Sunday, December 1, 2013

The World Is Not Enough (1999)

Remember that cliff I talked about earlier? You know, the one that the Brosnan Bond series took a nose dive off of after "Tomorrow Never Dies?" Yeah. Yeah, this is the cliff. It's a pretty steep one, too. And as much as I thought myself "Perhaps it's not as bad as I remembered" before rewatching it, as I'm pretty sure I hadn't seen it since it was in theaters, there was always that little voice in the back of my head recalling all the things about it that made me remember yes, it really was that bad. And as I watched it, all that terribleness came flooding back like water into the submarine sinking at the end of the film. This was the first truly, unmistakably bad Bond film since 1985's "A View To A Kill." And that hurts. I was enjoying the streak we had going.

"The World Is Not Enough" is about an oil baron being assassinated, and his daughter, Elektra (Sophie Marceau) taking over his business and completing his dream of building a massive pipeline. Bond is sent to protect her from the people trying to kill her, led by Renard (Robert Carlyle), a terrorist with a bullet in his brain that prevents him from feeling any pain. As Bond investigates, it's clear that Elektra, who had previously been kidnapped by Renard, isn't quite as innocent as she appears. With the help of a nuclear scientist, Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), Bond sets off to get to the bottom of what's going on, and prevent the terrorists from taking out Istanbul in a nuclear explosion.

Oh. Good. Skiing. That's a new one. Thanks, Bond series.

That's the official story, but to be honest I found this to be one of the most confusing, nonsensical entries the series has ever produced. Yeah, "Octopussy" was kind of confusing, but that's because there was a lot going on in it. In "The World Is Not Enough," it's more of a matter of things not being explained very clearly. It's hard to explain, but for example that whole plot with Elektra being kidnapped by Renard is not told to us until about 25 minutes into the film. That's after 25 minutes of things going on during which that information would have been relevant. Because of that not being mentioned, not only did I have no idea as to why the opening scene (as admittedly fun as it is) was going on, but when the whole kidnapping thing is revealed I thought that was a new development that occurred suddenly off screen. Suddenly she's kidnapped and I'm asking "When the hell did that happen? Just now? She was in the last scene!" It's very confusing, and the film has a tendency to do stuff like that fairly often. It's a rather poorly told story, and it's hard to care about anything happening since little of it makes any sense.

It's also boring. This film makes the mistake of having far too much talking going on, which isn't helped by the fact that, like I mentioned earlier, the dialogue is confusing at the same time. When the action does happen it's of the over-the-top zany kind more akin to a Roger Moore entry. Too much wackiness is brought in, be it the parachuting ski-mobiles or the helicopters with giant saws on them. Now it's true that outlandish, impractical things trying to kill Bond is nothing new to the series, but there comes a point when you've got to ask "On what planet would anyone be trying to kill him with saws on a helicopter?"

Keep in mind: This was Plan A.

Like the rest of the lesser Bond entries, "The World Is Not Enough" also suffers from weak villains. Sophie Marceau as Elektra is difficult to pin down, for a couple of reasons. The first is that we don't know she's a villain until the movie is more than halfway over. We have our suspicions, but it's nothing concrete. Secondly, it's hard to tell what exactly her motivations are since the film gives us a number of them to choose from. First they say she's suffering Stockholm Syndrome and under Renard's control. Then they tell us she's enraged at M and wants revenge on her and her father for suggesting to not pay Renard off when she had been kidnapped. Then she wants a monopoly on the oil, so that leads her to blow up Istanbul. Then she's just kind of insane. It's like we're pulling motivations out of a hat until we get one that we like.

And Renard is as bland of a bad guy as you could find. Yeah he's got a bullet in his head, and that's pretty hardcore, but it doesn't mean jack squat. His inability to feel pain never amounts to anything. There's a scene were he picks up a hot rock and is all "whatevs" about it. That's roughly the extent to which he displays his "superhuman" powers. Oh no. Truly I'm terrified of this man. He's going to take a pie out of the oven quicker than Bond because he won't need to put on oven mitts first! The suspense!

In all reality Renard would be an incredibly pathetic villain to go up against, especially in combat. The fact that he has no feeling anywhere in his body means that he would constantly have to be vigilant to not sustain any kind of injury. He would be running away from a fight faster than you could blink. Do you know why? Because of infection. If you don't know, pain is the body's way of telling you you're hurt. If you don't know you're hurt, you don't take care of the wound. It becomes infected. The body part rots and falls off. You die. It's called leprosy. That's who James Bond is up against in this film: A dude who got shot in the head and became a leper. Take that, Scaramanga.

I think we're confusing "Not feeling any pain" with "Being invincible." There is a difference.

Brosnan is still great as Bond, though. Nothing much changed in that regard, and he seems very comfortable in the role. I did like the fact that we get to see him angry and rather more cold-blooded on occasion than usual here, although he does do some really, really stupid things that make me want to smack him. Like that one time he had Renard at gunpoint and could have easily taken him out but was duped by a horrendously transparent lie that made no sense in any context? Yeah, oops on that one, James. Idiot.

Yeah, I've got this same rig in my house. They have to use it on me every time I watch another "Resident Evil" movie.

And finally, it has to be addressed. Denise Richards. Oh boy. The words escape me somewhat, but I'll try my best to convey my thoughts without descending into a frothing, spit-filled spasm: She is not very good. In fact she is quite terrible. Not only her character, who is as helpful as knees on a fish, but also her as an actress. She is awful. Arguably the worst Bond girl ever.

Huh. That was easier than I expected it to be. I'm not even going to get into the fact that all this accused brilliant scientist does when she's in danger is to stand around gape-mouthed until James grabs her and pulls her to safety over and over again like she's a cardboard cutout. It's not worth it because all you have to do is look at her name and it's clearly obvious that this whole thing was a mistake. Denise Richards as Doctor, you know what? You don't even have to say the whole name. "Doctor Denise Richards" is far enough.

Here's the thing. I'm not saying that Denise Richards can't portray someone who is smart. I'm not saying that. I'm not saying pretty women can't be smart. That would be laughably ridiculous. But if you're going to cast someone who is supposed to have a doctorate in nuclear physics, the very least you could do is to get an actress who can at least give the appearance of not being two seconds away from having a stroke at the effort of pronouncing a word like "plutonium."

Lots of nuclear physicists wear hot pants, do they? Is that standard lab equipment?

There are a total of three good things I can say about "The World Is Not Enough." First, I like the opening 15 minutes. That was really good. Second, I like Pierce Brosnan. Third, Sophie Marceau is really hot. And that's all I've got. Now bring on Halle Berry. I'm...not looking forward to this.

"Larry. I'm so scared, man. Would you please hold me?"

Well, at least the trailer makes it look interesting.

THE BOTTOM LINE - "The World Is Not Enough" would be forgettable if it weren't so bad. It's still forgettable, but the crap factor makes it memorable simply for things like Denise Richards saying her lines with the practiced skill of a stand-in for a middle school play. It tends to overshadow any of the small amount of good contained within, which was merely standard random 90's action movie stock to begin with. I'd seriously watch *certain* Roger Moore films over this one. This sucked.




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