The James Bond Films - 1994-2002
Created | Updated May 19, 2008
The first part of this entry covers the story of the James Bond films from Dr No in 1962 up to the retirement of Sean Connery after You Only Live Twice in 1967.
In the second part, the story covers George Lazenby's one film, Sean Connery's brief return, and Roger Moore's 1970s Bond films.
The third part finishes the Moore era and covers Timothy Dalton's brief tenure as Bond.
The Brosnan Years
After missing out on the part in 1985, due to his contractual obligations to the producers of television series Remington Steele, Pierce Brosnan was delighted to finally win the role in 1994. Pierce's wife, Cassandra Harris, appeared briefly in 1981's For Your Eyes Only. She was very keen that Pierce be chosen to play Bond, but sadly died of ovarian cancer three years before the announcement was made. Since the death of his wife, Pierce has been closely involved in fund-raising for research into breast and ovarian cancer.
You know the name. You know the number.
- Advertising tagline1
After 6 years, the longest gap between Bond films since the series started in 1962, Bond finally returned to cinemas. GoldenEye, taking its title from the name of Ian Fleming's home in Jamaica, tells the story of a rogue British agent's attempts to use a secret ex-Soviet weapon to gain revenge for British acts in World War II. This was the first Bond film not to contain any elements from Fleming's novels.
Bond: How do you take it?
Xenia Onatopp: Straight up, with a twist.
The film opens with a flashback to Bond and close friend 006 (Alec Trevelyan, played by Sean Bean) infiltrating a Soviet chemical weapons plant in the days before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The attack goes wrong and Trevelyan is killed by General Orumov (Gottfried John). Years later, Orumov and sidekick Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) steal the key to 'goldeneye', an orbital weapon that, when fired, destroys any item that contains electronic circuitry (though there is some suggestion that this is limited to electrical items that contain a microchip). They destroy the ex-Soviet base where it was kept and make their escape. Bond is dispatched to find out what happened. After a shaky start, he teams up with Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco), a computer programmer who used to work on the goldeneye, and eventually learns that Trevelyan is alive and is plotting with Onatopp, Orumov and computer genius Boris (Alan Cumming) to turn it on London. This is to avenge the deaths of Trevelyan's parents who, along with other Cossacks in World War II, were deported by the British government to Russia, where Stalin had them executed. Bond and Natalya track Trevelyan to his base in Cuba where, in a fight on a satellite dish high above the ground, Bond eventually kills his former friend.
Q: Don't touch that!... That's my lunch.
There were many changes between Licence to Kill and GoldenEye, the most talked-about of which was the fact that Bond's boss, 'M', was now a woman. Many people said that this would never work, and it is a tribute to Judi Dench that she has now made the part her own. A new Moneypenny also made her debut in GoldenEye, and Samantha Bond, like Judi Dench, is an excellent addition to the Bond team. And as Bond's long-time friend Felix Leiter was almost killed off in the previous installment, his contact in the USA is now Jack Wade (played by Joe Don Baker). There is some continuity though, with the return of Desmond Llewellyn who, in his role as gadget-man 'Q', had worked with every previous Bond. The MI6 support team also starts to enlarge, with the addition of Michael Kitchen as Chief of Staff Bill Tanner, a character originally found in Fleming's novels. GoldenEye also sees the return of Bond's Aston Martin DB5, as last seen in Thunderball, although this time it is his own personal vehicle - his official Q-branch car is a BMW Z3.
There were also changes on the production team, starting with the director. Although John Glen had directed the previous five Bond films, the decision was taken with GoldenEye that each new Bond film would be directed by a different director. For GoldenEye, this was Martin Campbell. Maurice Binder, long-serving designer of the Bond opening titles, had died in 1991, and the job went to Daniel Kleinman. Another of the Bond team's longest serving members, Derek Meddings, died shortly after filming was completed. Meddings was the man responsible for the special effects on one of Bond's most famous vehicles2 - the Lotus Esprit that turns into a submarine - and GoldenEye was dedicated to his memory.
GoldenEye was an enormous success around the world, becoming easily the highest-grossing Bond film up to that point. After being away from cinema screens for too long, Bond had definitely returned.
Tomorrow Never Dies
Dr Kaufmann: Wait... I'm just a professional doing a job.
Bond: Me too.
Production of Tomorrow Never Dies3 began with some very sad news. Cubby Broccoli, the man who originally brought Bond to the screen and who had produced every Bond film from Dr No through to Licence to Kill, died in 1996. Not surprisingly, Tomorrow Never Dies is 'lovingly dedicated' to Cubby.
Global media tycoon Elliot Carver (Jonathan Price) is determined that his new news network will become the world's biggest news provider. To make sure of this, he engineers a stand-off between the British and Chinese military. A British ship, unknowingly sent off course into Chinese waters, has been sunk by Carver's people, with the Chinese airforce being framed. The British, convinced that the ship was in international waters, dispatch a warfleet to China. Bond has 48 hours to find out who is really behind everything. With the help of old flame Paris (Teri Hatcher), now Mrs Carver, Bond infiltrates Carver's laboratories and starts gathering evidence. Eventually teaming up with Chinese agent Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh), Bond pursues Carver to Vietnam. In an explosive battle on board Carver's stealth boat, Bond eventually kills Carver and prevents a cruise missile from being fired at Beijing.
