the secret ship. Then he says, “delicious,” which is always creepy coming out of a middle-age British guy’s mouth.

The survivors of the sunk carrier are bobbing around in the ocean and the blonde bad guy just mows them down in the water with a machine gun while another henchman films it. Meanwhile, these bad guys also send down dudes to recover the missiles in the sunken carrier. And then some dude name Gupta is let known by the blonde henchmen that phase one is complete, so thanks movie for not letting me know who these people are except for their names. But at least I got their names this time.

Meanwhile, Carver is facetiming to his various news bureau chiefs on a giant screen approximately fifteen years before this kind of thing was able to occur and tossing out threats of blackmail and other such so he can promulgate the news to his whim. So he’s pretty much just Rupert Murdoch. Gupta–who’s played by that character actor that I know best as the dour cameraman from Boogie Nights–comes in and lets Carver know that his blonde henchman–whose name is Stamper (hey! This is the first time I’m actually catching all of the names on the first pass!)–is ready to give him an update about all of the murder and such that he’s committed. Stamper lets him know that the footage of murdering a bunch of unarmed people bobbing around helplessly in the water is great and I just love the media industry. Carver lets his news bureau know that there’s a new crisis in the South China Sea and he’s practically frothing at the mouth that he has an exclusive story (that he made himself). So this is pretty standard cable news stuff.

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“Hey, it’s a living!”

Meanwhile, at a university somewhere, Bond is saying some gross stuff about studying a new tongue while speaking to a woman in bed that he just slept with that’s a professor of some sort. Goddammit, Bond, you have some serious sex addiction issues. His cell phone goes off and he’s trying to continue with the lady while talking to Moneypenny, who’s in the mission control center where news of the South China Sea business is breaking. There’s a surprising amount of skin being shown by the woman with Bond, and this series really does fluctuate from movie to movie on how much nudity is shown on-screen. Moneypenny says hey, there’s a problem here at the Ministry of Defense, get your ass to Mars, and also calls him a cunning linguist which is such a tired pun by now that I can’t even give Moneypenny props for it. When Moneypenny hangs up the phone, M is standing there looking pissed as usual. Moneypenny says, “Don’t ask,” to which M replies, “Don’t tell,” which I guess is a joke. But that refers to gays in the military at the time, and what Bond was doing wasn’t gay in the slightest, so who knows? Maybe Judy Dench wrote the line and they wanted to keep her in the franchise so they threw it in.

The classic Bond theme plays as James zooms down the streets of London (in an Aston Martin, of course) to get to the Ministry of Defense. Punky Brewster’s stepdad says a stupid line that I think was intended for people in the audience that wouldn’t know what GPS stood for in 1997: “That’s impossible! The GPS–global positioning satellites–do not lie,” which, OK, but why use its acronym in the first place if you were going to clarify that anyway? Nitpick, but still. M says they picked up a mysterious signal at the time and I’m trying to stop World War III you idiot Admiral Brewster. This English bickering continues for a bit and M says let’s goddamn calm down, but the Admiral says nah, we’ll just start WWIII. Bond cruises in with that newspaper that the bad guy Carver makes that says 17 British soldiers were mowed down by the Chinese (but we know better, don’t we, audience?). Nigel Witherwit says to M, you got 48 hours to investigate, capiche?

Zooming down the road with a police escort, Bond tells M and Some Guy that he found out the information about the British Navy stuff only came out three hours ago but the paper somehow immediately had the whole story printed and on newsstands. M asks 007 about Carver, and we get some exposition: he has a worldwide media empire and “can topple governments with a single broadcast,” which seems like hyperbole on M’s part. She also drops that the mysterious signal came from one of Carver’s broadcasts but she didn’t want to mention it in front of the Ministry of Defense, which, why? If you’re arguing for more time to investigate, wouldn’t that be the one piece of information you’d want to tell them? But anyway, she’s sending Bond to Hamburg to attend a Carver Media launch party. A little bit of foreshadowing also drops that the Chinese have refused Carver media broadcast rights, so I’m guessing this is going to be the thrust of the bad guy’s plans. It’s also dropped that Bond had a relationship with Carver’s wife, Paris, which is not a great Bond Girl name. Paris Carver? That’s not even a sexual pun.

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Is drinking while working a normal thing in England? Asking for a friend (me).

