Die Another Day (Lee Tamahori, 2002)

Die Another Day

SPOILER WARNING: These reviews reveal plot twists.

I’ve often been quite down on Die Another Day. I maintain that it does have some significant shortcomings, but I did really enjoy seeing it again. The film rattles along entertainingly, and the plotting is a very smartly done. It has a more-complex-than-usual story and a repeat viewing is great fun: as David Frost would say, the clues are there. For the first time, the title sequence forms part of the story: it’s a visually stunning, part-literal, part-abstract dramatisation of Bond’s 14 months of torture, interrogation and imprisonment. The stuff set in Cuba (actually shot in Spain and at Pinewood) is a smorgasbord of exotic locations, stylish production design and textured, lived-in sets. The Q scene is wonderful, Rosamund Pike graces every scene she’s in, and there are lots of nice anniversary nods to the series’s heritage. However, like a football team who have lots of possession but then shoot wildly over the crossbar, the film loses its way in the final third. As the outlandishness increases, the enjoyment lessens. For a kick-off, it becomes far too sci-fi for my Bond tastes. We get DNA manipulation, an invisible car (!), space lasers targeted at planet Earth, and the bad guy in a cyberpunk armoured suit. Also, there’s too much CGI – or more crucially, piss-poor CGI. The series has usually prided itself on a ‘do it for real’ attitude to stunts and spectacle, but fails big time here. An example: there are two scenes that involve surfing. The first is shot with stuntmen in Hawaii and looks great. The second, with Pierce Brosnan matted into computer-game graphics, is *risible*. Die Another Day came out within a month of The Two Towers: while Gollum was raising the bar for movie special effects, James Bond was looking amateurish. Eight cameos from Madonna out of 10.

Bond: He gets locked up for over a year in a North Korean prison – a bold move, said by some (implausibly, I think) to be the producers’ attempt to explain what Bond was doing on 9/11. That event is referenced – “While you were away, the world changed,” M says to Bond – but surely the film’s complex storyline had been decided upon three months before filming began. When he’s released, 007 has straggly hair, a Robinson Crusoe beard and a hoarse voice. We’ve not seen this in a Bond movie before. This is, of course, Pierce Brosnan’s final run out in the role. He’s been excellent: light and breezy when required, but able to give the whole thing weight too.

Villains: Rick Yune plays featured heavy Zao, who gets diamonds embedded in his face after an explosion (a nice heightened touch, but why doesn’t he remove them?). There’s also General Moon and his unnamed female torturer. The lead bad guy is one of the most interesting in any Bond film… He’s first presented to us as North Korean loon Colonel Moon, played by Will Yun Lee, who beats up his anger therapist and rumbles an undercover Bond. He’s seemingly killed before the titles. We later meet cocky businessman Sir Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), who’s a dynamo of smarmy charm and playful menace. When you watch the film knowing these two men are the same person – who underwent DNA-replacement therapy to change his appearance – Stephens’s performance is even better. He often hints at the truth, amusing himself that Bond hasn’t twigged yet. Graves has a couple of henchmen: tough guy Mr Kill (“There’s a name to die for,” quips Bond) and nervous Euro-geek Vlad. Gorgeous posh totty Rosamund Pike plays the icy-cool Miranda Frost, Graves’s PA who we later discover is an MI6 agent. In the movie’s other wonderful plot twist, it’s then further revealed that she’s actually been in league with Graves all the time.

Girls: One of the MI6 medical team is a real cutie (“Thanks for the kiss of life,” Bond says to her as he walks out). There’s a hotel masseuse called Peaceful Fountains of Desire. Halle Berry plays Giacinta ‘Jinx’ Johnson, an NSA operative who’s introduced with a purposefully iconic shot: standing up out of the water in slow motion. It’s a confident performance – perhaps too confident. A bit like Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies, the fact she’s a kick-ass secret agent means she has no ‘journey’ or character depth. (Her unlucky nickname is just a gag – “Born on Friday the 13th!” – and doesn’t go anywhere.) Roger Moore’s daughter briefly plays an air stewardess. Madonna has an excruciating cameo as fencing teacher Verity.

