Pierce Brosnan
Sophie Marceau
Robert Carlyle
Denise Richards
Robbie Coltrane
Judi Dench
Desmond Llewelyn
John Cleese
Samantha Bond

Michael Apted

"You wanna put that in English for those of us who don't speak Spy?"
Time: 128 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Official Website
Genre: Action/Spy Thriller
A decent addition to the Bond lexicon, that proves the formula is still entertaining even though it's not exactly original. Brosnan finally seems comfortable as Bond, giving him a confidence and swagger lacking in his earlier performances. He's dangerous here, which is the quality he needed to compete with Connery for the title of best Bond. Like all Bond films, this one is filled with giant explosions, high-speed chases, narrow escapes, witty quips and meaningless sex. The story is one of the most plausible yet in the series. It has its' outrageous moments – like having us believe Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist – but for the most part it's solid and well-plotted. The villains are still 100% wacko, however, they just didn't seem as evil as they used to. Perhaps that's due to the new world we live in. Though AUSTIN POWERS is probably more to blame.

In this installment, Bond's primary job is to protect a beautiful, young oil heiress, played by Sophie Marceau, after her father is killed by an explosion in the MI6 offices. Bond was injured in the subsequent high-speed chase along the Thames, but manages to persuade the company doctor to let him back in the game. He knows there's some connection between the murder of Sir Robert Taylor and the all too recent kidnapping of his daughter Elektra, by the demented terrorist Renard (Carlyle). M (Dench) begs him to tread softly and to be kind to Elektra, who underwent a harrowing ordeal at the hands of Renard. Elektra seems fully recovered when he meets her, with the future of her family's oil pipeline well in hand. Her life has been derailed once, she's not about to be stopped again. An attack on their lives while out skiing drives her to take comfort in Bond's arms. He doesn't complain. There's clearly someone working with Renard from inside her organization and he's not about to stop until he discovers who.

A late-night stroll reveals the dirty insider and Bond takes the opportunity to see what's really going on behind the scenes. He ends up posing as a nuclear scientist (thankfully he knows Russian) and comes face to face with Renard, catching him in an attempt to steal an active warhead. Things don't exactly go smoothly. Thanks to the quick thinking of Christmas Jones (Richards), a real nuclear scientist, they escape with their lives. His little scuffle with Renard makes it clear who's behind the theft, if not why. Elektra, disappointed with Bond's performance, calls in M personally to oversee her protection. Unfortunately for M, Elektra's motives are not in M's best interests. Bond and Christmas are on Renard's trail attempting to stop him before he causes destruction on a massive scale. It becomes clear that the mastermind behind everything is the one person who stands to benefit most from the fallout. Hating to be played for a fool, Bond must foil their plan before M, along with everyone else in Istanbul, becomes a faint memory. In the end, where Elektra's loyalties lie is about as big a surprise as Bond's getting vertical with Christmas. However, it's a nicely conceived package nonetheless.

Though the stories hold very few surprises anymore, with good direction and first-class effects, the Bond films are still fairly entertaining. Personally, I found this film to be the best Brosnan Bond outing. He has about as much chemistry with Denise Richards as he did with Michelle Yeoh (meaning none), but that's not really the point. He's wearing the role well, giving Bond the exact right amount of charm and danger. I was glad to see Judi Dench given more to do than stand behind a desk and scold Bond for some misguided error in judgement. Her presence really classes up the joint. Marceau and Carlyle are decent enough in their roles, but neither will be remembered for them. Richards is about as animated as a paper doll. Clearly her acting talent was not the reason she got the job. Robbie Coltrane almost steals the show as Bond's crooked Russian friend. His presence is always a pleasure. Cleese was funny as R, the new gadget guru. Bond 20 should prove whether he's a true asset or not.

The latest high tech gadgets were pretty cool, especially the speed boat and the X-Ray glasses. The action sequences were fairly inventive and fun, which is about all one can ask for at this stage of the game. The motorboat chase down the Thames was the standout. All the other explosions and battles were pretty standard Bond fare. The dialogue leaves much to be desired, but no one's watching these films for their witty repartee. Brosnan still seems uncomfortable with the cheekiness of some of his one-liners, not that one can blame him. It's hard to look cool saying banal crap like, "I though Christmas came only once a year." That joke is clearly the reason for the character name. How clever. It would have been sexy and witty if there was actually charisma between Brosnan and Richards. They gave off about as much heat as an ice cube. Not that it really matters. As long as there are pretty girls and big explosions, people will watch. If that's what you're looking for, you've come to the right place.