Saturday, 21 June 2014

20 YEARS OF 007 BROSNAN – Part Three: The Bond of the Millennium

“As the countdown begins to the 21st century… it’s good to know there’s still one number you can always count on.” This line introduced the last James Bond adventure of the 21st century, titled THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH. And Pierce Brosnan was about to become not only the actor who revived the franchise after the six year gap or the end of the Cold War, but now he was set to become the Bond for the new millennium.

Leaving the action-adventure directors like Martin Campbell and Roger Spottiswoode behind, producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli opted for British drama director Michael Apted, known for GORILLAS IN THE MIST and AGHATA. To bring up an original story far from the standard plot the previous film offered, screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were called to write a new story recycling many elements cut out from Michael France’s script for GOLDENEYE, with Bruce Feirstein back again to re-polish the story and give Bond more presence in a script with oil-heiress Elektra King and Judi Dench’s M stealing the show.

The result was a very good film, with Pierce Brosnan more confident in the role, but it was also slow-paced and somewhat boring for moments. Yet, the plot was a strong point, by having the first female mastermind in the series and a quite original story.

Bond couldn’t return until 2002, in the 40th anniversary film DIE ANOTHER DAY. Production started on January 11, 2002, in a press conference introducing the main cast of the film: Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike and Rick Yune. Broccoli and Wilson bet once again on Purvis and Wade –this time the duo alone- for the script and on another drama director, New Zealand born Lee Tamahori. 

“I lived the life of a prince”, commented Pierce on the press junkets. “I formed my own company (Irish Dreamtime) and I made films with that company, I couldn’t do that without Bond”, said the thankful actor about the series and his fourth Bond film.

Yet, despite Pierce’s optimism and the $431 worldwide box office numbers, the 20th Bond film couldn’t seduce the audience and critics. The script, providing an original and shocking opening with Bond tortured and imprisoned in North Korea after failing a mission, was then wasted by a rather fantastic story with Halle Berry’s Jinx everywhere pretending to be “a female James Bond” and with lots of unbelievable CGI laden stunts.

From 2002 on, Brosnan’s Bond was tied up with an unrealistic characterization of the character, quite the opposite he expected to play back in 1994 when he offered to show “what made this man a killer”. The invisible car, the lousy NSA agent, Gustav Graves’ techno suit was enough to weaken a promising portrayal of a very interesting character, much in the same way the LICENCE TO KILL script sent Timothy Dalton’s Bond way off target.

Yet, Pierce took some more advantage of the role by playing the secret agent on two Electronic Arts’ videogames: NIGHTFIRE (2002) and EVERYTHING OR NOTHING (2003), but the negative effect on DIE ANOTHER DAY was quite hard to beat to the world’s eyes.

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