Pierce Brosnan as James Bond
GoldenEye (November 13/06)
Overlooking Eric Serra's irritating and flat-out incompetent score, GoldenEye remains one of the more exciting James Bond adventures - with Pierce Brosnan ably stepping into the shoes of the world's most famous secret agent. Directed by Martin Campbell, GoldenEye possesses all the elements one expects out of the series - including fast cars, cool gadgets, and scantily-clad women - and there's little doubt that the film manages to entertain despite an overlong running time. The convoluted storyline follows Bond as he attempts to stop an old foe from crippling England with a powerful EMP, and it's clear that GoldenEye has been designed to appeal to the broadest audience possible - with evidenced by the film's distinctly old-school feel (ie the film is more in line with the playful vibe of the series' early years than with the darker Timothy Dalton era). Brosnan's superb performance is matched by a surprisingly strong supporting cast, which includes Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, and Judi Dench (in her first outing as M). And although the movie suffers from an expectedly erratic pace - a problem that seems to plague every Bond flick - GoldenEye is nevertheless a solid, sporadically electrifying entry in this ongoing series.
Tomorrow Never Dies
Before it reaches its expectedly overblown finale, Tomorrow Never Dies comes off as a briskly-paced and thoroughly entertaining James Bond adventure - with the pre-credits action sequence, in which Bond (Pierce Brosnan) must single-handedly avert a catastrophic nuclear disaster, undoubtedly ranking as one of the franchise's most enthralling openings. The storyline - revolving around 007's efforts at preventing an evil media baron (Jonathan Pryce's Elliot Carver) from instigating World War III - has been augmented with a series of increasingly thrilling set-pieces, as director Roger Spottiswoode efficiently shuttles the proceedings from one larger-than-life interlude to the next. Brosnan's expectedly solid performance as the world's most famous secret agent is matched by Pryce's unapologetically over-the-top work as the film's antagonist, with the actor's scenery-chewing turn effectively (and purposefully) evoking the larger-than-life villains that were once a staple within this venerable series. There does reach a point, however, at which Spottiswoode - working from Bruce Feirstein's screenplay - allows the proceedings to become consumed with mayhem and violence, and it's subsequently impossible to deny that one's enthusiasm slowly-but-surely dwindles as the aggressively excessive third act is prolonged well past the point of tolerance. It's an admittedly minor misstep that mars what is otherwise an above average Bond outing, although - to be fair - Brosnan's least impressive 007 stint remains the hopelessly self-indulgent Die Another Day.
The World is Not Enough
There's little doubt that The World is Not Enough has received a bum rap from audiences and critics alike, as the film - surprisingly enough - ultimately comes off as a superior James Bond adventure that deserves to be ranked alongside GoldenEye as Pierce Brosnan's most effective 007 outing. The film, which opens with one of the longest and most elaborate pre-credits sequences in the series' history, follows Bond's efforts at protecting an oil heiress (Sophie Marceau's Elektra King) from a notorious anarchist (Robert Carlyle) bent on nuclear domination, with his quest eventually assisted by Russian ally Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane) and short-shorts-wearing scientist Christmas Jones (Denise Richards). Although scripters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Bruce Feirstein have infused the film with an expectedly (and needlessly) convoluted storyline, The World is Not Enough's multitude of familiar elements - including larger-than-life action sequences, pithy quips, and entirely implausible gadgets - ensure that it generally holds one's interest from start to finish. This is despite Carlyle's curiously subdued work as central scoundrel Renard, as the actor's decision to eschew the broad sensibilities of his villainous forebearers inevitably proves to be the movie's only real misstep. And unlike the majority of entries within this ongoing series, The World is Not Enough boasts a third act that's genuinely thrilling and surprisingly free of oppressive excess (ie it doesn't feel like one long shoot-out) - which, coupled with the relatively brisk pace and Brosnan's charismatic performance, certainly cements the film's place as a woefully underrated endeavor.