Regulars: Charles Robinson appears again, collecting Bond from Korea and later helping out M. Michael Madsen plays NSA blowhard Falco – he was meant to be a new regular in the series, but never appeared again (perhaps because of the later reboot, perhaps because he’s rubbish). M has some excellent one-on-one scenes with Bond. Moneypenny has a tiny role, and sadly Samantha Bond’s final scene in the series is a ludicrous moment where she’s rumbled using a virtual-reality machine to have a wank. After being primed for the job in the last film, John Cleese is now officially Q. His lab is in a disused tube station with a secret entrance under Westminster Bridge. It’s Cleese’s best work since A Fish Called Wanda. He’s lost the buffoonery from The World is Not Enough and inherited the same weary impatience Desmond Llewelyn had for 007’s flippancy.

Action: The pre-titles sees Bond escape the bad guys on a hovercraft across the Korean DMZ minefield. The whole sequence, which ends with Moon’s apparent death and Bond being captured, is shot in a grim, muted colour scheme. Bond and Zao fight at the clinic. Jinx leaps off some battlements into the sea (another poor CGI shot). Graves parachutes down to just outside Buckingham Palace. Bond and Graves have an excellently choreographed fencing duel at Blades gentleman’s club. A scene of intruders inside MI6 HQ – presented as real, then revealed to be a virtual-reality training session – sees Moneypenny and Robinson ‘killed’ and is cleverly directed like a first-person shoot ’em up. Jinx breaks into Graves’s secret lab. Bond and Mr Kill fight while lasers beam randomly around them. Bond flees in Graves’s single-seat racer, so Graves aims his satellite laser at him. Bond ends up dangling from an ice cliff as the laser cuts away at the ice. We then get the CGI-heavy surfing – the single most embarrassing moment in any James Bond movie. Soon after, there’s a chase on a frozen lake – Bond and Zao each in gadget-loaded cars – which concludes inside the melting ice hotel, where Bond has to rescue Jinx from a flooded room. Bond and Jinx use ‘switchblades’ to drop into North Korea. The final sequence aboard Graves’s 747 – which rather implausibly keeps flying for ages after it’s been severely damaged – features punch-ups and knife throws; a depressurised cabin; Bond vs Graves; Miranda (in a *very* fetching sports bra) vs Jinx; and Graves being sucked into one of the aircraft’s engines.

Comedy: Bond is given the once-over by a high-tech medical team: “No biological agents in the prelim scan. He’s clean. Pulse 72, pressure 120 over 80. Indications of neuro-toxins, histamine, serotonin and enzyme inhibitors. Scorpion venom. Note also traces of a venom antiserum. They’d sting him then administer the antidote. Yet his internal organs seem unaffected. Liver not too good… It’s definitely him, then.” When recovered, Bond confidently strolls into a posh hotel, dripping wet and in his pyjamas: “My usual suite please,” he says to man on the desk. Bond and Jinks have plenty of flirty banter. To avoid the suspicion of some guards, Bond and Miranda pretend to be snogging lovers. “Are we still being watched?” she asks between kisses. “Oh, they left ages ago,” replies 007. Vlad gleefully tells Graves that Bond has beaten his land-speed record while fleeing the ice hotel. There’s a surfeit of callbacks to old Bond movies because this was the 20th film in the series and was also marking its 40th anniversary (“New watch,” says Q, passing it to Bond. “This’ll be your 20th, I believe.”)

Music: Another first-rate score from David Arnold. Madonna’s title song is liked by friends of mine – Joe Lidster, Sean McGhee, Davy Darlington and others – but to my ears it’s stilted, vocoder dross that has no place in a Bond film. (A dance remix, even worse, plays over the end credits.)

Personal connection: Having moved to London a few weeks earlier, I was back visiting Derby on Wednesday 27 November 2002. With an afternoon to kill, I went by myself to the 12.50 showing of Die Another Day at the UCI. In 2006, I was project editor on You’re Him, Aren’t You?, the autobiography of actor Paul Darrow. In it, he discusses his experience of working on the film: he played a doctor, but is barely even seen in the final cut. “The director, Lee Tamahori, was very pleasant, but clearly under pressure,” he wrote. Darrow also talked about working on The Saint and Roger Moore bursting into his dressing room with some champagne to announce he was the new James Bond. (I knew at the time that the dates maybe don’t add up – The Saint finished in 1969; Moore was cast as Bond in 1972 – but we left it in as an actor’s embellished anecdote.)

The World is Not Enough (Michael Apted, 1999)

The World is Not Enough

SPOILER WARNING: These reviews reveal plot twists.

