The World is Not Enough. Is it really that bad?

It always puzzles me that one of my favourite films, The World is Not Enough, is commonly disliked. Even here it’s hard to find someone who appreciates this movie.
I should probably start by saying that the third of Pierce Brosnan’s movies made me a Bond fan. It was the first one I watched in a cinema and it made a big impression on me. After watching TWINE I wanted to know, see and read more about Bond. I started a website (my God, that’s 17 years now) etc.

Back to the topic. Okay, I realize it’s not perfect:

  • the pre-title sequence is way to long and to showy, as well as some other action scenes (the ski chase for example). It’s obvious that Apted was unexperienced in shooting action scenes,
  • confrontation on submarine is definately boring - I almost always skip the scene when re-watching the film,
  • Denise Richards… as much as I like her (Starship Troopers!), she’s really bad actress,
  • to many gadgets, one of the flaws of Brosnan Era.

But there are so many advantages:

  • the plot – solid, considered, there are no serious plot holes,
  • the twist (since I knew nothing of the film back then, I didn’t see that coming),
  • acting: Pierce at his best, Sophie Marceau and Robert Carlyle made a great trio,
  • suprising and interesting villain - henchman dependence. That was something fresh, something new,
  • which also means that the characters of both of them were developed more than in most cases up to the point, especially if you cosider Renard as a henchman,
  • yes, I liked the Bond - Electra affair. It was believable and well written (in my opinion, of course). And it was something different,
  • there are many great moments and great lines: “I never miss” (a nightmare for an interpreter), “I usually hate killing an unarmed man, but in your case, I feel nothing”) etc.,
  • as I stated before, action scenes in general are somewhat flawed. With one exception: scene in Kazakhstan which was perfectly paced and thilling - probably because Apted was more intrested in showing the first confrontatnion between Bond and Renard than in action itself,
  • killing off Electra. Perfection.

So please try and help me understand why The World is Not Enough is usually considered one of the weakest film in the series. It may not be a masterpiece, but still…

It’s a horrible film and an even worse Bond film. The worst in the series, and the only one I dislike. 10-15 years ago I’d have responded to this question with a detailed diatribe on all the many, many things fundamentally wrong with it, but nowadays I find I prefer to focus on things I do like than on things I don’t (getting old, plus why be a fan of something just to hate on it?). So, in short, I’m glad you liked it and that the movie brought in some new Bond fans, but yes, it really is that bad.

It turns 18 this year. Oh, how I’d love to kick it out of the house.

You make good points. I loved TWINE when I first saw it and watched it again - but during my last re-watch session two years ago I was severely bored.

Maybe watching it closer together with other Bond films TWINE does not really compare so well, maybe I just was not in the mood after so many other Bond films before, maybe I was influenced by the bad opinions of others here.

I always will love however the final confrontation between Bond and Elektra with “I never miss” being one of the best one-liners in Bond film history.

I also love the title song. And Brosnan is fantastic in TWINE.

Yeah, come to think of it, the action sequences seem a bit lacking. Although I do enjoy the mano-a-mano finale in the submarine.

And the “Christmas comes only once a year”-line brings a smile to my face every time. Maybe I´m that shallow but… hey, it´s a funny line.

Except that every fan on the internet predicted that joke months before the film came out, as soon as the character’s name was revealed.

I think Marcin does a good job above, detailing some of the flaws of the film, but I would add that the locations are mostly drab and unattractive, several major action scenes (the caviar factory, the ski chase, the submarine) are poorly staged and boring, Renard is too much of a pipsqueak to be threatening (his “superpower” is he can’t feel pain…handy when he’s getting his butt kicked. And didn’t the more imposing Stamper have the same power in the immediately previous film?). And maybe it’s just me, but Brosnan’s “Huh?!” when Regard repeats Elektra’s motto is a real low point. And as I have said repeatedly (sorry) there is nothing impressive, heroic or “Bondian” about a man with a gun shooting a woman with a radio. But hey, good job “not missing” from a distance of ten feet.

I remember coming out of the film complaining to my wife that I thought the film made Bond come off as a sad sack loser, which to me destroyed the core appeal of the character as an avatar for all us Walter Mittys in the audience. I think what I meant was that we’d now seen Alex’s betrayal in GE, Paris’ death in TND, and now Elektra’s manipulations in TWINE, so Bond was starting to feel like the Peter Parker of superspies. Looking back this was just the early days of the “personal” approach to Bond plots and I confess I’m still not loving it. I also thought David Arnold’s score was revealing him as a one-trick pony compared to Barry.

Just from a storytelling perspective, the whole “love and betrayal” plotline – which had the potential to be quite clever and innovative – is completely undermined by the addition of the utterly superfluous Christmas Jones, a “back-up babe” for Bond to fall back on, and with whom he’s already somewhat involved. A little more courage in the writing department could have turned things around.

I don’t think it’s the worst – that distinction would go to the next film in line – but TWINE did contribute to the drip-drip-drip that was eroding away my affection for the franchise.

