James Bond: Classic, Cheese, or Crap? – “Tomorrow Never Dies”

“Tomorrow Never Dies”

1997

Bond: Pierce Brosnan

Classic, Cheese, or Crap?: CRAP

“Tomorrow Never Dies” is easily my least favorite Brosnan Bond. I will quickly cede that “Die Another Day” is a worse film (I mean, a MUCH worse film), but that movie has such a cheese factor going for it that I enjoy watching it more.

“Tomorrow Never Dies” is a Bond movie that actively irritates me. One of the few in the series that make me mad. There are a handful of quality elements that are wasted here, and then some things that outright poor. And at the end of the day, it takes itself very seriously, so it’s hard to have fun with it.

My chief complaint with “Tomorrow Never Dies” is the villain, Elliot Carver, played by Jonathan Pryce.

Carver pushes the world to the brink of World War III in order to sell newspapers. Oh, ok, he’s got a whole media conglomerate going, so it’s not just newspapers. But you get the point. Now, granted, he’s certainly not the first Bond Villain to threaten the world for the sake of personal profit… in fact they all do in some way or another. But no one has ever done it in such a petty fashion. Steal a nuke! Build a space laser! Cause an Earthquake! Put fake newspaper headlines out and earn cable tv rights in China?? What the hell is that??! Plus, Pryce seems like a squirmy little toad of a man. Not that a lot of Bond villains could face off against him physically, but it just seems as if he should be an accounting manager and not a villain on a global scale.

My second complaint is Wai Lin, played by Michelle Yeoh.

Now, Yeoh is fine as an actress, (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is one of my favorite movies of all time) and an excellent martial artist. But as a Bond girl? Not so much. That’s not my main complaint though, there are actually plenty of Bond girls who aren’t up to snuff throughout the course of the series.

No, my main complaint is that her character is Bond’s equal in the movie… and in some ways shown to be a better combatant than Bond himself. Bond is and should always be a solo artist (in the field, at least). I don’t need or want to see him “teamed up” with anyone for long. And I especially don’t want to see a scene WITHOUT Bond, like the one we got here where Michelle Yeoh demonstrates her martial arts abilities against like 5 or 6 guys while Bond is offscreen. Bond should never be offscreen during an action sequence, let alone upstaged during an action sequence. I mean, Bond has never been shown to have that kind of fighting prowess. What the hell…

There are things I enjoy about “Tomorrow Never Dies” that keep it from being ranked in my rankings at the bottom of the barrel, though. Chief among them is the all too brief role Terri Hatcher plays as one of the best “Sacrificial Lambs” in the series. She and Brosnan were so excellent together in her few minutes onscreen that I consider not having her as the main Bond Girl in this movie amongst one biggest production gaffes in series history. There’s also a couple of fun moments when Bond is driving a remote control car. And I suppose the Saigon helicopter chase is a decent enough action sequence.

But when you can’t get behind the plot, the villain, the Bond girl, and the tone of the movie (if you’re going to be serious, you have to seriously be good), it’s just too much to overcome. Production values, a couple of cool elements, and Brosnan as Bond save this flick from the bottom of the pile, but this is one of my least favorite Bonds.

Tomorrow may never die, but this flick was DOA.

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22 thoughts on “James Bond: Classic, Cheese, or Crap? – “Tomorrow Never Dies”

  1. I disagree in that I though Yeoh was one of the few saving graces of this movie. I’m glad they turned the concept of “Bond girl” on it’s head a bit.

    Everything else though… yeah, this was a bad one. It actually not seen “The World Is Not Enough” or “Die Another Day” because this one turned me off so badly. Not even “Moonraker” did that to me. They remain the only two Bond films I haven’t seen.

    • Well, unless you enjoy Bond films in a so bad they’re good kind of way, I would stay FAR away from Die Another Day. FAR away.

      The World is not Enough I like though. You just have to get past Denise Richards.

      As to Michelle Yeoh, I have no problem with them flipping the Bond girl formula… Certainly they shouldn’t all just be helpless hotties.

      But no one should kick more ass than Bond. Ought to be one of the ten Bond Commandments.

      VIII. Thou Shalt Not Kick More Ass Than Bond.

      I’m open to suggestions for filling the rest of those out… :D

  2. I agree with all of your points save one, Brosnan as Bond. Brosnan is by far my least favorite of the Bonds, making all of his films bottom of the barrel. Yes he is a good looking British male, and at times a great actor, but that alone doesn’t qualify one to play James Bond.

    • That’s cool. That’s what this is all about, man. Discuss and debate!

      Since we’re dealing with a small sample size, I still think he’s one of the better Bonds. I like him. He had the looks and the accent and the attitude, so I was willing to forgive the physicality shortcomings.

      But he’s behind Connery and Craig for me…

      Who do you prefer?

      • I would say that I prefer Roger Moore and Craig. Moore because he perfectly English and delivers the classic one-liners without making them completely cheesy — subject to opinion, I know; and Craig because he embodies the gritty side of James Bond so well. Although, I think he is lacking in the suave department that is so important in both the books and the older movies.

        Geez! I didn’t know he was Irish. What the heck is he doing as Bond at all then.
        An Irish Bond driving American and German cars? Come on! There better be a
        Lotus in the next film! haha

      • Ohh, Moore. Well. LOL.

        I hope I don’t wind up offending you as we go on. LOL. Not a huge Moore fan.

