Wednesday, September 12, 2012

007 James Bond Marathon: Tomorrow Never Dies

Based on the stories by Ian Fleming, Tomorrow Never Dies is the story of James Bond facing off against a media mogul who is intent on destroying the world and profiting from it with his false news. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode and screenplay by Bruce Feirstein, the film is another adventure in which Bond tries to save the world as he gets help from a Chinese spy who is proven to be an equal to Bond. With Pierce Brosnan playing Agent 007 for the second of his four outings. The film also stars Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher, Ricky Jay, Gotz Otto, Joe Don Baker, Vincent Schiavelli, Samantha Bond, Desmond Llewelyn, and Judi Dench as M. Tomorrow Never Dies is a fun and captivating film from Roger Spottiswoode.

After a British frigate was sent off course where it nearly went into Chinese waters, the frigate was mysteriously sank by a drill while a Chinese fighter jet was shot down. The incident makes the news as M asks James Bond to investigate the matter before the British Navy sends its ships to China to recover and maybe retaliate for what happened. Bond goes to Hamburg to attend an event at the news headquarters of media mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) whose wife Paris (Teri Hatcher) is a former flame of Bond’s. Also attending is a Chinese spy named Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) who masquerades as a reporter to get into the event as Bond chats with Paris who later reveals to Bond about what her husband is doing.

Bond goes into Carver’s secret base to retrieve a secret GPS encoder that he saw at a previous mission that was in the possession of a techno-terrorist named Henry Gupta (Ricky Jay). Bond gets the encoder but encounters trouble as he also sees Lin at the building trying to investigate as well. Bond makes his escape only to be confronted by a professional assassin in Dr. Kaufman (Vincent Schiavelli) who is trying to kill Bond so that Carver can make a headline to reveal that Bond is dead. Instead, Bond fights his way out as he travels to the East Vietnam Seas to meet with Jack Wade (Joe Don Baker) to reveal the GPS encoder as they learn about how the British frigate went off course. Bond goes to the wreck where he also sees Wai Lin where they make a discovery until they’re captured by Carver’s henchman Stamper (Gotz Otto).

The film is another story of James Bond trying to stop World War III from happening. However, in this post-Cold War world, the opponents are different as the situations to create World War III is much more complicated as it’s driven by this psychotic media mogul who wants to profit from World War III and become the top man of the media. For Bond, it’s a mission that has him trying to save the world once again as he would team up with a Chinese spy who is more of an equal to him as she is able to get things done and get out of tense situations.

Bruce Feirstein’s screenplay does have a lot of the attributes and plot schematics that is expected in a Bond film. Yet, it does manage to create something new in the way Bond has to deal with this new world order that wants to take control of the world events and prosper from it. Elliot Carver is an interesting villain as he’s just this man that is intent on wanting to get huge ratings and control the media for the sake of power as he is willing to do anything to achieve that. This would allow Bond to do something as he teams up with a Chinese agent in Wai Lin who is aware that Carver wants to have China be part of a war that they all know could be catastrophic. Lin is a unique character as she is someone who has her own tricks to get out of a situation as she and Bond become a team that can really do a lot of damage for Carver.

Roger Spottiswoode’s direction is definitely big in terms of its ambition and the action sequences that is created. Yet, he takes the time to let the mystery unfold as it is about Bond trying to see what Carver is up to before the Royal Navy can retaliate against the Chinese. With lots of amazing shots set in Hamburg, London, and Bangkok, it’s definitely a film that bears a lot of the hallmarks of the Bond films while Spottiswoode does create interesting shots to play out its suspense and drama. Notably the moments between Bond and Carver where the camera angles to establish these two men trying to outsmart one another and figure out how to outwit them. Overall, Spottiswoode crafts a very solid and engaging film that has all the hallmarks of a Bond film while making sure that it’s also exciting.

Cinematographer Robert Elswit does excellent work with the photography for many of the film‘s exteriors including Carver‘s event and the lights inside his secret stealth ship. Editors Michel Arcand and Dominique Fortin do nice work with the editing by creating fast yet steady cuts for the film‘s action scenes while slowing things down for its suspenseful moments. Production designer Allan Cameron and set decorator Peter Young do fantastic work with the set pieces such as the MI6 video room, the look of the stealth ship, and Carver’s home base. Costume designer Lindy Hemming does very good work with the costumes from the clothes the men wear to the glamorous dresses that Paris Carver and Wai Lin wear at Carver‘s presentation event.

Special effects supervisor Chris Corbould does terrific work with the special effects for many of the film‘s action scenes including the sinking of the British frigate. Sound editor Martin Evans does superb work with the sound to capture the chaos of the action scenes as well as the layers of sound in the Carver‘s presentation event. The film’s music by David Arnold is brilliant for its mix of lush orchestration and low-key electronic music arrangements to create a modern soundtrack that captures the spirit of the Bond music of the past. The soundtrack features the power-ballad title track sung by Sheryl Crow as well as the closing ballad Surrender by k.d. lang as well as sped-up, electronic take on the James Bond theme by Moby.

The casting by Debbie McWilliams is wonderful for the ensemble that is created as it features appearances from Julian Fellowes as the defense minister, Geoffrey Palmer as Admiral Roebuck, Vincent Schiavelli as Carver’s assassin Dr. Kaufman, and Joe Don Baker as Bond’s CIA friend Jack Wade. Bond regulars in Samantha Bond as the always witty Miss Moneypenny while Desmond Llewelyn is superb as the inventive Q who has a great moment with Bond in presenting a new car. Ricky Jay is terrific as the brainy cyber-terrorist Henry Gupta while Gotz Otto is very good as the very intimidating henchman Stamper. Teri Hatcher is stellar in a small role as Carver’s wife Paris who has a past with Bond as she would give Bond crucial information that would help drive the plot forward.

Jonathan Pryce is brilliant as the very ambitious Elliot Carver as Pryce gets a chance to be very calm and cool while also very dark in the way he wants to control the media. Michelle Yeoh is great as Chinese agent Wai Lin as she is someone who is very smart and charming but also manages to be a total badass in the way she deals with her foes as she proves to be a formidable equal for Bond. Finally, there’s Pierce Brosnan as James Bond where Brosnan maintains a mix of low-key wit and charm with a sense of grit as he makes Bond more relaxed but also captivating in the way he goes on about with his mission while being someone who does have rules. It’s Brosnan giving a very fine performance that allows Bond to be the professional but also display a bit of humanity in the way he deals with loss.

Tomorrow Never Dies is an excellent film from Roger Spottiswoode that features a superb performance from Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. Along with top-notch supporting work from Michelle Yeoh and Jonathan Pryce, it’s a film that has a lot of the elements of a James Bond film that audiences can enjoy while bringing something different to keep it fresh. In the end, Tomorrow Never Dies is a remarkable film from Roger Spottiswoode.

James Bond Files: The EON Films: Dr. No - From Russia with Love - Goldfinger - Thunderball - You Only Live Twice - On Her Majesty's Secret Service - Diamonds are Forever - Live and Let Die - The Man with the Golden Gun - The Spy Who Loved Me - Moonraker - For Your Eyes Only - Octopussy - A View to a Kill - The Living Daylights - Licence to Kill - GoldenEye - The World is Not Enough - Die Another Day - Casino Royale (2006 film) - Quantum of Solace - Skyfall - SPECTRE - No Time to Die

Non-EON Films: Casino Royale (Climax! TV Episode) - Casino Royale (1967 film) - Never Say Never Again

Bond Documentaries: Bond Girls Are Forever - True Bond - Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007

© thevoid99 2012

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