The World Is Not Enough

Film Title

The World Is Not Enough

Director

Michael Apted

Starring

  • Pierce Brosnan as James Bond
  • Sophie Marceau as Elektra King
  • Robert Carlyle as Renard
  • Denise Richards as Christmas Jones
  • Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky
  • Judi Dench as M
  • Desmond Llewelyn as Q
  • Samantha Bond as Moneypenny
  • Colin Salmon as Robinson

Pierce Brosnan’s third outing as 007 after previously playing the spy in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies comes in the form of The World Is Not Enough. Occasionally muddled and a little uneven, it does boast some great sequences, serious drama and interesting characters to keep the interest of the audience for its run time and have some fun with. I mean it’s definitely better than the movie that followed.

In the beginning of the film, Bond manages to retrieve money stolen from Sir Robert King, an oil tycoon and old friend of his superior M. The World Is Not Enough PosterUpon returning the money to MI6 headquarters, disaster strikes as King is killed by money that has been dipped in an explosive. Bond then gives chase along the Thames after a sexy assassin who tries to kill him and then proceeds to commit suicide rather than inform Bond of who her boss is. The attack is traced to Renard, a prominent terrorist and former KGB agent who had previously kidnapped King’s daughter Elektra. Renard has a bullet lodged in his skull, that will eventually kill him but has now rendered him unable to feel physical pain and will allow him to grow stronger until his life expires. Bond believes that with the death of King that Elektra will be the next target for the terrorist. Worried about this and for Elektra, M reveals that she advised King not to pay his daughter’s ransom for fear of negotiating with a terrorist. Feeling a sense of guilt, she sends her best man to watch over the oil heiress who is overseeing the building of an oil pipeline in Azerbaijan. Bond feels immediately protective over Elektra, who appears to be traumatized and vulnerable by her kidnapping ordeal. Yet while investigating Renard and his activities, Bond’s suspicions are aroused by Elektra, as he senses she is concealing something sinister behind her vulnerable appearance. Elektra KingHis suspicions are proved right as Elektra is indeed in league with Renard and plans on creating a nuclear disaster in the waters of Istanbul by exploding a stolen nuclear bomb which will benefit her oil supplies and business personally and powerfully. Crisscrossing from Baku to Kazakhstan and eventually Turkey, and with the help of buxom nuclear scientist Christmas Jones and former mob boss turned valuable ally Valentin Zukovsky must battle his way through danger to stop Elektra and Renard’s revenge.

The first thing to notice about The World Is Not Enough is an emphasis on drama that hasn’t really been seen in the Bond movies before. There is something developed about many of the characters and it is interesting to see them as two-dimensional people in a dangerous world. Admittedly, some of the drama does come off as more than a little muddled and underdeveloped. But director Michael Apted manages to bring a fresh dynamic to the series and stamps his own style on the movies with assurance. Apted also brings in his typical fashion the powerful and layered women to the forefront of the story, especially in the form of Elektra and an expanded role for M. Even though the mix of drama and action in The World Is Not Enough can be a little jarring, when both camps score, they score very highly to create some excellent Bond worthy moments. The boat chase on the Thames blasts the film into exciting motion and really stands as a definite action highlight, alongside a thrilling ski chase and a dangerous encounter with a bomb speeding along a pipeline. RenardHaving the bullet in Renard’s head slowly kill of his pain receptors but increase his strength is an intriguing idea but to be honest it doesn’t really add as much to the plot as it thinks it does and comes off as a rather wasted opportunity. The locations used are sublime with the heat of Kazakhstan and the nighttime glamour of Istanbul exceptionally realized. David Arnold returns for his second Bond score and delivers a stunning piece of work that accentuates the themes of distrust and betrayal. Alternative rock band Garbage provide the eerie yet sensual title track that is an exemplary sonic accompaniment to the languid title sequence of lovelies formed from slithering oil and fields of pumping oil derricks.

