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Tomorrow Never Dies(1997)
Someone is pitting the world's superpowers against each other--and only the legendary James Bond (Agent 007) can stop it. When a British warship is mysteriously destroyed in Chinese waters, the world teeters on the brink of World War III--until 007 zeros in on the true criminal mastermind. Bond's do-or-die mission takes him to Elliot Carver, a powerful industrialist who manipulates world events as easily as he changes headlines from his global media empire. After soliciting help from Carver's sexy wife, Paris, Bond joins forces with a stunning yet lethal Chinese agent, Wai Lin. In a series of explosive chases, brutal confrontations and impossible escapes, including a motorcycle pursuit through Saigon, Bond and Wai race to stop the presses on Carver's next planned news story--global pandemonium.
For more about Tomorrow Never Dies and the Tomorrow Never Dies Blu-ray release, see Tomorrow Never Dies Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on October 5, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher, Ricky Jay, Götz Otto
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
» See full cast & crew
Tomorrow Never Dies Blu-ray Review
Tomorrow never dies, and neither does Bond...
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, October 5, 2012
The gadgets. The guns. The girls. The exotic locales and sexy cars. The white-knuckle action sequences. The suave flirting and cheeky double entendres. He's been played by six actors—Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig—but there's only one Bond, James Bond. Every man wants to be him, and every woman wants to be with him. (Some men too, I'm sure.) He's the epitome of super-spy cool, and for fifty years now—fifty years!—he's been an indelible part of our pop-culture consciousness. In terms of universal recognition, Bond is right up there with Mickey Mouse and Darth Vader and Superman. Everyone knows his name, knows he likes his martinis "shaken, not stirred," and knows his favorite pistol is the compact Walther PPK. You're probably even humming or whistling the iconic 007 theme song to yourself right now, and if you aren't, I guarantee it'll worm its way into your brain sometime in the next five minutes. Instantly, more like. Admit it, it's playing on a loop in your head right now. Bond isn't just a franchise, it's a revered institution. Yes, there have been a few duds along the way, but over the span of twenty-two films—soon to be twenty-three, with the upcoming Skyfall—the series has defined the international espionage sub-genre, all the while reflecting the cultural and political changes of its times. Sure, in one sense, these are just action movies—popcorn entertainments— but for their fans, these films are the height of cinematic escapism.
Pierce Brosnan's first turn as Bond, GoldenEye, gets a lot of love from fans—especially those with fond memories of the Nintendo 64 tie-in game—but I've always been more partial to the follow-up, 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies. For one, the film is a better reflection of its times. At this point in the mid-'90s, the internet was an established thing, the 24-hour news cycle had really ramped up, and the world was beginning to feel smaller and more connected, with the perception of politics and global events more susceptible to media influence. Tomorrow Never Dies plugged into the then-zeitgeist with a story about a crazed cable news mogul intent on manipulating a war between China and the U.K. for his own nefarious ends. This is no Blofeld, no Dr. No; that is, no megalomaniacal comic bookish super-villain who can't be taken seriously. Eliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) is exaggerated, sure, but he's a recognizably human character, a sort of evil—or eviler —amalgam of Rupert Murdoch, Ted Hughes, and Steve Jobs, a terrifying example of all power and no responsibility.
From their stealth ship/base of operations, Carver and his "techno-terrorist" lapdog, Henry Gupta (Ricky Jay) lead an English warship into Chinese waters—using then-newfangled GPS technology—and promptly sink it with a ridiculous saw-tipped torpedo, destabilizing relations between the two countries. Once it's sunk, they make off with one of the battleship's missiles. Carver slips up by releasing his "breaking news" a bit too early, and so M (Judi Dench) sends Bond off with orders to seduce the mogul's wife, Paris (Teri Hatcher). Yes, he's quite literally going to "pump her for information." It's no spoiler to reveal that Paris doesn't last long—the psychotic Carver is willing to do anything to get his way—and after a tense escape in a remote-controlled BMW 750i, Bond heads to the South China Sea, where he meets up with female spy Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh), 007's counterpart in the Chinese government.
