THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH (United Artists, 1999)

Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

★★★1/2  The nineteenth James Bond film produced by Eon Productions. US release date: November 19, 1999. Budget: $135 million. Worldwide box office gross: $361.7 million (US domestic gross: $126.9 million; international gross: $234.8 million).[1] Running time: 128 minutes.

The Setup

To retrieve money for oil tycoon Sir Robert King (David Calder), a friend of M (Dame Judi Dench), James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) journeys to a Swiss bank in Bilbao, Spain. However, the banker is killed and, unbeknownst to Bond, the money is booby-trapped. When 007 returns with it to London, King is killed by the resulting explosion inside MI6 headquarters. Bond eventually traces the deadly bank notes to Victor “Renard” Zokas (Robert Carlyle), a KGB agent turned terrorist. Following an earlier attempt on his life by MI6, Renard was left with a bullet in his brain that is gradually destroying his senses, making him immune to pain. Bond is assigned to protect King’s daughter, Elektra (Sophie Marceau) against Renard, who had previously kidnapped her. He teams up with nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) to foil Renard’s latest attempt at nuclear terrorism.

Behind the Scenes

After the crummy Tomorrow Never Dies, the producers came back strong with this epic Bond adventure, which is sweeping in scope, intelligent in its plotting, and, thanks to director Michael Apted, full of interesting characters and situations. Pierce Brosnan plays a truly beaten-down Bond, who shows the strain of his double-0 job more acutely than any 007 had in decades. Timothy Dalton had moments like this, especially in Licence to Kill, but he just couldn’t inspire audiences with his physicality. Brosnan is a much more credible action hero, which plays perfectly off his moments of humanizing failure.

In fact, the film begins with a spectacular defeat for Bond. Not only does he carry a bomb into MI6 headquarters—killing a prominent British businessman and taking out a chunk of the building in the process—but also he fails to capture the killer who ignited it. And not for lack of trying; there’s a fantastic boat chase on the Thames between 007 and the knockout Maria Grazia Cucinotta, who turned many heads in Il Postino (1994). Saddled with sour feelings, a dislocated collarbone, and a desire for his own special brand of revenge, Bond gets his chance when he’s assigned to protect the stunning but conflicted Elektra King, portrayed by Sophie Marceau, the most interesting woman in the Bond series since Pussy Galore. Suffering from Stockholm syndrome, Elektra has actually fallen in love with the man who kidnapped her—the villainous Renard. Though a true madman, he too comes across as sympathetic, robbed of the ability to feel both pain and pleasure by the bullet that’s slowly killing him.

Speaking at a press conference in Hong Kong prior to the film’s premiere, Brosnan described The World Is Not Enough as a strong note on which to end the Bond saga of the 1990s. He credited the film’s success to his “wonderful rapport” with director Michael Apted, who collaborated with his lead actor to create “a film that has character and style and wit and charm.” He marveled at the development of the series since his first film, GoldenEye—of which many observers were initially skeptical. “That’s a good progression, good growth in character, confidence, and assuredness,” he said. Though he expressed an eagerness to continue on as Bond, he acknowledged the need for a break, saying, “I’d like to have time for recovery beginning of next year, make a couple of my own films.” And whatever was to come for him (one more Bond film, Die Another Day, as it turned out), he seemed to see his first three movies as a satisfying whole: “GoldenEye was act 1. Tomorrow Never Dies was act 2, act 3 is this. I’m very happy.”[2]

Some critics persisted in their negativity, especially when it came to Denise Richards as nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones. But she’s a fun character if taken in the proper spirit—she’s gorgeous, looks great in hiking shorts, and doesn’t embarrass herself delivering some complicated scientific jargon. High points of the movie include the fabulous boat-chase teaser; Elektra King’s torture chair, which puts Bond in the type of dire straits we haven’t seen since his privates were threatened by Goldfinger’s laser beam; the title song by Garbage; and Robbie Coltrane’s inspired black-marketeer Valentin Zukovsky, returning to the 007 fold with some choice repartee. The only major low point is the Parahawk hang-glider chase, which lacks credibility, leaning heavily on the pyrotechnic effect of blasting machine guns—which never manage to hit Bond. Do they ever?


The Cast
James Bond Pierce Brosnan
Elektra King Sophie Marceau
Victor “Renard” Zokas Robert Carlyle
Dr. Christmas Jones Denise Richards
Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky Robbie Coltrane
M Dame Judi Dench
Q Desmond Llewelyn
R John Cleese
Julietta the Cigar Girl Maria Grazia Cucinotta
Miss Moneypenny Samantha Bond
Bill Tanner Michael Kitchen
Charles Robinson Colin Salmon
Mr. Bullion Goldie
Sir Robert King David Calder
Dr. Molly Warmflash Serena Scott Thomas
Chief of Security Sasha Davidov Ulrich Thomsen
Gabor John Seru
Dr, Mikhail Arkov Jeff Nuttall
Coptic Priest Diran Meghreblian
Nina Daisy Beaumont
Verushka Nina Muschallik


The Crew
Crew Member
Director Michael Apted
Screenplay Neal Purvis
Robert Wade
Bruce Feirstein
Story by Neal Purvis
Robert Wade
Producers Barbara Broccoli
Michael G. Wilson
Associate Producer Nigel Goldsack
Director of Photography Adrian Biddle
Music by David Arnold
Title song performed by Garbage
Production Designer Peter Lamont
Costume Designer Lindy Hemming
Line Producer Anthony Waye
Production Coordinator Elena Zokas
Second Unit Director Vic Armstrong
Casting Debbie McWilliams
Stunt Coordinator Simon Crane
Aerial Coordinator Marc Wolff
Title Designer Daniel Kleinman
Special-Effects Supervisor Chris Corbould
Miniatures John Richardson
Editor Jim Clark

[1] “The World is Not Enough (1999),” The Numbers, accessed July 20, 2020,

[2] Special features, The World Is Not Enough, James Bond Ultimate Edition (1999; MGM, 2006), DVD.


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