Bond is off to Spain, Azerbaijan and Turkey, along the way becoming embroiled in a dastardly plot to destroy the King oil pipeline. But can Mel take pleasure in great beauty?
As I remove the DVD from the box set I show Mel how far through our odyssey we are – and how little is left. I point out that to get this far it’s not even taken us two years.
“It feels like about four,” she replies.
We find Bond crossing a road in Bilbao, Spain. He is wearing glasses on screen for the first time. As a sometimes bespectacled gentleman myself, I do like seeing 007 wearing specs. It helps lift some of the stigma from my people.
Our hero is meeting some Swiss bankers about returning some money to Sir Robert King. In their office a young lady offers him a cigar.
Mel says, “Here we go. Sluttily-dressed woman handing out phallic objects.”
Cigar Girl then offers to let Bond check her figures.
“I’m sure they’re perfectly rounded,” he replies.
“Urrrgghh. That’s not sexual harassment is it? So offensive. Do you think they think it’s OK for him to be sexist because he’s handsome?” asks Mel. “Is that what they’re saying?”
Bond has to fight his way out of the bank, and escapes back to MI6 headquarters. He tells Moneypenny he’s brought her a souvenir from his trip.
“Chocolates?” asks Miss Moneypenny.
“Chlamydia,” replies Mel.
Sir Robert King is blown up by his own booby-trapped money. The explosion blows a hole in the side of the MI6 building. Bond jumps in Q’s boat and is launched onto the Thames.
“I hope they can really do that,” says Mel, and I feel that for once we are thinking the same thing while watching a Bond movie.
Bond chases Cigar Girl’s boat along the Thames, until she blocks the way and he has to use the sat-nav.
“This is no time to watch EastEnders!”
Cigar Girl steals a hot air balloon from the Millennium Dome, with 007 hanging from guide rope. Cigar Girl blows herself up rather than reveal to 007 who she is working for. Bond rolls down the Dome, hurting his shoulder on the way down.
“I don’t like this song,” says Mrs. M of Garbage’s entry into the annals of Bond themes.
At MI6’s Scottish HQ, on the shores of Loch Lomond, Bond has been placed on the inactive roster due to his shoulder injury. He seduces the Secret Service’s physician, Doctor Warmflash.
“It would have to be a sexy doctor. It couldn’t just be a normal doctor. She’s very unprofessional; what about doctor/patient boundaries? I hate the way all women are portrayed as available to him.”
After Bond has a thorough check-up from the doctor, we see Q working away on a computer.
“Here’s Q, doing the work he’s paid for, while James Bond is shagging.”
Q introduces the young fellow he’s grooming to replace him. ‘R’ is asked to demonstrate a jacket that inflates into a big protective ball.
“I bet he ends up shagging in that,” Mel predicts.
“You’re not retiring soon. Are you?” asks Bond.
The Quartermaster replies that he has always tried to teach 007 two things: Never let them see you bleed, and always have an escape route. Q lowers himself on the ramp as the two old friends hold each other’s gaze.
” Aww. I love Q.”
I tell Mel this scene has added poignancy as Q actor Desmond Llewelyn sadly died in car accident about three weeks after this film was released. We rewind and watch the scene again. Mel’s beautiful green eyes glisten with tears as we bid a final farewell to the stalwart Major Boothroyd.
Bond hits the computer himself, doing a bit of research on King’s daughter, Electra. But when he tries to open her file, a message appears on the screen saying, ‘ACCESS DENIED.’
Mel says, “He doesn’t often get that.”
At a briefing we learn that Electra has previously been kidnapped by a terrorist called Renard. 009 shot him in the head, and the bullet is slowly killing Renard, but making him stronger and faster all the time until then.
Mel has a lovely singing voice, and now treats me to a rendition of Kanye West’s Stronger:
“That, that, that, that don’t kill me,
Will only make me stronger.”
Doctor Warmflash has certified Bond as fit for service, praising his stamina.
“Huh. He was only in there five minutes. So unprofessional. She’s letting her whole profession down.”
M’s plan is to use King’s daughter, Electra, as bait to get Renard. She sends Bond out to shadow Electra. It’s an odd quirk of the Brosnan movies that M includes instructions about 007 who he can sleep with in her orders. In GoldenEye Moneypenny’s message to Bond says, “M authorises you to observe Miss Onatopp but stipulates no… contact without prior approval.” While in Tomorrow Never Dies her intention is clearly that he should seduce his old flame Paris (“Use your relationship with Mrs. Carver if necessary.” “Remind her. Then pump her for information.”). Now she is telling Bond to ‘”Remember: shadows stay in front or behind. Never on top.”
