The World Is Not Enough, with the title harking back to the Bond family motto mentioned in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, “Orbis Non Sufficit”, not to be confused with Roy & HG’s motto, “Nimium Non Sufficit”.
And golly is it a long one. First Bond turns up in Bilbao to take delivery of some cash for Sir Robert King, an industrialist and an old friend of M’s, and he has some hassle getting it back to. Hardly unmarked bills; having delivered the cache to King himself back at the MI6 building, he notices something not quite right, but it’s too late as King gets immolated by the booty.
Bond notices an assassin in the Thames, so he nicks Q’s fishing boat (ultra-tricked-out, of course) and sets off in pursuit, buzzing down river to the Millennium Dome, where the assassin hijacks a hot air balloon only for Bond to grab one of the guyropes. She’s not interested in Bond’s offer of amnesty and decides to blow up the balloon, leaving Bond bouncing off the dome, injuring his shoulder.
Yeah, after the 15 minute preamble, we’re finally onto the usual. This time the theme is oil, lots of it, which is a bit prosaic, given that in the past we’ve had gold, diamonds and shit like that.
The title song is sung by Shirley Manson with Garbage, and it’s up there with the best. The soundtrack is again crafted by David Arnold, continuing the old-and-new blend he instigated last time and ties the whole thing together pretty well.
Over all the damned place, this one. As mentioned, the long opening sequence takes in Bilbao (with a big ol’ eyeball at the local Guggenheim) and London. Then Scotland, Baku in Azerbaijan, Khazakstan, and finally a return to Istanbul.
The funeral for King is held somewhere in Scotland, where the MI6 hierarchy decamp to some dumpy old castle. Bond is initially off duty due to the shoulder, though he, ahem, convinces the doctor to give him a clean bill of health, and he’s back on the case, working out the guy responsible is Victor Zokas, or more snappily, Renard, played by Robert “Hamish Macbeth” Carlyle.
Who is Renard? He is a crazy Russian anarchist, made even more so by the bullet left in his brain by another Double-0 agent which renders him unable to feel anything, especially pain. He’s not crazy as in “I run a chocolate factory and drown children in the chocolate” crazy (if that’s more your thing you may be interested in You Only Live Twice), more the tedious nuking-countries-for-the-lulz type.
So he is a nihilist who feels nothing. Nothing! Sometime back he had kidnapped Elektra King, Sir Robert’s daughter, who has a bit of baggage as a result of her dad declining to pay the ransom at M’s insistence. In the end Elektra took matters into her own hands and busted out, although the exact circumstances aren’t entirely clear.
With her father going out with a bang, Elektra (Sophie Marceau) has inherited the oil fortune and is advancing with the plans to build a pipeline across Central Asia to the south of her competitors. Bond is dropped in on her to keep her safe, something which she’s kind of sceptical about given that MI6 have already fucked up a couple of times.
Nevertheless, she and Bond checks out some of the pipeline’s proposed route on their skis where they’re assailed by dudes on parahawks – i.e. snowmobiles on parachutes. Look, it’s hard to explain. Anyway, they all blow up due to various contrivances, but as Bond and Elektra look to have escaped, a snowdrift falls onto them, although Bond has a inflatable jacket that turns into a Pokeball or something, so they make it back to Baku safely.
It’s a 007 movie, so what happens next between the two is fairly predictable.
It’s a 007 movie, so after Bond does what he usually does, he does what he usually also does, which is head to the casino.
After having some fun perving at everyone with his x-ray specs, he finally gathers up the nerve to go talk to the proprietor, which is old mate Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane). After their usual greetings, Elektra turns up shortly after and blows a million on a stupid card trick, to the benefit of Zukovsky.
Bond manages to gather enough from Zukovsky to go, and after killing Zukovsky’s head of security, who killed someone else, Bond adopts the identity of a Russian scientist and joins some of Renards men and ends up at a Russian missile base in Kazakhstan, where he meets Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), a manic pixie nuclear physicist.
Bond goes into the silo, where they discover Renard making off with some plutonium. Just when he’s about to arrest Renard for being a naughty ball, Ms Jones rocks up saying that, even though she doesn’t look like a nuclear physicist, at least she is one, unlike “Dr Arkov”, who doesn’t look like one either and in fact isn’t one at all.
Renard has a wee little chuckle at the exposure of this little charade and then starts blowing things up and making off with the hot shit, although Bond and Jones manage escape the silo. While this is going on Elektra talks M into arriving in Baku because hey why not.
