The James Bond Film Festival. Part 18: Tomorrow Never Dies

The James Bond Film Festival. Part 1: Dr. No
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 2: From Russia with Love
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 3: Goldfinger
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 4: Thunderball
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 5: You Only Live Twice
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 6: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 7: Diamonds are Forever
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 8: Live and Let Die
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 9: The Man with the Golden Gun
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 10: The Spy Who Loved Me
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 11: Moonraker
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 12: For Your Eyes Only
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 13: Octopussy
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 14: A View to a Kill
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 15: The Living Daylights
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 16: License to Kill
The James Bond Film Festival. Part 17: Goldeneye

Last Fall was a hectic time. I was in the midst of buying a house, I lost my job, and I relocated to the Pacific Northwest. There were the not-so-jolly holidays, the death of my mom’s husband, frantically looking for work, kayaking on the Birch Bay, getting back into SCUBA… The James Bond Film Festival had to wait. Now it’s time to get back on track.

James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is spying on a terrorist arms bazaar on the Russian border. Back home, military officials decide to wipe out the gathering of noted terrorists by launching a SLCM. Only then do they notice that there is a jet sitting on target laden with nuclear weapons. Although the SLCM may not cause them to detonate, there would be enough plutonium spread around to make Chernobyl look like a picnic. Bond rushes in and steals the nuke-carrying L-39 Albatross (I believe that’s what it is) and makes his escape. The back-seater regains consciousness and tries to strangle Bond, while a second jet attacks from behind. Bond flies his jet with his knees and gets under the attacking jet. He ejects the back-seater into it.

So begins Tomorrow Never Dies, the 18th film in the Bond canon.

After the opening credits, the frigate HMS Devonshire finds herself in Chinese waters. Oops! Someone is playing monkeyshines with the GPS signal! A “stealth ship”, invisible to radar – and to the eyes of Chinese pilots as well, apparently – uses a “sea drill” to sink Devonshire, timing its attack to coincide with a fly-by of the Chinese MiGs so that the British will believe their ship was sunk by an air-dropped torpedo.

There’s a short story called “The Evening News Is Brought To You By…” (or something similar to that), which tells the story of a corrupt news organisation that instigates spectacular incidents in order to “scoop” them for broadcast and improve their ratings. I don’t remember who wrote it. This is basically the idea of Tomorrow Never Dies. Media mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) is behind the sinking of Devonshire. His aim is to start a war between Great Britain and China by firing a missile at the British fleet (which is to be interpreted as an attack by the Chinese), and another one at the Chinese fleet (which will be interpreted as a British attack). Using the missile he stole from the sunken Devonshire, he will launch an attack against Beijing. Carver’s Chinese accomplice, General Chang (Philip Kwok), will conveniently be out of the city and will take control when the rest of the government are dead. He will broker a peace, and Carver will have exclusive broadcasting rights in China for the next hundred years.

The “Bond Girl” in this film is Col. Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh, who is always nice to look at :slight_smile: ). The Henchman is Stamper (Götz Otto), a cold-blooded killer and student of torture. This blond Übermensch reminded me a bit of Robert Shaw’s “Donald ‘Red’ Grant” in From Russia With Love. Not that he was as good; he just “sorta-kinda” had a similar look about him.

The chase scene through Saigon was nicely done; although I hated the silly helicopter antics, which always bug me. Nice looking BMW. There were also a couple of lines that stood out from the usual double-entendres. Carver Media Group is putting out new software. Carver is told that it is full of bugs, which will force people to upgrade for years. Zing, Microsoft! I also noticed the line by CIA agent Jack Wade (Joe Don Baker): “We have no interest in seeing World War Three… Unless we start it.” Rather prophetic, given the current world situation.

I noticed a couple of shots that could have been better, technically speaking. The first is when Bond is showing off with his new BMW 750 (which looks, the better part of a decade on, rather dated) and he causes it to screech to a halt in front of himself and Q (Desmond Llewellyn). Obviously it would be unsafe to drive a car straight at the actors; so they filmmakers used the age-old trick of aiming toward the camera side of the actors, with the camera positioned so that it looks as if the car is stopped in front of them. They were a smidgen off, and you could see the offset. In the scene where Bond dives on Devonshire, the ship is obviously out of scale. In one shot it looks as if the superstructure is, maybe, eight feet tall.

Tomorrow Never Dies is a little derivative (“Megalomaniac Uses Power For Evil”, and the short story I mentioned earlier), but it’s okay. Good action, and a great Bond Girl.

