I’ll preface this review with the disclaimer that I am indeed aware that James Bond thrillers do not bear any semblance to real-life scenarios. I’ll also say that since I was a kid I’ve been a huge Bond fan. And I’ll also say that The World Is Not Enough is one of the worst Bond films to come along in years.
What’s to fault? Look no further than the story, the product of three screenwriters who appear to have reported to a committee that mandated no fewer than one bad pun every two minutes. As a script, it’s a patchy mess of scenes largely lifted from any number of other Bond flicks, while at the same time feeling like a complete anachronism in relation to the rest of the series.
How silly is the story? James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is… drum roll, please… a bodyguard for an oil magnate’s daughter (Sophie Marceau). Sounds like a job for the British Secret Service, doesn’t it? What a film like this needs is a good villain, and we get Renard (Robert Carlyle), who has a bullet lodged in his brain and has lost his sense of touch (and can’t feel pain).
Cool idea, only it turns out Renard is the biggest wuss of all in the pantheon of Bond villains. Punch him in the stomach, and he crumples like a daisy. Where is Jaws when you need him?
The rest of the film is just as worthless. Denise Richards is the least credible nuclear physicist I can imagine, Marceau tries to vamp her way through the film and is inexplicably dressed in a robe in almost every scene, Brosnan looks alternately tired and bored, and whole chunks of plot appear to have been hastily excised at the last minute.
But the worst failing of the film is that, despite lavish production values and intricately staged action scenes, the “action” is amazingly lacking. I hate to say it, but the lifeless score is largely at fault for this, never rising to the fevered pitch that the classics of the series could do. Ultimately, The World Is Not Enough will be forgotten quickly, adding nothing to the Bond mythology, and making one long for the dramatic stylings of past 007s.
Review by Christopher Null © 1999 filmcritic.com