This was the first Bond film I watched in a cinema – in New Jersey in fact on a holiday in 1999 and one that I’ve now seen four times. There is the distinct possibility that familiarity might breed contempt here… it also allowed me to focus on other aspects.
This is a Bond film with a great deal more acting i.e. talky scenes than Tomorrow Never Dies, with M getting a lot of screen time and a major part in a plot partly inspired by Colonel Sun, the Kingsley Amis Bond novel written after Fleming died. Brosnan and Dench excel in all their scenes, with Robbie Coltrane turning in a fine second and last performance as Valentin Zukovsky, while Desmond Llewellyn gets a touching farewell.. The action in this, while not quite as good as the last film, is again great and David Arnold’s score fits it perfectly. The script contains a good deal of humour common with the Brosnan era and there’s an overall good story.
I seem to remember this movie being longer than it was; it feels pretty short in all. For a ‘acting’ based film, you need to have good actors. Denise Richards is rightly criticised here (she gets good lines, but delivers them appallingly), but Sophie Marceau isn’t much better and this isn’t one of Robert Carlyle’s best films either. There are some minor script errors here and there, along with a misunderstanding of what a “meltdown” actually is (hint: it’s not a full nuclear explosion, it’s more like Chernobyl). The less said about John Cleese, the better.
While I have a personal liking for this one, its problems do start to show up on re-watch.