Tomorrow Never DiesDecember 19, 1997
James Bond heads to stop a media mogul's plan to induce war between China and the UK in order to obtain exclusive global media coverage.
Release Year: 1997
Rating: 6.4/10 (67,105 voted)
Critic's Score: 56/100
Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh
Agent James Bond 007 is on a mission which includes a media tycoon, his former lover and a Chinese agent. Elliot Carver wants to complete his global media empire, but in order for this to work., he must achieve broadcasting rights in China. Carver wants to to start up World War III by starting a confrontation over British and Chinese waters. Bond gains the helping of Wai Lin on his quest to stop him, but how will Bond feel when he meets up with his former lover, who is know Carver's wife.
Joe Don Baker
Chief of Staff Charles Robinson
Minister of Defence
Tha Man. The Number. The License…are all back.
MGM [United States] |
Release Date: 19 December 1997
Filming Locations: Albert R. Broccoli 007 Stage, Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $25,143,007
(21 December 1997)
Did You Know?
The film made particularly heavy use of gadgetry because some fans thought there was too little of it in
When Bond is fighting in the sound studio, he picks up a lampshade and uses it as a weapon. He strikes two of the henchmen with it, and never drops it, yet it has magically disappeared from his hands in the next scene.
Our man's in position on the center camera. It's like a terrorist supermarket. Chinese Long March Scud, Panther AS-565 attack helicopter, a pair of Russian mortars, and the crates look like American rifles. Chilean mines. German explosives. Fun for the whole family.
A good example of what the Bond films have always been- superior escapist entertainment
One of the standard received ideas of film criticism is to say that
sequels are almost never as good as the original film. (There are also
a few standard exceptions to this rule, such as 'The Godfather Part 2'
and the second and third parts of the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy).
Subject to these exceptions, however, there seems to be a law of
diminishing returns to the effect that the more sequels a franchise
spawns, the worse they become. The Bond films, however, seem to me to
provide the most striking exception to this principle. The franchise
started with 'Dr No' in the early sixties, and 'Tomorrow Never Dies'
amounts to 'James Bond XVIII', or 'James Bond XIX' if one includes
'Never Say Never Again' in the total. Despite this, one can watch the
latest offerings with as much pleasure as the original Sean Connery
films from the sixties and seventies.
The Bond films are highly formulaic. They typically start with an
action sequence before the opening credits that has little or nothing
to do with the film that is to follow. The main story will involve Bond
thwarting a dastardly plot by some megalomaniac bent on world
domination. It will always involve at least one extended chase
sequence, and possibly two or more. The main character, apart from Bond
and the villain, will always be a beautiful young woman who helps Bond
in his quest and who will end up by falling for him. There will always
be at least one other beautiful girl, either as a secondary heroine or
as a villainess. The villain will always have a small army of henchmen
ready to do battle on his behalf. The story will always end with a
shoot-out, normally in the villain's headquarters, in which Bond
manages to avert the threatened disaster at the last minute.
'Tomorrow Never Dies' contains all these formulaic elements. It is,
nevertheless, in my view one of the better entries in the Bond canon,
for a number of reasons beyond the fact that Pierce Brosnan is the best
Bond since Connery. These can be summarised as follows:-
1. The Villain. Jonathan Pryce plays Elliott Carver, a newspaper and
media tycoon intent on whipping up a war between Britain and China. The
reason is to facilitate the accession to power of his ally, a renegade
Chinese general who has promised to give his organisation exclusive
broadcasting rights in China. Bond villains have always provided scope
for some splendidly over-the-top displays of acting, going back to
Lotte Lenya's Rosa Klebb and Gert Frobe's Goldfinger. Although Pryce's
Carver is more restrained than some, it falls within this tradition. At
first sight the silver-haired bespectacled Carver seems mild-mannered
and soft spoken, but soon reveals the raving megalomania which is the
hallmark of the Bond villain. Particularly noteworthy is the speech
where Carver states his ambitions as being 'power' and 'world
domination'. Although he puts a liberal, metaphorical interpretation on
these two concepts, the audience is left in no doubt that he means what
he says quite literally. There is also a good performance from Gotz
Otto as Carver's brutal German henchman, Stamper.
2. The Girl. Admittedly, Teri Hatcher is rather wasted as the secondary
Bond girl Paris Carver, Elliott's wife and a former girlfriend of Bond.
Michelle Yeoh, however, is superb as the main female lead, the Chinese
secret agent Wai Lin. (That's how it's spelled, although the
pronunciation used in the film suggests that the name should actually
be transliterated as Wei Lin). Apart from Michelle's striking looks,
she is also an accomplished martial arts performer, and her skills are
put to good use in this film. (Part of a trend of giving Bond girls a
more active role, in contrast to the earlier films in the series where
they were required to do little other than look decorative.) 3. The
Chase Sequence. The main one, in which Bond and Wai Lin escape on a
motorbike through the streets of Hanoi from the villains in a
helicopter, is excellent. 4. The Opening Sequence. As usual, this has
little to do with the main plot line. It does, however, fit in with a
growing tendency in the Bond films, that of mocking or undermining the
militaristic, macho values which the series was once accused of
promoting. This film introduces a new comic character, the gung-ho,
blustering Admiral Roebuck, a sort of naval equivalent of Colonel
Blimp, who clashes with the more liberal 'M', the female chief of the
British Secret Service. (I was interested to learn that the actors who
play them, Geoffrey Palmer and Judi Dench, are husband and wife in real
life). In the opening sequence, Bond narrowly prevents Roebuck's
blundering attempt to bomb a gathering of international terrorists from
setting off a nuclear explosion. The more active roles for female
characters are also part of the trend towards a politically correct
Bond, as is, perhaps, his remark that smoking is a 'filthy habit'. (The
earlier films were often criticised for glamorising the habit by making
Bond himself a smoker).
As with all the Bond films, one can probably pull holes in the plot of
'Tomorrow Never Dies'. (The scene where Carver sinks a British warship
by cutting a hole in the side with what looks like a giant chainsaw
struck me as particularly implausible. What's wrong with a torpedo?)
Nevertheless, the Bond films are not meant to be works of social
realism and unlike, say, the novels of John Le Carre, have never
purported to give an accurate picture of life in the British Secret
Service. 'Tomorrow Never Dies' is a good example of what the Bond films
have always been- superior escapist entertainment. 7/10