Bond and Jones meet up there as well, they’re all standing around scratching their arses in a control room when all they notice that Renard seems to be smuggling the warhead through the pipeline in an inspection rig. Bond goes out to intercept the thing, taking Christmas for assistance. Using another rig, they manage to intercept it, although it gets a bit hairy. And in the end they only get half the plutonium, bailing out as the detonator explodes the pipeline open, leaving them in the middle of nowhere.
Look, it’s taking me a while to get to the point, isn’t it? Basically, Elektra’s turned eeeeevil. Although there is actually a bit of nuance here. While it’s assumed that she succumbed to Stockholm syndrome while in Renard’s clutches, with Bond saying as much, but then she seems to suggest that she was always evil and turned Renard… even more evil than he probably already was.
And, oh yeah, she’s now kidnapped M, taking her to Istanbul where she meets up with Renard in the Maiden’s Tower. She wants to nuke the Bosphorus to take out her competition. He wants to… nuke anything, really, because he is a crazy nihilist called Renard who wears black skivvies. Together they cause crime!
The Ally – Question Mark – Again
Bond and Jones are in the backwoods somewhere, but they stumble across Zukovsky’s caviar factory, where they are all attacked by some giant circular saw thing dangling off a chopper, because Zukovsky only seems to employ people who end up betraying him.
Zukovsky reveals that the big payoff was in exchange for a nuclear sub helmed by his nephew, currently on his way to Istanbul. Bond is like, oh shit, if Renard puts his plutonium in the sub’s reactor, the place will glow in the dark for centuries.
M, locked up in the cell, is resourceful enough to jury rig a doohickey to let everyone know where the party is at. You’re all invited!
Bond, Zukovsky and Jones turn up in their best frocks, but they have trouble getting past the security. “I thought we were all invited!”, they say.
Somehow Bond gets himself tied up into some ridiculously uncomfortable chair while Elektra taunts him, Zukovsky is looking for the open bar but finds that there’s nothing but Fosters’ left in the tub, and perhaps even worse, his nephew is dead. So he curses the host and fires his last, allowing Bond to get out of the kinky chair. Bond frees M, and after the final confrontation with Elektra he goes to check out the pool party.
Oooh, they have a submarine, he coos. He gets inside and starts trashing the place, finds Ms Jones already helping himself to the hors d’oeuvres, but the guest of honour has locked himself away after he got a little hectic with the weaponry, causing the submarine to hump the bottom of the strait.
Renard is messing around in the reactor room with his plutonium looking at the instructions and pondering the allen key, when Bond pops down the side and turns up to make some suggestions. Renard dislikes distractions and he most certainly does not like being interrupted when he’s trying to initiate a nuclear catastrophe.
Bond, for his part, is not happy that Renard has dropped one of the worst puns he has heard in his life, for that’s 007 role and he is a stickler for the rules of demarcation. They fight.
Renard puts Bond in a cage, but just as he’s finally figured out that if you put Tab A into Slot B you can start Armageddon, Bond shows Renard this neat trick you can do with a hydraulic hose. Renard is suitably impressed with the results – about six feet into his chest.
Jones decides the party’s kind of dead and suggests they blow the joint. Bond agrees, and spends the rest of the night making up for getting beaten to the worst pun in the history of the franchise, mostly at the expense of Christmas.
“Welcome to my nuclear family.”
The Bit Parts
The usual MI6 crew from the last couple of movies is back, although notably we have Q’s successor, “R”, played by John Cleese. It’s Desmond Llewellyn’s last appearance, dying in a car accident shortly after the films’ release, ending a run that started in From Russia With Love (with some interruptions),
How Nineties is this movie? Well, now we’re getting far away from that era that we can almost get nostalgic about, I guess I should explain the presence of Goldie. But I don’t want to. So I won’t.
While the movie dots the i’s and crosses the t’s of what a Bond movie should do – we have a boat chase, we have a ski chase, we have people mucking around on a submarine, and of course of a hell of lot of puns, at a point it gets to be much of a muchness.
I’d don’t know about it being the worst Bond movie ever, given there are a few of other candidates I can think of straight off the top of my head. But it is certainly the most Roger Moore 007 movie since Moore himself starred.
And there are good things about it; David Arnold’s soundtrack is pretty good as usual, the Thames sequence is ace, and the submarine scenes when everything starts tipping over is actually not a bad end to the action. But there’s also a sense of satisfied sufficiency that doesn’t quite live up to the film’s title.
14 out of 20 hot rocks.