Pierce Brosnan brings his charm and smarts to this outing as 007, and he is allowed to show a lot more seriousness than before which proves highly effective given the drama in the story. We manage to see the more ruthless side to Bond in this adventure which is always interesting to watch. Sophie Marceau is on fine form as the duplicitous Elektra and fully embodies the capricious nature of the character. Elektra can be vulnerable and weak one minute and then ruthless and crazed the next, all of this is down to the successful performance of the intriguing Marceau. Because the character of Elektra is so well written, the part of the other villain Renard suffers. Robert Carlyle does bring an intensity to the part that is most befitting, but the underwritten nature of the character sadly short changes him. Denise Richards may be one gorgeous woman but her acting in The World Is Not Enough as a Bond girl is poor. She plays Christmas Jones, a nuclear scientist who helps Bond after Renard steals a nuclear bomb. But to be perfectly honest about her, the character is just so ridiculous and superfluous. Christmas JonesI mean she looks curvaceous, athletic and sexy as hell in her Tomb Raider style get up of revealing tank top and hot pants, but when she starts talking about the dangers of nuclear weapons and scientific properties, it is really hard to take her seriously at all. Returning after his role in GoldenEye, Robbie Coltrane brings humour and assurance to the role of Valentin Zukovsky, who has supposedly become a legit businessman but still occasionally dabbles with crime. Judi Dench gets a more expanded role as M this time around and gives the extended part deep emotion and heart as she wrestles with a sense of personal guilt over her handling of Elektra’s kidnapping ordeal. Desmond Llewelyn appears for the final time as beloved gadget master Q. In a sad footnote, Llewelyn died after the premiere of this film and although his last scene with Bond wasn’t planned, when he says goodbye to Bond it is filled with a very deep poignancy that is hard to shake off. Llewelyn was truly part of the Bond fabric and his contribution to the series is a testament to his excellent talent. Samantha Bond and Colin Salmon are once again on hand for the parts of Moneypenny and fellow agent Robinson.

Muddled and sometimes jarring, The World Is Not Enough may not be perfect. But with cool action, beautiful locations and many of the actors performing excellently, it is a pulse-pounding spy yarn to say the very least.

 

Tomorrow Never Dies

Film Title

Tomorrow Never Dies

Director

Roger Spottiswoode

Starring

  • Pierce Brosnan as James Bond
  • Jonathan Pryce as Elliot Carver
  • Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin
  • Teri Hatcher as Paris Carver
  • Gotz Otto as Stamper
  • Ricky Jay as Henry Gupta
  • Joe Don Baker as Jack Wade
  • Vincent Schiavelli as Dr Kaufman
  • Judi Dench as M
  • Desmond Llewelyn as Q
  • Samantha Bond as Moneypenny
  • Colin Salmon as Robinson

After the huge success of GoldenEye, Pierce Brosnan had his second outing as James Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies. It may not be as strong as its predecessor, but it does the job efficiently and has some interesting flourishes to add to the iconic series of 007 movies.

In the thrilling opening, Bond stealthily makes his way through an arms bazaar in order to recover missiles. After an explosive battle, Bond just manages to escape with the missiles in tact. After this, the main focus of the film appears. Tomorrow Never Dies PosterElliot Carver is a prominent media baron, with his finger in every form of the media pie that his eyes can see. Because he has been refused broadcasting rights in China, he decides to cause chaos. He has his team of specialists on a stealth boat destroy a British Navy ship in Chinese Waters, giving him the story he needs and helping set in motion a potential conflict between the nations as he believes the British will blame the Chinese for the attack on them. Carver plans to cause a war between England and China so that he can have the monopoly on the media and satisfy his desire for ultimate power. Worried about the possibility of a full-scale war, M sends Bond to investigate the barbaric and potentially devastating plan of Carver. Paris CarverHis mission takes him to Hamburg, where Bond is reunited with a former flame, Paris Carver, now the wife of the corrupt Elliot. Bond and Paris had an eventful relationship, but his loyalty to the job got in the way. Bond’s previous relationship with her comes with tragic consequences and Bond soon realizes the extent of Elliot’s plan for media supremacy. With the help of skilled Chinese agent Wai Lin, Bond tails Carver from Saigon to the South China Sea in an attempt to avert an impending war.

Incorporating themes of media manipulation, digital technology and the fact that what lies beneath the surface is very sinister, Tomorrow Never Dies does have an interesting story. But at times it does veer into unpredictability and to be honest Carver’s plan is a little over exaggerated to say the least. Elliot CarverYet director Roger Spottiswoode manages to keep Tomorrow Never Dies on track and gives this Bond offering action, wit and excitement a plenty. There is a feeling that the movie brings nothing new to the table in terms of originality but this can be forgiven as Tomorrow remains exciting and well-paced throughout. With the theme of digital technology in place, it should be noted the effectiveness of the gadgets supplied by Q. A car that you can drive by using a mock keypad, a bomb triggering watch and a finger print manipulator are all examples of the modernism apparent in this film. Action is adrenaline packed and a standout has to be a chase on motorbike through the crowded streets of Saigon with Bond and Wai Lin handcuffed and forced to rely on one another for direction. David Arnold is on hand to provide an electrifying score of orchestral movements and hints of electronic, to highlight the meeting of the modern and old. Sheryl Crow sings the title song which is a little dull but has a certain slow-burning effect that aids the bizarrely enthralling title sequence of curvaceous girls formed from media circuits and seas of communication data.

