Bond is back for the 19th time in "The World is not Enough" bringing more of the same secret agent derring-do that avid James Bond fans have come to expect in one of the longest running cinematic franchises in history. Since the mid-Nineties, the Bond franchise has experienced a rejuvenation of sorts with charismatic Pierce Brosnan replacing the sullen Timothy Dalton. "The World is not Enough" follows on the heels of the franchise's best performers at the box office, "GoldenEye" and "Tomorrow Never Dies", both of which landed in $350 million territory. Though a new director (Michael Apted, who directed "Gorillas in the Mist" and "Nell") was brought on board to helm this latest installment, there is little in the way of originality or innovation in this offering, so those in search of a fresh perspective will find themselves disappointed and bored.
The plotting paradigm of the typical James Bond movie can be found in "The World is not Enough" with few changes. The movie's extra-long prologue kicks off in the new Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, where 007 is sent to retrieve a large sum of money that was recovered off a dead MI6 agent. After a double-cross followed by the typical Bond-esque narrow escape, Bond is back in MI6 headquarters, where he returns the money to rightful owner, powerful oil magnate Sir Robert King (David Calder). Unfortunately, Bond has been an unwilling mule for a nefarious scheme, and King ends up the victim of a bomb blast. However, Bond catches glimpse of the femme fatale who acted as the trigger-woman, thus beginning a breathtaking chase through the Thames River that ends up atop Greenwich's Millennium Dome.
After a brief credits sequence featuring both scantily-clad silhouettes and an unremarkable theme song by the band Garbage, the movie's megalomaniacal and one-dimensional villain has been identified as über-terrorist Renard (Robert Carlyle of "The Full Monty"), a man who feels no pain and has superhuman strength due to a bullet lodged in his brain. Bond's attention then turns to King's lovely daughter, Elektra (Sophie Marceau of "Lost & Found"), who may be the next target as she was once held for ransom by Renard. Bond quickly hops on a plane to Azerbaijan, where Elektra is continuing her father's lifelong project, an oil pipeline linking the Azerbaijan oil fields to the ports of the West. Upon arrival, he finds himself irresistibly attracted to the affluent heiress, yet his amorous attentions are diverted when Elektra becomes the target of Renard's thugs. Bond's investigation soon uncovers that Renard has his hooks deep into Elektra's company, and his actions are only part of a larger scheme involving some stolen nuclear weapons. Fortunately, Bond has found an unexpected ally in Christmas Jones (Denise Richards of "Wild Things"), a comely and talented nuclear physicist.
As you would come to expect, a number of familiar faces are on hand for this outing. Samantha Bond returns as Ms. Moneypenny, the no-nonsense secretary who has no difficulty resisting Bond's charms. Dame Judi Dench (seen recently in "Shakespeare in Love"), as Bond's boss M, is given slightly more active role in the field this time, though the script still wastes the venerable actress by relegating her to 'damsel in distress' mode. Desmond Llewelyn has played gadget man Q since the early Sixties, and he's back in fine form telling 007 'to pay attention' once again. However, given Llewelyn's imminent retirement, John Cleese (of "Monty Python" fame) is introduced as R, Q's bumbling understudy. Robbie Coltrane also reprises his "Goldeneye" role as Valentin Zukovsky, the Russian mob member who always seems to have an answer up his sleave for Bond.
Like any James Bond movie, stunt set pieces are in abundance, some innovative, though for the majority, it's business as usual. In addition to the action-packed prologue mentioned earlier, Bond must dead with skiing paratroopers, buzz saw-armed helicopters, a wild ride inside an oil pipeline, and a final showdown in a sinking nuclear submarine. Unfortunately, Apted's direction with respect to the action sequences is weak, with some poor choices in shot-framing and editing sapping the energy and clarity out of the film's more grandiose moments. The film also lacks a sense of finesse in its approach to the action sequence choreography (as compared to John Woo, Luc Besson, and the Jerry Bruckheimer camp), and the lack of embellishments add to the movie's overall flatness.
Overall, ""Goldeneye" was marked by some daring action sequences, while "Tomorrow Never Dies" high-point was the martial arts mastery of Michelle Yeoh. In light of its predecessors, "The World is not Enough" is one of your average James Bond capers that delivers the goods at a very basic level without any truly outstanding facets. For some, "The World is Not Enough" will satiate until the next movie (rumored to be Brosnan's last), but for those in search of the best Bond of them all, this latest installment is not enough.