The end may be drawing ever more nigh, but 007(x3) Weeks of 007 still has some work to do. Up today, Brosnan’s third outing as my hero and yours, James Bond. It is time to see if “The World is not Enough.”
There have been a couple of instance now when we’ve discussed this whole thing I don’t believe about James Bond being a different guy whenever the actor changes, with the new guy getting the name to go along with the number. Again, I think that “The World is not Enough” shows us that this isn’t the case – Bond claims that the phrase is a family motto, something we learn about him from Hilary Bray in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” Yeah, it’s the same guy.
Think about it, for it not to be the same guy, Bray’s information would have had to have been passed along to every person who gets the name. Not only that, Lazenby’s Bond would have had to have given Connery’s Bond’s parents names (or the name of the parents of whomever the first Bond was, maybe Barry Nelson) to Bray. Why bother? If the argument is that Bond is just a name and the guy is different, the lineage of the original shouldn’t be relevant moving forward, the bad guys wouldn’t really believe in a single enemy who didn’t age over the course of 50 years and therefore they must accept him as a different guy. If they do, he need not have the family motto.
Moving on to things that matter as opposed to this silly discussion I keep bringing back up solely in order to show my disdain for it… “The World is not Enough” marks the first time in I don’t know how many films that Bond’s banter with Moneypenny is broken up by M. In a movie whose title is a great callback, this is another one. Was the last time the banter was interrupted back with Connery? It might have been. I complained about seeing it week in and week out at the time, but here it is, back again and I love it.
How about another callback for you – Bond entering the nuclear site right after meeting Christmas Jones. He doesn’t grab the badge that will detect the radiation level, it’s one of the ways Jones is sure he’s a liar (also, he’s not old enough to be the guy he’s impersonating). Remember how they knew he was a fake in “You Only Live Twice?” He didn’t get into the shuttle the right way. He should be thrilled that he’s never gotten stuck on Mars, he would absolutely fail if had to science the sh** out of problems. Scientific details are not his friend.
Moving right along, as we’ve also discussed, some people complain about the Brosnan movies in a way that is totally unfair. These four films succeed on so many levels and offer a beautiful understanding of Bond and the way the audience wants to see the character.
Not everything in “TWINE” is great – I have no love for the sub finale, nor for Renard as a villain. He is just not there enough. His setup is great—he’s dying but will get stronger until he does—but then there’s nothing else to him. It turns out he’s the henchman and not the supervillain and that’s just fine, but it’s kind of clear that there’s something weird going on because it takes forever for him to actually show and then, as I said, there’s nothing to him once he does. There’s no insight into him, he’s just on his mission.
Then there’s Christmas Jones. Denise Richards does not pull off being a nuclear scientist. She just doesn’t.
On the plus side, I absolutely love the pre-tittle sequence here. It is no “GoldenEye,” but it really is pretty great – the trip down the Thames on the Q-boat is spectacular. And, there’s some Moore style humor with the Q-boat going on land, but they manage to do it in a not quite as slapstick a manner. If Moore’s actual films had been similar, I think I would like them a whole lot better.
Actually though, the pre-title stuff starts well before the Q-boat trip and one of the things that makes it brilliant is the portion at MI-6. The agency is shown as fallible here in a way that we really previously hadn’t seen – the organization was practically superhuman at one point, what with putting a base on a half sunk ship in the middle of a harbor. The change to imperfect leads into M being shown as fallible later in the movie as well. Great moment (plus I love Bond working out what’s going on when the ice bubbles in his drink).
Lastly, Desmond Llewelyn. Llewelyn appeared in every Bond movie, save “Live and Let Die,” beginning with “From Russia with Love” and going through “The World is not Enough.” This is his last appearance – he died in 1999 after the film’s release. Not only that, but Q’s leaving is discussed in the film and we’re even introduced to his replacement, whom Bond refers to as “R.” It all makes me wonder if we would have seen him come back in “Die Another Day.” I tend to think we would have. As I recall, the goodbye to Bond is in “TWINE” because Llewelyn knew he was getting old and was worried he might not be able to do the next due to his age (he actually died in a car crash). IMDb’s trivia page for Llewelyn agrees with my remembering, but I can’t find the actual quote I’m thinking about.
It is nice that they brought back Q with “Skyfall,” but as good as Whishaw is, it’s going to take a while to fill those shoes. Not that he can’t, just that Llewelyn’s performance is perhaps more iconic than Connery’s or Moore’s, he certainly is in more films than either of those two, and the way the character grows and changes through the years is a thing of beauty.
Next week, Bond goes invisible or does as long as he’s in his car. Yup, we’ll talk about the need for another reset as we hit Brosnan’s finale adventure. 007(x3) Weeks of 007 will return with “Die Another Day.”
photo credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment