For the first time in my 007 Marathon, I’ve come across a Bond film I’ve actually seen before! That’s a strange feeling. I didn’t remember much about 1999’s The World Is Not Enough (I was probably too excited about The Phantom Menace that year), and even now – writing this article about two hours after seeing the movie – I’ve already begun to forget about it all over again.
The World Is Not Enough‘s biggest problem is that it’s completely generic and uninteresting. While its predecessor gave us some inventive action pieces and memorable characters, World is two hours of white noise. From an overly long, boring opening sequence to an overly long, boring final sequence, it all feels mindless. It’s not even bad, necessarily. It just exists but gives no real reason for that existence.
In fact, the only thing that I really found of value in the film is the send off it gives to Desmond Llewelyn’s Q. Llewelyn joined the series in Goldfinger, and has been begrudgingly “lending” 007 his latest tech ever since. Llewelyn died shortly after the film’s release, and never got the chance to prolong Q’s retirement. I always knew that Q was a staple Bond character, but had no idea how important Llewelyn himself was to the role and to the franchise itself. I felt legitimately sad when he passed the proverbial torch to “R,” played by John Cleese, and shared one final tender moment with 007 before slowly disappearing into a secret trap door:
Q: “I’ve always tried to teach you two things. First, never let them see you bleed.”
James Bond: “And the second?”
Q: “Always have an escape plan.”
Besides that, World doesn’t offer much to the franchise as a whole, and has already gone down in history as one of the forgotten entries in the series. Sophie Marceau shines as Elektra King, the film’s femme fatale. Her partner in crime, Renard (played by Robert Carlyle) is less memorable, and I feel the film never does enough with his character’s gimmick: he cannot feel pain because of a bullet lodged in his brain that will eventually kill him. It’s a cool idea, but it doesn’t really go anywhere.
Judi Dench gets a bit more screentime as M, and is fantastic as always, and while her arc and stakes in the story were interesting, they were, again, only half-baked. Skyfall takes a similar route with her character, and does such a better job with it.
Denise Richards is an odd choice for Bond girl Dr. Christmas Jones, and is pretty terrible in her role. She’s also about twenty years younger than Brosnan, which comes off as a bit creepy at times. As Brosnan’s career goes on, he starts to approach Roger Moore territory, not just in his penchant for spewing off crappy one liners but in the fact that he no longer looks like a strapping, capable secret agent. He’s actually about the same age as Daniel Craig’s Bond, but Craig is so much more of a physical, intimidating force than Brosnan and actually pulls it off.
Overall, I found World to be a completely forgettable experience, which explains why I had no real recollection of it to begin with.