Ranking the Bond Movies: #18 – Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
For some reason, this was the only Bond movie of my time (my time being the Brosnan and Craig eras) that I hadn’t seen before I watched all the Bond movies right after I graduated college. I’d seen all the other Brosnan films, but for some reason, not this one.
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. I remember seeing it the first time, having in the back of my head that it was one of the stronger films, but when I saw it, I went, “I didn’t really love that,” and I had that moment we all kind of do when we’re late to the party on something other people love and we don’t have that reaction. Usually it’s (unless you’re being spiteful) to keep quiet and don’t say anything and sort of go along through silence. I just — didn’t love the film. It was okay. I liked parts and all, but the whole thing just didn’t grab me.
Then, when I watched it this second time (with a better grasp on Bond and what I like and dislike about the franchise), I really firmly decided that I didn’t much care for this movie. Mostly it’s from the top down. I don’t like the plot, I don’t like the villain, I think the Bond girl is terribly wasted and could have been anyone. I think they don’t use M nearly enough. I think the action sequences are just okay. I think the henchmen are generic. Really the only things I liked about this film are the opening sequence, the car park chase, and The Doctor. And even the first two, not so much.
This film is just generic to me. There’s really nothing to differentiate it from other Bond movies except for the fact that it’s recent, so it’s more watchable than something like For Your Eyes Only. It’s not a bad movie, I just don’t really care for it all that much.
We open on a “terrorist arms bazaar on the Russian border.” MI6 is peeking in, naturally.
“What? Three thousand for these detonators? Kristoff, come on, man. These are from four years ago! They’re not worth anything more than $225 a piece. I’ll give you $1,200 for them.”
“I couldn’t possibly sell them for less than $2,000. Remember, I’m the one that got you that deal on that helicopter last year. I’ll tell you what — $1,800 and you throw in a box of automatic weapons.”
“You drive a hard bargain, my friend. Come on. Let’s see if we can get a deal on those smoke grenades before Dimitri sells out.”
To make a long story short – they ID a bunch of terrorists and organize a missile strike, giving Bond (who is there undercover, naturally) four minutes to get the fuck out of there. Only they realize there are nuclear warheads there, so if they blow the place up, it’ll “make Chernobyl look like a picnic.”
Problem is – the missile was already launched and is out of range. So Bond has to do it himself. (Pretty sure that’s one of his mottos.)
And he does. He hijacks the plane and blows shit up and flies away. (And naturally is chased by a dude in another plane, since you have to extend the action sequence as long as you can.)
I’ll never understand why people in movies (this, Top Gun, every other movie with planes) insist on calling everything a MiG. These are not MiGs, they’re Aero L-39s, the Helen Keller of fighter aircraft, and from Czechoslovakia, no less. The cheapest car Ferrari sells costs more than this whole plane did new.
There’s a nice shot here of the knocked out pilot trying to garrote him, and Bond using the emergency eject button to send him into the second plane.
That then leads to the credits sequence, set to “Tomorrow Never Dies,” by Sheryl Crow.
I don’t know what the Y2K bug was supposed to look like, but she looks like she’s got computer AIDS.
After the credits, we’re with a ship in the South China Sea as it is warned by a Chinese aircraft that they’re only 11 miles off the coast of China and will be fired upon if they don’t turn back. They think they’re way out at sea and the Chinese are just being dicks.
The reason for this situation because Henry Gupta, a cyber terrorist working for Elliot Carver, a newspaper magnate (who is basically Rupert Murdoch), has jammed the ship’s satellite signals and has basically directed them to be 11 miles off the coast of China with them thinking they’re way out in international waters.
Hey, those were actually MiG-23s. Why didn’t you use THOSE in the beginning?
Carver has sent out a stealth ship to destroy the British ship, making it look like the Chinese planes did it (even to the British ship). So the British ships report that the Chinese did it, and all of the sailors end up dead (since Carver’s men on the ships shoot the surviving crew), and he gets the jump on the news story before everyone else, saying China killed all the survivors.
We then see Carver meeting with all these television faces who are involved in all his fucked up plots that are being pulled to make him more powerful and also get news, like blackmailing the president to sign a bill lowering cable rates or else they’ll release a video of him and a cheerleader. Only, once he signs the bill, they’re gonna release it anyway.
