The World is not Enough (1999)

"I usually hate killing an unarmed man. Cold-blooded murder is a filthy business.""I usually hate killing an unarmed man. Cold-blooded murder is a filthy business."

“I usually hate killing an unarmed man. Cold-blooded murder is a filthy business.”

With now nineteen films released in a franchise thanks to the latest installment The World is not Enough, no doubt comparison will be drawn back to the earliest of the films that have been released. The actors who have graciously played the titular super spy turned action hero will be compared to one another – the greatest to wear the tux is still Sean Connery, the man who started it all way back in 1962 with Dr. No.  3 other actors have come and gone, 1 still firmly engulfed in the role and none have come close to Connery until current Bond Pierce Brosnan answered the call to take on the world’s most dangerous super villains.

As ever, the Bond formula is all over The World is not Enough. The same assembly line like production in making these films stays true to some of the earliest films that have come out in this franchise. Repetitive and predictable the formula may be, The James Bond franchise has been the most entertaining in the modern era that started with Timothy Dalton. Plot aside, the main draw to these films is the action and stunt work. How will James (Pierce Brosnan) stop Electra King (Sophie Marceau) and her henchman Renard (Robert Carlyle) from nuclear destruction. 


What gadgets will he use? Leave it to Q (Desmond Llewelyn) to go over the sleek and stylish fully loaded BMW while also hinting at retirement by disappearing using a trick floorboard. Q has been the magician in the universe that is James Bond – the man who has singlehandedly brought the future to the world with the endless amount of technology that is way ahead of it time. Without fail, the gadgets and technology look outrageously cheesy when first introduced but when it comes time to utilize them in the heat of the climax, they are quite useful in defeating the enemies. 

Other returning roles to this installment of bond (that cannot be left out of any film) Is the boss, M (Dame Judi Dench). Looking back at the two previous actors who have played the role, Judi Dench is the clear standout bringing a relentless ferocity to the character. M has more purpose in the Judi Dench era that is more than a boss giving out assignments and then disappearing into the background never to be heard of again. M is in the thick of it and Judi Dench commands the attention even when Bond is in the room. 

The World is not Enough plays into the Miss Moneypenny (Samantha Bond) and James flirtatious game of cat and mouse. It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Will they, wont they get together is the main question, but do we want to see it? That is the actual question whenever the two share a fleeting moment together. This more modern version of Moneypenny never falls victim to Bond’s endless charm leaning more on the cautiously optimistic side of the fence with her hopes. 

The Brosnan era can be described as pure entertainment. It’s not as empty and shallow as the Moore era that heavily favored the comedy and satirical nature of the universe Ian Fleming created but the action that’s packed into a Brosnan led film is enough to distract from a weak script or basic story that has been done before. Watching Bond escape a myriad of bullets from a seemingly endless number of henchmen without getting so much as a scratch on him is fun to watch and be in the moment with. How close do these henchmen must get to Bond to hit him? Point blank range it seems. I believe Renard and King put an ad up on a bulletin board at colleges around the globe letting anyone take a number and sign up without any prior background or training. If one of the requirements was to rent a paraboat and shoot an automatic weapon and high speeds, sign me up, I’ll give it a shot. 


Several signature moments define the legacy of Bond, James Bond. That line alone paired with “I’ll have a vodka martini, shaken, not stirred” is synonymous with the character. Even if you haven’t seen 30 seconds of any Bond film since 1962, the martini line of dialogue is instantly recognizable thanks to pop culture. The pre-credit opening sequence that sets the tone for the story, the original title song and graphic, Bond’s seduction of the reluctant Bond girl Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), the exotic locales that people would rarely have the pleasure to visit shown to them in great detail, the explosions that lead to the climax that never fails to outdo the previous film – it’s all there, ready to be consumed by an audience that has loved every minute of this franchise despite the glaring shortcomings.  

The World is not Enough isn’t the best Bond, but it isn’t nearly the worst, plenty of films like this one are simply middle tier. Pleasantly enjoyable of a ride to be on that will leave you satisfied for more servings of the same plate.

With mixed reviews initially, I can understand why not many would appreciate this era of Bond. Each of the three films that Brosnan has starred in is a cookie cutter of the previous with not much of anything to say, substance wise. Action and stunt work has taken command of this era with the strongest actor to play the role since Connery. Brosnan plain and simple looks cool in the face of danger, Brosnan’s Bond doesn’t break a sweat while still having the ability to deliver a one-liner that’s laced with sexual inuendo. The difference between the Brosnan era comedy and the Moore era comedy – Brosnan delivers the dialogue better. “If you’re Q…. does that make him R?”

Written By: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Bruce Feirstein

Directed By: Michael Apted

Music By: David Arnold

Cinematography: Adrian Biddle

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Denise Richards, Robbie Coltrane, Dame Judi Dench, Samantha Bond, Desmond Llewelyn

Release Date: November 19, 1999

Running Time:2 Hours 5 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 52%

My Score: 3 out of 5

Based On: James Bond by Ian Fleming

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