Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Corny, but entertaining.

When Pierce Brosnan showed up, everyone’s favorite film in his era was arguably his first, Goldeneye. I say arguably because my opinion differs from that of the general public. It differs because my idea of how a Bond film should go also differs. I can’t say at this point which Brosnan film is my favorite, but I can say that I liked Tomorrow Never Dies more than Goldeneye. There clearly wasn’t a lot of thought put into the creation of this film, but it is a lot of fun anyway, and a story you can easily understand.

Imagine if Steve Jobs owned TMZ, went crazy, and tried to take over the world – that would be your basic plot to Tomorrow Never Dies. Basically, this media mogul that looks and acts a little too much like Steve Jobs is obsessed with his newspaper “Tomorrow”. To get more ratings and exclusive media rights, he attempts to start World War III by having tension build between the U.K. and China. Because everyone else has already tried to rule the world by starting World War III, James Bond is called into action…he’s got the most experience stopping WWIII attempts. However, by his side is Wai Lin – the Chinese female equivalent to himself – to help with the case.

The story is really nuts, overdone, and ultimately predictable. However, if they are going to continue to have these Pierce Brosnan films pay homage to the classic series, then by all means – go all out. What I want to point out first is that I liked how the film opened. Too many James Bond movies are made as if they are mysteries. Normally, we don’t know the sinister plot until the end, and James Bond is just doing his duty because he was told to do it. However, this film began and you understood exactly where it was headed. You knew the bad guy, his occupation, what he planned to do, and all that was left was for James Bond to find him and stop him; that’s the kind of James Bond story that I like. I’ll admit there has been several times where I’ve had to look at the plot synopsis on Wikipedia to figure out what’s happening in the classic series. Once I figured it out, I’d say that it was smart, but I might not have normally caught it without Wikipedia. I like a Bond that’s clear from the beginning, and this film delivered.

The problem is that Brosnan’s Bond keeps getting into this nasty habit of having virtually no memorable scenes. It has memorable spy gear, and an easy-to-understand plot, but after watching, you’ll forget most of the scenes pretty quickly. I mean, what I mostly took out of this film was the fact that Bond had a touch screen smart phone way before it’s time. Sure, it’s done a little differently, but that’s what it will remind you of. The spy car is cool, sure, but I miss the old one. The old one, by the way, has been used in both Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies, but only as a cameo set piece.

Legend has it that this film was originally titled Tomorrow Never Lies, but was changed due to a simple typo. I don’t know if I really believe that story or not, but it does make sense. Tomorrow is the title of the newspaper, and the whole never lies bit is making fun of the plot. Tomorrow Never Dies doesn’t really make any sense, it just sounds cool.

Brosnan is still pulling his best Roger Moore impression by making puns left and right. I understand the efficiency of such puns, but it gets old when they are used in every scene. I prefer a sarcastic Bond but more and more puns makes for a dangerous possibility of turning the series back into a joke. I do want to point out that I liked the Bond girls in this film. Terri Hatcher wasn’t seriously needed, but Michelle Yeoh was perfect as Wai Lin. She wasn’t the first, but one of the best heroines of the series – she kicks major tail. She contributes very well for the film, and it’s a step back in the right direction.

Tomorrow Never Dies could have had tremendous help with plot creation, but as it was, it is still fun if you don’t think too much into how ludicrous it is for a man to start WWIII to get ratings. The action is fast-paced and the spy gear is really cool. You ask me, this is a good addition to the series.

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