Magazine article The Spectator

Millennial Bond

Magazine article The Spectator

Millennial Bond

Article excerpt

The World Is Not Enough

(12, selected cinemas)

Onegin

(12, selected cinemas)

Thank heavens Peter Mandelson got his role as special agent to Northern Ireland. He would have found it unbearable to watch from the back benches as his beloved Millennium Dome took a starring part in The World Is Not Enough. Now the man who went en brosse when Pierce Brosnan was still in a side parting can sit with guntoting minders and enjoy the fun.

And what fun it is, whirling us around England, Scotland and the Caucasus by way of a series of highly explosive sets, brilliantly choreographed action and a performance of searing sexiness from Sophie Marceau. There is also - for never accuse the Bond team of failing to give the audience what they expect - a Russian submarine, a nuclear bomb and an unexpected instrument of death.

Marceau is Elektra King, heiress to all the oil in Azerbaijan, and Bond must protect her from the violent and cruelly deformed Russian terrorist Renard (Robert Carlyle, shooting straight for the summit of the Bond villainy league). The good news is that Renard has a bullet lodged in his brain and is dying. The bad news is that he can no longer feel pain. Or think straight, for he imprisons rather than kills the captured Bond. By now every baddie knows that is merely storing up trouble.

Of course, if he topped Bond immediately it would be a short film, and we wouldn't get three bed scenes - Serena Scott Thomas, Sophie Marceau and Denise Richards (marvel at the director Michael Apted's ability to avoid the stray nipple that would push the film up to a 15 certificate) - an extended role for Dame Judi Dench as M and the traditional beat-theclock mayhem that takes place in the inevitable control room with blinking warning lights on every wall.

Nor could we welcome back the British repertory cast: Samantha Bond as Miss Moneypenny, Robbie Coltrane as the Russian villain Valentin Zukovsky and Desmond Llewelyn, supported by John Cleese, as Q.

Q, who surely yearns to work again with Aston Martin, supplies a BMW - how much do the Germans pay for that? - and an ingenious pair of X-ray specs that Bond uses to great effect in a casino where all the men wear guns and all the women stockings and suspenders. I said it was a good film.

Brosnan has grown in the role, adding to the wry irony of Roger Moore a physical robustness that wouldn't survive three rounds with Sean Connery but might plausibly win a punch-up with Robert Carlyle. It takes a man in control of his eyebrows to survive double entendres that would have made Kenneth Williams blush: Cigar Girl: 'Would you like to check my figures? …

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