Good morning, my golden retrievers (1997)

Armed with an encoder salvaged from an arms bazaar destroyed by the British military, head of the Carver Media Group Network Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) uses the device to manoeuvre the HMS Devonshire into Chinese waters, where the mogul’s ‘stealth ship’ sinks it and steals one of its missiles. With Carver’s own news reports suggesting an unprovoked Chinese attack, Admiral Roebuck (Geoffrey Palmer) deploys the British fleet leaving M (Judi Dench) with only forty-eight hours to investigate the real cause of ships sinking. When James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) arrives in Hamburg to explore Carver Media’s offices, he encounters old-flame-turned-trophy-wife Paris Carver (Teri Hatcher) and Chinese spy Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh).

Eon Productions’ James Bond franchise has seen some truly moronic moments over the years, be it death-by-bowler-hat or double-taking pigeon, but rarely has one film managed to house so many such instances as eighteenth instalment Tomorrow Never Dies. From the opening moments, as the British government and a Soviet arms bazaar take it in turns to shoot blindly at a nuke-toting L-39 Albatros, director Roger Spottiswoode (who, unsurprisingly, has barely been heard from since) continues to defy belief with a steady stream of set pieces that Daniel Craig wouldn’t touch with a quantum of solace. Whatever that might actually be.

Did I mention that in the above sequence James Bond is flying said fighter jet with his knees? Oh yes, he’s too busy being strangled from behind by his kamikaze navigator to use his hands, and must first ejected the assailant straight through the bottom of another plane before he can resume total control and – in the process – avert nuclear disaster, World War III and a particularly dismal end to one of Hollywood’s most iconic franchises, all in the name of Chinese broadcasting rights. And all this before Teri Hatcher can utter a single word. I’ve never been much of a fan of the reboot’s James Bourne, but at this rate he can’t strut out of the sea quickly enough.

But hey, it’s the 90s: the usual rules don’t apply. Providing you’ve drunk enough Sunny Delight to completely dumb your critical faculties, there’s still some fun to be had in this ridiculous little film. Brosnan remains a likeable presence as Bond, continuing to combine the best of his predecessors into a character you wouldn’t mind actually having to save the world with. Meanwhile, Michelle Yeoh is – as always – a pleasure as the series’ best approximation of a Chinese person, all karate-chops and high kicks as she takes on an entire kung-fu class, leaving Bond to pull occasional faces and deliver his inevitable double entendres from the safety of the sidelines.

He really is the worst special agent ever, continuously jeopardising national and world security as he blows his cover, gets caught and proceeds to haemorrhage government secrets. That said, the biggest problem with Tomorrow Never Dies – putting aside, for a moment, all of the medium-sized issues plaguing production – is Hatcher’s Paris Carver. A one-time love interest that we – the audience – have never actually heard of, she is supposed to generate sympathy and represent a stake in the narrative but falls short of being even remotely bearable. Even next to Jonathan Pryce atrociously non-threatening media mogul, she comes off worst of all.

This is the Bond I remember: a knowing wink, capable side-kicks and preposterous stunt-work as the franchise strives to be bigged, better and barmier than ever before. While two out of three might not necessarily be bad, without the cloak of boyhood nostalgia Brosnan’s Bond just doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. A beefed up role for Dench’s excellent M aside, there is very little in Tomorrow Never Dies to compete with the better – or in many cases worse – moments of the 007 franchise.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Good morning, my golden retrievers (1997)

  1. Pingback: June 2012 – A lady does not place her weapon on the table « popcornaddict

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