For me, Christmas Jones was a welcome addition to the film - I like beautiful women in Bond films, and without her the film would have had only Elektra. Having Bond end up alone would have been a downer, instead of having him ending up with the superbabe.

As for killing Elektra - it´s not about shooting a woman with a radio, it´s overcoming his feelings for her, realizing that she is about to murder a huge number of innocent people and doing his job: preventing this.

A fantastic character moment for Bond, and enormously well done by everyone involved, IMHO.

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I find it watchable, and prefer it to TND and DAD. It contains some things that I hate: Christmas Jones, a dispiriting performance from John Cleese, the sappy “touch the monitor” scene, and so on. But I like the villain, the story is serviceable, I like the stuff with Zukovsky and M, and it doesn’t go off the rails at the end.

Was the first Bond film I saw in the cinema and made me a lifelong Bond fan, so, no.

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Does he? Elektra’s job is to signal Renard to launch the submarine that will kill all those people. This she does. Bond shoots her after she gives the order, so the damage is done. Naturally he ends up stopping the sub later, but shooting her didn’t help in that goal.

It’s as close as Brosnan ever gets to a fantastic character moment, certainly. And he does a good job with it. I just don’t have the love for it others do. Certainly it’s better than the moment in SF where the James Bond theme swells triumphantly because Bond has…umm…radio’ed for back-up. After letting a girl die. But it’s similar in that the filmmakers are very unsubtly broadcasting “This Is A Big Moment!” but I’m not feeling it.

I confess it’s all down to taste. For instance, I actually didn’t hate that “touching the screen” moment because it fits with my take on Bond, who as Fleming (through Moloney) says is a sucker for a “bird with a wing down.” It’s a good set-up for how Elektra is able to manipulate him later through one of his few, major weaknesses: a very immature and shallow capacity for forming relationships, usually based on a " knight and damsel" fantasy that falls apart when a mission’s over.

Glad you liked Christmas, and shes certainly attractive enough (until she talks) but again, if they wanted to be all “daring” and “bold,” having Bond end up without the girl - - because he had to KILL her – would’ve been the most memorable ending since OHMSS. As it is, the reveal of Elektras true nature happens early enough – and with the mitigating factor of a back-up “good” girl – that it’s no more revolutionary or impactful than Fiona in TB and her “not this one” speech.

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No, revolutionary TWINE really wasn´t - but at that stage nobody expected nor wanted a Bond film to be that bold.

Returning to the Elektra-question: Bond, IMO, hopes that Elektra won´t do it. He is not ready to kill her at that point. When she does do the damage he immediately reacts, and not with pleasure. I find that actually very believable, and since he averts the real damage his “mistake” of not killing Elektra before she signals Renard is taken care of.

In SF Bond, in a similar way, tries to save Severine but cannot since Silva has no problem shooting her at once. But the wait for backup was inevitable, so when Bond finds the right moment to act, the “big moment” is earned.

Severine´s death is foreshadowed anyway in her first conversation with Bond. They both know that this won´t end well for one of them or even both. By giving Bond access to Silva, Severine kind of commits suicide - and maybe she thinks that´s the only way to break free of Silva anyway.

I get the impression Brosnan did. That must have been a source of frustration for him, and it certainly was for me; listening to all his talk of layer-peeling and what not only to end up with an era more cartoonish and facile – on the whole – than Moore’s.

Maybe, but later it’s revealed to have been exactly what Silva wanted him to do, so it’s still not a deserving “triumphant themesong” moment.

It’s foreshadowed by history, too. We all know a sacrificial lamb when we see one in a Bond film, it’s just a question of how and how soon.

One thing in SF’s favor, though: at least it doesn’t slow things down by trying to shoehorn in another romance. Severine solved the “oops, we forgot to include a sex scene” problem nicely, then it’s back to business.

I agree, Brosnan seemed to wish for a more layered approach - but at that time, I remember, nobody really expected Bond to be THAT different. Getting him to show more emotion and have a female villain was as revolutionary as it got in the 90´s.

As fore the deserving triumphant themesong - well, at that point in the film, I would argue it was important to have that triumph. Otherwise it would not have been as strong a reversal when Bond realized: damn, Silva played us all.

Agreed on many of the points here. Over the years I’ve concluded two things I’d change that would make it go over a bit better.

First, flip the casting of the girls. Have Sophie as Dr. Jones and Denise as the screwed up daughter. Also, any name but Christmas plus, her being referred to as “Dr. Jones” could have lent itself to a passing Indiana Jones joke somewhere.

Second, trim the PTS to just the Bilbao sequence, then the main titles.

I still enjoy it. Nice having Zukovsky return, but I wouldn’t have killed him off.

If we’re making changes, I’d drop Denise Richards altogether and cast a Gillian Anderson type as the physicist. Casting a stacked bimbo as a nuclear physicist is one of the schlockiest things from any Bond film. I don’t really mind the name Christmas Jones, which is just silly enough to work, but I’d lose the lame and juvenile “comes once a year” joke. (What a way to end a movie.) I’d also get rid of R and that pointless scene with Dr. Pinkflesh or whatever her name was.

