Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)



There’s no news, like bad news.

Hardly a classic 007 adventure, and full of cliches such as a maniac principle henchman, secret villain lair and atrocious Bond kiss-off lines; yet I have always found Tomorrow Never Dies really entertaining and one of my favourites of the series. I’m not sure I’ve ever really been able to put my finger on why, so here are 5 reasons that I really like TND.

Songs
Goldeneye was the beginning of a recent trend of brilliant Bond songs, and Sheryl Crow’s entry continues that trend. Her title track is full of quiet verses and rousing choruses, as well as that unmistakable James Bond ambience. The end credits song Surrender, written by David Arnold and performed by K. D. Lang is perhaps better and is a real homage to the early Shirley Bassey tunes.

Action
Of course Bond is all about the action, and recently has really seen a step up in scale (tank chase in Goldeneye); and with legendary stunt coordinator Vic Armstrong directing the second unit TND doesn’t disappoint. If you wanted to know what Vic looks like, here he is.

A truly explosive start to the film, I love M saying “He’s doing his job!” What? Blowing shit up? Never mind, cool job, and it does look tremendous. While the car chase around the car park is certainly impressive, there are too many stupid moments to be a really enjoyable scene. Sledge hammers don’t damage the windscreen but as soon as 007 is in the car and they start shooting at it with shotguns, the windscreen breaks? I was also very impressed that the thin metal doors to the car park were impervious to rockets! However, the motorbike chase through Saigon is all very cool. Two people driving the bike one hand each, jumping around on the bike, and jumping over a helicopter all looks amazing.

Plummy British accents:
I always love films which are overtly British, and nothing says British more than an outrageous accent. With acting talent such as Geoffrey Palmer, Julian Fellowes and Michael Byrne, plummy-ness abounds. Stealth boat Sir? They have gone mad!

Jonathan Pryce:
Ever gleeful that he is causing havoc in world politics, Carver is a Bond villain for a new age. Rather than just wanting to extort money out of a government, Elliott Carver’s end game is news broadcasting rights across the whole world, and China specifically for the purposes of the film. Jonathan Pryce is always calm, and ever so slightly smarmy, he only really completely loses his cool just as Bond slams the sea drill into his face. Jonathan’s performance is all quite understated, I feel that many other candidates for the role may have really hammed it up, but I feel that Carver is spot on. It was interesting that when we first see Carver he is often backlit, or in very subdued lighting as if initially we are not supposed to know whether he is the main villain of the piece or if he is being used by someone else.

David Arnold:
A new regular composer for the series, David Arnold’s score is most definitely Bond but has a far more modern twist to it. Whereas I hardly noticed Eric Serra’s score in Goldeneye, Arnold’s score for TND was outstanding in the way that it complements everything perfectly.



As I say, this is hardly a masterpiece of Bond, in particular it’s a shame about some of 007’s Moore-esque one liners, but I really enjoy TND. Most of all, there is a welcome return of furniture fighting, which I feel has been quite absent recently.