The exposition motorcade continues on and it seems redundant for M to tell Bond his mission: find out what’s going on and use Carver’s wife if you have to, or as M disgustingly says, “pump her for information,” to which Moneypenny continues, “You’ll just have to decide how much pumping is needed,” and I’m just waiting for this innuendo to stop. But it doesn’t! James then replies, “If only that were true of you and I, Moneypenny,” and then the innuendo finally comes to a complete stop.

But nuts to that, Bond’s theme song sting comes up and he’s in Hamburg. He speaks German (of course he does) and picks up his car, and YES! It’s goddamn Q! Dressed up as a car rental agent, which is hilarious. He shows Bond his car, which is a BMW 750, and I’m hoping it gets a little more use in this movie than the BMW in the last one. It’s a sweet ride, and has “all the usual refinements,” as Q says. Bond gives Q some sass, who sasses him right back because Q is sick of his shit. He also gives 007 a cellphone that’s a fingerprint scanner, stun gun, and a remote control for the car. Bond plays with the remote control feature and is just aces at it immediately, like he is at everything. Q says, “Grow up, 007,” because he rules.

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“I’m not even remotely interested.” “Shut up, 007.”

Bond pulls up looking suave in a tux to the very 90’s party Carver is throwing. Bond introduces himself to Carver as a banker, but he’s blocked by Wai Lin, who works for China’s media apparatus or somesuch. Bond just kind of wanders off and eyes Carver’s wife, Paris, who’s played by Teri Hatcher. She gives him a fresh smack in the chops because he’s a pig, and it’s kind of nice to see Bond catch some shit for his behavior for once. They trade barbs while Gupta sits in behind surveillance equipment. Bond says that her husband’s in trouble while Paris says who gives a care? She goes over to her husband while Bond stands to the side. Carver says Wai Lin may start working for him while Bond oafishly asks Carver about his satellites and starts dropping his game all over the place with mad hints that he knows what bullshit Carver’s up to. Carver and Paris walk away because why are they even talking to this dude? The blonde monster Stamper is there and Carver says he has a problem with a banker, wink wink. Wai Lin asks Bond what kind of banking Bond’s involved in, and he smugly says, “hostile takeovers.” GET IT?

A bunch of goons come up to Bond and lie that he has an urgent phone call while Paris just kind of stands there, staring at what’s going on. Carver’s presentation start about his goddamn satellites and starts pimping WWIII to the audience. The goons bring Bond to a back room and start beating him while Carver keeps jabbering on. But Bond gains the upper hand (fist, whatever) as usual, and starts mopping the floor with them. He crashes through a plate glass window and wails on a dude with a mic stand. Bond then goes over to an electrical room and shuts off the power because fuck these people. Carver doesn’t like this turn of events one bit and Stamper comes into the back room looking to break Bond, but he’s already left…

Back to his swanky hotel room, where’s he’s downing vodka like the sozzled alcoholic he is. Then he loads his gun because I imagine he plays Russian Roulette with himself sometimes if he’s alone and hasn’t had a near-death experience happen for too long. Back at Carver Headquarters, he throws a weird hissy fit about the power going out and acts like a Grade-A creep towards his wife. He gives us his whole stupid life story and then threatens Paris because he knows that she knows something about Bond. Back at Bond’s place, he sits with the hotel door open and Paris walks in. James knows that Paris is there to get information for Carver, but he’s pretty drunk so he’s off his game. Paris sticks around to do what her husband ordered her to do, which is seduce Bond and get information. Hey! That’s what he was going to do! We get some backstory about how she kept looking in the papers for his obituary after he dumped her and this is a rather sour scene. She addresses Bond’s problems with intimacy, but come on, he’s pretty much just a killer for the British government. Then they smooch and Bond tries to resist, but  of course that’s not going to happen; instead, he pulls down her dress. You really need to seek help, James.

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Unfortunately, just at that moment, she turned into a wax statue.