With Tomorrow Never Dies, the new faces from Goldeneye were starting to become 'regulars', as Judi Dench and Samantha Bond returned as M and Moneypenny, and there's a small cameo for Joe Don Baker as CIA agent Jack Wade. Although Tanner did not return, the character of Charles Robinson (Colin Salmon), a friend of Bond and member of M's staff, is introduced. Changes in personnel between films included another new director, Roger Spottiswoode, and a new composer. Eric Serra, whose music in Goldeneye was very disappointing, was replaced by long-time Bond fan David Arnold. Arnold went back to the old Bond themes, reinventing and reinterpreting them using modern styles and technology, to produce a score that is entirely modern, while still keeping true to Bond's roots.
Despite being in competition with Titanic, which remains the biggest-grossing film of all time, Tomorrow Never Dies still performed well at the box office, taking only slightly less than Goldeneye.
The World is Not Enough
Elektra: I could have given you the world.
Bond: The world is not enough.
Elektra: Foolish sentiment.
Bond: Family motto.
The title of The World is Not Enough4 first appeared in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. When Bond goes undercover as a genealogist, he is informed that his family motto is orbis non sufficit - 'the world is not enough'.
The film, directed by Michael Apted, begins with Bond retrieving money on behalf of industrialist Sir Robert King (David Calder) after the death of an MI6 agent. The money has been booby-trapped, and Sir Robert is killed in the explosion. As threats have also been made on the life of Sir Robert's daughter Elektra (Sophie Marceaux), Bond is assigned to protect her. The man thought to be responsible for the threats is Renard (Robert Carlisle), who is slowly dying from a bullet in his brain which has the side effect of removing his ability to feel pain. Bond gradually becomes suspicious of Elektra and, teaming up with nuclear physicist Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), eventually discovers that Elektra is in league with Renard. They are planning to explode a nuclear submarine in Istanbul, contaminating the Mediterranean and ensuring that Elektra's oil pipeline is the only way to transport oil from Russia to Europe. With the help of Christmas and old friend Valentine Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane), Bond eventually kills Elektra and prevents Renard from detonating the submarine's reactor.
Q: Now listen, 007. I've always tried to teach you two things. Number one - never let them see you bleed...
Bond: And the second?
Q: Always have an escape plan.
The World is Not Enough marks the passing of the great Desmond Llewellyn, who gives his final performance as Q. Despite the actor's statement that he would not be retiring, his scenes in the film do provide a fitting end to his Bond career, as he leaves Bond with some fatherly advice and disappears to spend his retirement fishing, assuming, that is, that he can repair the boat that Bond destroys in the pre-credits sequence. Q leaves the department in the not-so-safe hands of his junior, christened 'R' by Bond, played by John Cleese. Cleese and Llewellyn reportedly agreed that they would keep playing the roles until Llewelyn was 100 and Cleese was 80. Sadly, Llewellyn died in a car crash soon after The World is Not Enough was released. He will be greatly missed by Bond fans around the world.
Part of the pre-credits sequence from The World is Not Enough was filmed around the real headquarters of British Intelligence (MI6), on the banks of the Thames in London. At first, MI6 tried to have the film crew barred, but the goverment's Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, overruled them, saying 'after all Bond has done for Britain, it was the least we could do for Bond'.
Critical reviews of The World is Not Enough were mixed, some reviewers praising the plot, characterisation and action scenes. Other reviewers felt that Bond had long since passed his best, but, then again, reviewers have been saying that since From Russia With Love...
Die Another Day
2002 was a triple anniversary for Bond. It was 50 years since Ian Fleming wrote Casino Royale, 40 years since the release of Dr No and, fittingly, Die Another Day was the 20th official Bond film. The film was directed by Lee Tamahori and saw the return of the regular Bond team, with the exception of Desmond Llewellyn - John Cleese being promoted to the 'rank' of Q.
The film begins with a failed attempt by Bond to infiltrate and destroy the base of North Korean military commander Colonel Moon5. Bond is captured, and undergoes a lengthy period of imprisonment and torture, which continues through the title sequence. Eventually Bond is traded for a Korean agent and placed in MI6 custody, as it is believed that he 'cracked' under interrogation and is the source of a number of security leaks. Bond promptly escapes, and his mission to discover what happened leads him to a Cuban clinic for those who wish to change their identity, and also to Jinx (Halle Berry), whose loyalties are, at first, a little dubious. Returning to the MI6 fold at a clandestine meeting with M at an abandoned London Underground station, Bond is assigned to investigate British millionaire Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) who is, it turns out, Colonel Moon after 'surgery' at the Cuban Clinic. As M doesn't fully trust Bond yet, agent Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike), currently under cover as Graves's secretary, is asked to keep an eye on him. After chasing around the world, and the obligatory liaison with Ms Frost, Bond eventually discovers that Graves has built an orbital laser weapon, which Bond and Jinx must, of course destroy.
Die Another Day is far from being the best of the Bond films, but the serious Bond fan can have plenty of fun trying to spot the references to the previous 19 films. The writers and director have gone out of their way to reference all the other films at least once, either through dialogue (Bond's introduction to Jinx is the same as his introduction to Tania in From Russia With Love), a visual reference (the scene in which Jinx emerges from the sea is very similar to the shot of Ursula Andress in Dr No) or something more subtle (various gadgets from other films are lying around Q's laboratory).
James Bond Will Return
...in the final part, which also takes a look at some Bond competitors and spin-offs.