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Review Tomorrow Never Dies (1997): Of course it will never die, duh!

genre: action, adventure, espionage







At the time this was a film I was really psyched for to seeing in the cinema. Goldeneye gave us Pierce Brosnan and I was sold. And I do distinctly remember enjoying Tomorrow Never Dies a whole lot. But now after several viewings it dawns on me that this Bond outing is pretty average compared to most Bond films. I will try to explain why I think this.

Tomorrow Never Dies does begin pretty strong where as always Bond stumbles upon certain dangerous spy stuff and feels compelled to deal with it on the spot. Exceptional start. Let's hope the title sequence makes a bang. Here was the first moment I raised my eyebrows and kept raising after it. Sheryl Crow was a bad fit for Bond. But that was nothing compared to the plot. Fine for the first time you watch it. But for multiple viewings it's too simple and generic. Even the main baddie Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) is as generic as you can imagine. I don't know what Pryce was going for but to me it seemed like he was hamming it up big time. He never was menacing. And his whole masterplan might be more real now than ever before it still comes across as silly. So how am I supposed to take him seriously?

Most of the action is solid. And just solid. But with one exception and that is the car chase in the parking garage. It's unique because Bond is using a remote control to drive the car. It's the most fun and Bondesque action sequence in the film. From all the Bond girls this franchise has brought us none of them had been so capable and skilled as Michelle Yeoh. She was a huge action star in Hong Kong cinema and was known for doing most of the stunts herself and it looked like they didn't allow her to do much herself out of fear of the risks or not to undermine Brosnan. In once scene they even let Bond rescue Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) which at the time I found infuriating but now blatant insulting. Michelle Yeoh deserved better and we, the audience deserved better. Had they let Michelle do her thing the film would have improved significantly. You can't have her in a mostly action film and then handicap her by forcing her to play a damsel in distress. That's ridiculous. 

Dutch ex model Daphne Deckers had a tiny role in this film and most people probably won't even know who she is. She is the blond presenter at the big gala who introduces Bond to Carver in the key scene. I remember that on Dutch television a big deal was made about this. And when I saw her appear and disappear in an instant I laughed so hard you have no idea.  She herself can laugh about it too since even when she is a little disgruntled her role got cut short she was happy to have been part of the process. So at least she has been a good sport about it. A bigger deal was Terry Hatcher as Paris Carver, a former lover of James Bond. Although I do feel they have wasted an opportunity to show more of Bond in a way we have rarely seen. 

I think the biggest problem that most of Tomorrow Never Dies is not particular memorable. It's solid with one or two exceptional moments and that's about it. Combine that with not using Michelle Yeoh to her full potential and Brosnan playing on automatic pilot perhaps you can imagine why the overall viewing experience is a little disappointing especially compared to the wonderful Goldeneye.




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