ASSIGNMENT #018: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Bond is sent by MI6 to spy on terrorist buying weapons on the Russian Border as MI6 watch from their headquarters to identify some wanted criminals. One of the identified wanted men is Henry Gupta (Ricky Jay) who is buying a GPS encoder by the American military. Admiral Roebuck (Geoffrey Palmer) decides to launch a missile attack on the arms dealing market while Bond discovers two Soviet nuclear torpedoes and escapes on the plane having the two torpedoes as the place is blown to kingdom come. Unfortunately, Gupta escapes with the encoder in hand. Later, a media mogul by the name Elliot Carver (Johnathan Pryce) starts to use the encoder to bring about war between the United States and China in order for his media empire and his newspaper, Tomorrow, has the full story. Carver sabotages the British ship HMS Devonshire into Chinese-held waters in the South China Sea with Carver’s right hand man Mr. Stamper (Gotz Otto) attacking the ship with a sea drill from Carver’s stealth ship. Mr. Stamper kills the remaining survivors using Chinese weaponry and a Chinese jet sent to see what is going on. M (Judi Dench), Bond, and Admiral Roebuck get wind of it by seeing the first Carver Media Group Network (GMCN) report of it. Roebuck sends his fleet to recover the ship leaving MI6 and M 48 hours to investigate the sinking. M sends Bond (as always) to investigate Carver at a party in Hamburg for the premiere of Carver’s first worldwide channel, only to meet his old flame and Carver’s wife, Paris (Teri Hatcher), and a mysterious Chinese reporter named Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh). Carver finds out about Bond being an agent via recorded conversation between him and his wife having his men attack him as Bond cuts off Carver’s big reveal. Later, Bond seduces Paris in order to get information on where Carver’s headquarters are at.

Bond goes to the headquarters, knocks a few heads, tosses a man into a newspaper press (because they will print anything these days), and sees Wai Lin in the same building doing her own investigation of the case. Bond gets the GPS encoder and heads in his hotel room to find Paris has been killed by Carver’s henchman, Dr. Kaufman (Vincent Schiavelli) looking to frame Bond for the murder and be in the next issue of Tomorrow. Luckily, Bond kills him, gets involved in a semi-chase sequence filled with the BMW 750i gadgets shining with Bond taking control of its remote control sensibility (Q, once again Desmond Llewelyn, gives it to Bond as a rent-a-car agent). After that action set piece, Bond heads to China to investigate the wreck where he discovers Wai Lin also investigating it and both discover one of the nuclear missiles is missing. They escape after accidently trapping themselves only to be captured by Stamper and Carver’s men and are taken to Carver’s tower in Saigon, only to escape in a spectacular motorcycle chase throughout Saigon. After a quick shower, Bond and Wai Lin are in her secret hideout (think Q Branch, but smaller) and begin to collaborate on the investigation. Both head to Carver’s stealth ship in Ha Long Bay to prevent him from firing the missile at Beijing to prevent Carver’s plan of getting exclusive television rights in China (because, once again, that’s how that works). As they battle, Wai Lin is captured as Bond capture Gupta, which backfires as Carver kills Gupta. Bond detonates a explosive to make it visible on radar, setting Wai Lin free and the ship ablaze. With Wai Lin disabling the engine, Bond gets ready to destroy the missile with Carver attempting to kill Bond. Bond gives him the drill (by that, I mean Bond just kills him) as Stamper appears to fight him. Bond gives the Red Grant wannabe a MI6 style ass beating, stick him into the missile firing chamber, saves Wai Lin as it explodes and destroy the ship and kills Stamper. Bond and Wai Lin start to begin to make sweet music as another ship searches for them.

First off, this was a short article compared to the last film, but this is mostly how short the film feels and how little plot there is. Tomorrow Never Dies is a fun film, not one of the best of the series, but a great watch. I can see the flaws as the plot is pretty forgettable. Bond taking on a media mogul doesn’t sound like a must-watch Bond film, but then again, Bond has face space laser obsessed crooks, drug dealers, and microchip manufacturers. The action takes over any story and may be too much for some, but this film never gets boring. The performances are well with Johnathan Pryce being the highlight alongside Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin, who is as beautiful as she is dangerous. Teri Hatcher is easy on the eyes, but falls flat in some of her scenes. Brosnan’s Bond is finally shining through as more of a suave man of action rather than a spy, but I can live with that. The MI6 side characters are still great as always being Bond’s bread and butter. Gotz Otto as Mr. Stamper seems more like a dumber version of Red Grant of From Russia with Love, but Vincent Schiavelli out shines him in a small but hilarious role. The major complaint I have with this one is nearly the same one I had with Licence to Kill is that while a good feature, you could replace the main character with anyone else and it would be the exact same damn movie. I don’t fault the acting, but I think since every action movie after the Bond series uses most of the tropes established by the series, it seems like this could be bundled in with other action films from this era. It just seems like a normal action movie, that somehow, works in James Bond.

The theme by Sheryl Crow is a bit boring and doesn’t feel like a Bond song. It feels like a B-Side to one of her albums and falls flat for me. The end titles song by k.d. lang is much better, so stick around for that. Tomorrow Never Dies is a fun film filled with the tropes of Bond you love, even if it isn’t the greatest film, but be thankful it isn’t truly awful.

Assignment Status: 3.75 out of 5

Next time, Bond investigates the assassination plot of oil tycoon and billionaire Sir Robert King to protect his daughter, Elektra, who has been held ransom before by returning terrorist Renard. Bond must face the oil industry, a terrible Denise Richards, and a twist that makes you think twice about the Bond franchise.

Next Mission: The World is Not Enough

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