Pierce Brosnan’s third turn as James Bond, The World is Not Enough is his most frustrating. At times it’s slow and a bit too silly, but at its best it’s the worthy successor to GoldenEye that Brosnan deserved.
Bond has to stop the deadly terrorist Renard (Robert Carlyle) from unleashing a nuclear device. As M (Judi Dench) dispatched an agent to assassinate him already, resulting in a bullet inching ever closer to killing him, Renard has little fear of death.
Renard sets Bond up as the unwitting carrier for a bomb that kills an oil baron. M fears Renard will now go after the baron’s daughter Elektra King (Sophie Marceau), whom he previously kidnapped years ago and assigns Bond to protect her.
Bond’s investigation leads him to a nuclear facility where he encounters Renard and Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards).
Ah Christmas Jones, arguably the most maligned Bond Babe in franchise history. There’s little use trying to defend Richards’ acting skills. They’re probably worse than you remember.
In fairness, she probably looks even more fantastic than you recall particularly in her Lara Croft Tomb Raider getup. And in all honesty, looking good is 99.9% why Richards was cast in the first place.
Richards’ casting gets a lot of grief from critics saying she’s not a believable nuclear physicist as if there can’t be a hot nuclear physicist.
Let’s face it, Richards wouldn’t be credible in any role. Her line delivery is terrible and she’s undoubtedly the worst aspect of the film.
Where World does succeed, it does so spectacularly.
Elektra is one of the better modern Bond villains in part due to Marceau’s outstanding performance, but also because Elektra is a fascinating character.
Considering the comprehensive narrative of the Bond films, Elektra is an overdue character. It’s easy to see why Bond would be so captivated with her as she’s the same broken, emotional scarred type as his dead wife, Tracy (from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service).
Those random encounters with the normal bevvy of beauties are easily discarded, but saving a woman psychologically is far more appealing to Bond making her betrayal even more intriguing.
Skyfall gets a lot of acclaim for its personal stakes, but Elektra’s vendetta against M is the better revenge subplot. Plus it gives Dench more to do than just assigning Bond a mission and disappearing for the rest of the film. M has to deal with repercussions of her actions and
Delaying the real mastermind reveal works better here than in For Your Eyes Only as Renard actually makes for a fine main villain. His gimmick of not being able to feel pain makes him more formidable.
The opening act speed boat chase is a rarity for the series as it results in Bond getting injured, making him vulnerable throughout the rest of the film. It limits superhuman Bond and makes him work harder to accomplish his mission.
Robbie Coltrane returns as Bond’s ally/rival Valentine Zukovsky in a welcome supporting role. More importantly, this marks the final appearance of Desmond Llewyn’s Q as he turns the reins over to John Cleese. There’s no replacing the original, but Cleese is fun and a great successor.
Director Michael Apted keeps the gadget use to a minimum thankfully restricting them to a handful of action scenes.
The action sequences are a lot of fun. The pier battle with the tree cutter device and the speed boat chase are over the top spectacles, but definitely entertaining.
World gets an unfair rap due to Richards’ performance and a somewhat slow start. Once it gets going, this is an entertaining and underrated entry in the Bond series.