(Note: You think he’s related to Rosie Carver?)
The dialogue during this scene is hilariously bad. In fact, the dialogue in this entire film is hilariously bad. Just listen to the description about them putting out the software full of bugs so people will have to keep upgrading for years — it’s so bad.
We then cut to Bond fucking a language professor at Oxford. Or, as he puts it, “brushing up on a little Danish.”
He flirts with Moneypenny a bit, and she calls him a “cunning linguist,” one of the most hack puns in the history of film. Though it does then lead to one of the funniest shots in movie history, as we pan right from Moneypenny flirting with Bond on the phone to this:
Though the, “Don’t ask,” “Don’t tell” exchange is borderline embarrassing.
Quick note here. Bond is driving the classic DB5.
At Hogwarts, apparently.
(Mike Note: After all those women, he might actually have some hogwarts.)
Basically the point of the movie is revealed here: the government wants to send their fleet to China, which would basically start World War III. They give M 48 hours to investigate what went on before they do that. And they all suspect Carver so they send Bond to his headquarters at Hamburg to check shit out.
M also tells Bond to fuck Carver’s wife, with whom he had a relationship before she married Carver. She tells him to “pump her for information.”
Look at that face. Oh, Judi, you little minx.
Bond then arrives at Hamburg and picks up his rental – from Q. (They let him out.)
The car is a BMW 750iL.
And it’s awful. Seriously, it’s in contention for the worst official Bond car ever. Since there are a lot of movies where Bond isn’t outfitted with a car, the list of official cars is shorter than you might think. This one is particularly bad.
First of all, it’s not a sports car, it’s a big luxury car, which screams banker. Granted, he’s supposed to be a banker, but still. You wouldn’t expect a proper car chase in this thing, and sure enough, we get ours in a parking garage. This is the Bond that’s more class than action.
The car is number two in a line of a three-movie product placement deal with BMW that starts with a Z3 and ends with a Z8. I’m cool with both of those, but this is just…no. Remote control? Electrical shock? WIRE CUTTER UNDER THE BMW LOGO? What aren’t we seeing that’s also randomly there? Does it have wings like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?
Ever see the show Swat Kats? That’s what this car makes me think of. It has the most random stuff, just like the Turbokat. They had the most random missiles on that plane that would dig ditches or that had chainsaws or flash bulbs on them so that they were ready for even the most unlikely scenario. That’s all well and good, but when I watch a James Bond movie I don’t want to be reminded of a Hanna-Barbera show about two anthropomorphic cats who defend Megakat City from supernatural villains with a junkyard fighter plane. Is that too much to ask, Eon?
This is actually a contender for worst official Bond car ever. In real life, I love a 90s BMW 7 Series. In Bond, it’s fucking offensive and I hate it.
The big gadget in the car (for now) is that Bond can drive it from outside the car, using his cellphone as a joystick of sorts.
Bond then ghost rides the whip, as Q reminds him not to break anything. (It’s funny because you know he will. Right? Right? No, it’s not funny. It’s not funny at all. I bet he costs his government billions of dollars with all his destruction.)
Later, at the party (which Bond has been given an invite to the way Bruce Willis won that contest in The Fifth Element), Bond meets both the Bond Girl and the Secondary Bond Girl.
Bond. James Bond.
Our Bond Girl is Wai Lin.
She’s a little like Agent XXX from Spy Who Loved Me, in that she’s an agent from a rival agency who ends up working with Bond to stop their countries from going to war with one another. That’s where the similarities end. While Barbara Bach’s character was both sexy and competent, Michelle Yeoh’s is neither of those things. She gets captured like a drillion times and doesn’t look particularly good doing it — and I usually think she’s pretty.
Her one somewhat decent fight scene is full of stereotypical kung fu sounds and isn’t even that special. The shower scene really explains the dynamic between Wai Lin and Bond; she walks away with a smug look of satisfaction that she outwitted the western agent by cuffing him to the pipe, and Bond just pulls the pipe apart as though to visually demonstrate that she’s more show than substance. Or that Vietnamese pipes are flimsy.
Her character doesn’t have a lot of depth, which can be traced back to the bad writing. I just don’t know why they made her look the way she did, because Michelle Yeoh is otherwise quite good looking. Bummer.
And our Secondary Bond Girl is Paris Carver.
Teri Hatcher’s character sucks. Well, we don’t see it, but it’s implied. I guess I can tolerate her being a so-called old flame at the age of 33. When I consider that the role could have been played by Monica Bellucci, it makes Hatcher even less appealing. Even she now regrets playing the role, apparently, which I agree with.
I can’t blame her too much, because as with everything in this movie, the writing is to blame. So I don’t hate Hatcher as much as I hate this character. You imagine that if this movie had been made in 2007 instead of 1997, her character would say something like, “I Facebook messaged you, but you never replied. I even changed my relationship status to ‘it’s complicated’.” She’s a shallow plot vehicle that we don’t care about in the slightest.
(Mike Note: But apparently Bond does, as we’ll find out later. Not that I understand why he does, but they do weird things sometimes with Bond and women.)
Paris slaps Bond in the face when she sees him, and they talk about their history. They have it. They order each other’s drinks (just like in The Spy Who Loved Me), so it’s clear they fucked. Though Paris’s drink has changed. (It’s actually a (slightly) subtle bit of characterization. Bond assumes she’s gonna drink a straight shot of tequila and now she drinks her husband’s champagne. You get the hint of who she used to be. But on the other hand – really?)
Anyway, Carver sees his wife with Bond, is suspicious, and has his men take Bond into a soundproof room and beat the shit out of him. (That happened to me at Applebees once. Don’t ask.)
Bond easily takes all the men out and decides to fuck with Carver as he’s announcing the opening broadcast of his new network, which can reach every single person in the world with a television. Bond shuts down power, making it pretty embarrassing for Carver, having technical problems on his big night.
Let’s take a moment to talk about Carver.
I really like the idea of Elliot Carver. He’s a media mogul who’s looking for a story, so he makes one. Great. He’s only advancing his already existing interests and securing his media empire by starting some shit and getting paid for it.
He’s written horribly, but that’s no surprise. I do like how ruthless he is, just deciding to execute his wife like that. I also enjoyed how he had a pretty simple backstory about going to work for the newspaper as a kid and working his way up to run shit. You can see that he’s driven purely by ambition, not some weird vendetta that he picked up, like Trevelyan in GoldenEye.
(Mike Note: My problem with Carver is that he needs a brawn villain to balance him out. Like how General Koskov had Brad Whitaker. Not the best analogy, but if they had beefed up the Chinese general a bit more and made it that there was a credible threat that wasn’t some media mogul, I could buy into it more. Carver shouldn’t be pulling as much villain work as he is, to the point where, when he’s shown on the stealth ship at the end of the movie, I actually stopped and went, “What the fuck is that about?” Why would a media mogul who really has no reason for direct violence whatsoever put himself in harm’s way like that, especially when he knows a British agent and a Chinese agent are trying to stop him? You can say it’s cockiness, but even so, why not do it from your office? It’s sloppy writing, yes, but it also just doesn’t fit his character. I like when these non-physical characters have themselves a physical ally. Think Red Grant and Rosa Klebb. Rosa never got her hands dirty until she needed to. That’s what Carver should be doing. Him with a gun in the third act just feels forced upon him by the formula. I do like the idea of his character, but I feel like they could have executed it a lot better than they did.)
We then cut to Bond in his hotel room, having already drunk a half a bottle of Smirnoff (really, James? I like to think you’d drink something a little classier than the shit I’d buy at the liquor store for $15.99), waiting for Carver’s men to come to kill him. Only Paris shows up – and they fuck.
Carver then goes to Gupta, who says that Bond is probably a government agent and shows him a clip of Bond talking to his wife, which clearly shows they’ve been… intimate. (Note: Fucking.)
Carver then sets an appointment for his wife with “The Doctor.” (I think it’s nice he’s looking out for his wife’s well-being like that. Who knows what kind of diseases Bond may have? It’s really nice that he cares about her health.)
The next morning, Paris goes back to Elliot, giving him some information about how to get into Carver’s newspaper building. How she knows that – pffft… who the fuck knows? (It’s also funny how she gave that up second.)
Bond then sneaks into the newspaper building, and he roots around for some shit, and ends up stealing back the GPS device that Gupta bought in the opening scene that he used to fuck with that ship’s satellite coordinates later on.