Back at Carver HQ, he goes up to Gupta, who’s sitting behind a bank of terminals, and asks what he found out about Bond. Well, the Brits seem to give their agents impeccable backstories because according to the bank’s records, he’s been employed there for 10 years and has a perfect record. Which of course means he’s a spy, duh. Carver asks if his wife knows, and Gupta pulls up the little tête-à-tête Paris had with James at the party which reveals that yes, of course she knows. So Carver tells Gupta to set his wife up for a visit to the “doctor,” wink wink. Back at James’s sex pad, Paris dresses to go and Bond says she can stay and he can get her out of this crazy place, but instead she provides Bond with the easy way to break into Carver’s secret lab or whatever. They share a more tender moment than Bond movies usually allow, which is nice, but Teri Hatcher’s not doing very well in this movie. Her performance is flat She’s more of a TV actor, you know? Anyway.

Bond’s now on the roof of Carver HQ to break into that secret hatch Paris told him about and once inside, he starts snooping around. Gupta’s there to mention that the satellite is going to the launch site while a slightly eletcro-tinged James Bond theme starts up. Zapping an electronic door lock with his stun gun, Bond goes through files and thinks button, button, who’s got the button? So he pulls open a picture frame and bingo-bango! A secret vault with syringes and…porno mags…is behind it. Porno mags? Carver’s a weirdo. He finds some other electronic doodads, including that encryptor thingy that they were talking about earlier. He hears some squeaky wheel down the hall and finds Wai Lin breaking and entering. An alarm goes off and a bunch of guards start racing down the hallway, so Bond closes the door on them like that’s going to do anything. Some techo-ish music starts as he races around to find his way out of there, and hey, there’s Wai Lin again! She just keeps running while Bond shoots and ducks for cover. Wai Lin has some nifty gadgets of her own and she uses the opportunity of Bond as a running target to easily rappel down the wall and get the fudge out of there. 007 has a fight with some dude on a moving scaffold, and it’s over the printing presses, and I’m hoping a guy he’s fighting over this ends up getting mangled in the machine so Bond can quip, “Stop the presses.” But dammit! He doesn’t: his quip is, “They’ll print anything these days,” and I think my quip is better.

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Ooh! Or, “What’s black and white and red all over?” Or: “They say that print’s dead.” Yeah, that’s what he should have said 20 years ago in this movie.

He gets out of there and into his BMW, and then receives a call from Carver on his phone. Carver says that Bond has some stuff of his, including that red box–the encryptor thing–and his wife, in his hotel room. Bond stashes the encryptor in his glove box and takes a fresh gun out of there. Stamper’s on the roof and directs his goons to look through Bond’s souped-up BMW while Bond gets to his hotel room. He dashes around with a gun drawn and finds Paris dead on his bed while the TV is on behind him, which is reporting her death, having been found in a hotel room along with an unidentified man. Bond hears this and goes ruh-roh, and the mean subway ghost from the movie Ghost has a gun on him and is speaking in a ridiculous German accent. Subway Ghost gives Bond the scoop on what’s about to happen while some goons try to mess with Bond’s car. Said goons try to smash open the car with sledgehammers but it’s no use; Q’s work is remarkable. Meanwhile, Bond tries to outsmart this jerk holding  a gun to him. But he gets a call from Stamper: they can’t get into the BMW and want Bond to open the car. I mean, why would he at this point, since they’re about to kill him, but these guys are all morons. Bond hands over his cell phone and says that’s what unlocks the car, but nope, it just shocks Subway Ghost. Bond turns the gun on this dope, who pleads that he’s just a professional doing a job. Bond replies, “Me too,” which is accurate, and then he blows this guy’s fucking face off.

While the police arrive at the hotel, Bond climbs out the balcony and sees Stamper on the other roof, who tries to call dead Subway Ghost. Hey! Now he really is a ghost in this movie! He gets back to his car and starts controlling it remotely, jumping into the back seat through an open window while st driving the car with the remote, which is neat. He blows everything up in the parking lot while trying to zoom away and the bad guys give chase. And here is where I stop my description because I don’t write up car chases. I guess technically it’s a parking lot melee, but this kind of action is pointless to describe. It’s cars driving around and Bond gadgets built into his car fucking up the other cars to great success. He dives out of the car, taking the encryptor with him, and then remote-control drives it to the top of the parking lot, where he drives it off the side, where it smashes into an Avis rental storefront. Take that, Q!

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Can you drive your car from the back seat with your cell phone? Droid does.

