Tomorrow Never Dies
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) was the eighteenth Bond movie and the second of the Pierce Brosnan Bond films, coming just two years after his explosive first film GoldenEye.
The film sees Bond tasked with investigating media mogul Elliot Carver‘s evil plan to create a war between the UK and China and ultimately be there as a peace negotiator and gain the rights to broadcast news to China for the next century.
Carver is played by Welsh actor Jonathon Pryce and a cunning individual who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals, including murdering his wife and staff.
007 travels to Hamburg and the South China Sea in his investigation and he chances upon an old flame, Paris, played by Teri Hatcher, who just happens to be Carver’s wife, and also teams up with Chinese Agent Wai Lin as the two do their best for their governments despite heightened tensions.
Judi Dench is back in the Bond cast for the second time as M, and although her scenes only make up a small part of the film, her wit and sense of gravitas make her key to the success of the film. Other old faces include Desmond Llewelyn as Q, Samantha Bond as Moneypenny, and Bond’s old CIA connection Jack Wade, played by Joe Don Baker makes a return.
The film was met with mixed reviews, but it was a commercial success. And in this article, we’ll take a look at the plot synopsis, the performance of the main characters, and also some of the best scenes. So sit down, get the popcorn out and enjoy your read…
James Bond is initially sent on a reconnaissance mission to investigate a terrorist arms bazaar on the Russian border. Back in London, in an observation room, M, her assistant, Charles Robinson and Admiral Roebuck are watching the operation through cameras they’ve placed there.
They identify the weapons and people at the site, so Admiral Roebuck orders a missile strike on the bazaar, much to the annoyance of M. The British Navy launch the missile, but then Bond discovers two nuclear torpedoes which could cause a catastrophe if the missile triggers them.
The Navy try to abort the missile, but it’s too late, so Bond has to steal an L-39 Albatros jet to escape before the bazaar and everything in the surrounding area is destroyed. He manages to get away just as the area is exploding and he eventually flies off to safety after seeing off a Soviet pilot.
Meanwhile, in the South China Sea the British Navy vessel, HMS Devonshire is said to be in Chinese waters and is being warned by Chinese MIGs to stay out of Chinese territory and head back into International waters. Unknowingly, they’re being misguided by an encoder that’s in the hands of American terrorist Henry Gupta and media mogul Elliot Carver.
Then a stealth ship with a huge sea drill powers into the Navy vessel and causes it to capsize along with most of the crew. Before it capsizes, however, they take the ship’s surface-to-air missile and fire it at one of the Chinese MIGs, killing the pilot and destroying the jet.
MI6 orders Bond to investigate Elliot Carver and his media company, CMGN after a mysterious signal connected the sinking of the Devonshire and Carver’s satellites. Bond travels to Hamburg to seduce Carver’s wife, Paris, who’s an ex-girlfriend of his, to gain access to CMGN headquarters.
In Hamburg, Bond meets up with Q who supplies him with a BMW 750i car that boasts advanced features including enhanced security and remote control steering from a cell phone. He then heads to Carver’s grand unveiling of his new media center. He sees Paris there, and Carver gets suspicious after seeing them talk, and he sets his henchmen on Bond.
Bond overcomes them and disrupts Carver’s grand unveiling and embarrassingly shuts down the media mogul’s broadcast, before heading back to his hotel. Paris visits him later at his room and warns him about Carver, but she also tells Bond how to get into his Hamburg headquarters.
Bond then infiltrates the building and steals the GPS encoder. He then heads back to his hotel only to discover Carver has had his wife Paris killed for her involvement with Bond. While there Bond is held at gunpoint by henchman Dr. Kaufman. He’s there kill Bond and make it look like a murder suicide pact, with Carver’s media company getting the scoop.
He can’t kill Bond until the men get the decoder out of Bond’s BMW, but die to the security features Q implemented, they can’t get into the car. Bond then hands Dr. Kaufman his cell phone which he says will unlock the car. Kaufman types in the code Bond tells him, but the phone sends an electric shock to the gunman, allowing Bond to overpower and kill him.
Bond hurries back to the BMW and activates it with his cell phone remote control. The henchmen open fire, shattering the car’s windows, but Bond manages to get in the car while its moving. He drives it while laying on the back seat and under intense firepower, and manages to escape just as the car careers off the rooftop of the car park garage.
Bond then heads to the South China Sea, and meets up with American and British military personnel as well as his old friend and CIA liaison, Jack Wade. Bond shows them the decoder’s functionality, highlighting how it was used to alter the Devonshire’s location.
