The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Main cast: Pierce Brosnan (James Bond), Judi Dench (M), Sophie Marceau (Elektra King), Denise Richards (Christmas Jones), and Robert Carlyle (Renard/Viktor Zokas)
Director: Michael Apted

Poor James Bond. With the advent of the new millennium, he's getting more and more geriartic and increasingly getting upstaged by the special effects and villians. Now, I find TWINE interesting, my husband doesn't. Probably because as we moviegoers become more and more exposed to increasingly sophisticated storylines, James Bond's tomcat promiscuity and reliance on cartoony gadgets can become somewhat ridiculous. But in TWINE, while Brosnan dons the Bond tux exceedingly well, his limelight is stolen by the other cast members, even Miss Moneypenny. Poor James.

This time James Bond protects the daughter of an oil tycoon after he unwittingly aided the bad guys in her father's assassination. M tells him to be Elektra King's shadow, but cautions him that shadows are always ahead or behind, never on top. A villian named Renard is out for Elektra's head, and this Renard has a bullet lodged in his brain. The bullet will kill him but in the meanwhile he can't feel pain. Hence Renard's the closest thing to Superman in the free world. Does that mean Renard will go around terrorizing innocent souls, pillaging and plunder at will because he can stop bullets with his hand? No, he hides in the shadows and snarls. Although he does play with burning hot coals and smash his fists through tabletops just to remind us that he can't feel pain. Renard, you haven't been watching those Superman reruns enough.

Then in the foray comes Dr Christmas Jones, a nuclear physicist who looks just like Denise Richards. Coo, that's convincing casting, I'm sure. Christmas Jones is definitely pointing the way to progress, but she isn't using her brains to do so, if you know what I mean.

Now, this is a James Bond movie, right? So why is he upstaged by his fellow castmembers? M plays a larger role in this movie, and Judi Dench's ability to deliver her corny lines with a straight face is simply marvelous. She radiates class even when she's poking at a clock with a broomstick. Samantha Bond's Miss Moneypenny is teasing and catty, simply a delight in the way she hisses at a dumb bimbo Doctor who succumbed to Bond's manly pogo stick. Monneypenny's the true Bond Girl, if you ask me. She's the one who doesn't end up a notch in James' bedpost. She's holding out for better things, aren't you, you smart lady? There's a subtle and rather moving tribute to the original M too (watch whose potrait is hung behind M's desk), and other injokes that would delight Bond veterans. And oh, let's hope John Cleese's R (the ever-delightful Q's portege) will make a comeback in the next Bond movie. Notice that I never mentioned a thing about Bond. Somehow the scriptwriters, intent on dishing out witty lines, inadvertently gave the best lines to everyone but Bond. It says a lot that Bond's moment of glory is in the first half-hour, when he adjusts his tie while being submerged underwater.

Michelle Yeoh is the best kickass Bond girl, but Sophie Marceau is definitely the second classiest after Famke Jenssen. Her Electra King smoulders and radiates sex appeal with every move, and her blend of feminine cunning and vulnerability is enigmatic enough to give the story the sexual tension absent in the script. Renard is suprisingly moving as a man whose villiany is touched by a somewhat noble - if twisted - love he has for the Real Villian, whom he is willing to spend the last days of his life pleasing. If he is to die, let he die while carrying out the mission that would prove his devotion to her. His eyes, filled with raw anguish, when Bond tells him that she is dead, is haunting; Renard is one of the best-fleshed and three-dimensional villian in a Bond movie, and his Bonnie-and-Clyde relationship with the Real Villian deserve a better movie.

But hey, if Bond is bland, he's in good company with Christmas, who is basically eye candy and nothing else. She doesn't even carrying pom-poms as Bond skewers the bad guys, she is more of a tagalong. It seems her only function is to dress up like Lara Croft and be the brunt of Christmas jokes (I thought Christmas only comes once a year). I find it insulting that she's made a nuclear physicist. Why not make her the bunny girl hired to entertain the soldiers? At least then my credulity won't be pushed this far by this supposedly-intelligent but ultimately brainless and useless bimbo.

TWINE has its moments, but always with everyone but Bond. This movie should be called James Bond Ain't Deliverin' Enough. Perhaps it's time to go back to the drawing board, guys. James' age is showing.

Rating: 79

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