CUT TO a U.S. Airbase in the South China Sea. Bond hops out of a chopper in his Navy uniform and….goddammit….he’s greeted by that fat idiot American agent from the last movie, Wade. I only realized between the last movie and this one that he’s played by Joe Don Baker, star of the terrible movies Mitchell and Final Justice, which were hilariously eviscerated by Mystery Science Theater 3000 back in the 90’s. Baker is playing the same fat Southern asshole that he always plays and it’s a character archetype that I don’t find endearing, unlike the filmmakers who use this kind of character in movies. He calls Bond “Jimbo” and I want to punch him in his fat mouth. He’s wearing an ugly tropical shirt and looks like hot garbage. Anyway.

Bond has the missing decoder or encryptor or whatever, and everyone’s getting their stupid minds wrapped around the idea that this is the thing that screwed up the British ship’s GPS coordinates. James has to walk them through the idea that they can use this thing to figure out where that ship was sunk, and next thing you know Bond’s going to do a high-altitude skydive to find said ship. The dorky wonk on-board says that Bond’s actually jumping into Vietnam territory and Bond’s like later, taters, and jumps out of the damn plane already. It’s a high-altitude skydive, just as promised, but without anything else going on, it’s not particularly exciting. I mean, it’s not like he’s fighting a dude in mid-air or anything. But he cuts his chute and dives into the water, where he finds the sunken ship. It’s another underwater scene in a Bond movie, which I’m not crazy about, but I guess they need to keep the plot moving somehow. He comes across dead guys galore and sees that one of the missiles is missing. And then someone with a spear gun comes up from behind him! But it’s just Wai Lin! He punches off her breathing apparatus out of instinct and an underwater landslide rocks the boat and knocks the missiles off their missile-holding thingies, blocking off the door. Oh, sugar!

They find a port to swim out of just as the entire ship starts to capsize (again) and swim to the surface. A Chinese boat is waiting for them with a guy on deck, but he gets killed with a speargun by Stamper. So they’re taken hostage and flown to Carver’s new headquarters in I want to say Beijing. There’s Carver, being a creep, and he’s working on Bond’s obituary. Turns out he’s going to kill them in Vietnam…for some reason…and Wai Lin and Bond try to bluff their way out. Carver gloats like a classic villain does, showing off the new panic that he’s setting off in the media over WWIII. Wai Lin looks like she’s about to laugh throughout this whole scene. Bond calls Carver insane, and Gupta interrupts because Carver has a meeting with a Chinese general. So anyway, Stamper’s going to torture them with horrifying instruments that also look pretty classy. But Bond flips the script and he and Wai begin to kick ass and shoot every goddamn thing in sight. Bond shoots out a window and they jump out, where fortunately a ledge was just a few feet below. They sail down a banner of Carver’s stupid face and still are stuck about forty floors above ground. This is one of those practical effects that wigs me out in these movies.

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“Whee! I mean, oh no!”

They smash the window and get back inside, and before you can say jump cut are already outside, fighting over which motorcycle to steal. They steal a BMW one, of course, because product placement. And then it’s another car chase. So, you know, I’m going to skip the description. Imagine a car and motorcycle chase through the back alleys of Beijing and it’s like that. They jump over a helicopter at one point in another insane practical stunt. A helicopter starts chopping its way through a marketplace, causing people to flee. They do a skid underneath the chopper’s blades. The chase scene is pretty good, actually. It’s just, you know, what am I gonna say about it? Anyway, the helicopter explodes. And then they take a shower outside together, which gives the filmmakers a chance to appease the Male Gaze with Wai Lin’s wet t-shirt. He picks the cuff locks off but she tricks him, handcuffs Bond to a pipe, and runs off. Bond’s double-o with the ladies in this movie. Well, to be fair, one of them was murdered, but still.

But Bond–being a sexual predator–never gives up, so he follows her to her hideout. As he arrives, so do a bunch of thugs looking to take her out. We are treated to a fair amount of ass-kicking by Wai Lin while Bond treats the lookout outside his famous double knuckle sandwich with extra punch sauce. Taking out another dude with his notable “I’m going to light your cigarette but really just punch you in the face” trick that we saw in the opening, he goes inside and gives another guy the old “Tap on the shoulder? No! Punch in the face” special. He and Wai Lin make nice with each other and agree to work together, after all.