The final James Bond film of the twentieth century. And it’s a good’un. There are blemishes, which I’ll discuss below, but overall this is stylish, engaging and very entertaining. The plot is well underway by the time the movie begins, and the story sees 007 as detective. He has to use his brain to crack the case, put the clues together and work things out himself. It’s a deliberately twisty-turny story with one of the series’s best ever shock reveals, and seeing it develop across two hours is a joy. It’s also great to see M emotionally involved in the proceedings, while the action is first class (especially the epic chase on the River Thames: a rare London-based Bond sequence). Nine Millennium Domes out of 10.

Bond: Brosnan appears to do a Sean Connery impression in the opening scene (“my hidden ashshets [sic]”). He also gets the archest “Bond, James Bond” yet, pausing mid-sentence as he and Dr Christmas Jones speed up a hydraulic lift.

Villains: The outstanding Patrick Malahide plays a smarmy Swiss banker in the first scene. In the series’s biggest plot twist yet, the main villain is Elektra King, who for the film’s first hour is presented as a victim. It’s a daring thing to do and, writing-wise, is a triumph. Sadly, French beauty Sophie Marceau isn’t good enough for such a complex part: there’s no X factor in what should be a *killer* role for an actress. Elektra’s in league with her former captor, ex-KGB agent Renard, played by Robert Carlyle. He gets a unique entrance into the story: Bond, M and others talk about him, explaining how he feels no pain, while we see a large 3D projection of his head. There are also a couple of non-descript henchmen.

Girls: Credited only as ‘Cigar Girl’, the first Bond girl in the film is a slit-skirted assassin played by Maria Grazia Cucinotta. (“Would you like to check my figure?” she says, handing him a bank statement.) Bond goes for a medical and has the doctor, Molly Warmflash (Serena Scott Thomas), stripping off in no time. Valentin Zukovsky has a couple of dialogue-less molls sitting on his desk. The main Bond girl is Denise Richards as hot-panted and tight-vest-wearing nuclear physicist Dr Christmas Jones. She’s hopelessly – *hopelessly* – miscast but isn’t actually as awful as reputation has it. It’s just that it’s a B-movie performance.

Regulars: Moneypenny is again never far from an innuendo – and has a catty comment for love rival Dr Warmflash. It’s like GoldenEye’s feminist reboot never happened. M gets a meaty role and is personally involved in the story: a chance for Judi Dench to shine. A portrait of previous M Bernard Lee is visible at MI6’s Highland retreat. This is Desmond Llewelyn’s final film playing Q – presumably this was known at the time, as not only does he get a beautifully poignant final moment (“Always have an escape plan…”) but he’s been given an assistant. That assistant, jokingly referred to by Bond as R, is played by John Cleese. He’s mostly a klutz, and the scene is played for laughs, but there’s also an entertainingly dismissive attitude towards 007. For some reason, he talks in American: ‘beverage-cup holders’ and ‘zippers’ get mentioned. Tanner and Robinson appear in the same film for the first time, sharing lines in a briefing scene. GoldenEye’s likeable gangster Zukovsky returns and this time he has a henchman: gold-teethed traitor Mr Bullion, played by gold-teethed musician Goldie.

Action: Bond leaps out of a high window, knowing his fall will be tempered by the fact he’s holding onto a cord tied round a comatose bad guy. There’s Bond’s mad dash through MI6 HQ before a massive explosion (part achieved by fantastic model work of the real SIS building), then the *sensational* speedboat chase down the Thames. In a tremendously exciting sequence, we get stunts and gags galore – a 360-degree spin, Bond’s boat going underwater to avoid a low bridge (Brosnan adjusts his tie while holding his breath), a cameo from some then-current docusoap stars (the traffic wardens who get drenched), the boat smashing through a fish market and a restaurant, and finally an arch shot of the boat flying through the air with the Millennium Dome in the background. (In a wide shot looking east, you can see my flat.) Only then do we cut to the title sequence – 13 minutes into the movie. Later on, there’s some skiing action, Bond and Elektra being attacked by para-gliders, the gunfight in the missile silo, Bond and Christmas’s daring slide down the pipeline, Zukovsky’s beluga factory being trashed by chainsaws dangling from helicopters, and the submarine climax (gunfights, flooded compartments, sets at strange angles).

