"Shaken Too Much, Not Stirred Enough"
In THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, the latest installment of James Bond’s adventures, Secret Agent Bond must foil a plan to nuke Istanbul and control Western Europe’s future oil supply. Some plot twists in the story tarnish the movie’s one image of family purity and severely undercut Bond’s heroics, morally speaking. One of the villains is also rather uninteresting, and only about half of the movie’s action sequences provide the kind of fun thrills audiences expect.
James Bond movies have never really been family-friendly, but the latest effort starring Pierce Brosnan as British Secret Agent 007, THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, seems even less so than usual. Not only does Bond display a stronger streak of cruelty and vengeance than he usually does, but the one family represented in the movie is an extremely dysfunctional one.
In the story, a terrorist gang of criminals assassinates a wealthy businessman under James Bond’s very nose, in the headquarters of the British Secret Service no less! M, Bond’s boss, is played once again by renowned actress Judi Dench of MRS. BROWN and other high-class movies. M eventually orders Bond to protect the man’s beautiful daughter, Elektra King. Since her father has died, Elektra is now leading the building of an oil pipeline to Western Europe. The source of the oil is the huge Russian oil field that her mother inherited from her (the mother’s) family.
Bond not only protects Elektra from a couple murder plots; he also ferrets out a spy working within her own company. Following this line, Bond uncovers a plot to steal a nuclear weapon from Russia. The plot is led by a former spy for the Soviet Union (played by Robert Carlyle), who has now become a nihilistic terrorist. A bullet has lodged in the brain of this terrorist, making him impervious to pain. After a couple surprise twists in the story, a big showdown takes place in Istanbul, Turkey. The villains even manage to kidnap Bond’s boss, M, placing her in danger there as well.
Despite a rousing action sequence in the beginning, including a thrilling boat chase, THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH does not do enough to maintain the viewer’s interest. It loses steam about two-thirds of the way, then picks up steam in a nifty action sequence set in a caviar factory, only to lose steam again in its lackluster ending. Also, the nihilistic terrorist makes a poor villain. He lacks the sophisticated menace that previous Bond villains like Goldfinger or Christopher Lee in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN had. It makes one long for the days when Bond was battling those nefarious international gangsters from SPECTRE. Finally, even though there are some interesting plot developments involving Bond and Elektra King, Bond’s relationships with the women are not as intriguing as they were in the first two movies with Pierce Brosnan.
This Bond movie is even more shaky when it comes to its moral underpinnings. Two elements are noteworthy here. First, without giving away the plot twists, some secrets are revealed about Elektra and her family that disclose strongly dysfunctional relationships. This not only tarnishes the movie’s one image of family purity, it also severely undercuts the heroics that Bond does in the first half of the movie. Secondly, the story requires Bond to perform a couple acts of outright cruelty. One of these acts takes place at the movie’s dramatic climax, before the final action sequence. Instead of taking one of the villains prisoner (an act that could have been easily accomplished by his character and easily scripted that way by the writers), Bond actually kills the villain in cold blood.
Such a cruel act violates a long-standing moral principle for Hollywood heroes: The hero must never take the law into his own hands. He must put the villain in jail if he can. Failing that, he still cannot kill the villain in cold blood, for vengeance’s sake or even justice’s sake. Thus, a moral line has been crossed in this particular Bond adventure that, hopefully, will never be crossed again. Not if the series wants to maintain its already shaky morality.
Adding to these regrettable details is the fact that the movie has Bond in the final scene making a crude sexual joke out of the word Christmas, which happens to be the name of one of the three women Bond seduces in the movie. This is an indirect blasphemy against the Name of Jesus Christ and against the story of our Savior’s virgin birth. Given this scene, and the other moral problems in the story, MOVIEGUIDE® must give an extreme caution to 007’s latest shenanigans. Family viewers likely will be shaken, not stirred, by THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH.
(II, B, Ab, C, L, VV, S, NN, A, D, MM) Internationalist worldview with moral elements of good battling evil, plus some cruel, immoral methods used by hero (including one indirect blasphemy), & a reverent scene where female oil company owner re-routes pipeline around small, historical Russian Orthodox church; 3 mild obscenities, 2 mild profanities, 1 indirect blasphemy that ends the movie, & several mild sexual references; moderate level of action violence with mostly implied deaths, explosions, automatic gunfire, man impaled, a few depicted deaths, & some physical/emotional cruelty; implied fornication; partial nudity in sexual context plus wet T-shirt reveals upper female nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, cruelty not always rebuked, revenge, betrayal, stealing, kidnapping, adult child has father assassinated, & innocent lives threatened for personal gain but hero defeats threat.
In THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, the latest installment of James Bond’s adventures, Secret Agent Bond must foil a plan to nuke Istanbul and control Western Europe’s future oil supply. A great opening action sequence contains an assassination of the wealthy owner of an oil pipeline, right under Bond’s very nose and in the headquarters of the British Secret Service. While protecting, and seducing, the owner’s beautiful daughter, Bond comes up against several dastardly villains, including a terrorist who has been rendered impervious to pain because of a bullet lodged in his brain.
Some plot twists in this story tarnish the movie’s one image of family purity and severely undercut Bond’s heroics, morally speaking. One of the villains is also rather uninteresting, and only about half of the movie’s action sequences provide the kind of fun thrills audiences expect. Finally, the movie ends on a note of blasphemy that sullies the Name of Jesus Christ and the story of our Savior’s virgin birth. Given all this, MOVIEGUIDE® must give an extreme caution to 007’s latest shenanigans. Family viewers likely will be shaken, not stirred, by THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH