I don't like TND

SeanIsTheOnlyOneSeanIsTheOnlyOne Posts: 413MI6 Agent
edited November 2023 in The James Bond Films

Hi everyone,

Something I wanted to share because I'm currently wondering if other people here feel that way about TND.

I don't appreciate this movie at all. I've always had big issues with it, and I even wonder if my dislike for it does not increase with time.

Although the stakes are incredibly well thought and quite visionary regarding the current threats, the weaknesses of its writing appear obvious to me (we all know what happened with Feirstein's draft and the Anthony Hopkins episode). The second half is very hard to watch for those who get quickly bored with action sequences like me. From the moment Bond infiltrates Carver's lab, there's nothing really original/interesting plotwise, except the scene with Dr. Kaufman which is excellent but very short. Wai Lin is a character I don't give a damn about, and everything she does/says in the movie makes me feel unconcerned. At least, Benson succeeded to make her more intriguing in the novelization.

I hate the production design. TND looks like some random action movie of the 90s. We can see Peter Lamont is missing and I find both Spottiswoode's directing and Elswit's cinematography pretty average.

Brosnan is absolutely terrible here. His playboy look and attitude do not match with Fleming's character, and I find his lack of charisma very disturbing. The two scenes with Paris and Kaufman are the only moments he has something genuine to play, and even here, I don't buy his performance. I think he's better in TWINE and far better in DAD.

I rewatched QoS recently, which is also a movie with various writing issues, and the funny thing is I find Craig's acting outstanding. Unlike Brosnan in TND, he's able to make me feel I'm watching a movie featuring a modern version of Fleming's character.

The thing is TND seems to be considered nowadays as a pure classic by many people, while I think it's probably one of the worst Bond films ever made. I'm not the biggest fan of the Guy Hamilton trilogy, but I widely prefer LALD to this.

Am I the only one to have such a bad opinion about it or do some people feel the same ?

Comments

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 278MI6 Agent

    I think TND is lacking the oomph that made GE such a fun breath of fresh air, but that's my only real complaint with it. Stamper is pretty banal as a henchman but everything else works.

    That said, it's more of a 'competent' entry than it is an 'entertaining' entry. There's a very real sense that the film is checking off established franchise checkboxes vs delivering anything to make it really stand out from the pack. There are individual scenes here and there that linger in the memory (the Dr. Kaufman scene especially) but most of it just passes by in a competent blur without much flourish. I absolutely welcome the return of a proper Bond symphonic score after the Serra score from GE.

    I much prefer it to TWINE (that one is incredibly dull/has pacing issues) and DAD (that one is absurd in the second half) but GE is definitely the Brosnan film to savor.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,412MI6 Agent

    @SeanIsTheOnlyOne says: The thing is TND seems to be considered nowadays as a pure classic by many people

    I am not sure they do. Personally, it is one of my favourites, was once in a Top Five but has slipped a little, then goes back up, down, etc. I understand your POV, but disagree with your take on the production design [very efficient and effective for the type of movie it is], the photography [some great angles] and direction [to be fair, a Bond film is mostly action, the director has more control over pace, which here is maintained furiously well]. Brosnan is good in this one, defining his devil may care attitude which pervaded GE. I do agree he is better in TWINE. What most commentators complain about are the lack of a romance between Bond and Wai Lin and conversely the unnecessary insertion of a romance. I would prefer not to see that at all. Jonathon Pryce gets criticised for that 'chop suey' stuff, but his performance is better than one bad scene and he comes across as a much less traditional all-world villain. The film struggles to effectively explain its plot and the climax is very Schwarzenegger lite which disappoints, but up to the last twenty minutes it is a free flowing and tremendously enjoyable joyride - IN MY OPINION.

    Generally, I find most commentators agree with you.

  • SeanIsTheOnlyOneSeanIsTheOnlyOne Posts: 413MI6 Agent

    @chrisno1 thanks for sharing your opinion. I found a lot of very positive comments about this one, and when people are asked to rank the Brosnan movies, TND is often top of the list.

    I also respect your POV, and I have the same feeling about TWINE which is, I think, the most interesting movie of the Brosnan era. Some kind of guilty pleasure, full of issues, but with many great ideas/subjects that could have made the film a masterpiece if well explored. Not forgetting Benson's novelization, which is very pleasant to read.

    Unfortunately, this topic doesn't seem very successful.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,412MI6 Agent

    Yes. IMO, TWINE has its own set of problems and I like it a lot less, but it's chief redeeming features are Brosnan and Sophie Marceau. The main issue, as with all Brozzer's Bond movies is the weak script which has some awful phrases in it and a frankly too convoluted plot. In the end, you kind of don't believe any of it because the writers tied so many threads neatly together at that lighthouse. This certainly doesn't happen in TND, which other than the extremely brief and poorly executed inclusion of General Chang and his internal coup agenda, is fairly straightforward plot-wise.

