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THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH

by: James Berardinelli

Ten years ago, when the second and final Timothy Dalton Bond movie, Licence to Kill, tanked at the box office, it looked like the venerable secret agent had finally run out of gas, driven into the ground by the likes of The Terminator and Rambo. A six year hiatus followed, and, when Bond finally returned in 1995's Goldeneye, Dalton had been replaced by Pierce Brosnan and the series was said to have been given a complete overhaul. Actually, as Goldeneye and its sequel, Tomorrow Never Dies, illustrated, the changes were more cosmetic than anything else. Bond still drinks his martinis shaken not stirred, still utters his signature "Bond, James Bond," and still sleeps with any gorgeous woman who crosses his path. The only differences are that he has traded in his Aston Martin for a BMW and "M" has experienced a sex change. With Brosnan in the lead role, the Bond series has undergone an unprecedented revival. Both Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies exceeded the magical $100 million mark (the latter doing so while in direct competition with Titanic), and the latest movie (the 19th overall), The World Is Not Enough, stands poised to join them.

When it comes to Bond films, there's really only one question: Does it entertain for the entire running length? For The World Is Not Enough, as for the previous two endeavors with Brosnan, the answer is "yes." There's nothing special, shocking, or precedent-setting about the film, but it functions on a level that 007 fans will appreciate - as eye and ear candy for those who prefer action to exposition and character development. There are plenty of bangs, flashes, and chase sequences (on foot, on skis, and in the water), plus the usual array of beautiful women with skimpy outfits and funny names, science fiction-inspired gadgets (cars that drive themselves, x-ray glasses, a jacket that inflates into a survival bubble), and exotic locales (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Istanbul).

In many ways, it's difficult to judge a Bond film by the same standards applied to other movies. The series has lasted long enough to establish its own set of rules, and, as long as the latest movie plays by them, it usually works. Plot credibility, for example, is not a key element. Bond stories shouldn't be taken with just a grain of salt - you need the whole shaker. It's somehow easier to suspend disbelief to an extraordinary level while watching 007 execute the expected series of superhuman tricks. The fact is, when it comes to a Bond movie, the last thing anyone wants is believability. We're there to see the formula applied in the most ostentatious fashion possible - the louder and more over-the-top, the better. That's why it doesn't matter that we're supposed to accept Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist, or that the ending of The World Is Not Enough makes absolutely no sense. In fact, this is the most lame Bond climax since Roger Moore and Christopher Walken fought it out on the Golden Gate Bridge at the end of A View to a Kill, but who cares?

With its emphasis on personal revenge, The World Is Not Enough hearkens back to Licence To Kill. Only this time it's "M" (Judi Dench) who's making things personal. When a good friend of hers is killed while inside MI6 headquarters, "M" is determined to have the murderer hunted down and brought to justice. She assigns her best agent, Bond (Brosnan), to protect her dead friend's daughter, Elektra King (Sophie Marceau). Bond soon discovers that the man who killed Elektra's father, and is now trying to eliminate her, is a mysterious terrorist named Renard (Robert Carlyle), who is called "The Anarchist." Electra has previous ties to Renard. When she was younger, he kidnapped her, but she escaped before her father could pay the $5,000,000 ransom. But his purpose here seems more sinister than vengeance for a foiled plot. When Bond tracks hi

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