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Tomorrow Never Dies (1997 - R)
This time around, Bond is out to take down media mogul Elliot Carver after discovering the nefarious villain's plans to instigate WW III between China and Britain in hopes of securing broadcasting rights and thus, global denomination in the media market. Helping Carver plot his scheme are guerilla Germans and a radical leftist U.S. terrorist. But this time Bond will get some extra help of his own, from the beautiful Chinese undercover agent, Wei Lynn. Together, the two work to prevent their countries from going to war before Carver and his goons' plans prevail and mayhem ensues!
Directed by: Roger Spottiswoode.
The film commences at the Russian Border with an Arms Bazaar, currently being monitored by British forces. When the British military acts too hastily, however—no thanks to Admiral Roebuck—sending a large missile as a surprise gift for the neo terrorists, British agent “James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is unfortunately forced to inform the amateur crime fighters that the Bazaar is packing a jet with several nuclear warheads. Though the British Admiral calls a cease-fire on the missile, it is too far out of range for cancellation. So the film commences with a spectacular action sequence, involving lots of pyrotechnics, the famed theme song, “Tomorrow Never Dies,” and looks quite a bit like an updated version of former Bond flick, “Octopussy’s” opening action sequence.
With a rather updated, albeit familiar jazzy acid techno credits section, one can see that, thanks to the many revolutions in film technology since the last flick in the Bond series, “Tomorrow” promises to be, if not one of the better story lines, at least a far more polished and well-acted film than some of its sub par predecessors. And, within the first five minutes, Pierce Brosnan depicts himself as more than a deft cast for infamous British secret service agent 007.
But back to the action.
The Germans are once again (predictably) involved; some things never change. This time, under the influence of independent media mogul, Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce), they’re staging a con that’s intended to make trouble for none other than the UK, also predictable. Set in the South China Sea, after the German goons launch an attack on the Brit’s submarine, the British believe they’ve been attacked by Chinese firepower (since the Chinese have already radioed warning calls from the air). Likewise, however, the Germans launch attack on the Chinese jet. Yet again it looks like the Germans are attempting to instigate another world war; all that remains to decipher is why they’re working for Carver, and what the latter’s motives are for all the recent mayhem.
With Carver back in Hamburg, he prepares to host a big party inaugurating the highly anticipated launch of both his recent innovation: a software guaranteed to demand “updates” for years, and his first international broadcast debut. Planning to use staged footage from the recent “episode” in the South China Sea, Carver reveals himself the obvious culprit of the film; the motive: global broadcast denomination.
Meanwhile, the British military is hot on the tails of a revenge tactic. They plan to retaliate on the Chinese after discovering their dead men riddled with Chinese artillery (which of course came from the Germans backing Carvers nefarious plans). With 48 hours to investigate before military intervention, secret service head honcho M (Judi Dench) sends Bond to Hamburg to attend Carver’s much anticipated broadcast party. The plot thickens when news of Bond’s former affair with Mrs. Paris Carver (Teri Hatcher) is forwardly suggested to be used as ammunition to garner any and all necessary information pertaining to her recent husband.
While Bond plays sleuth to the “Emperor of the Air’s” wife, Carver fraternizes with, appropriately enough, a precarious Chinese woman in the guise of a would-be news reporter, Wei Lynn (Michelle Yeoh), whose quite interested in Carver’s business operations almost as much as Bond. After Bond makes a too forward query as to Carver’s business plans, Carver takes matters into his own hand via a soundproof room and more than a few of his oversized goons. Meanwhile, back in the main room, Carver prepares to globally broadcast the tragic footage, however tainted, of the recent affairs in the South China seas. Of course Bond escapes his recent impromptu beating and manages to sabotage the “scrappy media mogul,” Mr. Carver’s attempted international broadcast. After receiving some scathing mockery from local broadcast stations, the humiliated Elliot Carver begins his plot to undo Bond, also using his wife Paris as bait.
Of course, “That ol’ flame” intervenes; sparks fly yet again between the former lovers as Paris’ impromptu investigation turns into a rather romantic interlude between heiress and agent. Meanwhile, Carver’s investigation leads him to knowledge of Mrs. Carver’s former acquaintanceship he decides, without a moment’s hesitation might one add, to finish his wife thanks to a precarious doctor visit.