Pierce Brosnan gives a great performance as Bond, capturing the suave essence of the spy, the intellect of the man and the physical capabilities in a fight. He also has fun with some very snappy one-liners provided by the witty script. Jonathan Pryce provides an unusual quality to the power mad Elliot Carver, the character may not be the best villain but Pryce certainly makes him watchable. Michelle Yeoh is excellent as Wai Lin, the Chinese agent who reluctantly teams with Bond to take down Carver. Bond and Wai LinYeoh showcases her intelligent independence, calm and collected demeanor and athletic prowess in a role that shows she is very much an equal for Bond. It’s great to get a female character who isn’t easily won over by the smooth charm of Bond almost immediately after meeting him and Yeoh gives the part a fiercely independent streak that won’t be easily tamed. Teri Hatcher handles the brief role of Paris well, showing us an unhappy woman still yearning for James who will ultimately pay the price for her desire. Gotz Otto brings physical menace to the role of psychopathic henchman Stamper and Ricky Jay embodies the slimy personality of techno wizard Gupta. Joe Don Baker returns as the fun-loving Jack Wade but isn’t used well enough to be memorable. Vincent Schiavelli makes a brief but highly menacing and unusual cameo as a doctor of death, whose efficiency in his line of work can’t be questioned. Judi Dench is back as M, and this time she definitely means business as we watch her attempt to avert world crisis with her sense of judgement and action. Samantha Bond gets some amusing lines as Moneypenny, while there is an amusing performance from Desmond Llewelyn as loyal Q, who is still asking for his gadgets back in one piece but never seeing this happen. Colin Salmon is good as a fellow agent who helps Bond in the beginning of the film.

It may not be the best of the Bond movies, but Tomorrow Never Dies more than does the job and remains an entertaining spy yarn to enjoy.

GoldenEye

Film Title

GoldenEye

Director

Martin Campbell

Starring

  • Pierce Brosnan as James Bond
  • Sean Bean as Alec Trevelyan
  • Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova
  • Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp
  • Joe Don Baker as Jack Wade
  • Gottfried John as General Ourumov
  • Alan Cumming as Boris Grishenko
  • Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky
  • Judi Dench as M
  • Desmond Llewelyn as Q
  • Samantha Bond as Moneypenny

After Licence to Kill, the Bond series and producers had many legalities to sort out and these protracted battles extended for years. In 1995, the Bond franchise finally returned after years in the cinematic wilderness with a new man as 007, Pierce Brosnan. The film was GoldenEye and what a return for Bond it was to be. With pulse-pounding action, an interesting plot, eclectic characters and just about everything coming together amazingly, GoldenEye announced that the Bond series was here to stay.

The film begins in 1986 with 007 and Alec Trevelyan (006) infiltrating an illegal Soviet nuclear weapons facility. As they plant explosives, Alec is captured and killed by the corrupt General Ourumov, Bond in typically exciting fashion manages to escape before the place is blown up. Nine years later, Bond is in Monte Carlo investigating a link to the Janus group, a major underground crime syndicate. GoldenEye posterHis first contact with the nefarious group is the sultry but sadistic Xenia Onatopp, a former Soviet fighter pilot and femme fatale who derives sexual pleasure from murdering people with her strong thighs. Onatopp manages to hijack a prominent helicopter and flies it to a Russian bunker called Severnaya, which doubles as a computer station and weapons division. With Bond’s old nemesis General Ourumov, she massacres the staff and arms a device known as the GoldenEye, a satellite with the power of EMP which destroys the bunker. Unbeknownst to them, someone did survive the blast, Natalya Simonova, a talented computer programmer who manages to flee as her name is marked and her life is in danger. There was another survivor in the form of the arrogant computer geek Boris Grishenko, but he is in league with the Janus group and left before the devastation took place. Meanwhile, having been informed of the destruction of Severnaya, the new M sends Bond on the trail of the Janus syndicate and instructs him to discover what they plan to do with the GoldenEye. Bond and Natalya escapeTravelling to Russia, Bond teams with Natalya, who comes in very handy in matters of computers and technology. After being put in touch with an old adversary Valentin Zukovsky, he is lead to the head of the Janus syndicate. To Bond’s dismay, the head is revealed to be his old friend Alec Trevelyan, who faked his death all those years ago and now wants revenge against the United Kingdom for an incident involving his parents years ago. Pitted against a former friend and globe-trotting from the snows of Russia to the heat of Cuba, Bond must do battle with him and his other associates in order to avert financial and economic destruction to the United Kingdom of the highest order.

