1. CBn Reviews 'Tomorrow Never Dies'

    By Devin Zydel on 2006-08-23

    Over the last several months, members of the CBn Forum have been reviewing all the James Bond 007 films in the “Countdown Threads“. If you wish to join in on the forum discussion all you have to do is register. Now here are some selected reviews, varying in opinion, of the eighteenth official James Bond film: Tomorrow Never Dies

    ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ by Double-Oh Agent

    Tomorrow Never Dies and neither does James Bond in this action-packed film–the most action-packed film of the series. But as troubled a production as this was (constant re-writes that often went clear to the last moment before filming a scene), it is amazing that Roger Spottiswoode and company were able to make such a good film.

    The bad: Possibly too much action. I don’t mind it, but it probably could have had a bit more story added to it. The motorcycle chase in Saigon, meanwhile, goes on for a bit too long. Ricky Jay’s Henry Gupta seems like a Boris Grishenko clone from GoldenEye only not as effective. A master magician, I would have liked to have seen Jay’s trick of flicking a playing card like a dangerous weapon in the film. (It had been discussed but the idea was abandoned). And Joe Don Baker’s Jack Wade character, as written, is nowhere near as good as he was in GoldenEye. In GoldenEye he was fun and played off Brosnan well, but in this film, in short, he’s not.

    The good: There’s no news like bad news and when Jonathan Pryce’s Elliot Carver gets a megalomaniacal idea in his head, it must be very bad news. Pryce is good as a media mogul run amok with many great lines. The idea to have that type of villain was inspired. I also love the headline that was on the screen behind Carver when Bond and Wai Lin were brought to see him in Saigon: The Empire Will Strike Back. Nice touch. Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin is very good as a dangergous Chinese agent who also happens to be Bond’s equal. At the time, that aspect of a Bond girl was semi-unique and her character is much better and believable in that regard than Halle Berry’s Jinx in Die Another Day. Yeoh also has a good rapport with Pierce Brosnan and the two seem to genuinely like each other. Gotz Otto’s Stamper is a menacing henchman but the best of the film is Vincent Schiavelli’s Dr. Kaufman. He steals the movie in his one and only scene. I wasn’t wild about his casting before the film, but he completely won me over after I first saw the movie.

    Teri Hatcher’s Paris Carver is sexy and it’s easy to see why Bond is so upset about their reunion. Their scene in his hotel room is really good. Pierce Brosnan does a good performance as James Bond and he perfectly captures 007’s moroseness as he sits in silence in his hotel room waiting for a mysterious visitor who turns out to be Paris. Cecilie Thomsen wins the award for skimpiest wardrobe (nothing) and looks great doing it. And Samantha Bond’s Moneypenny has many great lines in this film.

    The Bond car, a BMW 750iL, is not the classic vehicle one imagines when thinking of a Bond car but its remote-controlled ability and all the extras are enough to make you reconsider. The stunts are great, particularly in the first half. The pre-titles sequence is fantastic. It’s my favorite of the series with the slow introduction of 007, the build-up of lots of tension, Bond as the literal White Knight, and him doing the unthinkable–infiltrating a terrorist arms bazaar and making off with a Russian MiG! Adding to the impact of the scenes is the worry and concern back at MI6 headquarters as the observers can only look on the scene via a single, solitary, motionless camera. The whole thing just screams Bond all the way from the opening shot to the ejected backseat driver.

    Lastly, the score by David Arnold is stupendous. He hits all the right notes including playing The James Bond Theme throughout. Some may say it’s played too much, but I say no. After barely hearing it in GoldenEye it’s a welcome return. I especially love the tracks for White Knight, Hamburg Break Out, Hamburg Break In, and Backseat Driver where Arnold really gets the funk out. Sheryl Crowe’s main theme is good–I’m always reminded a little bit of the theme from Perry Mason when I hear it–but I much prefer k.d. lang’s end title song, Surrender. It is simply classic Bond, easiy reminiscent of Shirley Bassey. In some ways I wish the two songs were switched regarding their respective places in the movie. With Arnold’s solid songwriting efforts with Surrender and The World Is Not Enough, I don’t understand why he wasn’t allowed to do the theme song for Die Another Day. Hopefully, he will for Casino Royale, but that’s for another thread.