  • SeanIsTheOnlyOneSeanIsTheOnlyOne Posts: 413MI6 Agent
    edited November 2023

    I totally agree with you about the convoluted plot.

    Furthermore, from the beginning, there are disturbing elements. The stolen report Sir Robert first bought and later stolen from MI6 agent murdered was a good idea to justify Bond's mission, but I always found the PTS cloudy plotwise. From the moment Bond left Bilbao, the first thing he should have done is telling M this operation was a trap, and then asking about Cigar Girl (like in FYEO with Locque for instance). I also find very curious M never makes the link between the money Sir Robert is supposed to recover and the amount of the ransom of Elektra's kidnapping. After such an event she knows everything about, she sent one of her own agents to kill Renard, who survived. How doesn't she anticipate he could target both MI6 and Sir Robert to have revenge ?

    I also don't buy the fact Bond gets immediately suspicious about Elektra and Zukovsky during the card game. From Bond's point of view, there is something weird about having the heiress of one of the biggest oil companies wanting to "feel alive" with a risky bet (exactly like Tracy at Hotel Palácio). What about the psychological trauma of her kidnapping and the fact she is supposed to have a 1M USD credit in Zukovsky's casino ? We don't know about her real motivations yet, and I don't find her behaviour shocking at this point of the story.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,412MI6 Agent

    TBH I'd be suspicious of someone who waltzes into a casino, places a $1M bet on the turn of one card and then leaves. It is so clearly a pay off - and is one of the major failures of TWINE as it doesn't provide any increase in tension or mystery. When I watched it first way back in 1997, I just thought "WTF?" followed by "Obviously dodgy." If anything, it clarifies Elektra as a suspect rather than an innocent. On a purely aesthetic point, that whole scene is one of the tackiest, ugliest scenes I have ever seen in a Bond film, not so much glamourous as overly gaudy, borderline pornographic, distinctly stupid and lacking in good natured humour. It is no surprise Brosnan is smirking his way through the early part of it; he seems to have gauged the material about right at that point.

    I agree with your take on the PTS and M's total lack of close examination; is this because she is clouded by revenge? Not noticed her clouded by anything before, except ice in her spirits to be fair, but there you have it. I also wish they'd have cut the PTS after the Bilbao escapade. I know it is low key, but there is too much 'actual narrative' being played out in the scenes at MI6.

    Re: Zukovsky, he feels shovelled into the movie because the producers recognised they'd underused him in GE, where he should have been the villain and all that OO6 / OO7 bromance stuff could have been eliminated.

    There are numerous issues across all Brozzer's Bond films, but and to flog a dead horse, as I say above TND is relatively straight forward to follow which is why I appreciate it more. Now, please don't get me started on DAD !

  • SeanIsTheOnlyOneSeanIsTheOnlyOne Posts: 413MI6 Agent

    @chrisno1 the thing is you have to consider Elektra's trauma and the fact $1M is not a big stake given her richness. In the novelization, she even says the $5M ransom Renard demanded to free her is the amount her father used to loose after some of his unlucky gambling nights, which is why she blames him. I honestly don't think Bond has any element at this point to suspect the pay off. Once again, Tracy, who also is a psychologically affected character, behaves the same way in front of Bond, and I think Elektra's motto fits very well with her supposed state of mind at this moment of the plot from an external point of view.

    Do you see my point ?

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,412MI6 Agent

    I do, although by raising the novelisation as a source, you hint at elements of the screenplay deleted in the film or script editing suite, where the narrative is tightened up. I have read the book, but only once, so I don't recall that line. There is a similar failure in TND, where the Gen Chang story, indeed a whole chapter devoted to Wai Lin, has either been added by Benson to expand and explain what we don't see on screen, or excised from the movie for pacing issues. Personally, I would have preferred something akin to the XXX / Gogol / M scenes in TSWLM where Wai Lin and Bond are paired up and the villain's goal becomes recognised. There could also have been a scene between Carver and Chang, like those between the villains in TLD, which would solidify the roots of their relationship. If I wanted to excise anything, it would be the long winded finale.

  • SeanIsTheOnlyOneSeanIsTheOnlyOne Posts: 413MI6 Agent
    edited November 2023

    @chrisno1 I'm not raising the novelization as a source, I'm just trying to explain my reading of the casino scene, especially Elektra's supposed state of mind at this moment, is confirmed by Benson's work. Furthermore, when Bond tells Zukovsky in the caviar factory about the fact the man didn't even blink an eye while Elektra lost $1M in his casino, I'm not convinced at all. Once again, such an amount is nothing extraordinary for people like King and Zukovsky. It reminds me the first Austin Powers movie when Dr. Evil demands $1M from UN not to destroy the world with a nuke, and all the people he speaks to begin to laugh.