I point out to Mel that M is only ruling out the missionary position there. Bond could still use the other sex position.
He jets off to Turkey and meets Electra. She is dismissive of MI6’s help, as they have let her down twice before. When she announces that she will go skiing to check the pipelines Bond insists on accompanying her.
Electra relents, “You don’t take no for an answer do you?”
Mel tells her, “No he doesn’t. He’s a borderline rapist.”
Electra asks if Bond knows how to ski.
“He knows how to do —-ing everything. And he never eats.”
The title The World is Not Enough comes from the Bond story On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (the term is is the Bond family motto, Orbis non sufficit). I’ve always thought there’s a subtle reference to that film when Electra asks James if he ever lost anyone, which immediately recalls the loss of his wife, Tracy. This is shortly followed by scenes of them skiing together that evoke memories of Bond and Tracy escaping Blofeld and his SPECTRE goons.
According to The World is Not Enough: A Companion by Iain Johnstone (Boxtree, 1999), Electra King is somewhat based on Tracy Bond. “[Screenwriter Robert] Wade said she was a very strong inspiration for the character of Elektra in The World is Not Enough, because she is a rich man’s daughter who is out to prove herself and Bond is on a mission to look after this girl, whom he at first finds vulnerable and then not so vulnerable.”
“The fire looks odd against the white of the snow doesn’t it?”
After fighting off an assassination attempt by some men in parahawks, Bond and Electra are caught in a small avalanche. 007 activates the protective ball demonstrated by Q and R earlier.
“As I said last time, Q always designs the very thing needed. James Bond has never needed a coat that turns into a giant inflatable ball before.”
An interesting fact from The World is Not Enough: A Companion is that:
“The scene in which Bond is given the latest MI6 gadgetry which will save him in his hour of need is always put at the end of the shooting schedule. The reason is simple. During the film Bond may have used many devices, some of which will have landed up on the cutting room floor because they don’t prove wholly effective or for reasons of length. So the meeting in which Bond is instructed in and equipped with his invaluable lifesavers is logically shot when the film-makers already know which ones he is going to use.”
Renard is meeting Electra’s head of security, Davidoff, and one of his men, Arkov.
Mel doesn’t find the world’s greatest terrorist all that threatening. “He doesn’t look that hard does he? Apart from holding those burning rocks,” she says.
Renard can’t feel anything, so the burning rocks don’t bother him. But they hurt Davidoff when he puts one in his hand. I suggest to Mel he needs some cool water to soothe his scorched palms.
After a night at Valentin’s casino, where Electra lost $1 million a game of single-card draw, we find her and Bond in bed together.
“Drunken sex party.”
“Don’t feel special, lass. Many have been where you are now.”
Bond is explaining that he copes with his lifestyle by ‘taking pleasure in great beauty.”
I turn to my beloved and say the same thing.
“Don’t use one his lines on me. EVER,” she replies.
I suggest that if I’d said that to her before she knew it was a Bond line she’d have loved it.
Bond sort of gets caught up in taking Davidoff’s place when he kills the head of security, and takes a trip to a nuclear facility that is being decommissioned by Doctor Christmas Jones.
“Oh, yeah. In a vest top and hot pants.”
Mel is still feeling musical and sings a blast of Aqua’s classic Doctor Jones.
Bond doesn’t use his opportunity to shoot Renard in the head, and ends up in a firefight. He and Christmas escape the bunker.
“Is she supposed to look like Tomb Raider? That would have been popular then wouldn’t it?”
Meanwhile Electra is on the videophone to M. She explains that Davidoff and Bond have gone missing and makes a heartfelt appeal for the spymaster to join her in Istanbul.
Mel regards Electra suspiciously. “It’s a trap. She’s in on this,” she decides.
Bond gets back to Electra’s house and he’s equally convinced of Electra’s complicity. They go to King’s HQ and meet M. It seems a nuclear bomb is shooting through the King oil pipeline.
“Now do you believe me?” asks Electra.
“No,” says Mel. “No I don’t.”
Bond and Jones race off to stop the bomb. M reassures Electra Bond is her best agent, but that she would never tell him that.
I ask Mel why she thinks she won’t tell Bond that. Will he get complacent?
“He’d want a pay-rise.”
I ask if Mel feels like she’s got something in common with Bond, as she’s the best lawyer around. She’s never lost a case.
