Tag Archives: Tomorrow Never Dies

Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond Movies Ranked

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After the release No Time to Die, I decided to watch through the James Bond movies in reverse Bond actor order. I also decided to rank each actor’s Bond films, excluding Timothy Dalton and George Lazenby of course given that they made 2 movies max.

Pierce Brosnan was the James Bond actor right before Daniel Craig, and had a 4 movie run as Bond in GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, and Die Another Day. In some ways, Brosnan’s run as James Bond is a little disappointing. He was a perfect fit for the role, he has the charisma and smoothness, he can deliver the one liners, he is believable in the action, and he is convincing as a cold blooded assassin. However, the movies were a little mixed and some of the movies underserved Bond and Brosnan’s performances. It certainly didn’t help that Brosnan’s run was at an unfortunate point where the Bond series needed to reinvent itself.

With that being said, I do find stuff to enjoy in all of them, and even though the non-GoldenEye films don’t have the best of reputations from most people, generally I enjoy them all.

4. Die Another Day

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Unsurprisingly, Die Another Day makes it at the bottom of the list. It’s definitely known as one of the worst Bond movies, and for good reason. The plot is absurd and goes to new ridiculous heights, even by Bond standards. Essentially the premise of DAD is about Bond going up against Graves, who’s really a Korean colonel who changed himself into a white British billionaire, from using his diamond encrusted satellite which shoots out a solar laser beam. That sounds like it has a lot of potential to be cheesy fun from beginning to end. However the most disappointing part is how dull the movie feels on the whole. It does have some cheesy one liners and dumb moments like the previous films, but there’s something that’s so lazy and low effort in this. The acting is also mostly not the best, mostly ranging from disappointing (Halle Berry) to bad (Toby Stephens). Even Pierce Brosnan suffers from it, he does have his moments but he’s not got the best material to work with, especially when compared to the previous three movies. So much of the direction is poor, with 2000s editing with an overuse of slow-motion and bad CGI which haven’t aged well. Throughout the film is just full of bad decisions.

With that being said, I won’t lie and say I dislike the movie. As bad as Die Another Day is, there’s still some enjoyment to be had with it. The opening is good with a much darker tone  and a good idea, even if the rest of the film doesn’t take advantage of it. Most of the acting isn’t that good but there’s a few performers that work, Judi Dench is once again great as M, John Cleese makes a decent Q in his 1-2 film appearances, and Rosamund Pike and Rick Yune made for decent supporting villains. As messily directed as many of the action sequences are, you can’t deny that they are memorable and entertaining in a way. The battle over ice with cars with weapons, the hand to hand fight dodging lasers spinning around, the sword fight at the duelling club, the action in the other worst Bond films aren’t this memorable. The silliness can be entertaining, even if it’s at the film’s expense. The poor decisions, the goofiness of the villain and plot can have some enjoyment in it. Again though, I get the issues. It is entertaining in parts but not on the whole. It is disappointing that this is essentially the film that stopped Brosnan from reaching his ideal Bond film.

My review of Die Another Day

3. The World is Not Enough

The World Is Not Enough

The World is Not Enough is definitely not the worst of the 4 Pierce Brosnan movies, but it is the most frustrating. It really had a lot of potential to be one of the best Bond films, let alone Brosnan’s best. Despite all that, by the end it just ends up being a formulaic action flick, with a MacGuffin in the form of a nuclear weapon. It’s also quite forgettable compared to the other movies, from the plot, to some of the characters, to the action. Despite its attempts at a darker story for this version of James Bond, the movie feels over the top and silly, and as a result it felt very tonally inconsistent. The particularly bad one liners, the aspect of the villain being strong and impervious to pain because of a bullet lodged into his brain, they all feel very out of place within the story. And yes, Denise Richards plays the least convincing nuclear physicist as Christmas Jones but she’s not the reason why the movie underwhelms.

With all that being said, I still think that The World is Not Enough is decent on the whole. Aside from some one-liners and bad attempts at humour (and yes, Christmas Jones), there aren’t many outright bad things about the film. The plot had me intrigued for at least the first half, I liked some of the ideas they had, and I was always entertained in some way. Sophia Macreau as Elektra King was also not only the most interesting character in this movie, but also one of the most interesting characters of the 4 Brosnan movies. While the movie doesn’t utilise the character the best, it’s a good performance and character which definitely elevated the film. While most of the action scenes aren’t as memorable compared to the other 3 movies, they are still generally well filmed and were entertaining. Also I think that this is probably Pierce Brosnan’s best performance as James Bond, if only because he’s given the most emotional material to work with here. I would not call The World is Not Enough one of the best Bond films by any means, but it’s not one of the worst either, there’s still some good stuff here.

My review of The World is Not Enough

2. GoldenEye

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The most controversial opinion in this list is that I don’t consider GoldenEye to be Pierce Brosnan’s best Bond film, nor do I consider it one of the all-time best Bond films. For a while I hadn’t been able to pinpoint why but I think I figured it out with my most recent viewing. The plot is simple enough, but I don’t find it to be that great or interesting really, which might be the biggest problem for me. Outside of the action scenes, I don’t find myself very invested with what’s happening with the story or characters. Even GoldenEye seems to suffer from tonal inconsistency, a problem that most of Brosnan’s movies seem to suffer from (more on that later). For context, it was in the awkward phase of moving Bond from the Cold War of the 80s into the 90s. The film tries to have some of the grittiness of the Timothy Dalton Bond films but isn’t grounded enough to do that, and it also tries to be on the more over the top silly side (leaning towards Roger Moore Bond) at points but is too serious to achieve that. Not that it isn’t possible to find a happy medium between the two, but the end result in this film feels a little messy.

With all that being said, I do understand a lot of the praise that GoldenEye receives. The biggest strength for me was the direction by Martin Campbell, specifically with the action. From the opening sequence in the 80s, the tank battle, to the third act climax, the action is filmed and put together really well. That’s something that GoldenEye has over the other Brosnan Bond films, all the action is great. The actors are also quite good in their parts, Sean Bean and Famke Janssen make for memorable villains, Judi Dench made her first appearance as M here, and although Pierce Brosnan would have better performances as James Bond, he is solid here. While I don’t consider GoldenEye to be amongst the best Bond films, it is good overall.

My review of GoldenEye

1. Tomorrow Never Dies

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Tomorrow Never Dies is often regarded as the second best of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond movies, but it’s my favourite of his. I do understand the criticisms for sure. It is very goofy and over the top at times, and it does lose itself in its overblown climax. They also could’ve done much more with its unique central concept with the media, they don’t execute it in the best way. Parts of the direction do feel a little lacklustre, especially after Martin Campbell’s direction of GoldenEye.

With all that being said, I couldn’t help but thoroughly enjoy this movie from beginning to end, despite its faults. One of the biggest praises I have is the tone, rather how consistent it is. Instead of wavering between silly and gritty like GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies leans in with the 90s action cheese and makes for a thoroughly entertaining film. The aforementioned plot concept involving the media is also quite unique, and while the film doesn’t make use of this idea fully, it still makes for a memorable film. Pierce Brosnan had a better showing as Bond compared to GoldenEye, Michelle Yeoh was a scene stealer and overshadows Brosnan at points, and Jonathan Pryce is scene chewingly enjoyable as the villain. The action is overblown but thoroughly entertaining. While there are certainly better movies in the franchise, Tomorrow Never Dies is one of the most entertaining Bond movies for me.

My review of Tomorrow Never Dies

What do you think of Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond? What did you think of his movies?

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) Review

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Tomorrow Never Dies

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Low level violence
Cast:
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.