Take a Bow: Pierce Brosnan as James Bond
Taking a look back at Pierce Brosnan’s career as James Bond, one can notice the definite sense of style in the films. With his four films as James Bond, he went through a variety of changes ranging from the personal The World is Not Enough to the glossy Die Another Day. Pierce Brosnan has easily been a very successful actor to portray the suave, sophisticated, and stylish British agent known as James Bond, but to what extent?
Making an entrance
Taking over from Timothy Dalton, after a long six years without a James Bond film, Bond was back, and in a way we had never seen him before, in the 90’s. The Cold War was over, there was a new ‘M’, a new mission, and new threats. The plot itself was an interesting take on making a villain who knows Bond’s every move. It proved to be a very interesting idea because fans were given a villain in the style of Francisco Scaramanga, the “dark side of Bond,” but with a twist, this time the villain was once on the good side of Bond.
A Man of Action
Introduced in 1995’s GoldenEye, he immediately lit up the screen in a fast paced pre-credits sequence. Bullets blazing, explosions occurring, and of course, stunts to launch surprises at the audience. Brosnan is clearly a Bond who can do the action and have it come off well on screen. The opening bungee jump and the leap after the plane are such examples that please the audience. Continuing in the same film, he casually takes what time he needs to wipe his face after a fist fight with a guard. He straightens his tie while in a tank chasing after others and being chased. “Bond. Only Bond,” comes to mind. Brosnan has gotten into a variety of action induced sequences on film. The extremely hard hitting finales with enemy Alec Trevelyan (006) to the battle with the emotionally charged Renard in the nuclear sub are such examples. Brosnan clearly can do the action as James Bond, and he does it in a crowd pleasing style.
The ladies are often not far away in the four Pierce Brosnan James Bond films, and there have been a variety of them. GoldenEye introduces the ever important computer programmer Natayla. Eventually she meets James Bond as her connection with the satellite crosses into the path of Bond. His relationship with Natayla is an interesting one. Clearly she has no interest him upon their first meeting, or she doesn’t prefer to show it. It’s basically those two surrounded by the enemy, which eventually leads to them working together. He chases after her immediately when she is taken captive, and saves her on the train. Their partnership of sorts pays off though. She locates the villain; he works to get them there. The same partnership is in existence during the finale. Natayla works to disable the Goldeneye satellite, Bond works to physically stop the enemies.
Deserving a Bow?
There is much to discuss on the merits of this film and Pierce Brosnan’s first role as James Bond. Many fans were pleased to see a James Bond who seemed to get the first film of the decade off to a brilliant start. Labeled as a mix between Connery’s deadly assurance and Moore’s comic wit by fans, Brosnan served as a fine midpoint of the two. However is that enough? Does the idea of taking a bit from this James Bond actor and a bit from this one make him seem stale in comparison? With his performance in GoldenEye, many were able to start performing an opinion, while others knew from the beginning how they would perceive Brosnan as James Bond.
Tomorrow Never Dies
Already planned before GoldenEye had been in theatres, Tomorrow Never Dies suffered a strenuous shoot and increased the action known to the series in this specific film. Since then, the term “Terminator Bond film” has often been included in such descriptions of the film by fans. Some critics and fans felt the finale which included several gun fights and explosions was far too overdone to even be considered James Bond film action. However, the film generated similar box office business as the previous adventure, so it goes to show that a different take on the action in a Bond film, even if it means having slightly more of it can make a successful film adventure.
A Man of Action
Yes, there is a lot of action in this one, but with a fantastic range. Tomorrow Never Dies brought a new twist to the popular car chases in the Bond films. Bond drives the car with a phone. It’s a scene that works with Brosnan, he’s cool and confident in the scene. We hadn’t ever previously seen such a action piece with the past Bond actors. He’s often moving and running around while the chaos continues. He’s thrashed around in the backseat while the prized BMW 750il receives a beating. Brosnan works as Bond though, if even to notice his small grin when the useful tire inflation kicks in. Is the action too much though? The film goes from a car park chase to a HALO jump to a Saigon bike chase to a warehouse brawl. While there is a large amount of action, it is tastefully edited and put together. Too much fighting with too little time to breathe, or is it the little scenes such as the preparation at the bay, the discussion of the Devonshire’s location, and other scenes of dialogue that provide these sources of taking a breath?
