By Carter B. Horsley
The magic of James Bond movies has always been
more than the machismo and charisma of the hero.
For more than three decades, the series has
consistently been on the cutting edge of special effects and has
probably done more to educate the general public to the marvels
of modern technology than anything since the race to the moon
in the Space Age of the 1960's.
But the series had great depth: fabulous villains,
great beauties, memorable theme songs, great credits, devilish
plots and slick sophistication.
The second James Bond movie starring Pierce
Brosnan, "Tomorrow Never Dies," starts splendidly with
a thrilling action sequence and perhaps the best opening credits
Brosnan is clearly the best Bond after Sean
Connery and Roger Moore. He looks and wears the part well, although
he looks a bit frazzled at times here and seems more determined,
can we say desperate, than blasé.
Sadly, the great beginning gives way to a wretched
theme song, song terribly by Cheryl Crow, and the supporting cast
this time is disappointing.
Teri Hatcher, the pouty and less than magnetic
Lois Lane of a late 1990's "Superman" television series,
is one of the worst leading ladies with which Bond has ever had
to contend. It is incomprehensible that Bond, who has sortied
with the likes of Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) in "Goldfinger,"
Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) in "From Russia With Love,"
Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) in "Dr. No," Fiona (Luciana
Paluzzi) in "Thunderball," Octopussy (Maud Adams) in
"Octopussy," Pola Ivanov (Fiona Fullerton) in "A
View To A Kill," Lupe Lamora (Talisa Sota) in "License
To Kill," Tiffany (Jill St. John) in "Diamonds Are Forever,"
Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) and Corinne Dufour (Corinne Cleary)
in "Moonraker," Domino Derval (Claudine Auger) in "Thunderball,"
Domino Vitale (Kim Bassinger) in "Never Say Never Again,"
Tracy Di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg) in "On Her Majesty's Service,"
Tilly Masterson (Tania Mallet) and Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton)
in "Goldfinger," and, most memorably, Melina Havelock
(Carole Bouquet) in "For Your Eyes Only" and Xenia Onatopp
(Famke Jannsen) in "Goldeneye," would ever turn his
attention to Hatcher.
Happily, her character gets killed off fairly
The other leading female role, Wai Lin, is
played by Michelle Yeoh, who demonstrates considerable skills
in the martial arts and is quite striking looking although her
part does not have much dialogue. She is so good at her
skills, in fact, that she is the first female who is almost an
ideal match for Bond and therefore may herald a new, and politically
correct, twist in future adventures.
As the villain, Jonathan Pryce, the star of
Terry Gilliam's brilliant movie, "Brazil," is rather
disappointing as is his rather chunky and not terribly svelte
stealth ship. His glee is a bit too much as he gloats over an
underling putting bugs in software to force customers to buy upgrades.
His speed typing on his tablet has too many flourishes. His evil
is too apparent and too crude for the Rupert Murdoch/Robert Maxwell-type
media magnate he portrays. He does not seem to relish much, or
have much of a sense of humor, especially when compared with the
great villains with which Bond has had to contend: Dr. No (Joseph
Wiseman) in "Dr. No," Odd Job (Harold Sakater) and Goldfinger
(Gert Frobe) in "Goldfinger," Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya)
in "From Russia With Love," Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher
Lee) and Nick Nack (Herve Villechaize) in "The Man With The
Golden Gun," Jaws (Richard Kiel) in "The Spy Who Loved
Me" and "Moonraker," Kamal Kahn (Louis Jourdan)
in "Octopussy," Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens) in "The
Spy Who Loved Me," and Sir Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale in
"Moonraker" and Klaus Maria Brandauer in "Never
Say Never Again." Pryce's character is malignantly
one-dimensional and not as imposingly formidable as most major
villains in the serious who were more worthy of Bond's attentions.
Two of the major chase scenes, one in a remote-controlled-driven
BMW sedan, and the other on a motorcycle, are very good, but overly
There is not a lot of glamour to relish here,
but the production values are stunning.
James Bond took the best features of Cary Grant
and John Wayne and became the hip, suave role model of the world
in the 1960's. Wonderful characters, good repartee, good gismos
and gimmicks and great locations, stupendous production values
and wild stunts completed the formula for the series.
The James Bond character has survived as a
fantasy hero, but is now more dependent on preposterous action
than on wits and plush settings and the savoring of recently recorked
Elegance is no longer de rigueur.
Nevertheless, addicted, we can't wait for the
next Bond film….
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