So Bond gathers the required information to infiltrate Carver’s media lab, while Mrs. Carver does her best to avoid her husband’s maniacal and murderous tactics. Meanwhile Bond has the pleasure of running into the apt Wei Lynn whose curiosity sparks more than a few alarms at Carver’s headquarters. After a daredevil escape, Bond quickly heads back to his flat where he finds the late Mrs. Carver. But Bond is not alone with the deceased beauty…After a hilarious episode involving some comic relief via the short-lived, but memorable, character Dr. Kaufman, Bond makes yet another quick escape in his indestructible, (thanks to Q), BMW.
Meanwhile, back in the South China Sea, U.S. Air Force is once again providing assistance to British agent 007. After some hi-tech sleuthing, Bond sets out to prove Britain’ S.S. Devonshire was deliberately set off course, thereby exposing yet another political conspiracy in the Bond series. While excavating the deep sea ruins of the Devonshire, Bond has the pleasure of once again bumping into the precarious Wei Lynn, who by now has revealed herself to be, more than likely, a Chinese agent.
But any hope at cracking the case together is quickly interrupted by Carver’s German affiliates. After their capture, and an interlude with Carver and goons, Lynn and Bond are on their way to exposing his criminality after a harrowing, albeit stunning motorbike escape chase through the streets of Saigon during which Wei Lynn once again proves herself a viable agent. Chemistry ignites between the two agents as they prepare to infiltrate Carver’s stealth sub, which conveniently is the target of igniting the final mayhem between Chinese and British governments; hoping to stall Carver’s plotted missiles from falsely starting war between the two mega powers, Wei Lynn and Bond have exactly 10 minutes to destroy the ship, kill Carver and nemeses, and stall China and Britain from opening fire on each other. But of course, as any good Bond film would require, complications ensue. With the clock counting down, the only question that remains is, just how good of a team do the Chinese and British agent duo prove to be?
“Tomorrow Never Dies” is a pulse pounding, action-packed, fun race to the finish line. With plenty of the Bond favorites: Germans, nuclear missiles, “Bond girls”, and a slew of greatly improved special effects and chase sequences, “Tomorrow” proves a great comeback for the long running series. Pierce Brosnan is right on with his modern day version of the infamous British secret service agent 007. He brings all the panache and debonair qualities required of the gentleman-meets playboy agent. Likewise, actress Yeoh is solid in her role as Wei Lynn. She is quite an evolved, self-sufficient, and physically, as well as mentally and aesthetically, apt for survival (and some major “butt kicking”) in this film. She is a prototype for the new-age Bond girl: smart, sophisticated, deadly, and of course, packed with a deadly arsenal of martial arts and other special tricks up her sleeve.
As far as plot and storyline go, “Tomorrow” is just as formulaic as the rest of the films. But the benefits of new technology, and better acting (much better), help the film move along effortlessly and with all the appropriate melodrama and mounting suspense that can sometimes be found wanting in some of the former Bond flicks. There is nothing disappointing about “Tomorrow,” especially when viewed in context: it is a Bond film, and as such, anticipates particular plot lines, drama, action sequence, and even particular countries and villains involved.
All in all, “Tomorrow” is a fresh take on the oldy, but goody storylines of all the classic Bond films. Brosnan is solid; Yeoh is on queue, and Judi Dench is an interesting modern stand in for the, until then, male-cast role of secret service head honcho “M.” Between her powerful presence, however small her role, and Yeoh’s dramatic visual flair during the action sequences (no damsel in distress here), the film was refreshingly modern, depicting women in an entirely new light: not every woman needs James Bond’s help—though they enjoy it all the same.
“Tomorrow” was nominated for Golden Globe for Best Original Song (Sheryl Crow). The film also received another 8 nominations, including the European Film Award for Outstanding European Achievement in Cinema (Pierce Brosnan), as well as a Grammy nomination for Best Song for a Motion Picture (Sheryl Crow). “Tomorrow Never Dies” also won another 6 critical film awards, including the Motion Picture Sound Editor’s Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing.
Pierce Brosnan plays British agent 007, James Bond,
Judi Dench plays M
Terri Hatcher plays Paris Carver
Samantha Bond plays Moneypenney
Desmond Llewelyn plays Q
Michelle Yeoh plays Wai Lin
Jonathan Price plays Elliot Carver
Vincent Schiavelli plays Dr. Kaufman
Moneypenny: Don’t ask.
Moneypenny: Queen and country, James.
Mrs. Paris Carver: Tell me James, do you still sleep with a gun under your pillow?
Bond: Why did you marry him?
Mrs. Carver: This job of yours…murder on relationships.
Wade: You know that officially, Uncle Sam is completely neutral in this turkey shoot.
Mr. Carver: Words are the new weapons; satellites, the new artillery.
Mr. Carver: The difference between insanity and genius is measured only by success.