20 years ago this week, the eighteenth 007 film, “Tomorrow Never Dies,” opened in theaters across the globe. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode, “Tomorrow Never Dies” marked Pierce Brosnan’s second outing as James Bond after he took over the role two years earlier in “GoldenEye.”
Although “Tomorrow Never Dies” made a ton of money at the time, I think it’s safe to say that the movie is regarded as a bit of a mixed bag by 007 fans. Well, I’m not one of those fans. “Tomorrow Never Dies” is my favorite film of the Pierce Brosnan era, and one of my favorites of the modern era.
I know how that sounds, but there are just certain things in “Tomorrow Never Dies” that I enjoy even all these years later. For one thing, Pierce Brosnan looks more comfortable in the role of James Bond. I’d go as far as saying that it looks like Brosnan is having more fun here than he did in 1995’s “GoldenEye.”
Another thing I like about “Tomorrow Never Dies” is that this was the first 007 movie that took a few chances. It may not seem like a big deal now, but I loved that the traditional M scene took place in a moving car, rather than in the typical office setting. Also, the sequence after Bond finds Paris Carver dead, was the first time that we saw Bond truly take revenge after someone died.
The film also took a chance with the villain, Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce). Sure he eventually turns into a traditional bad guy, but at first he was one of the most cold blodded villains in the series. Plus let’s face it, Jonathan Pryce is really playing Satan himself, Rupert Murdoch, so the filmmakers were playing with fire.
Then there’s the action set pieces. For me, “Tomorrow Never Dies” has two of the best action sequences in the series. The first is of course the car chase in the parking garage in Germany. I remember seeing that chase for the first time thinking how crazy it would be to have a fun that did all sorts of stuff. Twenty years later, we all got one.
The other sequence I like is the motorcycle/helicopter chase featuring Bond and Wai Lin. I honestly don’t care that this sequence was shot on a backlot. This entire chase looks amazing even today, and back then, the filmmakers did it for real. If they shot that same scene today, it would probably be all CGI.
As for the rest of the cast, Teri Hatcher’s appearance as Paris Carver was short but an effective one. She’s playing the first-act sacrificial lamb, but I thought the scenes between Paris and Bond are touching and tragic.
I’ve heard stories over the years that Teri Hatcher was originally supposed to play Sylvia Trench, one of Bond’s love interests in “Dr. No” and “From Russia with Love.” I don’t know if these rumors are true or not, but this would have been awesome for longtime fans, and it would have made her death even more tragic.
Another chance the film took was with the main Bond girl of the film, Michelle Yeoh’s Wai Lin. She was a terrific and believable ally for Bond, and she did all of her own stunts too. This was the first time that I can remember where the romantic angle took a backseat to the mission at hand.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to see the film on opening day because I was traveling for the holidays. In fact, I had to wait until late January of 1998 to finally see this movie on the big screen. I bow this will never happen again on a James Bond movie.
I’m not trying to say that “Tomorrow Never Dies” is a perfect movie or even one of the best Bond movies. But I also don’t think the movie deserves all the hate it seems to get. There are worst 007 movies out there after all.
At the end of the day, I think “Tomorrow Never Dies” is a fun Bond movie, with a solid cast, and some epic action scenes. Whether you saw it then or haven’t seen it in years, “Tomorrow Never Dies” deserves another shot.