Section: Reviews
Tomorrow Never Dies Review

Yesterday is a memory, today is history, tomorrow is in the hands of one man: Bond...You know the rest!

Title: 'Tomorrow Never Dies'

Released: 12/19/1997

Budget: $110,000,000

Gross (US; Worldwide): $125,332,000; $210,000,000

Producer: Barbara Broccoli & Michael G. Wilson (MGM-UA)

Writer: Bruce Feirstein

Director: Roger Spottiswoode

Based On: Original Screenplay

Stars: Pierce Brosnan as James Bond 007, Jonathan Pryce (as Elliot Carver), Michelle Yeoh (as Colonel Wai-Lin), Teri Hatcher (as Paris Carver), Ricky Jay (as Henry Gupta), Götz Otto (as Mr. Stamper), Vincent Schiavelli (as Dr. Kauffman); Co-Starring Joe Don Baker as Jack Wade; Also Starring Desmond Llewelyn as Q, Judi Dench as M, and Samantha Bond as Miss Moneypenny.

Plot: A Carver Media Group Satellite knocks a British ship in the South China Sea off course, but the dastardly deed is made to look like the work of hawkish Chinese planes. "M," aware of strange signals originating from Carver satellites, is given 48 hours to have her man, James Bond 007, turn up any real evidence that the world's most successful media mogul is behind it, or else the entire British fleet shall be sent in. But Britain isn't the only nation hoping to avert a third world war, and soon Bond finds himself working with an up-and-coming, and very attractive, Chinese colonel to get to the bottom of it. Jack Wade once again returns with his brand of unofficial assistance, hoping to avert the same unpleasant end for Bond that Carver enacted upon his wife (and former lover of 007).

Commentary: The actual James Bond theme is back in this installment (much to the delight of fans) and so is 007 in this action-packed thriller that doesn't quite equate to 'Goldeneye,' but surely put aside all rumors that Bond wasn't back for good. The producers opt not to have the Bond formula tampered with at all, making it seem like virtual cookie-cutter material, despite the effectiveness of the 'Goldeneye''s delightful blend of classic 007, top-notch writing, and modern adventure flick elements. However, seeing that the unorthodox 'TWINE' follows this film, it's almost hip for Bond to be square, as it were…as long as he doesn't do it that often.

       This outing boasts one of 007's Top 5 villains, with the magnificent Jonathan Pryce, in a role he was almost born for, performing near perfection. Pryce takes his role seriously and with utter fascination, as he transforms a truly insane evildoer into a very realistic nightmare of a Ted Turner type gone too far. Ricky Jay (in a tongue-in-cheek role he was definitely born for), Mr. Otto, and Vincent Schiavelli round out the bad guys, making for one of the most well-cast and believable henchmen's blocks in a Bond film.

       Teri Hatcher assumes an unlikely role with utter grace and definite sex appeal. Her presence far outlasts her short screen time, but the intriguing Villain's-wife-as-former-007-lover subplot couldn't carry the rest of the film's relatively weak writing. The witty jibes of Carver are among the best of the series, but a film can't live on quips alone. Thankfully, Colonel Mai-Lin didn't have that much to say; while the actress who brings her to life may be a welcome staple in martial arts films, her interjection in a Bond film does nothing for a series that hasn't been known for its karate scenes. A well-conceived character is brought down by the absence of depth and a seemingly strong dose of disinterest on part of Yeoh to make a name for herself in the World of 007.

       This film's 110 million price tag is a 50 million dollar improvement, on paper and on screen, over 'Goldeneye''s special effects and action sequences. Critics of this film incorrectly point out that it plays like a typical shoot-em-up and blown-em-up. The explosions and gunfire and pretty evenly spaced out and positvely enhance the film up until the final sequence on Carver's stealth boat; after Bond and Wai-Lin get aboard, fire has more screen time than Pierce Brosnan. Clever and ingeniously staged fight and chase scenes are a big part of 007 films - but they're not supposed to be the only part. This mistake seriously deteriorates this film, making the last twenty-minutes, aside from the guffaw-worthy death of Carver, almost unbearable.

       Pierce Brosnan, Judi Dench, and the rest of the home front are reasonably more comfortable here and hopefully will remain staples in this next generation of Bond films. Thanks to an above-average second outing and a renewed and constant interest in 007 (from dedicated fans and the films' actors themselves), the 007 series will never die.


Also in the Tomorrow Never Dies dossier:   Gadgets | Games | Girls | Pictures | Reviews | Villains
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