Bringing the series back to life is the talented Martin Campbell. He balances the espionage thrills with superb action and allows the script to incorporate some interesting themes. The main one is the subject of change, since Bond last had an outing the world around him has changed. The film highlights this by the using the fall of the Soviet Union as a backdrop( one scene takes place in a graveyard of broken down monuments of Soviet times) and casting the role of M as a woman. The question of whether or not Bond is relevant in a modern era is also brought up in a very interesting fashion ( although of course we know the answer is a resounding yes).Bond and Alec Pitting Bond against an old friend who has turned is another successful attribute of GoldenEye’s arsenal of goods, as we watch the friendship disintegrate into hate and hurt as Bond and Alec come to violent blows. Explosive action abounds with the highlights being a chase through the streets of St. Petersburg in which Bond uses an army tank, a flame engulfed train ride and a brutal fight between Bond and his treacherous old friend. Eric Serra provides the often discussed score to GoldenEye, which has divided opinion on its merit since the release of it. I stand in the middle ground, I believe that there are some excellent pieces of music here and that some are wholly out-of-place in the world of 007. The theme sung by Tina Turner is a highlight of the music, with her soulful and sultry vocals belting out the song with gusto. It provides the perfect complement to the title sequence which features women clad in revealing lingerie dancing and destroying Soviet statues.

Stepping into the role of James Bond, Pierce Brosnan is fantastic in his first outing. Combing urbane charm with a streak of menace and ruthlessness, he really brings the character alive and ensures that Bond is a character that will stay in the minds of millions. Sean Bean makes for an interesting nemesis due to Alec’s history with Bond and he successfully plays him with understated skill. The dynamic between the two gives GoldenEye that extra feeling of danger as we watch the inner conflict Bond must face in knowing that he has to kill a former friend. Izabella Scorupco brings cynicism and determination to the role of resourceful Natalya Simonova, while letting the audience glimpse a touching vulnerability beneath the steely surface. Xenia OnatoppFamke Janssen clearly has a blast playing the sadistic Xenia Onatopp, who is looking to put the literal squeeze on Bond for her own twisted and perverse satisfaction. Combing outrageous zeal, extreme sexual aggression and unnerving glee, she makes for a highly charged and unforgettable Bond girl gone bad. Joe Don Baker, returning to the world of Bond after his portrayal of Whitaker in The Living Daylights, is far more successful here as the amusing CIA contact Jack Wade, while Gottfried John gives physical presence and unusual menace to the role of the increasingly corrupt General Ourumov. Alan Cumming embodies the rat like tendencies of the geek Boris and Robbie Coltrane makes for a reluctant but very helpful ally for Bond in the guise of Valentin Zukovsky. In her first performance as M, Judi Dench is a marvel. Not only can she handle herself with great authority but she can put Bond in his place to( Case in point when she refers to him as a “Sexist, misogynist dinosaur”). Series stalwart Desmond Llewelyn is once again on hand for the usual banter in his gadgets lab, while Samantha Bond is great as the witty new Moneypenny, who can match Bond in terms of innuendos.

With a talented cast and excellent direction, GoldenEye proudly takes its place as one of my favourite Bond movies.

Body of Evidence

Film Title

Body of Evidence

Director

Uli Edel

Starring

  • Madonna as Rebecca Carlson
  • Willem Dafoe as Frank Dulaney
  • Joe Mantegna as Robert Garrett
  • Anne Archer as Joanne Braslow
  • Julianne Moore as Sharon Dulaney
  • Jürgen Prochnow as Dr Alan Paley

It was meant to be an erotic thriller with an added dash of courtroom drama but from watching the critically derided box office bomb that is Body of Evidence, it becomes abundantly clear that is neither erotic or thrilling. With Madonna in a weak performance and the talents of good actors wasted, Body of Evidence represents what can only be described as a train wreck of a film.