With this knowledge he then dives down to the Devonshire wreckage which is actually in Vietnamese waters. While down there he bumps into Chinese agent Wai Lin, who he had come across at Carver’s media unveiling in Hamburg. They discover the ship’s guided missiles have been stolen.
When they surface, they’re taken hostage by Richard Stamper and taken to Carver’s Saigon HQ. Despite being handcuffed to each other, Bond and Lin manage to get away and steel a motorcycle before leading their pursuers on a high-speed chase through the busy streets of Saigon.
They find themselves cornered by Carver’s helicopter, but they seize a cable and hurl it at the chopper’s tail rotor, and drive under it causing the chopper to crash.
Afterward, while sharing a shower, Bond thinks he’s beginning to charm Lin, but she outwits him by removing her handcuff and locks Bond to a pipe before heading off, telling Bond she works alone.
Soon after, Lin is attacked by a group of thugs, but she sees them all off before Bond comes to her aid. They then decide to team up and hunt for Carver’s stealth boat, re-arming themselves with Lin’s arsenal of equipment, Bond is impressed with her Walther P-99 pistol and takes it as his new sidearm.
They head to Carver’s stealth vessel, and there they plant a few explosives to try and mess with its radar cover, so the Navy can figure out its location. As the bombs explode, Lin is taken hostage, but Bond manages to evade them and get inside the vessel.
They learn of Carver’s grand plan as the megalomaniac proudly boats his plan to use the missile to provoke heightened tension between Britain and China. His media company will cover the conflict, and his secret partner General Chang will take control of the Chinese government and the two will negotiate a truce between the governments, with Carver gaining exclusive broadcasting rights in China for the next 100 years.
With the explosions making the stealth boat visible to radar, it comes under attack by the British Navy. Carver gives orders to Stamper to proceed with the missile launch. Bond takes Gupta hostage in an attempt to get Carver to stop with the launch, but instead Carver shoots Gupta.
Wai Lin gets away and disables the engines, but Stamper apprehends her again. Bond kills Carver using his sea drill and tries to demolish the warhead with detonators.
However, Stamper attacks him and throws a chained Wai Lin into the ocean. Bond then traps Stamper in the missile firing mechanism and gets to Wai Lin, just as the missile detonates, wrecking the ship and killing Stamper.
In the aftermath, Bond and Wai Lin share a romantic moment amidst the wreckage as they await rescue by the Royal Navy.
Pierce Brosnan as Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies
Tomorrow Never Dies is one of those films that’s kind of never talked about. It didn’t have the energy of GoldenEye, but it outstrips Die Another Day every day of the week. But one thing for sure is that Pierce Brosnan always delivered what was expected.
Brosnan’s pre-credits sequences were always a strong point of Brosnan’s era, and Tomorrow Never Dies was arguably his best. The high-stakes action, in which Bond narrowly averts nuclear disaster, is both enjoyable and exciting, and the scene which flips from HQ to the Soviet base really sets a quick pace for the movie.
It may not have kept up with the pace, but there was plenty of what you need to enjoy a night in Bond’s company. Brosnan was keen on the flirty moments, arguably more so than any other Bond, and he enjoys 3 in this movie.
There’s one early on with an Oxford Danish professor, where he’s ‘in Oxford ‘brushing up on my Danish,’ and then he reignites his old flame Paris Carver with the blessing of M, of course.
Brosnan may have his fair share of Bond girls, but they certainly didn’t come along as easy as they did for Sean Connery or Roger Moore. He really had to impress with his third, and only after a job well done does Chinese Agent Wai Lin succumb to the obvious.
007’s mission with Wai Lin is as hectic as they come, and the motorcycle chase while they’re handcuffed together makes for great viewing.
Saigon is busy on a Sunday morning, never mind in the height of the afternoon when Bond is trying to ride a motorcycle with his hands tied to someone else, all the while a helicopter is raining down bullets on them. It’s enthralling viewing and the handcuffs add an extra dimension to an already exciting scene.
Another great moment is how Bond uses the remote control BMW. Action scenes are expected and omnipresent in Bond films so they need to be creative to make them stand out, and the producers and Brosnan succeeded with this one.
The car’s security and gadgets allow him to drive from a distance and then while laying down on the back seat, while watching the cell phone’s display. Not bad for a 1990s cell phone, I might add.
