Well. Let's be positive: Tomorrow Never Dies undeniably delivers some standout moments. The pre-titles "terrorists' supermarket" sequence is thrilling (although nobody seemed to take advantage of the BOGOF offer on Kalashnikovs and Bond totally failed to redeem his clubcard points on the way out), the set-pieces are fantastic, Brosnan is excellent and there are some mighty fine one-liners, not least of which is Moneypenny's award-winning "You always were a cunning linguist, James".
Sadly, that's about it for the good stuff. Like You Only Live Twice and The Spy Who Loved Me, Tomorrow Never Dies races along with typical Bondian gusto, skipping over plot holes and underwritten characters so deftly that it's only when you check your pockets at the end that you realise your wallet's been nicked by an inane story, an embarrassingly weak villain and a director with a CV that includes Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.
The biggest casualty of this chaotic production was that everyone forgot to write a decent villain. Media mogul Elliot Carver looks like an ineffectual economics teacher who's accidentally come to work in his jim-jams and spends the entire film titting about his various HQs bashing away at a magic keyboard that can somehow make sense of the nonsense he's randomly hammering into it. He's so useless at villainy that he requires at least three henchmen (also rubbish) to do his various dirty work, and he's so cripplingly dull that it's actually hard to tell who has the most charisma between the character and his "action" figure.
*Only one pose included: "Lacklustre"
*Only one pose included: "Lacklustre"
Roger Ebert's mantra "Each film is only as good as its villain," applied so dramatically in Licence To Kill, is tragically forgotten here; even the writers acknowledge how ponderously yawnsome Carver is, having 007 continually treat him like the most boring guest at the party. Audience identification with Bond hits a new high when he almost fails to stay awake through one of Carver's rambling monologues, shooting a nearby flunky just to keep everyone (in the scene and the audience) from nodding off.
What's more, Carver's grand plan to instigate World War III by pitting two super-powers against each other has already failed in at least two previous Bond films, and even in these Leveson Inquiry times the idea that a media magnate would commit mass murder in order to sell a few more papers is just stoopid. For him to then alert the authorities by publishing news of said murders before anyone else knows about it is so incompetent you can almost hear the embarrassed facepalms of seventeen previous Bond villains.
Of course the one mistake everyone makes in relation to Carver is his supposed similarity to a real-life insane media baron, who for the purposes of avoiding a lawsuit I shall call "Rooput Merdock". I've carefully investigated these apparent parallels, and while there is definitely some correlation between Carver and "Merdock", differences begin to emerge upon closer inspection:
|Is a billionaire international media mogul intent on dominating the world's press both in print and on television||Is a billionaire international media mogul intent on dominating the world's press both in print and on television|
|Has close ties to British PM, according to head of MI6||Has close ties to British PM, according to everyone|
|Has an enemy called James||Has a son called James|
|Was attacked by a scary Chinese lady||Is married to a scary Chinese lady|
|Owns 24-hour news channel which tragically went off air on its first night||Owns 24-hour news channel which is tragically still on air|
|Wears pyjamas to work||Wears custard pies to Parliamentary committee hearings|
|Recalls quotes by William Randolph Hearst||Can't recall anything that happened while in charge of best-selling Sunday newspaper|
|Disposes of underlings when they've outlived their usefulness||Turns underlings into cyborgs and programmes them to take the fall when they've outlived their usefulness|
|Engineers war between UK and China in order to sell more newspapers||Bites the heads off live kittens and drinks their blood in order to remain alive|
|Is a fictional character||Is Satan|
I'm glad I've been able to clear that up harmlessly and without any need for litigation. Moving swiftly on...
The title sequence
David Arnold's music
'Hamburg Break Out'
Former interviewee and great friend of The Incredible Suit (great friends in the sense that we had an email conversation once, we don't hang out or chat or really know each other at all in fact) David Arnold's first Bond score is an absolute stonker, livening up the occasionally ropey action no end and enhancing the film exactly as a good score should. It's also ridiculously of its time, all techno and drum loops and phat beats or whatever that stuff's called. Not only that but the aforementioned end credits song 'Surrender', which he co-wrote with David McAlmont and Don Black, is the greatest Bond theme that never was.
And finally: Tomorrow Never Dies stars a young Julian Rhind-Tutt as a yeoman on the doomed HMS Devonshire. His character's name?
BlogalongaBond will return with The World Is Not Enough
What the hell is BlogalongaBond? I'll tell you.
Thanks to The Shiznit, from whom I stole the subtitle for this post. It's OK, everyone steals their stuff. In fact they actively encourage it.