Another Spy Who Loved Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies (#SFWApro)

Sean Connery’s second film was the excellent From With Love. Roger Moore got the mediocre Man With the Golden Gun. Timothy Dalton got the unsatisfactory License to Kill (1997). Brosnan’s sophomore turn, Tomorrow Never Dies, is happily closer to the Connery level.
(All rights to image with current holder)
The story opens with Bond at a weapons bazaar for terrorists, successfully accomplishing his mission. But meanwhile, a Communist Chinese vessel attacks a British ship in international waters, with media tycoon Eliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) fanning the flames through his papers and TV broadcasts.
What nobody knows is that Pryce arranged the attack, luring the British ship into Chinese water by interfering with its GPS, then launching the attack on it with a stealth ship. M is suspicious enough to send in Bond, whose former lover Paris (Teri Hatcher) is now Mrs. Carver.
As Bond discovers, Carver is in cahoots with a Chinese general to provoke a shooting war between England and China. In the course of the war, the Chinese leaders will die from another staged attack; the general will take over and play the noble peacemaker, then Carver gets a century of broadcast rights in China.
It’s not quite as good as Goldeneye, but it’s a lively, fast-moving film with great assets in Pryce and Michelle Yeoh, as Chinese agent Wai Lin.
Pryce is wonderful, bubbling over with so much malevolent glee he seems poised to go over the top at any second, but he stops short of it. He’s constantly composing headlines for the terrible tragedies he’s about to cause, which makes for a really nice touch. Regrettably he has no henchmen to match Goldeneye‘s Onatop, just generic Aryan-looking thugs.
Yeoh was a certified action start in Hong Kong cinema and one can see why. She kicks butt as very few Bond girls get to, moves like an angel of death and is generally awesome. During one sequence where she and Bond have to escape handcuffed together, they fall into an almost instant partnership (professionally—they don’t hook up until the last scene), bickering about who’s doing what but able to fight together with lethal effectiveness. As in The Spy Who Loved Me, she’s Bond’s opposite number, not Carver.
Paris is a much less memorable character, though I like one film book’s suggestion that she stands in for all the girls Bond ends up with in the last scene: he walks out and suddenly they’re alone (I think Wai Lin’s going to get over it pretty easily though).
Politically, the film is another one that plays on the fringes of Cold War politics, or more accurately at this date, East/West politics. As in several previous films, the bad guy is a Communist, but a rogue one. Wai Lin represents the sane side of the Chinese government that doesn’t want a war with the UK (as I’ve mentioned, this film is very much a fantasy that the two sides are an equal match).
General Chang barely appears, though, leaving Carver as the arch-villain. What’s interesting is that as in Goldeneye, he’s a very technological adversary. Of course Bond villains have always wielded technology, but Carver’s is real-world based, starting with his disruption of GPS (this was back when it was a military tool, not for everyday use). Like Sean Bean in the previous film, one of his aides is a computer whiz. And Carver himself gloats that in the modern world, the power to broadcast images around the globe makes everything Bond can do futile (he is, of course, wrong).
So far Brosnan is two for two, though with World Is Not Enough up next, he’s not making a hat trick.

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One response to “Another Spy Who Loved Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: Strong female characters (again) (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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