World Is Not Enough, The (1999)

The World Is Not Enough (1999), directed by Michael Apted.

This 007 adventure has an unusual amount of backstory with a kidnapping and M using the victim as bait to catch a terrorist, long before Bond is even involved. I've always found the plot confusing; does MI6 have a legitimate interest in this or is it just because M is pals with Sir Robert King? How many sets of villains do we have and what are their interests?

In the end the bad guys are just nuts, which is weak screenwriting.

On the good side this entry is treated as an homage to the classic Bond films and does it well: the skiing and casinos, the overly ornate torture device, the old swipe the nuclear weapon gambit.

I've always been less happy with the silliness factor in the series, so don't care much for the submersible land boat chasing an assassin through the streets of London and down the Thames, although that is a spectacular sequence. Likewise the x-ray specs. The humor is pretty feeble here, wasting Robbie Coltrane.

But you've got to hand it to them, I've never seen flying attack snowmobiles before. Or defusing a nuke while traveling down an gas pipeline at 70mph. Or a man killed with a plutonium spear.

I'm not following the mechanics of the final action climax on the sub, some silliness with the reactor. It's exciting, ok.

Pierce Brosnan continues as an expert Bond, skillfully managing both the killer and comedian parts.

I am so glad Sophie Marceau got to be a Bond girl and villain. She also convinces us both ways. Gorgeous and legitimately scary.

Although I wouldn't have picked Robert Carlyle as a nemesis, I have to admit he makes it work. His sadness and yearning, his bitter humor when facing his inevitable death. The actor can go to a dark place and he uses that here.

Denise Richards received a lot of derision as the bodacious nuclear physicist babe, but I don't care. She's funny and nicely ornamental. Sue me. Are we worrying about casting after using John Cleese as Q's new assistant? In a commentary track the crew give her much praise: she endured difficult location shooting and was an uncomplaining trouper throughout.

Photographed by Adrian Biddle -- Aliens (1986), The Mummy (1999), The Princess Bride (1987), Willow (1988).

Composer David Arnold (Stargate (1994)) continues with the second in his series of five Bond films. In keeping with the classic 007 orientation of this one he is very good at mining the old themes, making them both familiar and vivid for a 90s audience.

Available on Blu-ray with two commentary tracks: one for the director and another for the crew.