12) 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies
Tomorrow Never Dies is perhaps the least objectionable Bond movie ever made. It’s 119 minutes long, but its runtime actually breezes by. The heroes and villains are clearly defined at the beginning. The objectives are laid out not long into the plot, and everyone involved turns in good, not great performances. There’s a nice balance of pun-filled one-liners and riveting chases, new characters and old favorites. Nothing is particularly mesmerizing about any of it, except Joe Don Baker’s colorful dinosaur shirt, but nothing is wrong with it either. It’s just pretty good, which for Bond, is the middle of the pack.

The easy to understand plot follows a media baron named Elliot Carver who wants to start a war between Britain and China in order to secure broadcasting rights in Asia. At his disposal, he has a German torture expert, a weirdo technology whiz played by magician Ricky Jay, a stealth boat, media spin control and an unwillingness to fail. His opponent, of course, is Bond. At his disposal, he has a hyper-competent, extremely sexy Chinese spy, super revenge strength, a cell phone that scans fingerprints, his trusted Walther and his usual array of small gadgets.

In many ways, Tomorrow Never Dies is a good commentary on the Brosnan era. It made money. It was marginally well-received. People enjoyed watching it. It just didn’t generate much excitement.

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