“Goldeneye” went a long way to reviving the Bond series after the two dull Timothy Dalton episodes. So one would expect that “Tomorrow Never Dies,” featuring Pierce Brosnan as the fifth actor to play the world saving, British super agent, would be a snap for success. Not so. Unfortunately the creators of the latest Bond chapter are not as adept to pulling innovation from their caps as easily as Mr. Bond slips from the clutches of imminent death. They’ve turned Jonathan Pryce into an absolute, two-dimensional caricature of the classic Bond villain: he’s maniacal, wants world domination and already has an army of henchmen along with a boatload of cash. Without a Cold War to lean on, Pryce’s evil seed of the 1990’s is rendered as a mad media mogul who feels the need to incite a war between China and Britain in order to keep his ratings up — what ever happen to good old megalomaniacs like Blofeld?
The rest of the film’s trimmings are equally contrived, as the plot thrashes about, languishing for stunt opportunities. Michelle Yeoh is a the lone bright star as the Chinese operative who occasionally, and rewardingly, resorts to Jackie Chan styled chop socky combat. The biggest loser is Teri Hatcher as Pryce’s wife and brief Bond fling — it’s the type of minuscule role that’s traditionally been reserved for an anonymous beauty who is bed before she is abruptly discarded. Brosnan is his usual pillar of charismatic dignity, though he struggles against the frivolous texture of the inane story line — imagine Sean Connery faced with the whimsical, almost absurd conventions Roger Moore had to dance to in his later installments. “Tomorrow Never Dies,” like the commercial marketing assault the Bond cast has been involved in, is a hollow experience that’s egregiously trumped up by its high energy glitz and gimmickry. Somewhere, in their rush to amaze and thrill, the filmmakers forgot about Bond, the man.