Which, let’s talk about Gupta now, because we haven’t yet.
Why is he called Gupta? Isn’t that an Indian name? Maybe it fits a stereotype, cause all I see him do is IT tech support for Carver.
(Mike Note: It’s because the writer would pass by a bakery or restaurant called Gupta on his way to the studio. He used it for the name. Oh, and he was originally written as a young Indian man. So basically they wrote the Dev Patel role before Dev Patel.)
Gupta’s supposed to be the number two guy in this operation, and he does nothing of real value. Nothing really cool. In fact, he’s the first one we see at the bazaar! You’d expect him to do SOMETHING cool. Like a little showdown where he scrambles Bond’s gadgets or something and messes Bond up somehow. Fighting Bond with his hacking and reducing Bond to the raw agent with no technology to help. Then when Bond kills him, we know that the gadgets are just aesthetic and that Bond’s a badass on his own. But no, Carver kills him before he does anything cool, reducing him to the literal sense of what he was to the script — dead weight.
(Mike Note: But Ricky Jay sure is awesome, though.)
Only as he leaves, he hears someone drilling through a door, and fins Wai Lin breaking into the building. She trips the alarms and naturally a chase is on.
People never give the slightest hesitation to firing automatic weapons in an office building in these movies.
It’s actually a pretty entertaining chase, all things considered. Wai Lin uses gadgets to get out of there, no problem, while Bond has to throw a guy over the railing into the printing press.
Seriously – how much money are you costing your boss by doing this? The shareholder’s meeting is NOT going to go well this quarter.
Oh, and I love this moment –
FORKLIFT OUT OF FUCKING NOWHERE!!
Bond then escapes and gets into his car and drives off. He gets a call from Carver, who makes a cryptic statement about his wife. Bond then goes back to his hotel.
He leaves his car in the parking garage (look at that – gun in the glove compartment. That’s service), on full security (which leads to a comic relief moment when Carver’s thugs try to break in and the car has total security and repels the shit out of them), and goes up to his hotel room, where he finds Paris dead. (Wait a minute… that’s not what a doctor does!)
He also overhears a news story about her death (set to go on the air in an hour) that says she was found with an unidentified male who seemingly shot himself in the head. And that’s when The Doctor arrives.
Some words about the Doctor.
Dr. Kaufman is fabulous. Great appearance and accent from Vincent Schiavelli, and just a fun concept. He’s a professor of forensic medicine they call to do jobs, and you know he’s doing it for the academic satisfaction as much as the money. It’s only a job, after all.
The Doctor is there to make it look like a murder/suicide, and explains that his job is pulling these sorts of things and making them look like accidents. He actually makes quite an impression in his brief scene. (Plus Vincent Schiavelli is fucking awesome.)
Though somehow he falls for the obvious trick of not realizing Bond’s cell phone is also a taser. You’d think he’d expect some sort of booby trap or something. (It’s the same as Bond showing up at all these parties, introducing himself with his real name. You’d think everyone would know the name of James Bond by this point.) So Bond kills him and goes back for his car.
He then decides to fuck with the guys surrounding his car a bit, before diving inside and, quite literally, backseat driving. (Which tags on, I guess, to the joke he made before the credits when he ejected the other guy into the plane.)
Talk about property damage.
Bond also seems to have a gadget perfectly designed for every situation he encounters. (The first few I can buy, but the one that cuts through the random wire they string up is a bit much.) It would be nice to have it seem like this sequence wasn’t perfectly designed by a filmmaking staff and felt organic within the situation. But I guess that’s what we get in the Brosnan era.
Bond then dives out of the car and, using the remote control, drives it to the top of the parking garage. And he sends it crashing (quite ironically) into an Avis store down below. (This is why the gadgets thing bugged me, because you want me to be buying that there’s an Avis store there, not that he randomly has saws to cut super thick metal wire.)
Meanwhile, in China (there’s a dangerous transition), Bond arrives. There, he meets Jack Wade, CIA, who we met in GoldenEye. They have a discussion about the GPS thing, which is so horribly written. Listen to the random Air Force doctor guy’s dialogue. It’s hilariously bad.
