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IN SHORT: Bomb. James Bomb.
You can always tell who the long-time Bond fans when a new 007 picture rolls out. We're the ones quietly groaning every time something in the Bond template hits the screen. We keep hoping for something fresh but we rarely get it. And we always keep coming back for more. I'm tired about bitching about the James Bond Template, so join in anytime this sounds familiar: Spectacular Opening Sequence followed by a garbage song (in this case performed by a group named Garbage); flirting with Miss Moneypenny; a talking down by M; new gadgets by Q; evil villain; "Bond. James Bond"; world domination or some insidious world shaking evil plan; several exotic locales; "vodka martini shaken not stirred"; new car; tuxedo scene; half a dozen double entendres; at least two "sex" scenes; yadda yadda yadda; Big Finish with Spectacular Death of bad guy and a final "sex" scene with someone moaning "Oh, James!".
This time out, the opening sequence is an action dud. It does, however, show some real political wit (targeting Swiss Bankers and their "loyalty" to their customers) in addition to the occasional double entendre. So, if you' ve never seen a Bond flick before, skip everything that follows and get in line with the rest of us old fogies. You can ask us what we're groaning about afterwards.
In The World Is Not Enough, a wealthy industrialist is murdered under the very noses of MI6 and James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) fails to capture the murderer. Though injured, Bond continues on the job, seeking to prevent the possible killing of the dead guy's daughter, Elektra King (Sophie Marceau) by an assassin who cannot feel any pain called Renard (Robert Carlyle). The explanation for why he can't feel pain is ludicrous, but so is the penchant for miniskirts and hotpants displayed by Nuclear Scientist Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), who has a fondness for beginning sentences with "You don't have to be an atomic scientist to know how to...." I'm not going to even try to figure out how kidnapping leads to theft of nuclear bombs and submarines 'cuz it's all typical Bond stuff. Nothing out of the ordinary template and nothing to complain about. M (Judi Dench) is more personally involved in this case. Weapons-master Q (Desmond Llewellen) announces his retirement and introduces his new assistant, comically called "R" (John Cleese). Bond wears a tux in a casino. Bond drives a car. Bond beds the girl. Yadda Yadda Yadda.
The prerelease critical buzz, as reported on the rotten-tomatoes.com site, was fairly unanimous in the hope that dramatic director Michael Apted (Gorillas in the Mist and Nell and Coal Miner's Daughter to name three) would bring stronger character and story development to his first action flick. Cranky reports that Apted still has not directed an action flick. There are action sequences but this time out even the usually spectacular opening isn't. As for character and story development, there's an effort to come up with a stronger psychological reason why the bad guy is the bad guy-- saying anything more would tip you to the twist, so I won't -- and Robert Carlyle's turn as evil villain ain't no Oddjob.
The one new addition to the template are the words "James Bond Will Return" at the very end of the flick. Should I kill myself now or could I have been totally off the mark about Tomorrow Never Dies (Bond 18), scripted by Bond 19 co-writer Bruce Feirstein and try to figure what I liked so much about that flick? There's your clue folks. If you thought Tomorrow Never Dies was a stinking pile, well, you may like Bond 19. Cranky found TWINE to be just like Bond 17. and Bond 16. And Bond 15. And Bond 14. And so on and so forth.
Except for the introduction of a three story high killing machine that really is wondrous to behold.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The World Is Not Enough, he would have paid...
Rental level though Bond really should be seen on a big screen. (And as fine as Marceau and Richards are, Samantha Bond as Miss Moneypenny beats 'em both hands down).
28 Weeks Later
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