Comedy: John Cleese’s scene has a fair amount of slapstick (and some dry wit too). Bond gets plenty of punning one-liners. Some of the Azerbaijani extras at the pipeline are hilariously awful, unenthusiastically waving their arms in the air and looking bored. Bond has a pair of X-ray specs (pictured) that allow him to see through people’s clothes (to check if their armed): Brosnan has some great reactions as hot women walk past him. At one point, Christmas says, “But the world’s greatest terrorist running around with six kilos of weapons-grade plutonium can’t be good. I have to get it back or somebody’s gonna have my ass.” After a beat, Bond says, “First things first.” 007’s super-gadget BWM gets sawn in half before he gets a chance to properly use it (a deliberate joke on the director’s part, seeing how much the car was shown off in Tomorrow Never Dies). The final line of the film is famously nauseating: “I thought Christmas only comes once a year,” purrs a post-coital Bond.

Music: David Arnold wrote the score again. It’s absolutely tremendous. Garbage’s title song is likewise excellent.

Personal connection: I first saw this at the UCI in Derby with Stuart Oultram. I still have the ticket stub, Pritt-sticked into my appointments diary. We saw the 17.45 showing on Thursday 23 December 1999. We sat in unassigned seats in screen five and paid £3.90 each (those were the days!).

Tomorrow Never Dies (Roger Spottiswoode, 1997)

Tomorrow Never Dies

SPOILER WARNING: These reviews reveal plot twists.

Enjoyable enough. That might be damning it with faint praise – but while there are some significant flaws, Tomorrow Never Dies is still an entertaining roller-coater ride. But like a roller coaster, there are downs as well as ups. First off, it looks wonderful. The title sequence (designed by Danny Klienman) is one of the best ever; there are plenty of interesting locations and cleverly designed sets; and the film has a beautiful anamorphic cinematography, full of smart compositions and dramatic lens flares. However, the story has virtually no intrigue: we’re told almost everything right off the bat and, as viewers, are always ahead of Bond in the storytelling. As I say, it entertains for two hours and there’s plenty of fun, but it doesn’t really add up to much. (Incidentally, there are *loads* of famous faces in small, military roles: Julian Rhind-Tutt, Gerard Butler and Christopher Bowen on board HMS Devonshire; Colin Stinton and Al Matthews at the USAF base; and Michael Byrne, Pip Torrens, Hugh Bonneville, Jason Watkins and Brendan Coyle on HMS Bedford.) Seven cunning linguists out of 10.

Bond: Brosnan gets the whole spectrum in one film – comedy, action, romance and genuine grief. He’s top draw at all of them. For the third time in the series, we see Bond in his naval uniform.

Villains: Jonathan Pryce plays media mogul Elliot Carver. It’s a truly dreadful performance: pantomimic and irritating. The whole character is a ham-fisted satire on Rupert Murdoch, so awful it makes me wince, but Pryce’s decision not to take it seriously really doesn’t help. He has a couple of lieutenants: tall, tough, cruel Mr Stamper, who is vaguely reminiscent of From Russia With Love’s Red Grant; and techno-expert Gupta (played by magician Ricky Jay).

Girls: Bond beds a Danish-language teacher. Carver has a PA with super-model looks. Our female lead is Wai Lin, a Chinese agent played by Asian action star Michelle Yeoh. When we first meet her, she’s posing as a journalist, but we soon get to see her being all spy. She’s badass and fun, but the lack of any depth to her character means it’s all a bit flippant. We’re also entering a run of movies where they always cast an already famous American star as a Bond girl – here it’s the second best Lois Lane, Teri Hatcher. She’s not in the film much but is very good and it’s a well-written part (her death packs a punch). Just because it’ll amuse Laura Morgan, I’ll quote one of her deliciously arch lines: “Tell me, James, do you still sleep with a gun under your pillow?”

Regulars: MI6 has a new regular character: Charles Robinson (Colin Salmon), who was created because Michael Kitchen was unavailable to play Tanner again. M gets lots of scowling to do in a war room. GoldenEye’s Jack Wade gets a brief return appearance. Julian Fellowes plays the Minster of Defence (presumably meant to be a new one, not Sir Fredrick Gray from the Moore/Dalton movies). Moneypenny has gone innuendo-crazy, which is a shame after her witty rebranding in the last film. Q gets a couple of scenes at Hamburg Airport, where he’s brought Bond his new super car.

