Pierce Brosnan was my first introduction to James Bond. I loved them when I was younger. Now, not so much. I wouldn’t say I dislike them at all, I just see them more for what they are now. Brosnan’s films all suffer from a bit of an identity crisis. He wants to be the tough man like Connery but he wants to be camp and have a laugh like Moore. It makes the films a bit tonally weird, and sometimes it just doesn’t work at all (see Die Another Day). Still, I can watch and enjoy them.
As a first outing as James Bond, GoldenEye does a great job of introducing us to Pierce Brosnan’s new secret agent. It’s got a good story in Russians trying to bankrupt Britain, good villains in Russian General Ourumov and Sean Bean’s double agent, a competent Bond girl who can hold her own and some great action sequences. It even has a tank!
The soundtrack is very weird and un-James Bond-like, which is my main complaint about this film. It focuses less on the jokes and more on gritty action. It strays away from the darkness of predecessor Dalton’s Bond, but not too far. Brosnan is great. Suave and dangerous. He clearly enjoys playing Bond and it comes across in the film. He’s good as Bond in this film, like Bond is good as an agent. That may not actually sound like much of a compliment but considering where his iteration of Bond goes it really is.
GoldenEye is a really good Bond film and does well to steer the franchise in a new direction with a new lead actor. It also gave us the wonderful Judi Dench as the new M, a great decision that has given quality to every Bond film since. It may not be the best Bond film, but it is very enjoyable still.
JACK’S SCORE: 4/5
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Really, this isn’t a great film. It’s so over the top and camp and silly. But I love it. It’s probably the closest Brosnan comes to making a formulaic Bond movie. It’s stupid. But it’s great.
The plot is one of the stupidest James Bond plots though. Jonathan Pryce is a newspaper owner who wants to start World War 3 between China and the UK in order to create headlines for his newspaper. It’s not your typical James Bond stuff… Michelle Yeoh is the bond girl this time and holds her own with some great martial arts fight scenes. The villains aren’t great. Pryce is very melodramatic and almost seems like he should be on a stage rather than a screen. The rest of the bad guys are pretty cut and paste. They are forgettable.
The action is serviceable but again, over the top and ridiculous. (Motorcycle-helicopter chase anyone?) Everything is enjoyable though I feel. There’s some great one liners (well, one great one liner in the newspaper factory) and some enjoyable character moments. It may be a stupid movie, but it’s a fun one. It almost knows what it is more than any other Bond movie and goes wild with the premise. For that a lot of people may see it as bad, but I see it as goofy, dumb fun.
JACK’S SCORE: 3/5
The World Is Not Enough (1999)
The Brosnan series dips further in quality yet again. The World Is Not Enough isn’t terrible, it just isn’t good. The plot this time revolves around oil pipelines and nuclear weapons, which I suppose is more secret agent worthy than newspapers, but still isn’t exactly world ending stakes. That’s forgivable though.
What isn’t forgivable is Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones. Denise Richards? Christmas?! And you know that the only reason she is named Christmas is for a terrible pun at the end (*SPOILER* It’s about Christmas only coming once a year. GET IT?! HAHA!). She isn’t a very good character and she isn’t acted very well either. Neither is Brosnan in this one actually. Much of the cast isn’t. Robert Carlyle as villain Renard is decent, but he’s not in it enough to really prove himself as a great villain. It does however have a rather touching Q scene in which we say farewell to Desmond Llewelyn as the best quartermaster 007 will ever have.
Once again the action is fairly forgettable. You may remember the time that Bond fell off a hot air balloon onto the O2 Arena, or something to do with skiing and a submarine, but that’s it. Everything is just okay in this one. Apart from the theme song that is. The theme song is great! But everything else is just meh and you’ll be left asking more questions than you get answers. Why does Bond have x-ray glasses and use them once for looking at women’s underwear? Why does Bond have a super spy car that he never uses? Why did Robbie Coltrane swimming in caviar ever become a thing? Who can say. All that can be said is that The World Is Not Enough is a clear sign of the Brosnan era of Bond coming to an end.
JACK’S SCORE: 3/5
Die Another Day (2002)
And what a terrible end it is. Die Another Day is without question the worst James Bond film. It has the worst plot, the worst characters, the worst acting and definitely the worst song. From the North Korean villain that turns himself white to the giant space laser, from Halle Berry’s terrible NSA agent to weird torture scenes and Brosnan with a massive beard. Everything is bad. Even Brosnan seems to have given up and slips into his Irish accent more than once. Oh, and did I mention surfing a tidal wave and the terrible Madonna song? Pretty sure I mentioned the song…
There is very little to enjoy about this film at all. There’s a sword fight which, while stupid, is okay I guess. Bond has a good sendoff line to the villain. Erm… I’m reaching here. This movie is garbage. It looks terrible, the acting is terrible, the action is terrible. Oh and did I mention the song is the worst? I might have. There’s an invisible car too! Of course there is. Nothing is enough for this film. It’s laughable to think they even thought they might get a spin off with Halle Berry’s Jynx too. I honestly don’t know where the franchise could have gone after this if not a more grounded reboot.
Nothing makes sense. Characters are either stupid or annoying. The henchman has diamonds in his face as his gimmick. The laws of physics are defied more than once. Oh, and the theme song is the worst song ever created. Have I ever mentioned that before? The only good thing that came from this film is 2006’s Casino Royale reboot with Daniel Craig as Bond. And I’m not surprised they had to reboot after this mess. There’s some threads that might have been interesting. A double agent selling out Bond in Korea sounds interesting, but then it just kind of fades away and then the big reveal is very underwhelming.
I was going to write that the film is underwhelming too, but that would be a lie. The film is disappointing and dreadful. A View to a Kill is a pretty terrible Bond movie but that at least has some charm and there is enjoyment to be had. Die Another Day has nothing. It isn’t enjoyable and it isn’t fun. And before this review ends I just want to let you know, Madonna’s theme song is absolutely terrible and the worst thing about this film. I just thought you should know that.
JACK’S SCORE: 1/5