Pierce Brosnan always had the ability to convey the gravity of the situation, while still maintaining his signature cool demeanour. It’s something expected of any James Bond, and of course something the next James Bond will be required to have, but the way it appears so seamless with Brosnan is a testament to his talent as an actor.
Tomorrow Never Dies Villains
Elliot Carver, played by Welsh actor Jonathan Pryce has all the attributes of a Bond villain. He’s sophisticated, intelligent, and ruthless, and with the power and wealth he’s accumulated, he’s also too greedy.
In his own words, ‘The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success,’ which highlights his perception of himself as a genius whose actions, although they may seem insane to others, are justified by his success.
He’s like a blend of Dr. Julius No and Auric Goldfinger. He sees himself as a highly intelligent and capable individual who is willing to take extreme measures to achieve his goals, even if it means killing everyone in sight.
Jonathon Pryce plays the media mogul perfectly and we see him early on. Despite his bespectacled appearance and slight frame, you don’t need power when you can buy it, he’s certainly a force throughout the film.
There can be no doubting the outcome once Bond is onto you, but Carver doesn’t play about. He kills his wife because he thinks she’s had sex with Bond, and he shoots stone dead the brains behind his plan once he knows it’s all in his own hands.
In an otherwise average-to-decent film, Elliot Carver played by Jonathon Pryce is one of the standout performers in Tomorrow Never Dies.
And the thing about it, he was wrong. Stamper has all the attributes of a classic henchman. Ok he didn’t have Oddjob’s bowler hat, or Jaws‘ teeth, or size, but the Ivan Drago lookalike was certainly an obstacle for Bond and Lei.
Carver orders him to ‘kill those bastards’ but as the very best have found, it’s not so easy. He does enjoy his moments and certainly adds to the film and his memorable line: ‘I owe you an unpleasant death, Mr. Bond!’ was one of the best lines in the film.
Tomorrow Never Dies Bond Girls
It’s not easy to discern who’s the main Bond girl in Tomorrow Never Dies. Wai Lin is certainly his biggest help throughout his investigation, but the chemsitry is kept in a bottle to the very end.
Anyway, a Bond girl she is, and Wai Lin played by Michelle Yeoh is a battle hardened Chinese Agent, who can certainly hold her own.
007’s mission with Wai Lin is full of all the charm and hazards and everything in between. She’s a professional, as was Soviet Agent Anya Amasaova in The Spy Who Loved Me, and there were similarities to Bond’s mission as to theirs.
Wai Lin can calmly walk down walls when all around her is going off, she’s not scared to jump from skyscrapers to get away from her pursuers, and she’s skilled at martial arts, so much so that she takes care of a gang of men.
Michelle Yeoh really plays the part well throughout her scenes, but the highlight is the motorcycle scene with her and Bond handcuffed.
There’s danger, confusion and chemistry throughout the scenes, and once they get away from Carver’s henchmen, they share an outdoor shower, fully clothed. Still, Bond thinks he’s won her over, but in the style of Agent XXX she outwits him.
Played by Teri Hatcher, Paris Carver is Elliot Carver’s trophy wife and just by chance an old flame of Bond’s. In one of M’s many classic scenes, she tells Bond to use their relationship to get information from her, and if she doesn’t remember him he’s to ‘pump her for information.’
Bond follows his orders, but he didn’t have to remind Paris who he was. She sees him at carver’s grand opening of his media empire, and slaps him in front of the other partygoers.
At that very moment, the writing was on the wall for her, but she does go to see Bond and give him all the information and pleasure he needs that night, before she’s killed off.
Professor Inga Bergstrom
Early in the film, Bond is in Oxford ‘brushing up on some Danish’ with language professor Inga Bergstrom. Played by Cecilie Thomsen, Inga is only a short scene, and she isn’t a honeybadger or anything, she’s just one of Bond’s notches on his bedpost, and of course his language tutor.
While the two are making love Bond is practicing his Danish, and Inga tells him how please she is with his progress. He tells her, ‘I’ve always enjoyed studying a new tongue, Professor.’
She’s full of praise for the adaptability of his tongue telling him, ‘One might say you have a natural ability.’ But Bond puts it down to the old cliché ‘practice makes perfect.’
During the short time together, Moneypenny calls him, and asks him where he is. ‘Brushing up my Danish,’ he tells her before saying ‘Goodbye, my sweet,’ in Danish to Moneypenny. She tells Bond, ‘You always were a cunning linguist.’
The motorcycle scene in Tomorrow Never Dies is an action-packed and adrenaline-fueled sequence that sees James Bond and Wai Lin handcuffed together and attempting to evade capture through the chaotic streets of Saigon.