They make a great team—at one point, handcuffed together, they have to drive a motorcycle through the streets of Saigon, one of the film's most intense sequences—and I appreciate that the script doesn't force them into a one-sided physical relationship, with Bond simply using her to fulfill his mission. There's some sexual tension between them, sure, but while Yeoh may qualify as a "Bond girl," she's more than just a sex object here—she's a capable agent of her own, scrappy and elegant and good in a fight. Of which there are many, both shootouts and fisticuffs. The action set-pieces are gripping for the most part, but late in the film they do get tiresome. This is where Brosnan's Bond films started to go too frenetic for their own good—with more whiz-bang-pow action than story or character—but Tomorrow Never Dies is still better balanced tonally than its successors, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. It helps that the story is grounded in something resembling plausibility, with a bad guy whose agenda seems halfway achievable in the real world.
Tomorrow Never Dies Blu-ray, Video Quality
If you read our review of GoldenEye or have been hanging out on the forums, you know that Pierce Brosnan's first Bond film has been given a slathering of digital noise reduction for its Blu-ray debut. Thankfully, that's not the case with Tomorrow Never Dies, which has a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that looks naturally filmic, with a noticeable grain structure and none of the heavy edge enhancement that plagued GoldenEye. Already we're off to a great start. As you'd hope, the print itself is nearly spotless—no scratches or debris beyond a few errant white specks—and there are no overt compression issues to report. Although oddly not quite as sharp as some of the older Bond films, Tomorrow Never Dies makes an impressive showing in high definition, blowing the DVD out of the proverbial water with a much more refined image, especially in closeups, where you'll be able to notice fine detail in facial features and clothing textures. And while the film isn't quite as colorful as the early 1960s Sean Connery outings, the grimier modern palette works well with the Asian setting and techy subject matter. Grain spikes noticeably in some of the darker scenes, but black levels are stable and contrast always seems to be where it needs to be. A worthy upgrade for fans.
Tomorrow Never Dies Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Non-stop. Just non-stop. The film's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is engaging and explosive from start to finish, using the multi-channel mix to its fullest, sculpting out an immersive listening experience that complements the on-screen action wonderfully. Opening with a loud gunshot that kicks through the rears, the rest of the film is a delicious cacophony of swooshing missiles and roaring jets, screeching cars and pulsing helicopter blades and throttling motorcycle engines, gunshots that puncture the soundfield from every direction and explosions that rock outward with growling subwoofer rumble. The punchy effects are backed up by often-convincing ambience, from ocean spray to party clamor to shattering pottery. It all sounds huge and intense and immediately involving. My lone complaint—and it's not much of one—is that the mix is maybe a bit brash in the high end. Never peaking or crackly, but just bright, if you know what I mean. The score by David Arnold—the series' best composer since John Barry—fills in the cracks with propulsive cues that take some of the classic Bond themes and make them a little more frantic. Somehow, dialogue is always clear and easy to understand beneath the walls of noise. Go ahead and crank this one up loud. Note that the disc includes several dub and subtitle options; see above for details.
Tomorrow Never Dies Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Tomorrow Never Dies Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I'm not sure many would agree with me, but I think Tomorrow Never Dies is an all-around better film that GoldenEye, which hasn't aged nearly as well. The movie's core idea—a media mogul gone power hungry—is still hugely relevant, and Brosnan's non-sexual teamwork with Michelle Yeoh's capable female spy is a refreshing departure from the usual you're more useful to me in bed than in the field hijinks. Like a lot of Bond films, the plotting is sometimes simultaneously too dense and pointless and confusing for its own good, but Tomorrow Never Dies moves at a brisk enough pace to keep you from thinking too much about the story. I say that as something of a compliment. I'll also compliment the film's Blu-ray debut, which features a definite visual upgrade from DVD and a wake-the-neighbors audio track, along with the ported-over extras. The film is available as part of the impressive Bond 50 set, but if you're buying the standalone titles, you can find this one at Target as a timed exclusive.
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