Age Appropriate Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies

As part of Bond’s 60th birthday cinema celebrations, it’s been great to revisit some pre-Craig era Bond films.

Brosnan’s Bond is certainly smuttier, slicker and quippier, but Tomorrow Never Dies is a classy affair and zipping with action set pieces. For a start, Brosnan is in relationships with women nearer his age. There is more depth to them, more emotion and more tragedy — both in his relationships and Bond women. Having been wowed by Dalton’s Bond outings (I’d never seen the 1980s ones before, having disliked them at the time), I am now having issues with Pierce Brosnan’s slick and somewhat smarmy, humorous Bond (or maybe that was just all of Die Another Day! It was all too much, even for a Bond film).

There is much to enjoy in this film — the action; a remote control car that tells Bond to put his seatbelt on and enables Bond to literally die another day; Jonathan Pryce’s wild keyboard typing as he manipulates the media and creates headlines; Terry Hatcher’s glamour as a much monitored rich media mogul’s wife and Bond’s ex, giving Bond as good as he gets and meeting a tragic, undeserved demise — garnering some pity from Bond. Not to mention the executioner who is just doing his job — with torture as a hobby, who turns up to dispatch Bond as he has just dispatched his ex (and until that moment, current wife of the media schemer). Having escaped across the hotel roof and messed up the day’s headlines, the resulting chase round the car park is brilliant, ending in Brosnan safely returning his BMW (!) to a car hire company of product placement worthiness! However the safe demise of the BMW does allow him to get in an Aston!

Best of all — there is Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin! Intelligent, thoughtful, considered, emotionally grounded; a real Bond woman (who is able to take care of herself and doesn’t look to Bond to rescue her) bringing great banter between herself and Bond (often just in facial expressions) as they learn to work as a team at high speed (on a motor cycle) and begin to admire each other’s skills and ingenuity. She seems to be a journalist but is actually a Chinese government agent. Michelle Yeoh’s face as Bond fiddles with her stash of weapons is a picture; particularly as he trashes the place! It’s like Q-Branch with bells on and he is an inquisitive boy with toys. This is Team Bond before the Craig era! and team work does make the dream work in this film.

Wai Lin’s independence is brilliant too — having both invaded press offices and encountered Bond trying to get the same information as herself, Michelle Yeoh glides down a pillar to escape, unruffled as Bond scoots around being shot at and beaten by security guards and makes an unfunny joke, having horribly dispatched a media mogul minion into the news of the day printing presses. Best of all is their thrilling partnership jump using the press baron’s image (a very large banner) from his tower block, crash in through an office window and then exit on a stolen motor cycle, bickering about the perks of cars vs bikes, and then learning to work together on the move and under pursuit.

There’s coolness with which Michelle Yeoh’s character handcuffs Bond to a water pipe (a reminder to literally keep his hands to himself!) and borrows a shirt to replace her own. It’s fun to hear Bond quoted back at himself by Yeoh, mirrored in such lines as such as ‘I work alone’. Bond does escape in good time to lend a helping hand with some trouble Michelle Yeoh is encountering in her version of Q Branch. Though again she coolly deals with waking trouble.

I’ve read that there were all kinds of issues going on during this production — you’d never know it. It’s a slick, well-made, fun film — less gratuitous than Die Another Day, and creating some great sparring between Yeoh and Brosnan, as well as allowing Brosnan more emotional and acting range. Bond and Wai Lin’s thoughtful teamwork (and Alpha bickering) as they seek to solve the many problems they encounter in their line of duty is wonderful. Also Q as the delivery driver in Hamburg — he is charming!!!

Michelle Yeoh and Brosnan launch an attack on Elliot Carver’s stealth boat to stop it attacking any more British Naval vessels and making it look like China did it. Lots of things blow up and Yeoh and Brosnan get their own epic fight moments. I don’t recall a lot about this — explosions, lots of explosions and Carver dies horribly. But the team work is remarkable as they potentially head off to their deaths. (Bond also looks out for Michelle Yeoh’s character as they attack the stealth ship and try to blow up some bombs). The romance is saved for the very end!

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Susan Tailby

Susan Tailby

By Susan Tailby. Appreciator of arts and culture; things I've seen and enjoyed and you might too! Reviews all my own opinion....