Chase scenes are a constant and expected in Bond films, so the producers have to get more creative, and the idea for handcuffing them and adding confusion and chemistry (hope) into the mix was a perfect combination.
The scene starts with Bond and Lin handcuffed together, but escape Carver’s henchmen by stealing a motorcycle. They’re then chased through the busy streets of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City now), byt henchmen in Range Rovers and a helicopter with more ammo than you could imagine.
Bond and Lai have to keep manouevring to control the bike, remember, her right hand is cuffed to his left hand, so it’s not easy. they get close a couple of times, but of course right now it’s all about staying alive.
Watch the scene
The chase sees them do an Evil Knieval style jump over the chasing helicopter and into a massage parlour. They race along crumbling balconies, pull down every obstacle they can to stop the Range Rovers.
But of course, when there’s a helicopter chasing you overhead with a pilot more brutal and determined than Naomi in The Spy Who Loved Me, it’s not going to be that easy.
They do all they can to get away, but unfortunately once they find Saigon’s only quiet street they have the helicopter facing them in a stand off that makes Scaramanga and Bond’s duel in The Man with the Golden Gun look like child’s play.
The pilot goes rotor blades first intending to chop everything up in it’s way, but Bond acts fast, taking hold of a nearby washing line and races towards the chopper.
As he goes under and behind the helicopter, he flings the washing line around the tail rotor, causing the chopper to lock up and sends it careening out of control. At least Naomi was victim to the Lotus Esprit S1 Submarine torpedo!
M Being Frank
Judi Dench was back as M for the second time, and she really made the position her own. There had been a big deal made out of M being a woman, the producers even played this into the plot in Golden Eye, but it was in Tomorrow Never Dies when M uses her matriarchal advantages, and her clear-cut wit to see off any debate.
Early in the film Admiral Roebuck is trying to use his masculinity and professional position to dictate the play during a mission briefing. The admiral tells M, ‘With all due respect, M, sometimes I don’t think you have the balls for this job.’
M, never one to lose an argument delivered arguably the character’s best ever line when she retorts, ‘Perhaps. But the advantage is, I don’t have to think with them all the time.’
It’s a classic quote, and really helped settle the M-shoudn’t-be-a-woman debate, because Judi Dench went on to become arguably the best ever M.
Watch the scene
Tomorrow Never Dies
Tomorrow Never Dies is one of those middle of the road films: enjoyable, but not Brosnan’s best or worst. It’s relatively slow, but the action sequences are creative, as are some of the quotes. Maybe not Bond’s but certainly M’s, Carver’s and Stamper’s.
The dynamic interplay between the suave and resourceful Bond and the cunning media mogul Carver makes for interesting viewing. And Bond’s willingness to share his love wand always adds extra complexity and of course chemistry to the film, especially when one is a contemporary and another is his case’s wife.
There are new and old characters and to be fair, they all deliver, making for a great movie with some intense scenes. If you haven’t watched it before or even for a long time, it’s certanily worth getting the DVD player out.
When was the Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies released?
Tomorrow Never Dies world premiere was in London on 9 December 1997. It was later released on 12 December 1997 in the UK), and on 19 December 1997 in the US.
Who directed Tomorrow Never Dies?
Tomorrow Never Dies was directed by Roger Spottiswoode.
Who played James Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies?
Pierce Brosnan played James Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies. It was his second of five Bond movies.
Who played the villain in Tomorrow Never Dies?
British actor Jonathan Pryce played the villain in Tomorrow Never Dies. His character’s name was Elliot Carver, a media mogul who tried to play East against West to try and build his media empire.
Who played Bond’s love interest in Tomorrow Never Dies?
There was a few, but the main Bond girl was Wai Lin. Played by Michelle Yeoh Wai Lin is a Chinese agent and she and Bond work together. Bond is also connected with his old flame and villain Elliot Carver’s wife, Paris.
What is the plot of Tomorrow Never Dies?
In Tomorrow Never Dies, James Bond must stop media mogul Elliot Carver from starting a war between China and the UK in order to boost his ratings.
What is the theme song for Tomorrow Never Dies?
The theme song is sung by Sheryl Crow and is titled Tomorrow Never Dies.
What is the running time of Tomorrow Never Dies?
The running time of Tomorrow Never Dies is 119 minutes.
Where was Tomorrow Never Dies filmed?
Tomorrow Never Dies was filmed in locations such as the UK, Thailand, Germany and Mexico.