A while back, I covered almost all the first batch of Bond movies on Blu-ray, and I was very impressed with how in particular the original era films looked since they’d been restored.
In this second set there are only three films, one each from Connery, Moore and Brosnan, and it’s the most recent I’ve decided to start with. When I first went to see this, the first fifteen minutes had me entirely entranced as it has, in my opinion, one of the best Bond opening sequences ever. The jet-boat chase to the Millennium Dome is quite brilliant, even if it does ape in places the power-boat chase from Live And Let Die.
Disappointingly, after that initial adrenalin rush, the rest of the movie is practically comatose for its entire running time. It manages to make a woman as gorgeous as Sophie Marceau seem understated, Robert Carlyle into one of the least threatening villains ever, and even tries completely unsuccessfully to sell the concept that Denise Richards is a nuclear physicist. It could be the worst Bond movie of all time for me, if it wasn’t for View To A Kill and, very possibly, Moonraker. But the worst aspect of TWINE is that it’s boring and convoluted for no apparent good reason. The theme music by band Garbage isn’t memorable, and with the exception of the Q Boat sequence, most of the stunts in here are equally forgettable.
Sadly, this was also the final outing for Desmond Llewelyn as Q, who died shortly after the movie went on release. The way he’s handled in the movie suggests they knew he wouldn’t return, and he does get a nice parting line after 17 previous appearances as the irascible Q. Already taking his place to a degree was John Cleese, who then appeared as Q in Die Another Day.
Another character who returned was Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky, reprising the part from GoldenEye. In this he reappears only to be the hero and die by a bullet fired by Electra King, except there is a deleted scene where he was supposed to survive, for those that liked his character.
The very worst parts of this movie are all the sequences with Denise Richards, and all the others with Robert Carlyle as Renard (the French word for ‘fox’). The dialogue between Bond and Richards’ Dr. Christmas Jones is an especially painful experience, repeating the worst double entendre excesses of the Roger Moore era. There is no zip, sparkle or chemistry between them whatsoever; it’s like they’re not even from the same species. They attempt to make her desirable during the final fight scene in the submarine by getting her t-shirt wet, but even this drastic step failed to redeem her in my eyes. She’s lifeless and unexciting throughout, even with wet clothes.
But the worst performance by far goes to Robert Carlyle, who six years earlier had acted his socks off against the previously mentioned Robbie Coltrane in Cracker. I don’t know what directorial instructions Carlyle was given for this role, but he comes over as a guy annoyed that someone spilled his pint, and not a lethal assassin. Other than his love for Electra and his passion for leather jackets, I knew no more about him as a person by the end of the film than at the start.
This third production was a new low for the Brosnan era, although some might debate that Die Another Day actually went lower. In retrospect, his tenure never got better than GoldenEye, his first Bond film.
Extras Given that this isn’t the best Bond movie, it seems that those at Fox didn’t much care about its arrival on Blu-ray, as the contents of this disc aren’t close to the standard of what I’ve seen on other releases.
What’s on here has all been seen before on the special DVD releases, and none of it was in high definition. The best of the extras is a very interesting documentary feature, “James Bond Down River”, about the shooting of the boat chase, and the much extended version of that sequence. But some items are just filling. There’s a tribute to Desmond Llewelyn that consists entirely of his sequences edited together with some music over the top; there aren’t even any interviews with him or anyone that knew him. That doesn’t really do him justice under the circumstances.
But the most excruciating featurette is one called ‘The Making of The World is Not Enough’ presented by the horrific Leanza Cornett. She might go down well in America, but to British sensibilities she’s got a delivery style that hints on personality-modifying narcotics. When she interviews Pierce Brosnan she laughs before she even speaks, like what she’s going to ask is silly and she’s just realised that as she’s about to say it.
In addition to the extended boat sequence there are also a few deleted and extended scenes prefaced by the director, Michael Apted. He explains why they’re not in the movie, and after watching them you wonder why he even needed to explain. His commentary is also uninspiring, and the alternative one, with Peter Lamont, David Arnold and Vic Armstrong, isn’t much more revealing. I got the impression that the timescales and script in this Bond outing put everyone under unnecessary pressure, which made little about the production that people wished to recall. It also hints at the number of changes made in the script during production, assuming they had one to begin with.
As for the film itself, this was the first Bond to be made in Dolby Digital EX 6.1 sound, so that side of the presentation is in excellent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The video transfer is good, although considering this production is only ten years old, some of the scenes have more grain than seems acceptable. The scenes inside the castle are muddy, and some of the nuclear bunker shots are also blighted. These contrast heavily with all the location shooting which is much better. It’s better than any DVD, obviously, but it’s not exactly a demonstration of what’s best about Blu-ray.
In the end if you like Bond in his Pierce Brosnan era then you’ll probably buy this disc whatever I say. Myself, I’ve watched the boat sequence at least ten times, and I’d like to forget the rest.