We get some exposition about her side of the story, and it’s a whole thing about the weird drill sub from the beginning and this goes on for some time. She has a bunch of secret tech in her junky little bike shop, and while James tries to take over, he finds that they keyboard’s in Chinese, so take that, Bond! Lots of guns and ammo are in this lady’s place, and he does some goofy stuff because comic relief (?), and I guess they like each other now, too, from what the soft music and smoldering glances at each other is telling me. And they’re also after the stealth boat because the movie has to resolve itself at some point.  

They hop on a junk and sail to where they think the stealth boat is and flirt with each other by insulting each other’s governments and societies. They take a little power boat to shore under the cover of night searching for where that gosh darn stealth boat may be. And of course, they find it. The boat looks like a Klingon warship and for a super-secret stealth boat, they sure do get on board easy enough. They start setting timed explosives all over the place while Carver is inside being a megalomaniac villain trying to start WWIII. He fires off a missile to arouse aggression between the British and Chinese. Carver also gets angry when he sees Wai Lin on a surveillance camera. Goons get the grab on her but despite all of her kicking power she’s taken hostage. So Bond goes inside to punch his way out of this mess, as usual. He also uses a guard’s body as a decoy for Stamper to make him think he’s killed Bond. This makes Carver say delicious again, and it’s as gross as it was the first time. Wai Lin is brought to Carver so he can gloat like all super-villains do.  Bond’s on-deck, of course, and is getting ready to murder all of these media jerks. Also, Carver does an embarrassing, racist imitation of karate right in Wai Lin’s face because he’s the worst.

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Is he a super villain or about to do a TED Talk?

Back at the Ministry of Defense, M storms in with a communique from Bond telling them to look for a stealth ship in that region that’s been stirring the pot. On the British ship, they get the message to cool their heels and look for the stealth boat. Inside said stealth boat, Bond gets himself ready to F S up while Carver gives away his plan to blow up parts of Beijing to start a war and also that general he was meeting earlier is in cahoots so he can take over the Chinese government. Carver is also doing this to get exclusive broadcasting rights in China for the next 100 years. Bond takes Gupta hostage and starts taunting Carver, and now they’re in a Mexican (South Chinese Sea?) standoff. Carver is susceptible to monologues, however, so he’s starting to screw up big time. After Gupta confirms with Carver that everything’s set to blow up Beijing, Carver shoots him because he’s a real jerk. So Bond sets off some explosives and he and Wai Lin start getting the hell out there. Bond’s explosions brought the stealth ship onto radar and the British Navy dudes starts thinking straight and hold off on firing on the Chinese.

Wai Lin kicks her way down a hallway and uses a throwing star to give a guy the chop in the throat, which was kind of neat. Bond goes to stop the missile because he’s the big damn hero as usual, and the British and Chinese cease fire. The Brits start to lock onto the stealth ship to sink it and Carver’s starting to sweat like a dude whose stupid plan is going wrong. Wai Lin runs around with two assault rifles, shooting up equipment for the fun of it and making the boat dead in the water. Meanwhile, Bond just shoots everybody he comes across, turning around a missile launcher to fire into the interior of the boat and in general blowing everybody up. Stamper looks pissed.

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Billy Corgan’s brief “Stamper” phase ended poorly.

Blip-blop electronica kicks in on the soundtrack and again, it seems incongruous in a Bond film. But is this a Bond film at this point? It could just be any generic action movie, really: lots of explosions, gunfire, and slightly humorous moments. I guess you could argue that James Bond movies were the template for action movies anyway, so really it’s just going full-circle that the franchise that started a genre ends up becoming so familiar and imitated that it turns into a warped imitation of itself. Anyway, the Brits blow up the boat and Bond is stuck behind some rubble while Stamper keeps firing at him. Carver admonishes him for wasting time and to go find Wai Lin while all of his other goons have already abandoned ship.

Indeed, Wai Lin is held at gunpoint by Stamper, and Bond casually blows a few more dudes away while destroying more equipment. Carver conks Bond on the back of the head and now holds Bond at gunpoint, still letting him in on his plan. But bond turns on that digger submarine and shoves Carver into it, which tears him into bloody pieces. So that’s done.