Action: The pre-titles teaser sees Bond single-handedly storm an illegal arms market and steal a jump jet in order to get its nuclear bombs to safety. He gets chased and we have a decent aerial dogfight. The sinking of HMS Devonshire is expertly staged. Bond’s brawl with Carver’s goons in a recording studio is wittily shown through the control-room glass, so the sounds of the punch-up can’t be heard. Bond and Wai Lin independently break into Carver’s secret lab at the same time – when they’re rumbled, he has to flee a hail of bullets while she calmly uses a Q-style gadget to walk down a wall. The scene of Bond driving his BWM by remote control while sat in the back seat is tremendous (and its incidental music – an action cue called Backseat Driver – is simply stunning). Bond ‘halo jumps’ into the South China Sea, then explores the sunken Devonshire. Wai Lin’s down there too: they get trapped with little air. Later, they jump off a tall building, halting their fall by holding onto a gigantic banner – then, handcuffed together, they bicker over how to sit on and operate a motorbike. They next get chased past various Oriental stereotypes and jump *over* a low-hovering helicopter. Wai Lin beats up half a dozen guys in a variety of martial-arts ways. The final act is an action-heavy half-hour on board Carver’s stealth boat.

Comedy: Sitcom legend Geoffrey Palmer has a small but enjoyable role as an admiral who butts heads with M (“With all due respect, M, I think you don’t have the balls for this job.” “Perhaps. But the advantage is, I don’t have to think with them all the time.”). Brosnan is clearly having a blast acting with Desmond Llewelyn in the single Q scene. The fabulous Vincent Schiavelli plays off-kilter assassin Dr Kaufman in a hilariously twisted scene with Bond (“I could shoot you from Stuttgart and still create the proper effect!”). Upon seeing Carver’s skyscraper in Saigon, which is adorned by a massive portrait of the mogul, Bond quips, “If I didn’t know better, I’d say he’d developed an edifice complex.” There’s good jokes mined from Bond’s unfamiliarity with Wai Lin’s gadgets and Chinese keyboard.

Music: David Arnold has taken over – there had to be a change after the mess of the GoldenEye incidental music. And his work is absolutely fantastic. Arnold’s score is fresh, vibrant, exciting and thoroughly modern – aware of the series’s heritage but not afraid to spice it up. Techno elements and electro beats drive many cues, but the very best is one of the most traditional-sounding: White Knight, which scores the movie’s opening eight minutes, is a masterpiece of action-movie music. The title song is by Sheryl Crow and is terrific. It was a late replacement for a track Arnold had co-written with David McAlmont and Don Black. Sung by kd lang, it now runs over the end credits.

Personal connection: I first saw this at an Odeon in Leicester, where I was at university, in December 1997. My NUS card got me in for £3.

GoldenEye (Martin Campbell, 1995)


SPOILER WARNING: Just a note to specify that these reviews reveal plot twists. I wasn’t too fussed with the older ones, but over the last 20 years or so the movies have more often used definite surprises in their storytelling. I love these films, so wouldn’t like to spoil them for anyone.

Bond is back, after a six-year hiatus. At the time, that felt like an eternity – but it was only the same distance we now are from Quantum of Solace! We have a new 007, a new M, a new Moneypenny; we’re in a new decade and a new post-Cold War world, and this was a big roll of the dice. It came up double-sixes. What strikes me most about GoldenEye – aside from just how blinking entertaining it is – is how ‘knowing’ the whole thing manages to be. It’s having its cake and eating it: it’s able to be a full-bloodied, full-on Bond movie *and* slyly wink at the audience. It’s an audacious achievement. GoldenEye is very 1990s – there’s talk of sexual harassment and the break-up of the USSR, jokes about safe sex, and the use of the embryonic internet. It’s aware of cliché too: “I might as well ask you,” says the bad guy to Bond, “if all the vodka martinis ever silenced the screams of all the men you’ve killed. Or if you find forgiveness in the arms of all these willing women for all the dead ones you failed to protect.” But this is no spoof or undercut of the series. The story is involving and the character stuff very good; the action is superb throughout, and there’s some really excellent model work. A total triumph. 10 “I am invincible!”s out of 10.

Bond: Pierce Brosnan is terrific – instantly at ease in the role. He handles action, comedy and drama with aplomb and plenty of charisma. One of his best moments, which I mention because Robert Dick reminded me of it, is a nonchalant tilt of the head to avoid the backlash of an explosion: effortless cool. The opening sequence is set ‘nine years earlier’ – ie, 1986, the year Brosnan was originally cast as James Bond.