I have to say, that’s a fascinating idea. Richards would have been an easy sell as a spoiled rich kid with not much going on upstairs, which would have made her subsequent reveal as the “criminal mastermind” that much more shocking. Also Sophie would have been more believable as a physicist from the get-go.

On the other hand, we’d still have two problems: one, if Richards was already unconvincing in a supporting role, would she have had the chops to handle a co-lead? And two, would Sophie have signed on at all if she were that far down the bill?

The biggest problem with Denise, IMHO, is that the age difference between her and Broz seemed almost as great as that between Lyn-Holly Johnson and Roger, so I’m not sure it would have worked either way. For me it’s not that she’s too “hot” to be a physicist, it’s that she hardly looked old enough to have a high school diploma, let alone a PhD.

I’m okay with the PTS, except for that bit where he straightens his tie underwater. I can imagine even Roger rolling his eyes at that one. Brosnans entries are all 50 percent cartoon and 50 percent pretention, and given the choice I’ll take the cartoon every time.

Interesting idea, that casting switch!

Makes me think: would it have worked to make Waltz M and Fiennes Blofeld…

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Yes, it really is that bad.

Now, there’s a fantastic idea buried somewhere in the rubble of the film, but what is actually put up on the screen is just terrible.

Oh boy, how little I change…new forums, same opinions.

Long time defender of TWINE, so I won’t go through my normal positions where it sometimes feels I’m attempting to defend the indefensible.

Nearly 20 years later it is far more of a drag than it was when it was released, and maybe that should be the crux of my defense of a film that takes a lot more stick that I believe it deserves. I’m steadfast that even by 2002, TWINE was a far more distinguished effort to be a Bond that aimed to be more than popcorn-fodder and just one more in a series. No, it didn’t pull it off, but in comparison with the film that directly followed it, I challenge all to make the case that the latter is a more accomplished addition to the canon.

That much of TWINE’s essence survives and is improved upon in CR thru to SF is, for me, testament to TWINE’s attempt to lift the series above the predictability that DAD too often resorted to under the guise of honouring 40 years.

Yes, the action is flat, yes, despite his best efforts PB (or to be fair, PB’s Bond) is unable to shake the “soap-opera” quality of much of the melodrama, yes, the likes of Denise Richards is woefully miscast, but as a trial run for CR and beyond, TWINE should get an awful lot of credit.

I agree (regrettably) that TWINE fails to reach its aspirations; that it tries should be to its credit, especially when the films on either side of it too often reverted to SOP (though to be fair, TND does so with style and pace).

No, it’s not a great film; but its effort, its attempt - worthy of note, if not credit.

If I remember reading correctly from somewhere, unfortunately, I don’t remember where, it said that MGM stipulated to EON they either had to hire Denise Richards as Christmas Jones or else have Bond snowboarding and EON ended up choosing Richards. (In Tomorrow Never Dies MGM also insisted on Teri Hatcher as Paris Carver, as I remember it, as American audiences knew her better than someone like Monica Bellucci. :roll_eyes:)

Richards is hot but I have to admit I was disappointed in her acting in The World Is Not Enough. I thought she was better than that (not necessarily great, but better than that). Maybe it was the technical gobbledegook, I don’t know. Having her switch roles with Sophie Marceau is definitely interesting and I think Richards probably would have done really well with Elektra. She has played bad or bitchy girls a lot in her career and usually played them pretty well–see Wild Things. I think that could have worked, but as David M said, would Marceau have then taken on the role?

The better option would have been going with the snowboarding and choosing someone else as Christmas Jones like say Ashley Judd or Diane Lane–not huge stars but someone who would have been believable as a nuclear physicist.

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Thanks everyone for your posts and comments. One thing I haven’t thought of, as David_M stated, TWINE would’ve probably been much better (or “bold”) if there was no Christmas Jones character at all. Bond forced to kill a woman he started to fall in love with, with no “back-up girl”, would’ve been more daring.
As I said before, I realize the movie is flawed. Still, advantages outweigh the disadvantages. I imagine (though I’m not saying I’m right) in 1999 neither the studio nor the audience were ready for revolution in the formula – we needed DAD for that. But the formula was nicely developed into something a bit more than traditional “Bond Coctail”, in my opinion.

But…But he went parasurfing in DAD and we were stuck with Halle Berry anyway! It’s not fair!

DAD is a revolution in the formula? Aside from Bond’s imprisonment – which ends after the first reel to return to business as usual – DAD plays like a clip reel of earlier entries.

Maybe they weren’t brave enough to go out on a limb in 1999, but considering they’d already gone way out 10 years earlier, you can’t blame folks for feeling disappointed at such a long run of playing it safe.

Not to say I’m a big fan of LTK, but at least that film had the courage of its convictions and went all in. TWINE and DAD hedged their best and suffered for it.