    All in all, Tomorrow Never Dies provides lots of thrills and takes the viewer on a non-stop ride that doesn’t end until one sees the immortal words: James Bond will return. Who can ask for anything more?

    ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ by tdalton

    Tomorrow Never Dies is another Bond film along the lines of Die Another Day. It starts out great and promising, and then it collapses down the stretch in the second half.

    Pierce Brosnan seems more comfortable in the role in the first half of this movie than he had been in GoldenEye, and it is certainly not his fault that this film is not among the better Bond films.

    The story behind Tomorrow Never Dies is a fascinating one. The idea that a media mogul could provoke two countries to start World War III with eachother is a fantastic and fascinating plot and is the type of thing that you would expect Bond to be involved in. The problem, however, is the locations, more specifically, South China Sea.

    The first half of the film is excellent. Hamburg is a very hip and very Bondian location. Had the entire film been set in Hamburg, then I think that the movie could have shot up the list of Bond films. The producers and director, however, didn’t make full use of the China location, so that segment of the film comes off as being boring at best. The stealth boat was a decent idea, but it could have been used better.

    Teri Hatcher is brilliantly cast, however, as Paris Carver. She is very believable as an ex-girlfriend of James Bond’s, and it is sad that her character is not used more during the film. She could have provided a more indepth subplot for the film. Michele Yeoh is very much like Die Another Day‘s Jinx. She doesn’t really serve much of a purpose in the film, other than to have a female lead who is an equal to Bond. I prefer, however, when Bond works alone. That’s the way the Bond character is set up, as a loner, and yet the producers always seem to try to give him an on-screen partner with which to bring the villian to justice.

    Jonathan Pryce is a decent Elliot Carver. He portrays the egomania of the character very well and is very believable in the role.

    I will say, though, that Sheryl Crowe’s theme song leaves a lot to be desired. I think that they should have stayed with k.d. Lange’s “Surrender” isntead, as it is a better song and is a better Bond theme song than “Tomorrow Never Dies”. This film also marks David Arnold’s debut, and his musical score for Tomorrow Never Dies is very retro and very Bondian, so props to him on that.

    The main problem with the film is, like I said earlier, the locations. The China location has never really worked for me in the Bond movies because the producers never seem to use it to its full potential. Once the film moves to China, it becomes very stagnant and boring. All-in-all, I feel as though Tomorrow Never Dies and Die Another Day are very similar films. They start out very promising and then fizzle out towards the end.

    ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ by DLibrasnow

    Action without substance. The behind-the-scenes problems really hurt this movie and it shows. Nobody seems to be having much fun in this movie as they race from one lame action sequence to another. Whereas the following movie had too much substance, this one has hardly any at all.

    We do have to face a morose 007 chasing after some truly ugly women (only the Danish professor has any appeal), some cardboard cutout Oddjob wannabee (Stamper) and the least interesting, menacing or sinister villain of the series (Carver). Even the plot is rather boring – Britain and China go to war, woohoo, I mean who cares if they do or not?!

    Whereas the action is handled better than in The World Is Not Enough, it is still lame and flat. I suppose we were supposed to find some sadistic glee as (James Bond, curiously jumping back from the death of a woman he professed to love very quickly) is seen grinning like some crack-induced schoolboy as he remotely controls a car around a parking garage. Then his apparent disregard for innocent passerbys as he sends the (potentially lethal) weapon hurtling down to the streets below. What a moron!

    Replacing the great score by Eric Serra, we are instead served up a paint-by-numbers score by David Arnold who doesn’t appear to have an original bone in his body, relying instead on plagiarising former tracks and the criminal overuse of the James Bond theme. It is unforgiveable that instead of giving us something original. Arold instead spoils for all-time such an iconic piece of music.

    It’s hardly surprising that Mike Kitchen decided not to show up in this movie (he probably saw the script and did a pass on it), but we do have Desmond Llewelyn looking like Santa Claus in a ridiculous red car rental uniform.

    ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ by Scottlee

    Apart from the horribly dull Vietnam bike chase (total yawn), this is a first rate Bond film, my second favourite of the Brosnans. There’s a superb pre-credits, some subtle homages to the old style Bond films (Not like the stupidly obvious ones in Die Another Day), and even a good turn from Teri Hatcher, who I feared might ruin this film having bored the crap out of me for 25 saturday teatimes in a row on Superman once upon a time.

    ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ by hrabb04

    A lean, mean, stripped down to the basics James Bond adventure, this one really gets people either loving it or hating it. To me, it’s a Bond movie that proves Bond doesn’t always need an army to help him overwhelm a villain’s lair. In this case, it’s just him and Wai Lin.

    Pierce Brosnan loses the big hair from GoldenEye and really settles into the role here, proving again that he is Sean Connery’s true successor to the role. There are so many little nuances he throws into the role, they just get me going every time. I am like, “Yes! That is Bond! Keep it up!”

    The villain, Elliot Carver, is not a physical threat, and is a bit of a weenie, but you still enjoy rooting for Bond to take him apart, especially after we lose the delightful, hot, hot, hot Teri Hatcher. Carver has a really good death scene, getting exclusive drilling rights from 007.

    Stamper is meant to conjure up Grant, and that is fine, I suppose, but I just wish his character had been developed a bit more. That is one thing that suffers the most in this movie due to its stripped down status…plot and character development. Still, his final fight with Bond is a classic. I love the look on his face when Bond manages to leave him in the hot spot.

    When it comes to the women here, I wish Teri Hatcher would have had a larger role. She’s really good here, and much prettier than Michelle Yeoh. I wish Bond would have gotten back with her throughout the whole movie, but had to split at the end. Still waiting for 007 to not get the girl at the end, a la Fleming’s Moonraker.

    I adore the score by David Arnold. This is probably my favorite of his, so far. It’s an actual movie score for Bond, unlike the through the shredder score by Eric Serra…and it always helps that David Arnold doesn’t sing on the soundtrack, too!

    The action in this movie is top notch. I love the motorcycle chase through Saigon. It keeps building, the score driving things along, and the crew handles it beautifully. The car chase in the parking garage is an absolute favorite of mine, too. I also love the backseat driver remark at the beginning.

    This movie went up against Titanic and held its own, not getting blown out of the water. It’s a damned good Bond movie, folks…not perfect, by any stretch…but, still a damned good oo7 movie.

    ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ by Qwerty

    Not going for second best in the Brosnan Bond films, this one simply is number one for me. To start off with the plot, it truly is one of the oddest, most outlandish, yet original of the series. Ever. Usually criticized for being too cartoonish or un-credible, it’s something completely different, with an epic goal in mind. A war for ratings. All for the media control. Certainly something different I’d say, and therefore for me anyways, it works and it’s always interesting. It is executed in a fine style, the villain outlines what will happen, and clearly shows his overall goals with it. Therefore making a monumental challenge for Bond.

    Brosnan is back again for this one, and I’d say his performance is quite good, as he seems to have settled well into the role, although some claim it was in The World is not Enough that he really got into the role, but either way he seems to be a very credible James Bond.

    Elliot Carver, leader of the Carver Media News Group is quite simply the best villain ever in the James Bond series, in my opinion. Eccentricity, insanity, madness, and the overall cruel, daunting qualities of a maniac are all in this character. He delivers speeches and lines as though he is God…who apparently could only manage a sermon. He’s got his divisions, and his strength in the world, able to “topple governments with a single broadcast” and control almost anyone he wishes. Jonathan Pryce puts an invigorating performance into this character and makes him one of the liveliest villains ever. Over the top at times, maybe, but definitely the qualities of a nemesis.

    Wai Lin and Paris Carver are two very stunning Bond women in this film. In my opinion, Wai Lin may be the only true Bond equal in practically every possibility, Jinx doesn’t come close when compared. Headstrong and independent in many ways, she often shows that she’s doing the main mission and doesn’t need any of Bond’s resources or help. Eventually when the two team up they work brilliantly together, and their scenes leaving the bay are terrific.

    Paris is one of the best “old flames” of the series, and she gets excellent screen time in her scenes, leaving a strong impact I’d say. A definite plus.

    David Arnold does outstanding work for this film. His music is catchy, strong, and overflowing with the Bond music style. Very exciting score, never lets up. His track during the car park sequence is riveting. Sheryl Crow’s title track is underrated and overlooked too often, in my opinion, and is rather enjoyable to listen to. k.d. Lang’s powerhouse ‘Surrender’ is the better of the two however.