    About TND and the alliance Carver/Chang, I completely agree with you. Not forgetting the novelization makes Wai Lin a much more interesting character than the movie, which is a big issue because I never feel any sympathy for her when I watch it. There is no sexual tension between Bond and her at all, and the fact they do it at the very end seems very artificial, like if there were a voice-over telling the audience: "Hey folks, don't forget you're watching a Bond film !".

  • MI6_HeadquartersMI6_Headquarters Posts: 168MI6 Agent
    edited November 2023

    I haven't read the novelization yet, but from my understanding, Tracy had no money of her own, sure, she's rich, but she had no money.

    So, for Tracy to act like that is fine, she's desperate and had no money, she didn't know what do with her life.

    With Elektra, it's hard to see, especially when she's introduced taking care of her father's business (in the Azerbaijan scene where she visited the mining site and the protesters and the way she tackled the pipelines with Bond in that same scene), there's something that she's taking care of, there's no reason for her to act as reckless as Tracy.

    Unlike Tracy, whom Bond first met in the Casino giving the bet, and later justified her actions when he met Draco, with Elektra, it's not the case, she's first introduced as this smart businesswoman who's taking care of her father's business, so from that alone, she went out of her depth in that Casino scene.

    For me, there's a reason for Bond to get suspicious in that, but in a weird way, because when he met Elektra, she's this wise, smart and intelligent businesswoman in Azerbaijan, Bond could've easily read her mind and her actions alone in that.

    It's clear from the start that she's a businesswoman, sure, she's traumatized but she's the opposite of Tracy in that she needs protection, whereas with Tracy, she wanted to end her life, because she saw no direction in herself, that's not Elektra.

    For me, I'm now seeing it as a way to manipulate Bond's emotions, to bring out his vulnerability in order to take Bond as her slave, just like what she did to Renard.


  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 4,002MI6 Agent

    Elektra doesnt know Bond s in the casino does she? in which case its a coincidence he is there to witness it and her action becomes a clue, otherwise if he were not there its just be a payoff successfully made (very similar to a scene in the Big Sleep). The question I have is, is why was Bond there at all? he just suddenly got up and travelled to the casino, was he already suspicious for some reason? howd he know to go there?

    Elektra couldve made this payoff for reasons other than being the big baddy. she is a complex character from her first scene, not acting at all like the expected innocent victim. She is a big business tycoon ready to take over her fathers business, and presumably has many priorities other than grief or profit we may not know about, yet still nothing to do with Renard.


    as for the film that is actually the thread topic, it is my least favourite of the four Brosnans. The best bit (other than the short Dr Kaufman scene) is the lengthy action sequence that begins with Bond and WaiLinn escaping in handcuffs. I think it is the best action sequence in the four Brosnans, But I dont lke action sequences much, I like plot and character, and Tomorrow Never Dies is weak on those. Of the four Brosnans it is the one that fails most at actually telling what could have been an original interesting story.

  • SeanIsTheOnlyOneSeanIsTheOnlyOne Posts: 413MI6 Agent

    @MI6_Headquarters I'm not saying Tracy and Elektra are the same, I just think they both have good reasons to behave that way considering their psyche. Elektra tells Bond she doesn't want to live in fear anymore, and the casino scene perfectly illustrates this state of mind. At this moment, her (Renard's) motto appears quite relevant. She wants to "feel alive", and the fact Bond doesn't even consider the excitement of gambling a big amount at a risky game could provide such a feeling to her is surprising.

    Furthermore, like I said in a previous comment that unfortunately disappeared, $1M is something extraordinary only for "normal" people. Relatively speaking, when Dr. Evil threatens UN to destroy the world with a nuke if he doesn't get a $1M ransom, all the people from UN start laughing at him. For Bond, this amount seems unusual but like we say, it's all a matter of perspective.

    @caractacus potts I agree. Elektra not expecting Bond to be there doesn't necessarily means she's the baddy. And I even think the fact Bond, (who doesn't know about the link between the two characters) witnesses the game is a way to mask the payoff. I honestly think neither Zukovsky nor Elektra think Bond will ever become suspicious about the way they both behave here. Even Roger's Bond, who is omniscient, wouldn't have smelt a rat in that case, precisely because there is nothing to suspect at this point of the plot. I just think it's bad writing, nothing more.

    About TND, I couldn't agree more.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 4,002MI6 Agent

    Tomorrow Never Dies is a Rorschach test that separates Bond fans who really like action sequences from those who prefer plot and character. The World is Not is Not Enough is like the Yin to TND's Yang, the two films always end up getting contrasted in these discussions. tWiNE is most successful of the four Brosnans for plot and character , but aside from the precredits its action sequences are incoherent and irrelevant wastes of time

  • SeanIsTheOnlyOneSeanIsTheOnlyOne Posts: 413MI6 Agent

    There's a paradox with those four movies. People generally consider the last two as disasters, especially DAD, but these are the only ones of the Brosnan era that reintroduce some Fleming elements that desperately lacked since LTK. I also think TWINE is the best of all, and it could have been a real classic with more diligence in terms of writing and making.

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