Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: Low level violence
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond
Jonathan Pryce as Elliot Carver
Michelle Yeoh as Colonel Wai Lin
Teri Hatcher as Paris Carver
Joe Don Baker as Jack Wade
Judi Dench as M
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
James Bond (Pierce Brosnan), an undercover agent, sets out to prevent a media baron, Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce), from waging a war between China and the United Kingdom after he is summoned by the Secret Intelligence Service.
Of the pre-Craig James Bond movies, I remember watching Tomorrow Never Dies the most when I was younger. So during my rewatches of the Bond films, I was interested to see if it would hold up today. I know that Pierce Brosnan’s Bond movies not titled GoldenEye get a bad wrap, but I had a good feeling about this one, and I actually enjoyed TND quite a lot despite its faults.
A big benefit to Tomorrow Never Dies is that for me, its entertaining consistently throughout, from its thrilling opening pre-title sequence to the climax. It’s all helped by swift pacing and an overall fun story. I actually found the plot more engaging than GoldenEye’s. It amps up the cheesiness for sure, it does play like a 90s action flick, but it stayed mostly consistent. It does have a campy and ridiculous script, but I enjoyed it for that. I also liked the main concept of the film and found it interesting, with the focus being the media. Despite the silly script, some of the ideas presented about the media are still relevant today, especially with the concept of fake news. In some ways, Tomorrow Never Dies has aged pretty well despite being firmly in the 90s. I do feel like they could’ve done more with this concept however. In some ways the weakest part is the third act, I still had fun with it but it’s a little overstuffed. It’s also where Tomorrow Never Dies reaches pure 90s action, and its for better and for worse.
I remember feeling a bit mixed on Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in GoldenEye, I thought he was very charismatic and good in the action scenes, but I never really connected with him beyond that, and he felt like he was missing something. I actually do like Brosnan more in this movie however, he does feel more comfortable in the role here. Bond unfortunately at this point in the Brosnan movies still doesn’t feel like a fully realised character. However compared to GoldenEye I think he’s getting closer to it, and it does help that he has something of an emotional drive in this film. Michelle Yeoh was also a great addition as Mai Lin, a Chinese spy and the main Bond girl of Tomorrow Never Dies. Her character isn’t given a lot of depth, but Yeoh does a lot here. She’s very capable and does a lot of action, overshadowing Brosnan many times. There’s also the media mogul Elliot Carver played by Jonathan Pryce, the main villain of the film. I know not everyone really likes him, but I really enjoyed this character. He’s certainly one of the most memorable and unique Bond villains, and one of the most realistic at least in concept. It’s like if Rupert Murdoch was a Bond villain. It certainly helps the Pryce looks like he’s having an absolute blast playing this, he’s gleefully enjoyable and over the top, and it just wouldn’t have worked this well without him.
Roger Spottiswoode directs Tomorrow Never Dies, and on the whole I thought his work was good. It’s sleek, stylish and it has some entertaining action. The cinematography from Robert Elswitt was solid, it’s a very well shot movie. The action sequences are well crafted and shot, it’s easy to tell what’s going on and its consistently fun to watch. Most of the action is something you’d see in a typical 90s action movie but as that it works. The action in the climax could’ve been toned down a little and been less by the numbers but even that was enjoyable. I really enjoyed the gadgets, especially with an action scene involving a BMW with remote control capabilities. I don’t think the action doesn’t reach some of the heights of GoldenEye but is nonetheless impressive. Instead of the divisive synth score from GoldenEye, there is a more traditional score from David Arnold, which I think fits the film very well.
Tomorrow Never Dies is one of the more underrated Bond movies. The action is entertaining, I liked the cast in their roles, and the story works is enjoyable. I do have issues with it but on a pure entertainment level it does the job. I can see why I watched this movie a lot when I was younger. I know it is definitely a minority opinion, but it is my favourite movie from Brosnan as Bond. GoldenEye had higher highs especially with the action, but I felt mixed on the moments between the action scenes, especially with the plot. However, I was consistently entertained by Tomorrow Never Dies, and as far as the Bond films go, it’s on the better half for me.