Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Genre: Action and Spy Running Time: 1 hr. 59 min.

Release Date: December 19th, 1997 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Roger Spottiswoode Actors: Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher, Ricky Jay, Gotz Otto, Joe Don Baker, Vincent Schiavelli, Judi Dench, Desmond Llewelyn, Samantha Bond

 


 

A

t a terrorist arms bazaar on the Russian border, British secret agent James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is instrumental yet again in foiling enemy plans, obliterating the majority of the armaments (before military missiles wipe the place off the map) but allowing target Henry Gupta (Ricky Jay) to escape in the process. It’s an exciting intro designed purely for thrills, setting up a pacing that, unfortunately, can’t be maintained. Nonetheless, it’s a solid start to the second Brosnan try at the famed British superspy.

With a GPS encoder retrieved by Gupta, evil media mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce, hamming it up almost intolerably), of the Carver Media Group Network headquartered in Hamburg, initiates his plan of instigating warfare between the Chinese and UK governments. The HMS Devonshire is guided off course into the South China Sea, where monstrous henchman Mr. Stamper (Gotz Otto) coordinates an attack with an underwater drill. They frame premature Chinese air force escalation for the chaos, while a Chinese jet is shot down and credited as British retaliation.

The worldwide media baron then hosts an ostentatious party to introduce his new global satellite news network, which Bond showily crashes – along with the New China News Agency representative Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh). 007 also uses his romantic past with Carver’s wife Paris (Teri Hatcher) to gain further information. But it’s Lin and her habit of popping up at the same locations that most aids Bond in identifying a plot with corrupt and malleable General Chang, who attempts to overtake the Chinese government by bombing Beijing’s leaders (while providing Carver with a stealth boat in an isolated cove where he can play both sides against one another).

The fight sequences have a bit of flair to them, along with humorously creative sequences – such as the remote-controlled BMW that ends its mission by colliding with the Avis car rental office; using a massive banner to cascade down a skyscraper; and an action-packed motorcycle escape with Bond handcuffed to Wai, all while pursued by a machinegun-shooting helicopter. Additionally, Yeoh gets her own martial arts combat scene, though it belongs in a different movie (curiously, her skills still find her a recurring hostage). Even with more than one mention of torturing Bond, the lighthearted adventure and grandiose battles dominate the tone (unlike the lingering grisliness of “License to Kill”).

A brief role by the assassin, pistol marksman, professor of forensic medicine, and torture hobbyist Dr. Kaufman (Vincent Schiavelli) is a rare treat – a sensationally Bond-esque part concluded with the infrequent yet macho flexing of Bond’s license to kill, which is, in this striking moment, definitely not an act of self-defense. It reminds audiences (in heart-pounding fashion) that the secret agent can be a realistic, professional soldier when necessary – and quite the badass. Unfortunately, Pryce makes for an uninspired, unthreatening villain (his one-handed keyboarding is laughable and his wealth compensates for physical wimpishness). While his influence and career might be relevant and modern, his desire to start World War III for the sake of headlines doesn’t spark the adventurous intrigue of Bond’s typical missions. It’s politically and governmentally disruptive, but unaffecting as a plot basis for the larger-than-life super-agent. Still, the action sequences are routinely stupendous, even if the storyline is enormously unmemorable.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10