Isn’t this the one where the motorcycle chase lasts forever and then 15 minutes more? I kinda faded out during that scene, because it was too much product placement to suit my tastes. Bond driving a Beamer I can buy. Sorta. But the exposition of how great the BMW bike is got to be very tiresome. I think this marks the moment where product placement went ballistic in Bond movies, and they’re worse for it.

I liked Pryce as the bad guy and agree about Yeoh.
Nice to have the festival back on track.

Is the motorcycle chase too long? It seemed okay to me. But I did hate the helicopter-shopping-up-the-street part of it. As someone who holds a helicopter certificate, I can’t suspend my disbeliefe that much!

There was blatant product placement before that. The AMC Matador (IIRC) in The Man With The Golden Gun comes to mind immediately, as do the Seiko billboards and watches in Moonraker. Of course, Rolex has always been there; and Omega now, as well.

But I agree that the BMW connection, in terms of parallel marketing, seemed to be carried to an extreme starting with this one.

(Oh, I actually do know how to spell. :o )

Thanks for reviving this.

TND is my favorite of the Brosnan Bonds, simply because the villain’s aim is so darned different.

High points, for me:

I loved the parking lot car-chase, Bond steering the car by remote control, and the rental car’s being returned through the window of the renatl agency. For that matter, Q’s banter with Bond in the capacity of being a rental agent was pretty funny too.

Very nice set of double-entendres surrounding the blond Danish teacher at the beginning of the movie. She’s my favorite of the tertiary Bond Girls, and quite possibly the sexiest female to appear in a Bond film.

I do like how Bond and Wei-Lin worked together. That’s pretty much the type of dynamic they were aiming for with Jinx in Die Another Day, but it fell completely flat there.

Teri Hatcher was a drawback. She’s nice to look at, but the role was terrible. Bond getting her in bed seemed totally gratuitous. Also, Stamper wasn’t much of a henchman. Quite frankly, though, distinctive henchmen are hard to find without making them ludicrous. The only one I can think of who I really liked, in retrospect, was Oddjob from Goldfinger. Others were just generic strongmen, or based on a ridiculous gimmick. The only ones who actually distingushed themselves in action (though not in nature) were Jaws and May Day.

In regards to:

Not so unbelievable - it was painted black and only emerged from its grotto-hideout at night. A black object is very hard to pick out against a calm night sea.

I’ll plan on watching The World Is Not Enough next week, and I’ll post TJBFF:19 then. (In case anyone wants to watch it beforehand.) :slight_smile:

Y’know, after watching TND, my friends and I were speculating about what Teri Hatcher’s role was like before editing. To us, it seemed that her prominence in publicity and promo material (okay, posters) seemed to indicate that she would have a more substantial role.

Of course, there was that whole “she found out she was pregnant after she got the role” thing…

This film was popular in the Boods household because it gave me a line which has proven useful in so many, many situations,

‘I am a professor of forensic medicine. Believe me, Mr. Bond, I could shoot you from Stuttgart und still create ze proper effect’.

Did cause some giggles in the theatre where I saw it, as it was a thin, but good-humoured crowd – can’t remember the dialogue exactly, but in the scene where Mrs Meglomaniac (Teri Hatcher) and Mr Bond are discussing why he abandoned her, I believe she asks why he abandoned her, I blurted out, ‘Cos you’ve been sleeping with Superman, you silly tart!’

Jonathan Pryce had all of the best lines, delivered in a rather delicious manner…mmmmm, Mr Dark gets his own global communications network…yes, please.

TND, to me, is a pretty good flick that was able to secure the franchise after Golden Eye’s semi-rocky start. Plenty of fun. I agree that the most memorable scene after the opening, was the cycle chase.

I liked the ladies Hatcher - to me- did a good job (vetry much a Goldfinger moment there) & Yeoh did almost all her own stunts
There actually was a devloped Stealth Ship – developed for the USN and which they passed on. Supposedly the one in TND is based - by design & shape - on the concept prototypes.

Oh, one other interesting little tidbit about TND: it seems to make a good political litmus test. Ask someone who they think Eliot Carver was based on. Left-wingers will generally say Rupert Murdoch, right-wingers, Ted Turner (which was my original impression).

Tomorrow Never Dies is on CBS Sunday.

There is a photograph of what I think is this ship in my office building somewhere. I’ll have to compare it to a screenshot from the film.

I haven’t seen this movie since it came out, so I don’t have much more to add. I do like Bond knocking over the $100 million satellite in the one lab. And, of course, the protracted “henchman/Bond fight to the death.”

Thanks for reviving these threads; it’s good to see you back! I shamelessly stole the idea for my own set of discussions, but with many fewer participants. :frowning:

We’re up to Part 19 now. :wink:

Next week is Die Another Day.