    Kleinman comes strong again as well. I’d say that this film features my favorite main title sequence from him yet. I like how he tries to incorporate as much as possible (in regards to plot elements) from the film. It really worked well in this one.

    A terrific James Bond film on many merits.

    ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ by trumanlodge89

    Poor title, but an interesting Bond movie. Above all else, it is very much a throwback to the era of Roger Moore. Pierce seems to have some fun in this movie, and its not too emotional, nor is it filled with the poor dialogue that seemed to plague his later entries. Sure, there is an element of the “personal story” but it is not dwelled upon and it is handled the right way. Paris Carver is a great character, and it is really the first time the idea of Bond facing the women of his past was presented. And it works, mainly becuase it is not the main story of the film. I also find it interesting that Bond and Wai Lin never really hook up romantically, its just a great working relationship, and at the end they’ve both been through a 2 person assult on a boat full of bad guys, they both decide to have some fun instead of being resuced. Sounds very Bondian to me, and Wai Lin is much more Bonds equal than Jinx ever could hope to be. Elliot Carver is a great, over-the-top, ego-crazed villian, and has one of the more interesting schemes of global domination in the series. And I love Dr. Kaufmann.

    David Arnold also delivers a great score here (or, at least, much better than the score from GoldenEye.), and both Tomorrow Never Dies and Surrender are great Bond songs, its too bad only one could be used in the titles. Lets hope the theme to Casino Royale is as good as Surrender.

    This movie falters in the last quater. The assult on the stealth boat is pretty boring actually. The outside shots of the boat compared to the interior just don’t quite work for me. Stamper is a pretty weak henchman as well, not to mention unoriginal. Some may say it is a rehash of The Spy Who Loved Me, but I look at it as a “similar” film. Both are great to watch and both are plenty of fun.

    ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ by A Kristatos

    Here is a Bond movie simiar in scope to my #10 ranked movie, The Spy Who Loved Me. Technically, The Spy Who Loved Me has the better Bond girls, and some more intricate plot twists than Tomorrow Never Dies. But because they are relatively similar in structure, I give the edge to Tomorrow Never Dies probably since it is the movie with the most recent Bond, Pierce Brosnan. I also like this film a touch better since it is the most traditional feeling movie of the Brosnan bunch (not necessarily the best though).

    Personally, one aspect that is far better here is the soundtrack by the oft-maligned David Arnold. Yes, there is some techno beat to some of his cues here to, but for much of the first half of the movie, I thought I was listening to the From Russia With Love soundtrack since he made it so traditional sounding. Even the later John Barry scored Bond movies abandoned the guitar riffs from the original James Bond theme. Arnold brought the original sound back in abundance. Definately a treat to hear!

    Both The Spy Who Loved Me and Tomorrow Never Dies include the megalomanical villian who wishes for world domination. Tomorrow Never Dies contains a twist, however, as the Rupert Murdoch clone, Elliot Carver wants to dominate the world media market. A very big difference from previous Bond movies of similar structure…. Okay, who am I kidding here?! Different plot element, same execution. Back to the main villian, Elliot Carver is played spendidly by Jonathan Pryce, although at times he seems like the class recluse that was ignored by all of his classmates, the unwanted stepchild of his family, as he moans about not getting his way at times throughout the movie. But he still is a memorable villian, and probably the best of the Brosnan era. Obviously his henchman Stamper is another of a series of Red Grant clones, and probably the least effective of all of them, though not entirely bad. And of course, Carver’s assassin, Dr. Kaufman was a delight to watch. Too bad he only lasted the few minutes he did!

    Teri Hatcher and Michelle Yeoh are decent Bond women, though Hatcher seemed to evoke far more chemistry than Yeoh did. Yeoh though, strictly playing Bond’s equal, did a fine job in that department. Finally, the action scenes were all adequate, though a bit much at times, especially during the last half hour of the movie. Unfortunately, the overrelience on action seems to be a common problem from all of the Brosnan Bond movies.

    All in all though, Tomorrow Never Dies is a fun romp of a good time. Certainly it is not one of the most complex entries in the series, but it definately evokes memories of the classic larger than life Bond movies such as The Spy Who Loved Me and Goldfinger. It certainly has that traditional feel and perfect balance of all of the Bond ingredients that keep audiences coming back time after time. A very solid entry from the Brosnan era.