Well seeing as the cold war is over there isn’t a lot of potential plots for future Bond films. I mean we’ve got problems with the Middle East but we’ve looked at that in the Living Daylights. Drugs have been done and the fall of the USSR has already been done, so what else is there? Wait, let’s think this through. Right it’s 1997 whats important right now…Oh wait this marks the rise of both mass media and the Far East after WW2, Korea and Vietnam…Yeah that’ll do…
The plot is awesome. Bond must stop media mogul Elliot Carver (Played by Johnathan Pryce) from provoking a war between China and Britain in order to allow a general to take over command, negotiate the situation and emerge with the nobel peace prize. What will Carver receive in return? Oh nothing, just exclusive broadcasting rights in China for the next 100 years. Bond must fight Carver and his menacing German henchman Herr Stamper (played by Gotz Otto) whilst wooing both Carver’s wife, Paris (played by Teri Hatcher) and Wai Lin (played by Michelle Yeoh).
This may well have been the first Bond film I ever saw and therefore was my favourite for a good while. Indeed it remains one of my favourite films of the series. There are many reasons for this. Firstly the acting and the characters are great and memorable. Stamper is a stereotype but nevertheless stands out as my favourite henchman. Paris is attractive enough and it’s always nice to see a Bond girl die but Paris is more important than this. She is the wife of the villain who kills her for sleeping with Bond and this action really magnifies Carver as a villain. His wife means nothing to him, he kills her on a whim. It also makes the mission personal for Bond, this is about more than preventing war, this is revenge. This brings me on nicely to Carver himself. Best. Bond villain. Ever. I mean it. His insanity is infectious and I know he’s a satire of Rupert Murdoch but the idea of him being a media mogul is fantastic and a nice sort of deviation from the other sort of characters we usually get. I love the acting, Johnathan Pryce really looks like he’s having a lot of fun in this role. He’s also really funny which ties in nicely with his insanity. Wai Lin is a great Bond girl. If Xenia Onatopp nailed (pun intended) the femme fatale stereotype then Wai Lin perfects the ass kicking Bond girl. She can hold her own better than any other Bond girl, more so even than Anya and the way she challenges Bond is very new, we’ve seen Bond girls refuse him but they were never really his equals. The score is great. The locations are fantastic, especially Vietnam. I love the finale in the stealth boat, the action there is perfect. There’s another character that should be mentioned. Dr Kaufman. He’s a pretty minor character but I still think he’s hilarious. The car chase in the multi storey car park is great. I love the action in the printing factory, I love Wai Lin’s house THERE’S SO MUCH!! So what did I think of the song? Well Sheryl Crow’s voice is nice and the song came about during the peak of easy listening and so this was the song that was chosen. Do I like it, yes but it could have been better. There was another song considered by K.D Lang who was famous for being a very butch lesbian with a deep voice and a penchant for tuxedos. Surrender is a different song and while it’s difficult to place one above the other I do prefer Lang’s version. I would argue, however, that Crow’s version fits better at the start.
Perfect Bond film I absolutely adore it and it remains one of my favourites of the series with the best villain, best henchman, best plot and best Bond girl.