In Portland, Oregon, a wealthy old man by the name of Andrew Marsh has been found dead after suffering a fatal heart attack while restrained to his bed with handcuffs. At the time of death he was watching a home movie and the police believe that the girl in the film, Rebecca Carlson, a beautiful art gallery owner and Andrew’s much younger lover is connected in some way to the death of him. Rebecca is arrested and put on trial, where her adventurous and unusual sex life is brought up as a means for her to kill her elderly lover. Representing her is Frank Dulaney, who tries everything he can to clear Rebecca’s name and counteract everything said by the opposition of Robert Garrett, the ambitious defense attorney on the trial. Garrett believes that Rebecca used her seductive charms and vigorous bedroom activities to murder Andrew, as the man had a debilitating heart condition and was set to leave his young lover $8 million in the event of his death.Body of Evidence Movie Poster Yet as the trial goes on, the married Frank becomes increasingly entranced by Rebecca and throws professionalism out the window to pursue a torrid and unusual love affair with his client. Rebecca dominates Frank with her sadomasochistic tendencies in the bedroom and firmly sets herself up as the one in charge in the strange game of pleasure and pain that she plays. But sooner or later, Frank is left questioning whether or not this seductive woman was capable of cold-blooded murder with the use of her more than sensual body and is he really defending as well as sleeping with an avaricious lust murderer?

The whole set up of Body of Evidence just seems so ridiculous and one can’t take it seriously. The film itself tries to be serious in the court room scenes and surprising with attempted red herrings but it just ends up being completely laughable. Director Uli Edel tries to take the material seriously and does give the movie some good visuals such as billowing MTV see through curtains, candles flickering and sinister shadows, but even that can’t save this movie from inevitable disaster. The score manages to give the film some of the eroticism it sorely lacks with twinkling percussion and seductive guitar forming the backbone. Those two points about the visuals and the music are two of the only things that I can think of that can be praised in this weak film. Marketed as an erotic thriller, Body of Evidence falls short in both departments. The sex scenes between Rebecca and Frank are supposed to be eye-opening and titillating, with the femme fatale Rebecca introducing her dark world of pain and pleasure to the wide-eyed Frank, but the scenes( including the use of candle wax, restraints and an unusual encounter in a parking lot) end up feeling boring and not all erotic in the slightest. The writer tries to incorporate thrills into the story and make us guess whether Rebecca is guilty or not, but with the weak script we really don’t end up caring about whether Rebecca committed the crime.

Chief among the problems of Body of Evidence is the decision to cast pop superstar Madonna in the lead role. She’s never going to go down as the best actress in history, but at least in past movies such as Desperately Seeking Susan and A League of Their Own she was watchable enough and wasn’t a complete disaster. Madonna Body of EvidenceHere her delivery of lines is stilted and unconvincing as her character is accused of using her sex life to kill her old lover. Everyone knows that Madonna can be sexy( hell if anyone knows that sex sells, it has to be Madonna), but that is all she brings to the part and nothing else. Willem Dafoe is wasted as Rebecca’s lawyer Frank, who enters into an illicit relationship with her. Joe Mantegna and Anne Archer don’t fare much better in their poorly written roles as district attorney and secretary for the deceased. And Julianne Moore is just wasted here as Frank’s wronged wife and it really is a shame to see one of my favourite actresses having to slum it with this weak film. Even an appearance from Jürgen Prochnow as an unreliable witness in the case can’t bring anything that great to this mess of a movie.

Unconvincing and not remotely as thrilling or sexy as it wanted to be, Body of Evidence is a weak film that seemed destined for the critical drubbing it received and with good reason.

 

 

 

 

Licence to Kill

Film Title

Licence to Kill

Director

John Glen

Starring

  • Timothy Dalton as James Bond
  • Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier
  • Robert Davi as Franz Sanchez
  • Talisa Soto as Lupe Lamora
  • Anthony Zerbe as Milton Krest
  • Desmond Llewelyn as Q
  • David Hedison as Felix Leiter
  • Frank McRae as Sharkey
  • Everett McGill as Ed Killifer
  • Benicio Del Toro as Dario
  • Robert Brown as M
  • Caroline Bliss as Moneypenny

After his excellent turn as 007 in The Living Daylights, Timothy Dalton returned for what was to be his last outing as the agent. With Licence to Kill, the mood is much more serious than your average Bond fare and the results are dark and very brutal. Yet this change brings something new to the series and there is much to praise in this polarizing entry into the franchise.