They find out where the ship from the beginning sank and Bond goes to find proof that the ship was deliberately set off course. He goes and investigates the shit after jumping out of a plane, because you always have to jump out of a plane.
Down there, he meets Wai Lin, who always likes to hang around inside sunken ships. (It soothes her.) Then the ship starts sinking further, and they need to get the fuck out. And then they’re captured by Carver’s men, because – well – it’s a Bond movie. That’s how things work.
Can we talk about how freaky it is the moment they see each other? You’re in wreck hundreds of feet underwater with dead bodies floating around everywhere, and someone else pops out of nowhere? There’d have been a doo doo cloud behind me.
(Mike Note: I never actually understood the point of this scene. It’s like, “Let’s go check out this ship. Oh, you’re randomly here too! Oh no, it’s sinking! Let’s just get out and have a not-tense action sequence that really doesn’t lead anywhere. This is a prime example of the bad writing in this movie, because the only reason she’s down there is so the two of them could get caught together. Motherfucker had to dive out of a plane to get down there — how the fuck did she get there?)
Then Carver explains his entire plan and all that – usual Bond villain thing. Then Bond and Wai Lin escape (whilst handcuffed together), and get on a bike.
And the chase is on. Here we go again. Again.
Seriously – people just fire automatic weapons everywhere, don’t they?
Oh, but wait, a minute, wait a minute – you know what we have here?
EXPLODING FIREWORKS FACTORY! (My entire life was building up to this moment.)
Oh, but now we have a copter involved.
What is this, Slumdog Millionaire? Oh, wait. It’s Vietnam. Never mind.
Welcome to Vietnam.
Isn’t it great that they’re like, “What the fuck was that? Oh well… let’s keep going.” (Fucking savages.)
Not the beer!
I love how these people have no compunctions about mowing down Vietnamese people with helicopter blades. (Does anyone?)
Charlie’s all over this place.
(Mike Note: He will be once that helicopter explodes, too.)
So there’s a final showdown with the copter and it gets blown up.
Then Bond and Wai Lin take a shower together, which is a perfectly normal thing to be doing. Only it’s Vietnam, so they have to shower outside. (I’m surprised they have running water.)
Then she handcuffs him to a pipe, only it’s Vietnam. Those fucking things are made of paper. And he chases her to her hideout place. And then she’s randomly attacked by people, because they’re Vietnamese, they do that. And Bond comes and they fight them off together.
Then she takes him to her armory, and they do some computer shit and figure out where the Chinese general is hiding and where Carver’s plan is most likely to go down. (And apparently they also just leave the unconscious attackers there with all the guns and shit.)
They barter passage on a ship (never a good idea. Come on, Bond!), and somehow don’t get sold out. (I guess there’s a limit on captures in one film.) They then drive around the cove for six hours, waiting for the stealth ship to come round. (Smooth.)
What a piece of junk. Hah. Get it? The location and the ship are reminiscent of Man With the Golden Gun.
You have to know when I watched this as a kid, this shot was — to me — a Lapras sighting in Pokemon Snap for N64.
And they climb aboard when it does come around (I guess because this is what’s known as “Inspiration Point,” and is where all the stealth ships come to fuck the other stealth ships), setting explosive charges for ten minutes, because obviously that’s enough time to get important shit done. I do that at meetings all the time.
Bond is then attacked by the head guy – Karl (basically, right?)… actually his name is Stamper. But fuck it. He’s Karl. Now he has a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho – and Bond makes it look like he’s been killed. (Mostly so he can walk around for five minutes before everyone realizes he’s alive. It’s basically a shortened version of You Only Live Twice.)
Let’s talk about Stamper now, briefly:
Stamper is okay because we like creepy Germans. He has such a creepy voice and he enjoys torture. When he says he’s trying to beat Dr. Kaufman’s record, I get chills. Otherwise, he’s just a very chiseled German guy.
Bond can also shoot a machine gun without looking.
Carver is also on board the ship (WHY?), and plans to fire two warheads at each flagship, making it look like they’re firing upon one another. Oh, and Wai Lin is captured, because women can’t do anything, apparently.
Then there’s this incredibly racist moment where Carver has Wai Lin captured and does “karate” moves at her. What the fuck is that shit?
It’s so ridiculous and offensive that I can’t help but enjoy it.
