To the credit of James Bond film producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, they realized that recycling a storyline with Russian antagonists or other satellites of communism, was stale even several years after the Berlin Wall fell. But in its place, the big Bond villain was a Serbian national of sorts named Renard, who was shot in the head, and the bullet, still lodged in his brain, made him magically impervious to pain.
When it comes to The World is Not Enough, the ideas and aspirations (the script was written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade) were fairly lofty, and the directing choice (Michael Apted of Gorky Park fame) was interesting. In this installment, Pierce Brosnan reprises his role as 007, this time following the death of a wealthy English businessman whose daughter (played by Sophie Marceau, Braveheart) was kidnapped and held for ransom. How does Renard play into it? Well, he’s holding the daughter for ransom, part of a larger plot to control the world’s oil supply.
Don’t get me wrong, the stunts are inventive, the acting isn’t too shabby (Brosnan elevated the role to a little more darker place with this one, although he seemed to have time to throw in the occasional joke or two), but the casting choices really foil the movie. As Renard, Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty) dwarfs Brosnan in comparison. Marceau’s femme fatale is OK, but never in a million years would I say the following words in this order: Denise Richards plays a nuclear physicist. It spoils the last third of the film for me, making its credibility laughable, despite the occasional good stunt.
As is the norm, The World is Not Enough gets a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer. The transfer doesn’t appear to be much better in leaps and bounds, the image overall looks a little bit cool. However, there probably wasn’t much for the restoration team at Lowry to do on this, so huzzah.
And as also is the norm, there are Dolby Digital and DTS surround soundtrack options. I went with the DTS option and it’s remarkably more active and powerful than I first thought. Surround panning is pretty efficient throughout, and the explosions pack their fair share of low end activity.
One commentary track, ha, ha! Two, two commentary tracks, ha, ha, ha! Seriously though, both tracks have been held over for this release. The first is a solo track with Apted, as he recalls his time on the project. He discussed the casting choices for the supporting roles, and how the Bond production aura affected his workload and direction. After the initial stuff, he goes into decent detail about the scenes from a pre-production standpoint, though he’s got praise for the involved actors. Overall, he’s a fairly active participant for the most part, he provides a good look at directing Bond for anyone that follows Martin Campbell’s footsteps. The second commentary with 2nd unit director Vic Armstrong, production designer Peter Lamont and composer David Arnold is OK, it’s at least got all three people in the same room sharing their thoughts on the film. They all share their thoughts from the production and the challenges they faced on various days as the scenes gradually unspool. They even have their fair share of dead air (how ’bout that, I’m a poet who didn’t know it), but it’s a decent complement to Apted’s track.
Getting on with Disc Two, the “Declassified: MI6 Vault” starts off with the “Declassified: MI6 Vault” which houses a bunch of new material, starting off with “James Bond Down River“, an examination of the Thames boat chase sequence in the pre-opening credits with stunt coordinator Simon Crane and Armstrong. The logistics of the stunt are explained in good detail, along with explanations about the boats and the difficulties in pulling it all off. The stunt crew gets an opportunity to play with some practice boats, and to see the stunt rehearsals is cool, along with a close call by one of the performers. When it’s time to shoot, the participants in the sequence all share their thoughts pre and post “action”. All in all, considering the scope of the sequence, it’s a nice, thorough (over 20 minute) examination.
“Creating an Icon” is a look at the production of the teaser for the film, wrapping up with the teaser itself, which isn’t too shabby. Footage of a press conference in Hong Kong with Brosnan is next, something that was apparently done before the film’s premiere I’m guessing. For 10 minutes, Pierce shares his thoughts about playing the character, the people he made the film with (and for), and to a larger extent, the franchise itself.
Next are a mix of deleted, extended and alternate takes that didn’t make it to the final cut. The boat chase scene gives you a choice of an extended take, an alternate and expanded angle, separate expanded and alternate angles, and the original take at the end. Each of the scenes has an introduction (along with an optional running commentary) by Apted. It’s easy to see why most of what’s here didn’t make the grade, most of it is pretty extemporaneous.
Next is the “007 Mission Control” section, home of the interactive guide to the Bond cinematic touchstones in this edition. The “Mission Dossier” section starts off with a “Making of” look at the film. This is really more of an EPK than other pieces and doesn’t provide a lot of worthwhile information as opposed to the looks at the older films, with some anonymous bimbette interviewing the cast and crew. The “Bond Cocktail” features the cast and crew’s thoughts at the components of the film, and not on the really cool drink that’s remained timelessthrough the years. Following that is a charming video tribute to Llewelyn, who died shortly after the film’s release. You’ve got the music video for the song (performed by Garbage, which was actually not a bad one), and some alternate video explorations to key scenes in the film, using other angles, storyboards and other means. The “Ministry of Propaganda” houses a trailer, and the “Image Database” has, you guessed it, the stills for the film.
It’s not a bad Bond film, but it’s certainly nowhere near the pantheon of great ones. I’d probably put it in the 10-15 area if I was ranking (which I’ll do at the end of this little marathon), but the extras are quite good and the technical merits hold themselves up decently to boot.