In the beginning of the movie, Bond aids old CIA friend Felix Leiter in his search with the DEA for the powerful drugs lord Franz Sanchez. After the successful capture of the fleeing Sanchez, Felix marries a new bride by the name of Della and all seems to be going well. Licence to Kill posterTheir wedded bliss is cut tragically short after people on the inside and working for Sanchez, help the psychopath to escape and he has Felix’s bride murdered and Felix horribly mutilated by a shark. Severely angered and filled with a large sense of loyalty to his friend, Bond takes it upon himself to track down Sanchez and get revenge for what he did to Felix. This attitude for personal revenge has him stripped of his licence to kill by MI6 so Bond goes rogue in his vendetta against Sanchez. Licence to Kill BondRecruiting tough-talking CIA agent and skilled pilot Pam Bouvier and helped by a vacationing Q, 007 goes from Florida to Mexico in his search for Sanchez and cunningly enters his inner circle, hoping it will bring him face to face with the violent drugs baron. Lets just say the results are going to be explosive and very tense to say the least.

In comparison to other Bond movies, Licence to Kill is by far the most adult of the series. With realistic violence and aggression a plenty, it is something of a departure from the adventurous nature of other Bond flicks. John Glen, in his last outing as Bond director, gives the film a welcome dose of savagery as Bond severs ties with restrictions of Government and goes at it alone. Violence is at its highest in Licence to Kill as people are maimed by sharks, Lupe, the caged girlfriend of Sanchez, is savagely whipped by him using a stingray tail and one character has his head stretched and blown up in sadistically, grisly fashion. Admittedly, some of this change may not all be effective, but it’s interesting to see the formula be twisted into something harsher and darker than before. Franz SanchezThere is a sense of brutality that hangs over Licence to Kill that marks it as a Bond movie with a different purpose than most. Even the whole main villain is not a mastermind trying to destroy the world which is usually the case, he is a powerful drugs baron with a hidden business. In this movie it brings the threats posed by him more profound as they are very believable in nature and the menace it provides is chilling. Michael Kamen provides the accented score, that gets to the heart of the revenge theme and fashions it into Latin rhythms and slinking drums. Soul diva Gladys Knight belts out the title track with power and finesse, giving the song passion and drama to boot.

Even though his tenure as 007 was too short, Dalton gave it his all. This really shows in Licence to Kill as we see Bond for the first time on a personal mission that only he can end. Dalton excellently shows the anger and hate Bond has for Sanchez and how he cunningly begins to infiltrate the drugs baron’s impenetrable system. Up until this point we hadn’t seen Bond at the end of his tether and bruised, but Dalton pulls this side of him off with grit and determination. Ably supporting him is Carey Lowell, who brings a sultry yet tough quality to the part of CIA agent Pam. Pam BouvierThis is a Bond girl who can fight her own battles, use her sexual prowess to get what she wants, match Bond in terms of intellect and is more than resilient in terms of resources. Exuding brooding menace and burning paranoia is Robert Davi as the antagonist Sanchez. Davi genuinely gives the role a darkness and he truly makes Sanchez a chilling adversary for 007. It is really interesting watching the dynamic between Bond and Sanchez and how Bond plants seeds of doubt in the head of Sanchez that cause him to doubt the loyalty of those around him. Talisa Soto exhibits vulnerability and the need for escape as Lupe, the girlfriend of Sanchez who has had enough of his cruelty. Anthony Zerbe is cunning as one Sanchez’s many workers, while there is a happy extended turn from Desmond Llewelyn as Q. In this entry, Q loyally aids Bond on his vendetta and this film really shows how valuable Q is as 007 comes up against enemies. David Hedison returns as Felix Leiter after portraying the character in Live and Let Die, and gives Felix a tragedy as his fate is what sets in motion Bond’s revenge mission. Frank McRae is a likable ally for Bond and Everett McGill is supremely slimy as the man who betrayed Felix because of Sanchez. In an early role, Benicio Del Toro is sinister and unhinged as Dario, a young henchman for Sanchez who is skilled with a switch blade and relishes the chance to dispatch those in his way. Robert Brown is strong and gruff in his last outing as M, yet Caroline Bliss this time around is not given enough to do as Moneypenny.

Brutal and unflinching, Licence to Kill may divide opinion but it does have an impact as we see the DNA of the series morph into something darker than normal.

 

The Living Daylights

Film Title

The Living Daylights

Director

John Glen

Starring

  • Timothy Dalton as James Bond
  • Maryam d’Abo as Kara Milovy
  • Jeroen Krabbé as General Georgi Koskov
  • Joe Don Baker as Brad Whitaker
  • John Rhys-Davies as General Pushkin
  • Art Malik as Kamran Shah
  • Andreas Wisniewski as Necros
  • Thomas Wheatley as Saunders
  • Robert Brown as M
  • Desmond Llewelyn as Q
  • Caroline Bliss as Moneypenny

After Roger Moore signed off with the underwhelming A View to a Kill, the Bond producers went on the lookout for a new actor to step into the shoes of 007. The eventual casting choice was Timothy Dalton, who brought to the role a gritty quality that was more in tune with the hero of Ian Fleming’s novels. The Living Daylights is a refreshingly grounded spy thriller that brought the series back to its roots and generally succeeded in bringing the franchise into the realms of believable espionage.

