Bond is led to the crazed Renard, a man who is inching every day towards death as a bullet lodged in his skull works it’s way further and further into his brain, making him immune to pain. Renard, an ex KGB man turned terrorist who is targeting Elektra King, daughter of a wealthy industrialist and oil magnate.
Renard has stolen a large amount of plutonium and, with Dr Christmas Jones in tow, Bond realises that Elektra is in league with Renard, who has kidnapped M. M is able to signal her whereabouts to Bond who mounts a rescue and kills Elektra, thwarting her plan to destroy her father’s oil pipeline, then tracks Renard to a nuclear submarine where the agent manages to kill his adversary and avert catastrophe once again.
Directed by franchise newcomer Michael Apted, this was sadly the final appearance for Desmond Llewellyn as Q, who is given a memorable and moving parting shot to Bond as he vanishes through a trapdoor in the ground. Introduced here is his successor played by noted British comedian John Cleese who’s approach to the part was to play for laughs, making the character not a million miles removed from his famous hotelier Basil Fawlty.
Denise Richards didn’t really make much of an impression being derided by the critics as being unbelievable as a physicist, though to give her some credit, she looks stunning. Robert Carlisle on the other hand is extraordinary as Renard, a visceral killer who knows that his own time is limited and therefore doesn’t much care for the consequences of his actions.
The scene where he imprisons M telling her that she will die in the morning is one of the most coldly chilling moments in any Bond film. As Elektra, Apted cast Sophie Marceau and she played the role to perfection, a spoiled heiress used to getting what she wants who plays Bond for a fool before receiving her comeuppance at his hands.
Speaking of Bond, Brosnan is again on excellent form, bringing a lightness of touch to the humour and a gritty steel when it is required. Never less than 100% believable, Brosnan had by now become the most popular Bond since Connery winning plaudits from both critics and moviegoers.
Spain, London, France and Scotland saw the majority of the location shooting with the production then continuing work on the good old 007 stage at Pinewood. It opens with the longest pre title sequence in the franchise’s history a stunning boat chase through London ending up at the millennium dome, to tie in with the film’s release in 1999.
David Arnold returned to provide the soundtrack and the theme, sung by Garbage. Released in November, it superseded “Goldeneye” to become the highest grossing Bond film to that date but critical reaction was again mixed, dividing into “love it” or “hate it”. The public however loved it which is what really matters and plans were already in place for Brosnan’s next outing.