Tomorrow Never Dies
Latest Film Confirms That Bond Series Is Back
(This review originally appeared in the Dec. 18-24, 1997 Long Island Voice.)
Reviewed by Beth Hannan Rimmels
Tomorrow Never Dies proves that the re-energization of the Bond series that began with GoldenEye was not a fluke. The plot, while not terribly complicated, works as well or better than any other in the series, the stunts are more exciting, and Bond finally meets a female agent who is more than his equal.
Pierce Brosnan returns as James Bond and seems even more comfortable this time than last. Like Sean Connery, usually considered the best 007, Brosnan is both charming and deadly, yet this Bond hints at a dark side glimpsed in Ian Flemings novels but rarely shown on film.
The plots simple: Media mogul Elliott Carver (Jonathan Pryce) is perfectly willing to start World War III to provide content for his new global news network and break into the Chinese market. Bond has 48 hours to prove that the British and Chinese are being manipulated. Teri Hatcher appears as Carvers wife and Bonds ex-lover caught between the two men. Hatcher is not entirely miscast, but she doesn't have enough weight as an actress to counterbalance either Pryce or Brosnan. She's credible as the billionaire's trophy wife but not as a woman Bond had geniune feelings for. A bit more steel in her pretty backbone was needed to pull off the role of Paris Carver.
Two other women steal the movie: Dame Judi Dench, returning as M, and Michelle Yoeh, best known as Jackie Chans costar, as Wai Lin, Bonds counterpart in Chinese Intelligence. Not one to melt instantly into his arms, she is more than capable of eluding the bad guys herself, but a set of handcuffs forces them to partner for a time and mutual goals continue the pairing. Their chemistry proves the old adage that an intelligent, evenly matched couple can be sexy as hell and helps to move Bond into the new millennium without compromising his character.
Denchs M blows all previous portrayals out of the water. More than just a "heres your mission, James" plot device, this M clearly understands the full consequences of her position and what she asks her agents to do for Queen and country. When she feels her people are being misused, she doesnt hesitate argue with an admiral. Shes no more fond of Bond or what he represents than she was in GoldenEye, but the job is more important than camaraderie.
Double entendres fly furiously, and Samantha Bond as Miss Moneypenny does her share. She might be attracted to James, but this Moneypenny will neither moon over him or spare him an arch comment. Joe Don Baker is also a welcome sight in a brief reappearance of his CIA agent Wade from Goldeneye. Far from detracting from Brosnans portrayal, the sharp supporting cast give him something interesting to play off of. After all, whats more interesting to watch a tennis match between champs Michael Chang and Boris Becker or Chang and an amateur?
The pre-title sequence in Tomorrow works better than GoldenEyes, which strained credibility at the end. The opening credits are the sexiest and most sophisticated thus far. Its as if they married the attitude from the best of the Goldfinger era to todays special effects.
If the series continues to pay attention to details and smart writing, both Brosnan and Bond will have many happy Tomorrows.
(An MGM/UA release. Directed by Roger Spotswoode.)
Review © 1997 Long Island Voice. Accompanying stills © 1997 MGM/UA.