“I’ve never won a case either, Mark. I don’t do that kind of law.”
Yup, I continue proudly, never lost a case.
Mel and Bond are vindicated when Miss King reveals to M that she is indeed evil. M responds with a slap to Electra’s face.
“Good lass. Give her a —-ing slap.”
Bond and Christmas Jones let the pipeline bomb explode so the blackhats think they’ve died.
“Someone’s gonna have my ass,” says Jones.
“First thing’s first,” replies Bond.
“Uurgghh,” says Mel.
Renard arrives at Maiden’s Tower, Electra’s base. She eagerly runs to the window .
Mel says, “She’s like an excited puppy.”
Bond and Christmas go to see Valentin. Bond has realised that the million Electra lost at the Russian’s casino was a pay-off for some business.
Valentin says to Bond, “I thought you were the one giving her the business.”
“They talk about her like she’s a piece of meat,” says Mel.
Christmas has changed out of her work gear and into a dress.
“Why is she dressed like a stripper at all times? does she not own a pair of trousers?
To be fair, I say, you don’t see many Bond girls in trousers.
“No. And you should ask yourself some questions about that.”
I think for a moment. Pussy Galore wore trousers. And Wai-Lin. Maybe Lupe?
After an attack from some helicopters with circular saws dangling under them, Valetin takes them to an FSB office. Christmas is wearing trousers.
“She must have heard me.”
M is being held in a cell. Electra pops her head round the door to say good morning. To get her hands on a little alarm clock that Renard left out, M asks the villainess what the time is.
“Time for you to die,” Electra replies.
“That’s like Goldfinger,” says Mel. “I EXPECT YOU TO DIE!”
M has the tracking chip from the nuclear bomb, and uses the clock’s battery to send out an SOS on an emergency channel.
“You don’t get where she is by just being a pretty face. She’s great. I love her.”
Electra unveils an antique torture chair and has some henchmen strap Bond into it. By tightening a wheel on the back, the pressure is increased on the agent’s neck.
Mel shudders. “That is the worst way to be killed,” she says.
Worse than being eaten by piranhas? I ask.
Worse than being cut in half through the groin with a laser?
Worse than your head exploding due to sudden decompression?
“Yes. Strangulation is my worst nightmare. I hate the feeling of anything around my neck.”
Electra is taking her time and straddles the stricken spy seductively in the strangulation seat.
“Freaky. Weird. Shit.”
Valentin arrives, but is shot by Electra. His dying act is to take a shot at Bond, which actually unlocks the choking chair, while making it look like he was trying kill his old enemy. Bond runs after Electra.
“I don’t think he will kill her.”
“I just don’t think he will.”
Bond corners Electra and has his gun trained on her. Mel is quite frustrated at 007’s hesitation.
“Do it now! Just kill her now! Why is he waiting? WHY DOESN’T HE SHOOT HER, MARK?”
Bond kills her, complete with a cool line.
“He would have been weak if he hadn’t.”
Bond dives down to board Renard’s stolen Russian nuclear submarine. Christmas has been kidnapped and is also aboard. Bond’s interference crashes the sub headfirst into the seabed, and she’s taking on water.
“Here we go. Wet T-shirt competition.”
Bond is fighting Renard in the reactor room.
Mel says, “Bond’s a bit weak. Daniel Craig would have made short work of him.”
Bond tells Renard that Electra is dead. This infuriates the henchman, who fights back with renewed vigour.
“That was the wrong thing to say. Stupid idiot. Him and his bloody ego.”
Bond kills Renard by finding a control that ejects the plutonium back out of its housing at lethal speed. He and Christmas swim back to the surface as the sub explodes.
“They are obviously going to have sex very soon. He hasn’t had sex for about half an hour. There’s probably going to be some dogging too.”
Bond hasn’t has had time to contact MI6. But he has had time to either go back for his dinner jacket or be fitted for a new one, and is taking Christmas out for a drink.
“I’ve always wanted to have Christmas in Turkey,” he says.
Mel says, “Urrggh. Everything he says to women is minging.”
Back at MI6 M and her staff are trying to locate Bond with thermal imaging. They see a very hot body on the screen, then zoom in to reveal that it is actually two bodies.
“Back to shagging away with an audience.”
“I thought Christmas only comes once a year,” says Bond
“Urgh. You’d better make this up to me. Two years of watching these. It makes me want to punch you.”
Mel will return… Watching Die Another Day.
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