        Craig though, has been awesome. I just hope the series gives his Bond some more of the “formula”. They’ve had great locations and cars, now I want gadgets and some fun out of him and some cartoonish henchmen to fight!

  3. I actually like this one. Things that are good about this movie are: the remote control car chase (one of the best car chases in all the Bond films), the always great banter with Q, the fact that the Bond girl was actually helpful for a change, and perhaps the best part was Dr. Kaufman. He was a really great and sadly underutilized villain. He should have gotten away and popped up again in future movies like Jaws.

    • Agreed. Kauffman was great. Unfortunately his total screentime is like 2 minutes. :(

      There’s a lot of wasted potential, unfortunately. I can’t stress enough how awesome I think Hatcher would have been in a full out movie ling Bond girl role.

      She’s the biggest missed opportunity, to
      Me…

  4. I kinda like TND, mainly for Michelle Yeoh. I don’t like it enough to defend though.

    I’d probably rank the series like this:

    1. Sean Connery
    2. Daniel Craig
    3. Timothy Dalton
    4. Roger Moore
    5. Pierce Brosnan
    6. George Lazenby

    Though I will say, I don’t really dislike any of the Bonds.

    • Hmmm… more Brosnan backlash out there than I expected.

      I always thought he was really very widely approved of as Bond. His movies were always very successful even though they weren’t that good, and I always attributed that to him.

  5. I like Craig and Connery the best. Connery because he set the standard for the one liners and had the gadget thing down, so it needed to be in every film onward. Craig because I felt he brought an additional human element to the role. However, I agree that the new Craig Bond needs some good gadget development and I feel he would be able to deliver those gadget scenes convincingly.

    • Sure. Plus… like imagine how cool the gadgets they could come up with nowadays would be. They could do some seriously high tech stuff… I mean, I dont know like what… I’m no spy. But I’m sure they would be cool. :D

  6. I agree totally on Brosnan. 2nd worst Bond, although Goldeneye was great fun.

    But I have a problem with all the raves Craig gets. Yes, Casino Royale was one of the all time best Bond films ever, no question, maybe even the best, BUT… He’s gotta take some of the blame for the abomination that was Quantum of Solace. Terrible terrible, movie. Worse even than Never Say Never and A View to a Kill COMBINED. When you combine Casino Royale and Quantum, Craig loses much of his prestige. He drops behind Dalton in My Ranking:
    1. Connery
    2. Moore
    3. Dalton
    4. Craig
    5. Lazenby
    6. David Niven
    7. Brosnan
    8. Barry Nelson (look it up. lol)

    • “Worse even than Never Say Never and A View to a Kill COMBINED”

      No way.

      Come on, LOL. Get real.

      You can have your opinions on Bonds and rank them how you please, whatever, whatever… but I can’t let THAT fly.

      Come on, man. Seriously. Come on.

      • Did you even see Quantum? It was the most bloodless, cheerless, funless movie ever (with the posible exception of the Road). There was no Bond in it at all. I stand by my assessment.

      • Addendum: I’m a huge Bond fan from way back. I really really REALLY hated Quantum of Solace. Or couldn’t you tell?

    • I’m a “huge Bond fan from way back”, too. LOL.

      Yes I did see Quantum.

      http://fogsmoviereviews.com/2011/09/09/james-bond-classic-cheese-or-crap-quantum-of-solace/

      I consider it a good movie, one of the good Bonds. So I put it in the “Classic” category. Yet I acknowledged that the film has serious weaknesses. I think I even use the phrase “Takes itself seriously to a fault” I think a lot of that is, the makers of the film were counting on the fact that everyone had seen and remembered C Royale, so they took a lot of that for granted. If the two together were a single, 5 hour movie, Bond wouldnt feel as joyless, it would feel more of an emotional arc. Because he would have been shown losing Vesper, the cold ass killing machine Bond would have been better supported. But they jumped right into that in Quantum, so it does feel a bit unsupported on its own.

      Listen… I KNOW there’s Quantum hate out there (I’m not as surprised as I am by the “Brosnan Backlash” lol), in fact, I was pretty surprised when the comments ran basically positive.

      But you can’t say its worse than those other two movies Gelfster… cmon, man. Worse than Never Say Never Again? Or A View to a Kill – whose main strength is its so bad its laughable?

      Cmon man.

  7. Wow, my turn to chime in on your Bond reviews. :)

    As far as Brosnan goes, I thought he held himself well as Bond. Not sure why people are putting him through the ringer. I will agree with most that his first, Goldeneye, was probably his best. I would definitely rank The World Is Not Enough as crap, total utter worthless steaming crap. Tomorrow Never Dies I thought had a good plot, good stunts (c’mon the handcuffed on the motorcycle trick? Classic!), good gadgets. As fas a Bond films go, no way it is crap. Definitely somewhere between classic and cheese….. CLEESE?? hey wait, isn’t that the guy who replaced Q? Funny coincidence.

    • Close, it’s Cleese. Ha ha.

      Well, if anything I’m seeing it’s that the Brosnan Bonds are the most divisive.

      Some people like him, some people hate him. And my batting average (in commenters agreeing with my classification) is probably the worst of any of the Bonds.

      Still, I stick by my guns here. I dont like this one much at all. LAME villain, no henchmen, a freaking guest star action hero for gods sake. I dont like this one very much at all.

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