Villains: Sean Bean plays 006-turned-villain Alec Trevelyn. The public-school accent might be a bit distracting, but he’s an effective enough bad guy. He’s in league with off-his-trolley Russian general Ourumov (an earnest Gottfried John) and recruits cyber-geek traitor Boris Grishenko (a fun Alan Cumming). The diabolical highlight of GoldenEye, however, is Xenia Onatopp (“Onatopp?” “Onatopp.”), played by the strikingly sexy Famke Janssen. She’s a fantastically perverse creation – she smokes cigars, murders an admiral during sex by squeezing him between her thighs (well, if you have to go…), seemingly takes orgasmic pleasure in machine-gunning innocent people, and licks Bond’s face as she tries to kill him.

Girls: Brosnan’s first conquest is Caroline, a psychologist sent by M to appraise Bond. He darts around in his Aston Martin with her nervously in the passenger seat, then pops open the champers and moves in for the kill. The female lead is Natalya Simonova, played by the gorgeous Izabella Scorupco. She might have a Secret Squirrel job, working in a satellite control bunker, but she feels like a real woman, a believable human being. She’s no pushover, but is not a spy or agent – she gets scared, she acts tough, she’s clever and resourceful. She actually carries her own subplot for over half the movie, not teaming up with Bond until the 68-minute mark, and then vitally helps with the mission. We’ve come a long way since Britt Ekland. Natalya’s one of the best.

Regulars: Moneypenny’s been recast again, much more successfully this time. Samantha Bond is instantly attractive, classy and interesting, giving as good as she gets in a well-written flirting scene with Bond. Q gets a deliberately old-school gadget show-and-tell that’s played for all it’s worth. MI6 man Tanner crops up, this time played by Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle. In a series first, the real MI6 HQ in Vauxhall is used for establishing shots. Most significantly, M is now played by Judi Dench. It seems natural now, but was a bold decision at the time. Making her a woman, and casting such a good actress, adds a new energy to the Bond-M dynamic. The often-shown ‘sexist, misogynist dinosaur’ scene is just knockout. Dench is easily in charge, Bond’s boss and a ballbreaker – but she’s also concerned, fair and empathetic. Seeing how Felix had his leg bitten off in the last film, we get a replacement character: Bond’s CIA pal is now Jack Wade, played with sparkle by The Living Daylights’ Joe Don Baker. Robbie Coltrane appears in a semi-comic role as Russian gangster Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky.

Action: The famous opening bungee jump is a mission statement for the whole film – leaping into new territory. The subsequent sequence sees Bond and 006 break into a nerve-gas plant, then James has a physics-defying stunt when he rides his bike off a cliff and catches up with a falling plane. There’s a playful car chase in the hills above Monte Carlo (see ‘Music’). The destruction of the Severnaya base is very well directed. Bond fights Xenia at a posh swimming pool in a scene more like rough sex than a punch-up. Bond uses an ejector seat to flee an exploding helicopter. His and Natalya’s escape from the Russian jail is great, and is followed by the outrageous tank-through-the-streets-of-St Petersburg stuff. Bond derails the bad guys’ train by parking the tank on the tracks – quite how he got ahead of a speeding train to do this is best not questioned. 007 and Natalya’s plane is shot down over Cuba; Xenia then shows up and Bond kills her. We end with a massive run of fine action at the secret base, which includes Bond and Trevelyan’s scrap on top of the massive radar dish.

Comedy: In the pre-titles scene, a squeaky wheel on a trolley gets a good laugh. There are a few old-style sight gags, such as a peloton of cyclists being knocked over like dominoes, and the punning quota is at its highest in a while. Bond and Xenia have some innuendo-heavy banter over the card table. James flirts stylishly with Moneypenny. There’s also M reprimanding a sarcastic Tanner, Jack Wade’s knackered car (and his sledgehammer approach to restarting it), and Minnie Driver as a tone-deaf club singer.

Music: The score is by Eric Serra. Oh, dear. Although not a total disaster – some action cues are quite good – it has sections of staggeringly awful music. It’s charmless, badly dated nonsense, sometimes sounding more like the theme to The Krypton Factor than a movie score. Check out, if you can bear, this inane piece from early on in the movie:


The theme is written by Bono and The Edge (how is the drummer?), and sung by Tina Turner. I find it very difficult to have any kind of opinion either way on it. It’s just *there*. Over the end credits is an awful, slushy number called The Experience of Love from Eric Serra.

Personal connection: This was the first Bond film I saw at the cinema. It was in December 1995 and I went to the UCI Derby with my old pal Stuart Oultram.