Bond is sent to aid the defection of KGB officer General Georgi Koskov along with the by the book Saunders. Koskov believes he has been marked for death and that a sniper will eliminate him if he attempts to defect during a concert in Bratislava. Bond helps him and manages to avert the sniper, who is a beautiful woman that Bond thinks is not in on the plot. The Living Daylights posterKoskov informs MI6 that the man behind all of this is the KGB chief General Pushkin. Yet there is something about the accusation that alarms Bond and arouses his suspicions. After aiding Koskov, the defector is snatched back by Necros, a menacing assassin. While MI6 begins panicking about the repercussions of this, Bond has already smelt a rat. He deduces that Koskov cunningly faked his defection, tried to implicate Pushkin and is in league with a maniacal arms dealer named Brad Whitaker. Travelling back to Bratislava, 007 comes into contact with the girl with the sniper, Kara Milovy. She is in fact the naive, cello playing girlfriend of Koskov, who has no idea about the sinister plans surrounding her and believed she was helping Koskov. Bond The Living DaylightsIt is now up to Bond to stop Koskov and Whitaker from a scheme involving diamonds, opium and arms dealing. From Vienna to Tangier and finally Afghanistan for one hell of a showdown, Bond must use all his wits if he is to stop this plot from falling into motion. With the confused but willing Kara in tow and assistance from Kamran Shah, an Afghan freedom fighter, 007 enters the international game of cat and mouse.

After the humour of the Moore era, it was refreshing to bring a seriousness to the Bond series. The Living Daylights more than does this by giving us an atmosphere of intense intrigue, that has shadows of Cold War thrillers with defections, double crosses and death at every corner. John Glen is back to his best in this effort, directing with a grit and globe-trotting appeal. Unlike the last film, which had an emphasis on comedy, Glen manages to control the humour to splashes of quick wit and sophistication. Only at certain times does the complex plot become a little too complicated for its own good, yet The Living Daylights still remains enthralling. The Living DaylightsThe action is high and excellently choreographed, the attack on a Russian air base in Afghanistan is an exciting battle that has the hairs on your neck standing up. John Barry signs off with panache by contributing an enthralling and intriguing score that ranks as some of his best work. The title song by A-Ha is a catchy track that incorporates synths and orchestra to compliment the modern elements and the tradition of the Bond series.

Timothy Dalton gives the character of Bond a serious edge and exudes some real intensity as he investigates this complex state of affairs. He may not have the wit for the part, but Dalton makes the role his own with his darker take on the character. Maryam d’Abo is suitably winsome and naive as Kara, who is thrust into these extraordinary situations. Kara Milovyd’Abo brings a certain charm and benevolent innocence to the part of Kara, and this proves to be interesting as we watch this ordinary woman fall into these circumstances and into the arms of Bond. Unusually for a Bond movie, he isn’t that much of a womanizer and Kara is the only Bond girl. This makes the relationship between him and Kara natural and strangely effective. Jeroen Krabbé may nail the smarmy personality of the double-crossing Koskov, but at times he appears a little to phony to be believable and as a villain, he doesn’t quite have the intimidation needed. Joe Don Baker has the right qualities for a maniacal villain in the form of Whitaker, but he comes off as more than a little cartoonish. John Rhys-Davies is on fine form as the newest KGB chief Pushkin, he gives him a humour and sagacity that aids Bond in uncovering deception. Art Malik is resourceful and witty as Kamran Shah, the freedom fighter who is freed from prison by Bond and repays the favor. By far the most menacing of the trio of villains, Andreas Wisniewski utilities his height and athletic appearance to great effect as master assassin Necros. Thomas Wheatley has fun as the strict and rule abiding agent Saunders, flabbergasted by Bond’s methods who later comes to respect him. Robert Brown as MI6 boss M and Desmond Llewelyn give their usual expertise to their roles, but the new Moneypenny, in the form of Caroline Bliss, is not a patch on Lois Maxwell.

An exciting, serious and down to earth spy thriller, The Living Daylights gives the series a real jolt and makes the ride extremely enjoyable announcing Timothy Dalton as a different kind of 007.

