Pitted against him are the usual array of megalomanics, including
Rick Yunes heavily-scarred North Korean renegade, Zao,
and Toby Stephens sneering businessman, as well as a turncoat
British agent, in the shapely form of Rosamund Pikes sword-wielding
Miranda Frost. All three provide worthy adversaries.
But plot plays a distant second fiddle to the explosions and
gadgets on show, as director Lee Tamahori bids to inject new
life into the franchise by piling on the set pieces.
Not content with blowing shit up early on, during
a thrilling hovercraft chase, Tamahori then throws in a Cuban
gun battle, a thrilling sword fight and a car chase on ice (between
Bonds Aston Martin and a Jaguar), before the plane-set
Yet in looking forward to try and keep Bond at the forefront
of the genre, Tamahori also balances proceedings with some hugely
entertaining nods to the past, imbuing Bond with the toughness
of Connery and the humour of Moore, while also building on Brosnans
reputation in the leading role - it is easy to see why fans
consider the actor to be the second best Bond ever.
As such, we are treated to the spectacle of yet another bikini-clad
Bond girl emerging from the sea (Halle Berry, wearing orange
instead of white), a henchman who owes a lot, in appearance,
to Oddjob, another death by laser attempt, and plenty of jibes
at the expense of former escapades and gadgets.
The returning cast members are also used to good effect, with
Samantha Bonds Miss Moneypenny given a sexier edge, and
Dame Judi Denchs formidable M continuing her love/hate
relationship with Bond - the scenes between the two are especially
John Cleese registers strongly as the new Q, doing much to fill
in the void many fans feared would be left following the death
of series favourite, Desmond Llewelyn, while the Bond girls
- Berry and Pike - lend proceedings a more balanced edge by
playing Bond at his own game and exposing his weaknesses.
Not everything works, however, and there are moments when proceedings
become a little too strained. At two hours and 15 minutes, the
film could easily have lost a couple of its CGI-heavy set pieces
(one escape sequence, in particular, looks embarrassingly bad),
while the one-liners come a little too thick and fast.
But, overall, this is rollicking good fun and a genuinely thrilling
entry into the James Bond series which does much to erase any
doubts that Britains finest had lost his edge.