Sunday, 28 October 2012

More Than Enough

Ok, here's the thing; I haven't watched all of the film today. I did however see the film at the cinema when it originally came out (a staggering 13 years ago - where has that gone?) and a few times since. What I have done today is watched the opening sequence again. Because frankly, that's the best part of this bloated entry in the Bond series. Isn't it?

Watching it at the cinema (Warrington, 1999, with my sister - a massive Brosnan fan; I despair) I was bowled over by the sheer scope and spectacle of the opening sequence. For a long time the pre credit opener had been a mini movie in itself but TWINE went one further in making it the longest pre credit opening sequence in Bond (so far) and by staging enough bangs, explosions, double crossing, globe trotting, sex, comedy and chases (from foot to motorboats on the Thames, to London road and ultimately to a hot air balloon above the then infant Millennium Dome) to make a Bond movie right there off the opening bat.

At the time I was stunned. As the sequence began to close with Bond gripping a hold of the Dome structure, clearly beaten and broken whilst Garbage's excellent and suitably retro sounding theme tune brassily pumped out in pleasing cinema stereo, I took a breath. Assaulted by such a visual and audio onslaught of riches. I was, to quote the awful pun, in 00 Heaven. From then on, I long believed this was the finest opener to any Bond movie.

Though the film itself was pants. 

Of course it was pants. What could possibly come along in the 1 hour and 40 minutes that followed to top that sequence? Robert Caryle was good, but his Begbie in Trainspotting was scarier! And fellow Scot also pretending to be a Russian, Robbie Coltrane was wasted. Oh and Brosnan was still a weak and too smug Bond. Let is not even speak of Denise Richards in her Lara Croft kit with an implausible name even for Fleming.

Watching the opening again today, I felt like I'd been transported back, Christmas Carol style, to a childhood Christmas, only to find it wasn't as great as I'd remembered. It couldn't be. These things live in your head after all. Not that the spectacle wasn't still brilliant it was. But crucially, it was too much. What I thought was the only redeeming feature of this film actually proved to be its downfall, and very nearly the whole Bond series downfall too. It's too pumped, too overblown, too self satisfied, too too too much. Hell, it even has a cameo from a traffic warden reality TV celebrity of the time! The World Is Not Enough may have been the film's title, but it was more than enough. Way more than enough. You can have too much of a good thing. It was only right that after one more spin of the wheel, Brosnan's Bond, and the over inflated spectacle of this era was put to rest. Bond had started to resemble it's own spoof, namely Casino Royale, the 1967 film. And that was wrong. When Bond came back, in the real, long awaited adaptation of Fleming's Casino Royale it was leaner, meaner and crucially more believable. It was Daniel Craig in black and white, killing a slippery MI6 traitor and thereby gaining his 00. It was simple, and all the more enjoyable for it. When the stunts came - the magnificent Parkour chase - the audience felt they had earned it and they were seeing it more in context with the story. It wasn't just tacked on because that was what was expected.

Ultimately TWINE's opener is a ode to the turn of the century, a triumphant self congratulatory cheer for the Blair generation and its icon; The Dome. Great at the time, but best left in the past, and to our memories. Things can only get better and thankfully, they did.

And the film is still pants.

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