To mark the 50th Anniversary of one of the most successful movie franchises of all time and with James Bond’s 23rd official outing in Skyfall due for release in just a few months time, I have been tasked with taking a retrospective look at the films that turned author Ian Fleming’s creation into one of the most recognised and iconic characters in film history.
The eighteenth James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies was the first EON Productions Bond film to be produced after the death of the series’ producer and co-founder Albert R. Broccoli. Known as Cubby to his friends, he had fought to keep his beloved franchise relevant since the release of the first official Bond film Dr. No in 1963. Having overcome many obstacles from the need to replace actors in leading roles, negotiating permission to film in locations around the world as well as numerous legal and court battles, Broccoli had seen his series break box-office records and soar in popularity over the course of seventeen films.
It has been said that over 50% of the world’s population have seen a Bond movie, and until a certain boy wizard came along it was the most popular film series there has ever been. Broccoli’s daughter Barbara and stepson Michael G. Wilson, having already produced the hugely successful GoldenEye, would go on to continue the series in the Broccoli name and Tomorrow Never Dies would end with a dedication to the memory of Cubby Broccoli. Without Broccoli it is unlikely that Bond would be the iconic cinematic character he is today and for Broccoli and his estate to maintain that success and popularity for the past fifty years is an incredible achievement.
Under huge pressure from MGM to capitalise on the unprecedented success of GoldenEye, the producers had to work quickly to get another Bond film on screens before the end of 1997. The film’s title was inspired by The Beatles song, Tomorrow Never Knows and was initially supposed to be titled Tomorrow Never Lies; however a faxed message to MGM obscured the title to look like Tomorrow Never Dies which became the studio’s favoured title.
Pierce Brosnan returns to the role brimming with the confidence that made his GoldenEye debut so memorable. The witty one-liners are delivered with style but are slightly reined in following the pun heavy previous film. He is given the opportunity to show a number of different facets of the character in particular in his scenes with the lead villain Elliot Carver’s wife Paris, played by Teri Hatcher. It is an unusual twist for Bond to encounter an old flame and the film explores this pretty well, further exposing the flaws that make the man and his reluctance to commit to relationships.
There are a number of moments in the film where Brosnan appears to be having the time of his life in the role and it is hard not to be caught up in the sheer enthusiasm that he brings to the part. His performance in Tomorrow Never Dies is more assured than in his debut and he handles the variety of action scenes and expositional dialogue exchanges with ease. His interactions with M, again played by Judi Dench, seem to have mellowed since their fiery exchanges in GoldenEye and there seems to be more of a sense they are fighting to achieve the same goals in the face of adversity and bureaucratic red tape. Bond feels more like a team player once again after his two previous films saw him take on more personal, revenge based missions.
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