Rated PG-13 - Running time: 2:00 - Released 12/19/97

Obviously, there is a large contingent of James Bond fans out there, because they keep making the movies. I have to admit that I am not one of them. It seems to me from the few 007 films I have seen, that they are pretty much all the same thing with a different name. And this one is no exception. But it's exciting in an unrealistic, James Bond kind of way, so what the heck.

In my opinion, the best part of this film by far is the opening credits segment, which features a fascinating video of Sheryl Crow's hit rendition of the song "Tomorrow Never Dies" (not her regular video for the song, which is also cool). It uses a continuous stream of very colorful images involving weaponry and the female form (what else), using computer graphics and simulated X-ray photography in false color. Too bad it eventually has to end, and the film has to begin. From there it's cookie-cutter Bond fiction: stuff blowing up, incredible escapes from near-fatal situations, and Bond (Pierce Brosnan) making it with fabulous chicks.

It seems that wealthy news-media tycoon Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) is so powerful and so ambitious that he is able to create an international incident in the South China Sea between a British ship called the HMS Devonshire and the Chinese Air Force. By altering the position of a tracking satellite in space (using remote control), Carver causes the crew of the Devonshire to think they are in international waters when really they are within the boundary of Chinese space. The Chinese respond with a flyover and warning; the Devonshire refuses to move. Then Carver fires a torpedo from his stealth boat, causing the British to think they are under attack. What follows is a bloody incident that is sure to start World War III. This is all orchestrated by Carver for the purpose of having a great story to broadcast on his new worldwide satellite system, and to force the reluctant Chinese to accept his contract. Sound unlikely? You got that right.

Pryce is adequately evil as Carver (and adequately one-dimensional, a prerequisite for Bond villains), Terri Hatcher has a mercifully short appearance as his wife, and Michelle Yeoh is Wai Lin, the — ugh — Asian martial arts expert. At the outset she is working for her own reasons, but ends up being Bond's ally in bringing Carver down. Her character is supposed to be a news woman, but she doesn't spend much time getting the story — she mainly escapes from tight spots and beats people up. She keeps insisting that she's not interested in Bond romantically, but — oh, I'd better not give away the ending.

What can I say? There are a lot of huge fireballs, a lot of high-tech futurism, a lot of innovative weaponry, and (the one interesting thing) a full-size remote-control car. Lots of insipid action, just like all 007 fare. Written by Bruce Feirstein and directed by Roger Spottiswoode, this film shows that little has changed since the days of Dr. No except perhaps the quality of special effects. If you like Bond movies, you'll like it; if you don't, you won't. **½

Copyright 1997 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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