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Festivale online magazine, December, 1997 movie reviews

Bond, James Bond.
Tomorrow Never Dies

and nor does a good franchise

I saw this one at midnight in a theatre filled with five people. Which isn't a bad way to see a film, but doesn't give a good idea of audience response, except that the smoker in front of us left the theatre at least three times during the film so it didn't keep his attention.

My attention, however, was kept. This Bond formula is pretty well known, a man in a tuxedo, one or two gorgeous women in designer outfits, Q the quartermaster, M the master (sorry, Judi Dench, the Mistress), fast cars, fabulous weapons, chases, escapes, bad guys, henchmen, hell, if you haven't picked the formula up yet, go watch Austin Powers.

movie poster, Tomorrow Never Dies, Festivale film review
Movie Poster, Tomorrow Never Dies, Festivale film review

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Which doesn't mean that I didn't kick back, put my feet up and enjoy the film. Pierce Brosnan has the look, the accent, the ability to be understated and humorous, which is necessary for the role. Bond is that wonderful British character that only the British can truly create. He is over-the-top but in complete control, he is stylish, witty, dirty-minded, efficient, and a good guy. In the opening minutes of the film he refuses to seek safety when he could, in four minutes, steal a plane with nuclear missiles from the middle of an illegal arms sale and thus averting a nuclear disaster.

Judi Dench is superb as M, and her offsider Moneypenny and she prove that they are more than a match for 007. There is a sequence where Bond is being briefed in a car while it speeds under police escort to the airport. The timing of the actors' delivery, the strong sense of movement, and the klaxons of the accompanying motor cycle cops gives a wonderful sense of urgency. This is so important that the boss is giving him instructions as he races off on his assignment.

The popular Teri Hatcher (Lois Lane in the Adventures of ...) plays her part nicely, and Jonathan Pryce is a suitably demented media mogul (although I'd have liked to have seen Ben Kingsley in the role).

A special word should be said about Michelle Yeoh, Bond's Chinese counterpart who kicks and twists, and shoots her way through the film. This actress allegedly made the motorcycle stuntdriver nervous. The BMW bike (product positioning, thy name is BOND) used for the stunts was heavier and longer than optimum for stunts, but was the actress fazed? No, she asked him to drive FASTER because it would make her hair fly out behind them, which would look really good. Yeoh is a martial artist/actor and she can MOVE.

Bond films are wonderful indicators of popular culture, the opening credits are the most stylish according to their time (these are cyberspace credits and very nice indeed), the roles of men and women point to the contemporary statuses, and the humour, the sets and the technology show what we think is the epitome of marvellous and desirable.

This film won't make you a better person, nor will it open your eyes to new experiences, but you can sit through this film again and again, enjoying the byplay of the characters.

And just a quick word for those of you who read a certain print critic's snide comments about the pretense of Britain as a world power. American ingenuity is much admired by Americans, however there are many instances, some less publicised than others where the Brits have demonstrated that their wealth may have diminished, and their ability to dominate world affairs may be in abeyance, but they have some of the best technology in the world, and some of the best-trained people about, and people who have lived so close to their enemies for so long don't survive without having some very, very good people working behind the scenes.

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See also: Tim Richard's review
Dante's Peak (with Pierce Brosnan)
Her Majesty Mrs Brown (with Judi Dench
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Just the facts:

Title: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Written by: Bruce Feirstein
Directed by: Roger Spottiswoode
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Edited by:
Director of Photography: Robert Elswit

The Players: Pierce Brosnan, Judi Dench, Teri Hatcher, Michelle Yeoh
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Festivale Online Magazine
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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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