Film Review © 2002 by Trip Reynolds


Directed by Lee Tamahori; Screenplay by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade; Produced by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson; Executive Produced by Anthony Waye.

Starring Pierce Brosnan (as Bond, James Bond), Halle Berry (as American super-spy, Jinx), Toby Stephens (as perfunctory bad guy, Gustav Graves), Rosamund Pike (as Graves' femme fatale, Miranda Frost), Rick Yune (as Graves' main henchman, Zao), Judi Dench (as M), John Cleese (as Q), Michael Madsen (as Falco), Kenneth Tsang (as General Moon), Will Yun Lee (as Colonel Moon), Emilio Echevarria (as Raoul), Samantha Bond (as Miss Moneypenny), Colin Salmon (as Charles Robinson), Mikhail Gorevoy (as Vlad), Lawrence Makoare (as Mr. Kil), and Madonna (as Verity).

This review will remind you of my review of, "The World Is Not Enough" which is no accident. Hey, in homage to the tried and true Bond formula, I might as well use a "formula" to review Bond films!

By now, everyone knows the Bond formula: the existence of an eminent threat to world peace or the destruction of the planet; the villain who's the mastermind behind the aforementioned; the extremely imaginable and resourceful high tech, state-of-the-art gadgets and electronics 007 has at his immediate disposal to thwart his nemesis; the beautiful, gorgeous women of all nationalities and races; the death defying stunts; and, of course, the exotic locations where all of the aforementioned take place. According to Variety, as of 1999, with eighteen films dating back to "Dr. No" with legendary 007, Sean Connery in 1962 to "Tomorrow Never Dies" with Pierce Brosnan in 1997, the James Bond films exist as the most successful franchise of all-time with total domestic earnings of $3.57 billion. The "Star War" film franchise is a distant second at $1.79 billion. It's now 2002, in the wake of two more Brosnan films, "The World is Not Enough," and "Die Another Day," the Bond formula has pushed the film franchise over $4 billion. However, despite the success, artistically the franchise is stuck in the mud.

Don't get me wrong, the latest Bond film is definitely worth seeing. Brosnan continues to bring a positive shot in the arm, a vibrancy to the 007 character. And, as usual, film excels in all technical aspects, in particular, editing, sound, art direction, and cinematography. This latest chapter in the Bond dynasty had a wonderful beginning that, unfortunately, got lost as the film progressed.

Film opens with Bond on assignment in North Korea, captured, imprisoned, and tortured for over a year. It's the most gritty, the most non-auspicious handling of the 007 character ever. After eventually acquiring his freedom, Brosnan capably showed 007 as a character noticeably "shaken and stirred" from his capture, imprisonment and torture. Frankly, I was hoping the film would get even grittier from here - like a Sam Peckinpaw film (The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, The Getaway, The Killer Elite). It didn't happen.

Instead, film fell back into the Bond formula - and that was a mistake. Brosnan has the acting chops to deliver on Bond's lineage to its action and adventure genré while also taking Bond into new horizons - which will build positively on the franchise while also effectively keeping Bond's pseudo-challengers (Charlie's Angels, XXX, etc.) at bay. For example, take a look at Brosnan's work as a conniving, manipulative, nearly wash-up spy (without the classic "Bond" tuxedo) in "The Tailor of Panama" from 2001 and you'll find the potential for even greater depth for the Bond film franchise. But only if Bond's producers get smart and give the tried but true Bond formula an update. [Note to Bond producers: Brosnan's 1999 film, "The Thomas Crown Affair," is superior in acting, action and intrigue than this latest installment in the Bond franchise.]

Film is solidly directed, albeit perfunctory, by Lee Tamahori.

Film has a uneven and laborious running length of 130 minutes.

Recommendation: Of course, you have to see it and, yes, add it to your video collection!