TOMORROW NEVER DIES
Licence to Kill suffered from poor box-office returns and was believed to be the end of the series. However, the 1990s brought a startling new revival of the James Bond series in GoldenEye (1995). GoldenEyes ingenuity was to recognize the outmodedness of both the Bond character and his milieu and reconstruct Bond for the post-Cold War era. Pierce Brosnan offered a startling new take on the character that quite took one aback the return of Bond to the ruthless cold-blooded killer he was initially seen as back in 1962 and the investiture of the character with a dazzlingly cruel sexuality, while at the same time openly recognizing the underlying misogyny that the series had always contained.
In many other respects, GoldenEye was one of the weaker Bond films, being surprisingly tame when it came to the action scenes. The good news is that Tomorrow Never Dies, the second Pierce Brosnan James Bond film, takes the revisionism that GoldenEye introduced and runs with it. Pierce Brosnans performance again has breathtakingly cool ruthlessness. The action sequences are some of the best of any Bond film since at least On Her Majestys Secret Service (1969) and come with a gritty realism that is thankfully not watered down by campy cartoonishness. The sequence with Bond escaping on a motorcycle while being pursued by a helicopter that is tilting to use its blades to chew up a street is seat-edge stuff. Sheryl Crows theme song is one of the best in ages. The gadgets, always one of the essential aspects of a James Bond film, are an enormous deal of fun (even if Desmond Llewellyn as the series gadget-master Q is starting to look rather long in the tooth at age 82).
Tomorrow Never Dies is not 100% perfect. The Brosnan Bond films never quite cracked the business of plots (not that plots have ever served as much more than devices to string international locations, action sequences and bedroom scenes together for the James Bond series). For most of the film it is never clear what villain Jonathan Pryces world domination scheme is something to do with manipulating GPS to start an international incident in order to be able to get rights to broadcast his cable-news network news into China, while at the same time stealing the headlines from the war. Plus Jonathan Pryce is badly miscast in a super-villain role. Pryce, more used to roles among the Merchant-Ivory crowd, usually plays neurotic finicky tightasses and his attempt to do a larger-than-life super-villain role comes out as miscalculated wimpiness. The other less welcome aspect of Tomorrow Never Dies is its return to cracking excruciating puns not even Roger Moore at his indulgent worst would have come out with the cunning linguist pun. Nevertheless, Tomorrow Never Dies is still a worthwhile entry in the James Bond series.
British-born but Canadian based director Roger Spottiswoode has made a career mostly with action films and thrillers such as Turner & Hooch (1989) and Air America (1990), gaining critical acclaim with his war correspondant film Under Fire (1983). Spottiswoode has also ventured into genre material with the slasher film Terror Train (1980); Mesmer (1994), a biopic of the 19th Century hypnotist/healer; and the Arnold Schwarzenegger cloning/action film The 6th Day (2000).
The other James Bond films are: Dr No (1962), From Russia with Love (non-genre, 1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majestys Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (non-genre, 1981), Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), The Living Daylights (non-genre, 1987), License to Kill (non-genre, 1989), GoldenEye (1995), The World is Not Enough (1999), Die Another Day (2002), Casino Royale (non-genre, 2006), Quantum of Solace (non-genre, 2008), Skyfall (non-genre, 2012) and Spectre (2015). Casino Royale (1967) and Never Say Never Again (1983) are non-series Bond films.