No longer Bond girl, but Bond woman, and that’s what Wai Lin most definitely is. A strong willed Bond woman, which seems to be the best fitting term, who is on a mission of her own. Viewing from Wai Lin’s point, Bond can be the one coming along. Brosnan and Michelle Yeoh both work well in this film with this type of pairing. They both meet undercover at the same party, both plan a break in at the same villain’s location, both search for the same underwater clues, and both have the same goal. A simple scene as them preparing and then embarking on their evening trip to search for the stealth ship is very effective. They both enjoy the other’s company, and Brosnan and Yeoh give class act performances. Teri Hatcher also shares some strong scenes with Brosnan. While her character’s role is on a much smaller scale, it still commands a strong importance. The old flame idea is an intriguing one for Brosnan’s Bond, and it works very effectively in causing a problem between Bond and the villain. We also see how Brosnan’s Bond seems genuinely saddened and distraught when he finds her murdered after just spending the night with her. While past Bond actors suffered losses also, you can clearly see the anger in the scene. It’s strong scene that capitalizes on his role as an agent with a licence to kill.
Deserving a Bow?
It depends on how one likes one’s Bond film, and how one likes Brosnan’s performance. There have been general criticisms from fans that he had just not settled into the role yet, and the one-liners seemed pushed and not having a flowing effect. That can possibly be due to the fact that some fans were relying on the “third times a charm” point. The action highlights the film and doesn’t detract from it. However, there have been complaints about too much focus on action, or too far-fetched a plot. Does this film fall into the sophomore slump?
The World is not Enough
This time it’s personal
Far more a dramatic looking and feeling film than the previous two, The World is Not Enough explores a far more personal side to Bond and his actions and choices while on the dangerous mission. There’s an added layer of this film having more than just a mission Bond is assigned. It’s when it hits home with ‘M’ being kidnapped, Bond realizing he has been betrayed by the sultry and powerful Elektra King, and what he must do to stop her chaotic plan with Renard. The drama seems to have been increased in this film, making Bond’s feelings stand out. A lot more to this film than just your average mission, but does it make the plot better?
A Man of Action
Most definitely, a gripping ride in the extremely long opening pre-credits sequence which features Brosnan’s Bond chasing after the ever evasive Julietta “the Cigar Girl,” which takes him from MI6 headquarters to under several Thames bridges to hanging from a hot air balloon. Later on in the film a snow chase, a commonality in the Bond films, takes place. While the idea is an interesting one because instead of other enemies on skis, we have the ground and air capable Parahawks, might the scene just seem stale with machine guns shooting? Later in the film there is the pipeline sequence, and tension is the word to describe it. The chase itself is also an example of where CGI was used to highlight, but not overtake a sequence in a Bond film. Brosnan clearly isn’t taking this sequence in his usual calm, cool manner. Instantly when he requests the time possible to diffuse the bomb, there’s a manner of determination present. It’s a riveting sequence that grabs the viewer’s attention the whole time and doesn’t release until it’s over. Add to that Brosnan’s rapid and hasty movements in the sequence, and its set for excitement.
On a scale of highlighting the power of a female villainess, Sophie Marceau’s Elektra King ranks highly. She immediately gains the support and trust of many she knows, including the MI6 staff, and Bond. It’s not until certain little clues start appearing that her true intentions and loyalties become clear to Bond. She offers what may be one of the most emotionally straining choices for Bond, when he shoots her dead preceding the underwater finale. Her lines are meant to show how she thinks Brosnan’s Bond is a book which she knows from start to finish. She clearly seems to know, or at least believe she knows his thoughts. Asking him who’ll be afraid, and also claiming he could never kill her. Not her, not a woman he loved. Christmas Jones is the other main female lead of the film. The character of Christmas is much simpler compared to the comparatively complex Elektra. While initially suspicious of Brosnan’s Bond, she grows to like him, continuing along with him throughout the rest of the mission to the very end.
Deserving a Bow?