 

A View to a Kill

Film Title

A View to a Kill

Director

John Glen

Starring

  • Roger Moore as James Bond
  • Christopher Walken as Max Zorin
  • Tanya Roberts as Stacey Sutton
  • Grace Jones as May Day
  • Patrick Macnee as Sir Godfrey Tibbett
  • Willoughby Grey as Dr Carl Mortner
  • Fiona Fullerton as Pola Ivanova
  • Robert Brown as M
  • Desmond Llewelyn as Q
  • Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny
  • Walter Gotell as General Gogol

Roger Moore finally bowed out of the role of 007 with A View to a Kill, which was his record seventh appearance as the spy. Whilst there are parts that are entertaining, it isn’t really a worthy farewell to the Moore era.  Octopussy would have been a much better swan song for Moore to go out on than this underwhelming effort that ranks as one of the weaker Bond entries.

After discovering a microchip on the body of a fellow agent who was killed in Siberia and narrowly escaping, MI6’s best agent James Bond investigates the case. A View to a Kill posterThe chip leads him to Max Zorin, an industrialist with the microchip business as well as horse racing. The seemingly respectable Zorin is actually a psychopath, who along with his loyal but deadly assistant and lover May Day,was the result of a biological test by Dr Carl Mortner, a Nazi doctor . 007 traces Zorin from Ascot, then Paris and for the grand finale San Francisco, where the full extent of Zorin’s scheme comes into a disturbing light. Aided first by fellow MI6 agent Godfrey Tibbett and later by geologist Stacey Sutton, who has history with Zorin, Bond attempts to foil the twisted psychopath’s dastardly plan to flood Silicon Valley and gain a monopoly on the world microchip market. Zorin and May DayComing up against the fearsome May Day and other cronies of Zorin’s along with many life and death situations, Bond knows the mission is going to be far from easy if he is to successfully take down this psychopath.

Part of the problem with Moore’s last entry is the overuse of comedy that detracts from many effective sequences. I don’t mind a bit of humour in the Bond movies, but here it just goes overboard with it and never really recovers. Other entries have successfully combined humour, suspense and action, but A View to a Kill doesn’t fall into that category. John Glen is once again in the director’s chair, but his touch isn’t as assured as it has been and A View to a Kill isn’t glowing in terms of greatness. Bond A View to a KillThe fact also is that Roger Moore looks too old for the part now and the suspension in disbelief of him as 007 really waned with this entry, which proved to be his last. With those negatives out of the way, here come the positives. The locations used are once again stunning, from the snows of Siberia, the finery of a French Chateau to the use of San Francisco in sun-bathed glory as Bond attempts to stop Zorin and his plan. John Barry is thankfully on hand to compose the beautiful score, which harks back to the classic Bond feel and succeeds in giving this entry something worthy of praise. Duran Duran provide the electrifying title song, which marries 80’s rock riffs with classic strings and the result is impressive. The title sequence has a rebellious edge, with seductive women sporting Mohawks and neon-body paint.

Although he still has style and panache, Roger Moore is just too old for the role in his last installment. Which is a real shame as he had made the role his own and deserved much better material for his final entry as 007. Christopher Walken is an inspired choice for the role of Zorin and he plays him with unhinged menace, cunning smile and odd sense of humour. Stacey SuttonTanya Roberts may be gorgeous to look at but her role isn’t the best example of a Bond girl and the character of Stacey is just not that interesting. It’s hard to take her seriously as a geologist and her constant screaming for help really does become annoying after a while. Far more effective is Grace Jones as the villainous May Day, Zorin’s sidekick and deadly weapon. Jones imbues May Day with an unusually intimidating demeanor, brute strength and an Amazonian glamour, which really makes her an excellent female villain to add to the series. Patrick Macnee contributes old-school wit and upper-crust knowledge as a fellow MI6 agent, but Willoughby Grey is too over the top to be believable as the crazed doctor whose experiments resulted in Zorin and May Day. Briefly appearing but oozing sex appeal is Fiona Fullerton as a KGB honey trap who tries to outsmart Bond on his mission. Robert Brown and Desmond Llewelyn are respectively great as M and Q. Lois Maxwell signs off in style as Moneypenny and her contribution to the series can really be felt in her last outing as the loyal secretary. Walter Gotell is back as Gogol, this time helping MI6 in their pursuit of Zorin as he was once a member of the KGB who has decided to go renegade.

So despite some moments of greatness, A View to a Kill sadly ranks as an unworthy way for Roger Moore to bow out on.