Pierce Brosnan’s second Bond outing, 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies, is a bit goofier than GoldenEye, but has just enough entertainment value to make it one of the more fun films of the franchise, and a movie that will likely become a guilty pleasure of mine for years to come.
Tomorrow Never Dies is wackier than GoldenEye, as it introduces a host of new gadgets, like a remote controlled car (with missiles!), and one of the series’ most outlandish but ridiculously fun Bond villains to date: media magnate Elliot Carver (played wonderfully by Jonathan Price).
The great thing about Tomorrow Never Dies is that it’s unapologetic about its goofier elements, but never sinks as low as the Moore films often did. There are no goofy sound effects here, and Brosnan – while full of more one-liners this time around – holds the film’s dramatic and comedic elements together. He also gets a kickass Bond Girl this time around in Michelle Yeoh, who plays a Chinese secret agent that actually almost got her own spinoff.
Carver’s plan – to incite war between Britain and China in order to increase his profits and boost the popularity of his already-powerful media empire (and obtain exclusive broadcast rights in China) – is utter nonsense. But, it’s actually not that unbelievable. Somehow, the movie finds a sweet spot where you don’t have to suspend your disbelief too much to enjoy it. It’s no Moonraker.
The film delivers some great action set pieces, which add some fun new elements to the franchise’s tried-and-true but often generic chase scenes. Two in particular stand out: A car chase, in which Bond remotely controls the car from the back seat, and a motorcycle chase, where he and Yeoh are handcuffed together and must keep changing positions on the bike depending on what they’re trying to achieve. I love when the filmmakers get creative with things like this – like the cello case sledding scene in The Living Daylights – because when you watch all of the Bond movies in a row the action scenes all start to feel the same. Those that truly stand out are those that don’t just feature Bond trying to get from point A to point B.
I probably shouldn’t have loved Tomorrow Never Dies as much as I did, but I had a lot of fun with it. It may not be one of the best Bond films (and may not even be a good movie), but it’s entertaining as hell and is one I can see myself easily watching from time to time as a guilty pleasure.