(Mike Note: Hooray, racism!)
Oh hey, M’s back. She’s only been in like, two scenes so far. (What the fuck is that about? WHY WOULD YOU WASTE JUDI DENCH?) Only this scene is basically expository. Like, “Oh yeah, look for the rich white guy. That’s who’s doing it.”
Then Bond reveals he’s alive and starts a Mexican standoff. He takes Gupta hostage while Carver has Wai Lin hostage. And Carver kills Gupta, because he’s a douchebag, and Bond blows some shit up.
And then both the British and Chinese call a truce to go fuck up Carver’s ship, while Carver pulls the Bond villain move of, “FIRE THE MISSILE!”
Ever notice how in these movies, the guy who’s running the countdown is always perfectly calm as shit’s blowing up and there’s a battle going on? This guy was the same way. His buddies are dying left and right, but he keeps calm, cause they might remember that come bonus time.
And there’s shootouts and shit, and Carver watches everything go up in flames before his very eyes. And then he holds Bond at gunpoint and really just spouts awful villain dialogue. “There’s nothing you can do. In just moments, my plan will succeed.”
And then Bond kills him with the saw he used to fuck up the ship at the beginning. Then Bond goes to disarm the warhead.
Then Stamper shows up with Wai Lin (who is all chained up), and he drops her in the water (to die) and fights with Bond up on the warhead.
And Stamper gets blown up, Bond dives in the water and saves Wai Lin, and everything’s cool again. And the movie actually just kind of ends. It’s very strange. In a way it fits with all the other Bond endings from the Connery days, but on the other hand, it still feels oddly abrupt.
Final Thoughts on Tomorrow Never Dies:
Yet another movie that could have been so much better. Make Wai Lin hotter and a better agent. Give General Chang a real role. For shit’s sake, get rid of that car and put Bond in something better. Fix the dialogue — or better yet, just scrap the dialogue and start over. More Judi, and perhaps more of her As Time Goes By costar Geoffrey Palmer. Do something better with Gupta, and make us care about Paris a least a little bit. It might be that it’s newer that it’s as watchable as it is. Certainly helps that Brosnan’s still an effective Bond even if he is surrounded with disappointments.
My Final Thoughts:
Honestly, I agree with everything that was said up there. Specifically about Brosnan being a very effective Bond, despite being saddled with disappointing stuff around him. That’s really my thing with this movie — it’s entertaining and isn’t a bad movie, it’s just that for so much of it, I’m just watching going, “All right.” I’m not really enjoying it. Which is why, on a Bond level, it’s probably better than the next two films you’re going to see on my countdown, but I just don’t enjoy it as much as those two, because those two have certain elements (two that particularly stand out, which you’ll know as you go through each synopsis) that make me enjoy them more. So that’s why this film is here. It’s definitely a mid-level Bond film, but when it came down to ranking, it ended up here, because I’m not as excited about the things in this film as I am about the two above it. So I’m certain TokyoRemix will have this about two spots higher on his personal list, as will most, but I made a deliberate choice to rank things based on how I enjoyed them, and, while I like Tomorrow Never Dies, it just so happened I liked it as the fifth lowest Bond film of the series.
– – – – –
Official Bond Number: #18
Release Date: December 12, 1997 (UK)
December 19, 1997 (US)
Run Time: 119 minutes
Budget: $110 million
Box Office: $125.3 million domestically, $333 million worldwide
Title Song: ”Tomorrow Never Dies,” by Sheryl Crow
Music By: David Arnold
Based On: Mostly just Bond in general.
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Writer: Bruce Feirstein
First Lines: “Our man’s in position on the center camera. It’s like a terrorist supermarket. Chinese Long March Scud, Panther AS-565 attack helicopter, a pair of Russian mortars, and the crates look like American rifles. Chilean mines. German explosives. Fun for the whole family.”
Last Lines: “They’re looking for us, James.” “Let’s stay under cover.”
– – – – –
– – – – –
- Elliot Carver
- Wai Lin
Secondary Bond Girl:
- Paris Carver
Bond Villain Chick:
- Henry Gupta
- Dr. Kaufman
- Jack Wade
Other Important Characters:
- None, really. No one really cares about the bureaucrats.
