Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), directed by Roger Spottiswoode.

Time to save the world again! James Bond has 48 hours to prevent war between Britain and China. The villain: a media mogul with delusions of being Blofeld.

This has turned out to be unusually prophetic for a Bond film. We have the plausible threat of cyber-warfare by interfering with GPS satellites, and the political excesses of mass media where the moguls make the news. They even propose that software vendors release buggy software on purpose.

Pierce Brosnan's second 007 film is glossy and smoothly produced, rich looking and hitting all the action and humor notes. David Arnold's score skillfully mines traditional Bond music, which is what viewers want: excitement and nostalgia.

Adding Michelle Yeoh as Bond's Chinese counterpart was great casting. I had forgotten that this was before Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and is early in her career outside of Hong Kong martial arts pictures.

Was this an early example of appealing to the Chinese market for films?

We also have Teri Hatcher as another beauty. Bond Girl survival rate is 50% here.

Returning: Judi Dench as M and Joe Don Baker as the crazy CIA liason. Compare to his equally wild but more tragic spy in Edge of Darkness (1985).

On the down side: weak villains. Jonathan Pryce really doesn't impress as a deadly criminal mastermind with his own stealth boat, a variation on Dr Evil's lair. I imagine him more as a jumped-up petty bureaucrat, as in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988).

Magician Ricky Jay is the cyber-terrorist, improbably named "Gupta", which reminds me of Bob Balaban being called "Chandra" in 2010 (1984).

First Bond score by David Arnold, a long-time fan and recommended for the job by John Barry. He would score the next four films.

Available on Blu-ray with two commentary tracks.