Letting the fans clearly see the feelings of Brosnan’s Bond during the film provided them with a chance to see his Bond from a different standpoint rather than just a man on a mission. Does the idea to make Brosnan more personal work? Is James Bond a more human character now, and is that how fans want to see him? Fans have pointed out that the film can be said to be nothing more than a soap opera with the actors and actresses just moving through the motions, from one scene to another. Or is this a plan to give the audience something more than just a mission that worked?
Die Another Day
Continuing the Legacy
2002 was the 40th year of this series legacy, and Die Another Day celebrated. Was there a little too much celebration perhaps? There are several scenes which include hints and winks to the past areas of the cinematic and literary Bond. The including of many relics of the past and winks sometimes did take over sequences in the film. Was there too much focus put on including those kinds of elements and not the plot? Or perhaps the film was a brisk and fast paced adventure that knew where it wanted to go, with Brosnan firmly leading it.
A Man of Action
There was a wide selection of action in this film. A sword fight, a laser fistfight, the often appearing car chase, hovercraft battles, and much more were featured. The hovercrafts proved to be a very original way to throw a twist into the typical chase after James Bond, a rather large loss for Brosnan’s Bond in being in control in a chase. Brosnan has lots to do in the sequence and it highlights his strength as indeed, a man of action. There is the controlling of the hovercrafts while in a mine field, but also dealing with the deadly Colonel Moon. The Blades sword fight was something new and was a highlight of the film. It’s the classic high stakes meeting between the villain and James Bond. An obvious dislike at each other which escalates into a bit of sport as the scene continues. Bond’s quite set in his ways to prove his strength to Gustav Graves during the scene, and does so when it concludes. The finale isn’t a favorite for all fans however. Graves and Bond fight, but the majority of the tension is lying in the crashing plane. While the Antonov does provide a fight between Gustav Graves and Brosnan’s Bond, does the scene have the same effect as an earlier Brosnan action scene, such as with Alec Trevelyan in GoldenEye?
Halle Berry’s Jinx offers Brosnan’s Bond a partner of sorts. Their initial meeting of each other has both of them slowly finding out exactly what there is to know about the other. It’s not until the madness at the Cuban clinic that the audience can clearly and easily see it. While Rosamund Pike’s Miranda Frost has the icy reserve on at the party in Iceland, it’s Jinx that is much more welcoming to Bond. They join forces completely later on and Bond clearly has feelings for her. He chases into the melting palace to finally save her life. The finale aboard the ill fated Antonov plane has them working together, similar in style to that of Brosnan and Yeoh in Tomorrow Never Dies. While Jinx seems to be an efficient character, she can sometimes be found to be in need of help actually, although her character has been hyped as being Bond’s equal. She’s trapped in the Ice Palace, where she is luckily saved by Brosnan’s Bond. The other woman Bond encounters is the frigid in nature Miranda Frost. She offers a challenge to Bond in even allowing him to get close to her, something which as first, seems to have no chance. When she betrays him though, there is a complete flush of anger inside of him. Enough anger to make him try to kill her at the first chance with his P99. It goes to show that some of the women Brosnan’s Bond encounters can get under his skin, and be in control of him.
Deserving a Bow?
There is much in this film to analyze. The references to past Bond films and novels, the strong willed Jinx character and other characters, the clear increase of CGI, and obviously Pierce Brosnan’s role and performance are such examples. There is a plot that could have been phenomenal had more emphasis been put upon it. Did this film bring the series to a high point on its 40th anniversary, or was there too much to be shooting for? Did the including of references, hints, and winks affect the plot and overall pace of the film?
Bond. James Bond?
Pierce Brosnan has done some magnificent things for the James Bond series. Sparking the luxurious title of the “Billion dollar Bond” and drawing in more and more fans to the series, it is obvious that the films have done well financially. Brosnan has made contributions to the series, but have they been positive or negative? His dialogue and scenes with many of the characters, the thrilling action sequences, tension filled finales, there is much to these films. Brosnan clearly has been through many stages as James Bond: from battling against a once fellow agent in GoldenEye, the original mission of Tomorrow Never Dies, and being betrayed by women he trusted in The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day. As James Bond, has he done it all? Has he taken his bow as Bond, James Bond?