Tomorrow Never Dies
The second Pierce Brosnan Bond film. Features Jonathan Pryce as Elliott Carver (yeah, a bit disconcerting to watch this after seeing him as Governor Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean). Julian Fellowes (yep, the creator of Downton Abbey) makes an appearance as well, and if the admiral later in the film looks familiar, that is Michael Byrne (he appears as Merlin in The Mists of Avalon and Treville in The Musketeer, as well as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).
The opening takes place at an arms bazaar on the Russian border, the British intelligence office looking in. Of course, the military wants to just bomb it and be done, but M urges caution; there is more intelligence to be gleaned. Well, the admiralty fires a missile anyway and orders MI6’s agent, Bond, to get out of there. Oh wait, there’s a very dangerous nuclear torpedo on site that you don’t want blown up. Bond does his job, disrupts the bazaar, blows things up, and flies the plane out of there in the nick of time.
The main plot starts with a British ship in the South China Sea. Two Chinese MiGs fly by and warn that the ship is in Chinese water. According to the ship’s navigation, they’re in international water. What neither side knows is that at Carver Media headquarters, the whole mess is being directed by Carver. In the water he has a stealth ship that drills into the British ship and then fires missiles at the Chinese, all to start an international incident. He also has an encoder that has managed to scramble the British signal and they were actually in the wrong area. Elliot Carver’s plan is simply to become the head of the largest media conglomeration and he’ll do that by writing tomorrow’s headlines today. And by instigating the disasters and then he’ll have exclusive coverage.
Bond is sent to investigate; M suggests pumping his old fling, Paris for information, because Paris is now married to Elliott Carver. He has forty-eight hours to discover the truth before the fleet moves in. Carver suspects Bond of something and his little stooge is listening in and discovers that Paris knows Bond. So he sends his wife after Bond. She of course succumbs to Bond’s charm again even though they both fight it. Bond doesn’t want to put her in danger, but Paris knows what kind of man her husband is and gives Bond the information he needs. Bond offers to protect her, but she declines. Carver sends a “doctor” to his wife anyway.
After Bond infiltrates Carver’s office, he steals back the encoder and meets Chinese intelligence agent, Wai Lin. When Bond returns to his room, he discovers Paris dead and the assassin waiting for him. The “doctor” [is it just me, or is he a little clichéd?] is a professional and sits his victim down to talk to him first. Bond still overpowers him and escapes, leading to an expert car chase in the parking garage. Bond gets to use the remote control that Q created (very cool). He then meets up with the Americans near the South China Sea to return their encoder and they discover that it sent the British ship off course. Bond elects to HALO jump into Vietnamese territory and dive down to the wreck for further investigation. There, he encounters Wai Lin again and they discover that one of the ship’s missiles is missing. Once the pair surfaces, they’re taken by Carver’s men and he goes into his villainous monologue. He intends for his associate to torture and kill them. Of course, Wai Lin and Bond work together and escape, leading to a rather hilarious motorbike chase while the pair is handcuffed and have to negotiate how they sit on and steer the bike.
After destroying a marketplace, Wai Lin is determined to finish the mission on her own, but Bond follows her. Good thing, because Carver has sent more local men. Now, Wai Lin takes them out on her on (super cool) and Bond just gets to knock out the last guy holding a gun. Wai Lin agrees to work with a “decadent, corrupt Western agent,” and they both agree to get their governments talking to each other to stop the debacle. They just have to figure out where Carver’s stealth boat is hidden. The two agents sneak on and start setting bombs, but they’re quickly discovered. Wai Lin is captured and Bond makes it look like he’s dead, so he can continue to sneak about. Carver’s plan to further the explosive situation is to fire the British missile into China and then China will retaliate and thus the British fleet with retaliate further.
And how do you expect it to end? Wai Lin gets free and stops the stealth ship; they’ve managed to get word to both militaries to be on the lookout for a stealth ship. Bond causes an explosion that makes the ship a target and the Brits start firing. Bond uses the drill on Carver, then rescues Wai Lin, after he takes on Carver’s last man and sets the missile to explode (complete with witty one liner: “I owe you an unpleasant death, Mr. Bond”). HUGE fireball! And Bond gets a little more time “undercover” with Wai Lin.
Carver is just an ego maniac. He admits he likes an audience to his plans. He quotes Hearst: “you provide the pictures, I will provide the war,” and takes that as his goal in life. I spend most of the film wanting Bond to punch him in the face. The film also shows its age a bit; the Internet is burgeoning, GPS is new, techno babble that most people don’t understand. Now, I find the storyline a little dull; but it is also still completely plausible. That kind of situation is still possible today. Pierce as Bond is charming and suave and I enjoy seeing the tender side of him; he cares about the women he encounters. I appreciate that Wai Lin holds her own, but her character seems sort of thrown in.
Next Time: The World is Not Enough