– – – – –
- Khyber Pass, Afghanistan/Pakistan
- South China Sea
- Hamburg, Germany
- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
– – – – –
- BMW 750iL
- Aston Martin DB5
- BMW R1200 motorcycle
– – – – –
- Bond’s cell phone is a remote control for his car (directional steering pad, LCD monitor for front and rear view, and controls to operate all the car’s gadgets, like that fucking saw), a stun gun, a fingerprint scanner that can upload and scan for identification locks, and a lock pick.
- Bond’s watch has a detachable charge on it that can be detonated by turning the watch’s dial.
- Bond’s lighter is an explosive.
- Wai Lin has a Chinese fan that has spikes and shit that shoot out of it.
- There’s also a rickshaw that can eject the person riding in it.
- There’s that dragon’s head that is also a flamethrower.
- Oh, and Wai Lin has that wristband that is a grappling hook that she uses to walk down the wall.
– – – – –
- After GoldenEye revived the series, the producers felt pressure to recreate that success. So they rushed the film into production and the budget swelled to $110 million. They didn’t have any more Ian Fleming novels to adapt, so they basically just wrote a new story for the film, as they’d been doing for the previous couple of films. They went into shooting without a finished script, mostly because of many disputes over the story details. It went through a lot of rewrites, just to iron out the story, and then further rewrites because Jonathan Pryce and Teri Hatcher were unhappy with how their characters changed over the course of the rewrites.
- The original title was “Tomorrow Never Lies,” which makes more sense in context of the story, since the name of Carver’s newspaper is “Tomorrow,” but due to a clerical error, it became known as Tomorrow Never Dies, and MGM liked the title so much they insisted on keeping it. I, personally, like the change. I think this feels like a very classic Bond title, to the point where it actually makes me start thinking the film is better than it is.
- This is also one of three Bond films whose title has nothing to do with Fleming’s life or work, the other two being Die Another Day (another title better than its film) and Skyfall.
- This was the first Bond film made after the death of Albert Broccoli.
- The producers wanted Sela Ward for Paris Carver, only — they wanted Sela Ward ten years younger than she was at the time. So she wasn’t cast.
- They offered Carver to Anthony Hopkins, who came on board for about three days and said, “Fuck this. There’s no script and this is chaos.” (Apparently he also turned down a role in GoldenEye, which — I can’t imagine what role that could have been, if not M.)
- The opening bazaar sequence was originally intended for The Living Daylights.
- They claim that fans thought there were too few gadgets in GoldenEye (too few gadgets? Is that possible?), so that’s why this film has more gadgets.
- In an early screenplay draft, they had Stamper as having suffered an injury that would basically become the basis for Renard’s injury in The World Is Not Enough.
- They chose the title song by way of a competition. About twelve songs were written. The first choice was by a band called Swan Lee, but it was turned down because they weren’t famous enough. They wanted to have another artist sing that song, but Swan Lee turned it down (why? You still make the money and get to perform it!). The British pop group Pulp wrote a song for the movie as well (which apparently was released by them). But Sheryl Crow’s song won out.
- The farewell scene for Q was written for this movie originally, under the assumption that Desmond Llewelyn was going to retire soon, but they scrapped it and used it for World Is Not Enough instead.
- As TokyoRemix said up there, Monica Bellucci read for the role of Paris.
- This is the second Bond film in a row that couldn’t be shot on the Bond stage at Pinewood Studios. GoldenEye had to shoot elsewhere because First Knight was shooting there, and this couldn’t shoot there because The Phantom Menace was shooting there at the time.
- Despite it being part of Bond’s reputation, this is actually the first time we see him sleeping with a known married woman.
- Title translations: (Germany) James Bond 007: The Tomorrow Never Dies, (Italy) Agent 007 Tomorrow Never Dies, (Slovenia) James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies, (Turkey) Tomorrow is Indestructible, (Poland) Tomorrow Never Dies Not, (Brazil) 007 Tomorrow Never Dies, (Argentina, Germany, Peru, Spain) The Tomorrow Never Dies, (Romania) The Empire After Today (or 007 and the Empire of Tomorrow).
- The BMW Bond drives is the first Bond car (from Q branch) with four doors.
- This is the first Bond film to have a run time under two hours since Diamonds Are Forever.