THREE GUYS AND… 007
series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson
“JAMES BOND 007 (1995 – 2002)”
written by Dominick Cappello
Directed by Martin Campbell & Starring Pierce Brosnan.
For my generation, “GoldenEye” was the film that introduced James Bond 007. I can vaguely recall my movie going experience in the summer of 1989 at the age of four. I saw Tim Burton’s “Batman,” “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” “Ghostbusters II,” and “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier,” but not “Licence to Kill” with Timothy Dalton. I was only aware of the character through the “James Bond Jr.” animated series. When I saw the “GoldenEye” teaser trailer, I realized that this was THE James Bond. Pierce Brosnan was only familiar to me from “Mrs. Doubtfire” as “Remington Steele” was long gone at this point in time. Bond Girls, Q’s gadgets, and an elaborate title sequence with Tina Turner’s vocals, all added to an experience which was unique from the other action films I grew up with. Maybe older members of the audience were confused that James Bond was taking orders from a woman (Dame Judi Dench as the new M) and that 007 himself had a gentler side, but this was Pierce Brosnan’s and director Martin Campbell’s interpretation of the character which my generation was presented with and we took it at face value. James Bond is on the hunt for those who stole control of an EMP armed satellite. This was before EMPs became and action movie cliché. A lot of bitter Timothy Dalton fans review “GoldenEye” with the obvious agenda of knocking Pierce Brosnan down a peg or two, but the sole intention of this film was to INTRODUCE James Bond to a new generation and it definitely succeeded. I believe this film is just as pivotal to franchise as “Dr. No” in that respect. Sean Bean as Alec Trevelyan, aka 006, aka Janus, is one of the elite villains (along with Robert Shaw and Christopher Lee) who was a worthy adversary for 007. Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp also reintroduced the femme fatale archetype, reminiscent of Luciana Paluzzi and Barbara Carrera. There was also the immensely popular first player shooter video game adaptation for the Nintendo 64 console, but I had a Playstation, so I’d always have to go over a friend’s house to get to play as 007. After the “GoldenEye” phenomenon of 1995, I would always keep an eye out for the earlier James Bond films on television. When I was in junior high, I was always amused by the fact that most of my classmates were totally unaware that sixteen other James Bond films besides “GoldenEye” even existed.
“Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997)
Directed by Roger Spottiswoode & Starring Pierce Brosnan.
This film is a rehash of “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977), which itself was a rehash of “You Only Live Twice” (1967), and elements of both those films were recycled in “Moonraker” (1979). Lewis Gilbert basically made the same film three times and Roger Spottiswoode is now channeling him. The result is that Pierce Brosnan – like Roger Moore – is a victim of the old sophomore jinx. Here, James Bond 007 takes on a malevolent media mogul (Jonathan Pryce) who is out to start World War III for television ratings. I really didn’t care much for this film at first, but it has somewhat grown on me. Maybe it was just ahead of its time? Nowadays, I guess I could see FOX News or MSNBC declaring war. There is unilateral agreement that Michelle Yeoh as Colonel Wai-Lin was by far the coolest thing about “Tomorrow Never Dies.” Finally, there is a true female counterpart to 007. Conversely, I found it odd that James Bond considered Paris Carver (Teri Hatcher) the “one that got away” out of all the women he’s bedded over the years. Teri Hatcher is very attractive, but she is a glorified soap opera actress and a little dull. It could have been Monica Bellucci in the role. Shucks. None of the actions sequences really stand out to me. When Bond is driving his BMW by remote control, it reminded me of the Little Nellie helicopter sequence from “You Only Live Twice” (1967). 007 isn’t doing much of anything other than pressing buttons. It’s like watching somebody else play a video game. One major success of “Tomorrow Never Dies” was the score by David Arnold, who also scored the next four James Bond films. David Arnold is a talented composer and a worthy successor to the late John Barry. “Tomorrow Never Dies” is dedicated to late producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli, who guided the franchise for over 30 years. One could say that Albert Broccoli was the custodian of the mythology created by author Ian Fleming.
