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Movie Review

When a respected oil baron is murdered, British secret agent James Bond sets out to find the killer and unravel a psychotic Russian's quest for—what else—world domination. [WARNING: Plot points may be revealed at any time.] In The World Is Not Enough, it seems a former KGB agent named Renard had, years ago, kidnapped the dead tycoon's teenage daughter, Elektra. The girl escaped after her father was advised not to pay the ransom. Bitterness and a sick attraction to her captor leads Elektra to partner with Renard, orchestrate the death of her father and set out to destroy competitors' pipelines, thus giving King's oil company a monopoly. Bond enlists the help of Valentin Zukovsky (a sometimes-friendly casino owner) and Dr. Christmas Jones (a shapely nuclear physicist). His journey takes him to London, Scotland, Azerbaijan, Istanbul, Spain and the Caspian Sea. Of course, the implausible action requires that 007 exploit his "license to kill" and have sex with several beautiful women unable to resist his charms.

Positive Elements: Bond's boss esteems a man for his integrity, and endeavors to help a girl in a time of need. After being mortally wounded, Zukovsky's dying act is to try and rescue his friend.

Spiritual Content: Characters enter a makeshift temple in Azerbaijan. A villain describes a native ritual that involves proving one's devotion to God by holding scalding stones while praying.

Sexual Content: While all sex is typically implied and not explicit, Bond continues his promiscuous ways in this 19th ode to the objectification of women (if the assassins don't get him, an STD will). A special pair of specs allows 007 to see through clothing. He undresses his female physician and has sex with her in an attempt to pass a physical exam. He also beds Elektra (the two are seen—presumably—naked in bed) and Christmas (the couple appears as an intertwined, crimson blob projected by a camera sensitive to body heat). Other women are immodestly dressed. The standard silhouettes-of-naked-women-behind-the-opening-credits sequence features artistic renderings of nubile females. Fairly graphic sexual innuendoes and double entendres are common. Also disturbing are the various ways sexuality and violence commingle (Elektra straddles Bond seductively as she tightens the screws on the torture chair holding him. Later, she tells him he could never shoot her because he'd miss her. He promptly fires at point-blank range and replies to her lifeless form, "I never miss").

Violent Content: Viewers get assaulted by a high body count and enormous property damage. Many characters are victims of gunfire, crashes, explosions, etc. Others are punched and/or kicked during fistfights. Elektra claims to have escaped her captors by seducing the guards and shooting people. Someone throws a knife that winds up buried to the hilt in the back of a man's neck. Elektra's father is blown to smithereens by a cleverly concealed bomb. A female assassin commits suicide by shooting a propane tank on a hot-air balloon. Renard poisons innocent sailors and dumps their bodies into the sea. Renard, who still has a bullet in his head from a previous encounter with British Secret Service, is eventually impaled by a nuclear rod. Intense action finds Bond facing a homicidal boater, parachuting snipers, an avalanche, fiery explosions, a sinking submarine and a string of razor-sharp circular saws dangling from a helicopter.

Crude or Profane Language: Practically no profanity, but crass sexual innuendo is par for the course.

Drug and Alcohol Content: Bond orders his usual vodka martini—shaken, not stirred. Other characters drink socially as well. Several characters smoke. Bond accepts a cigar, which is later offered to and discarded by Miss Moneypenny following a Clinton-esque reference.

Other Negative Elements: Casino gambling gets a favorable nod. When Elektra bets $1 million on a single card, she tells Bond, "There's no point in living if you can't feel alive," a dangerous suggestion that truly living involves being stimulated by risky behavior.

Summary: This recycled plot (it's the 19th 007 actioner) is merely an excuse to trot out a parade of mind-blowing pyrotechnics, globetrotting set changes, shoot-em-up action sequences and gorgeous women in various stages of undress. The Bond series is the McDonald's Happy Meal of movie franchises; predictable content with a slightly different surprise in each one. That's just fine with the filmmakers. The World Is Not Enough grossed $37.2 million opening weekend—the best debut ever for an MGM release. It has been suggested that part of the draw this time around is Denise Richards, who Entertainment Weekly's Benjamin Svetkey says attracts "a huge following of teenage boys who've made her one of the most fantasized-about women of the late 20th century (or at least one of the most downloaded; her online pinups draw more Internet action than Amazon.com)."

Sadly, James Bond continues to qualify as a perennial Hollywood hero—the strong, silent type who uses cool gadgets and willing women to stay one step ahead of megalomaniacs and assassins. We're asked to love him because he risks life and limb to save the world. But his voracious libido and itchy trigger finger make him less than heroic. The World Is Not Enough celebrates vice with little virtue, and will leave morally discerning audiences shaken and stirred.


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