Now with only a minute left before the whole ship explodes, Bond tries to deactivate the missile but Stamper has Wai Lin tied up in chains and he drops her in the water. Bond sets a detonator onto the missile to blow it up before it launches, and then Stamper and Bond start smashing each other around. But Bond, of course, is smarter than this idiot so after he takes some unpleasant punches, Bond stabs him in the arm and chest. Then he lets go of the missile release and smashes Stamper’s foot, but Stamper’s a goddamn monster-man (he should date Xenia Onatopp!) while Wai Lin starts drowning. Bond takes the knife that he plunged into Stamper’s chest and cuts himself free, and then dives in the water to save Wai Lin. And guess what, Stamper, you fucko? You blow up and die! And somehow, directly underwater from this ship exploding, Wai Lin and Bond survive. He unties Wai Lin and they swim to the surface. Then they have a nice little moment among the flaming wreckage of the stupid stealth ship while the good guys look for them. AND THAT’S IT, THAT’S THE WHOLE MOVIE!

Stray Notes

  • It wasn’t Punky Brewster’s stepdad: it was the guy from As Time Goes By.
  • Boy, Teri Hatcher was not good in this. Good thing she only had, like, two scenes before she was murdered.
  • The Walther PPK was resigned in this movie as Bond’s standard gun in favor of the Walther PP9. I don’t know why this bugs me, but it does. Maybe because it’s been Bond’s gun since the first movie and I dislike discontinuity in this franchise. I mean hell, they still mention his dead wife Tracey in the series, and she only appeared in one film! A bad one!
  • Speaking of which: although I don’t have a gun license (yet), I do like the Walther PPK. I looked to see how much one goes for, and they start at like 300 bucks! Pff. Guess I’ll have to go with a cheaper instrument of death instead.

Conclusions

As far as James Bond movies go, this one was right down the middle and as average as your average bear. I kind of don’t like James Bond in the 1990’s, to be honest: I hold a lot of nostalgic stock in that decade, since that’s the temporal location in which I spent my adolescence, and while a lot of media and culture in the 90’s was fantastic (indie films, the music, cable television before it went sideways), I never really liked the action movies from that decade. Maybe it was because the Bruckheimers and Esterhauzes of Hollywood changed the general look of action movies to great commercial success, all action movies started looking (and feeling) like one of their big-budget, gunfire-and-explosion-heavy products. And that’s fine, but it also takes away from the originality and style of a franchise like James Bond.

There’s the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage that applies heavily to an institution like this. One of the reasons this franchise works is because it’s comforting to the viewer; it’s the same thing that it’s been since 1962, and in this ever-changing world in which we live in, it’s reassuring to be able to watch one (or 23) of these movies and know exactly what you’re going to get. But more than that, you can anticipate the feel of a James Bond movie: it’s going to be a little stodgy, there’s going to be some good bits, a spot of humor, exotic locales, a diabolical villain, and an action-packed finale. But when you start feeling like you’re just watching some kind of weird version of a Jason Bourne movie, it takes you out of the fantasy. Between Goldeneye’s stupid 90’s computer-oriented plot and this one’s music video-like editing–particularly in the action sequences–I don’t feel like I’m watching a James Bond movie, but just another generic action film. And since I’m not a particularly big fan of that genre–since I think “action” is a pretty self-limiting concept for a film to frame its entire raison d’etre and a lot of movies (I’m thinking of headache-inducing flicks like xXx and the Fast & The Furious franchise) are only action and not much else–it’s disappointing to see a great concept, character, and franchise like James Bond watered down to fit the stylistics of that market.

Besides that, this was one of those flat movies where it seems like everyone is just going through the motions. Michelle Yeoh was fine as Wai Lin, but I wasn’t really invested in her as a character since she was just another super-agent like Bond. I’ve already discussed Teri Hatcher’s terrible performance; Jonathan Pryce was fine as Carver, if a little old, and the character was just a sinister media baron whose plan didn’t really make sense if you thought about it a little (Destabilizing the entire world for exclusive media rights in a country? That’s stupid. That’s what business negotiations are for, guy.)  Although I do like Pierce Brosnan as Bond, it’s a weird flip to see him go from being the suavest dude in the universe to action star. It’s incongruous. Maybe I just don’t like Bond running around firing a machine gun. He’s better than that.

Rating

Right down the middle, and maybe even a little left of that. Not terrible, but not great. Not particularly memorable. Probably won’t ever watch it again. So that’s something. Two and a quarter out of four Bonds.

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