“The World Is Not Enough” (1999)
Directed by Michael Apted & Starring Pierce Brosnan.
I seem to be in the minority of those who really enjoy “The World Is Not Enough.” Criticism seems to be directed on Denise Richards absurdly being cast as a nuclear physicist and that audiences could see the film’s twist coming a mile away. The twist being that heiress Elektra King (Sophie Marceau), whom James Bond is charged to protect, is having an affair with Victor “Renard” Zokas (Robert Carlyle), the terrorist who killed her father. Yes, all of that may be true, but Pierce Brosnan still gives his defining performance as 007 in his third outing. We really see the vulnerable side of James Bond for the first time. I guess that I can I ignore any shortcomings the film may have because I’m mainly focused on Pierce Brosnan’s acting chops and Sophie Marceau is definitely my favorite Bond Girl of the 1990s. What is it about sinisterly sexy leading ladies that is so appealing? She was so immoral that 007 had to shoot her in the chest at point blank range. By my count, James Bond has only used his license to kill on three woman in the entire series. There are a lot of cool action sequences and unlike “Tomorrow Never Dies,” they are not edited in the mind numbing style of a music video, so you can actually follow the action. Apparently, director Michael Apted left shooting of all the action stuff to the second unit, but I assume that he must have had a hand in the editing process. There is also a melancholy feel to this film due to Q announcing his retirement. Whether or not the filmmakers were serious about retiring the character is irrelevant as Desmond Llewelyn was sadly killed in car accident shortly following the film’s release. Desmond Llewelyn co-starred in seventeen 007 films, which is a record for any cast member. Working with Mr. Llewelyn was a right of passage for all of the actors to play James Bond. Alas, an honor which Daniel Craig and all that actors to follow him will miss out on. Both the VHS and DVD of this film feature a touching video tribute to Desmond Llewelyn set to “Nobody Does it Better” performed by Carly Simon from “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) soundtrack.
“Die Another Day” (2002)
Directed by Lee Tamahori & Starring Pierce Brosnan.
This is Pierce Brosnan’s “Moonraker” (1979). By that, I mean a film that relies too heavily on special effects. Way too much CGI. Death by CGI. An invisible Aston Martin? Wow. Also, the title lacks imagination, being too similar to “Tomorrow Never Dies.” For his 20th official big screen adventure, James Bond 007 abandons MI6 to discover who betrayed him on a mission to assassinate a rogue colonel in North Korea. The promotional materials featured a 007 logo composed of ice, which is very reminiscent of Joel Shumacher‘s “Batman & Robin” (1997). Yikes. Never a good sign. Halle Berry’s character Jinx was completely over hyped. There were rumors of a spin-off featuring Jinx as the protagonist, but only before people actually saw “Die Another Day” and were thoroughly unimpressed with both the character and the movie itself. This installment was really not worthy of the franchise’s 40th anniversary, nor Pierce Brosnan’s swansong as 007. Way to go, Lee Tamahori (who went on to director the cinematic tour de force “xXx: State of the Union” (2005) starring Ice Cube). I did enjoy the sequences set in Cuba and Rosamund Pike as Miranda Frost – another underrated villainess – but that’s all. I think the intent of this film was to be a throwback of sorts to the far out James Bond films of the 1970s, borrowing greatly from both “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971) and “The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974). Speaking of little to no imagination, there is a minor henchman in this film actually named Mr. Kill!!! Is that honestly the best name that they could come up with? Also, the title song by Madonna is absolutely atrocious. Don’t even get me started on her lame cameo. And though I am fan of Monty Python veteran John Cleese, no one will ever be able truly replace the late Desmond Llewelyn as Q. Goodbye, Mr. Brosnan and farewell to Miss Moneypenny (portrayed in the Pierce Brosnan films by Samantha Bond), who was curiously absent in the first two Daniel Craig films.
– Dr. Rochester