Tomorrow Never Dies

1997, PG-13, 119 min. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Michelle Yeoh, Jonathan Pryce, Teri Hatcher, Judi Dench, Desmond Llewelyn.

REVIEWED By Russell Smith, Fri., Dec. 19, 1997

Spottiswoode, current altar boy for the revered 007 movie franchise, has boldly gambled on saving the redundancy-mired series by reinventing one of its most sacred elements: the Bond Girl. Michelle Yeoh, familiar to Hong Kong movie fans as the diminutive, razor-wire action goddess from the Heroic Trio and Police Story series, is radically unlike any of the pillowy vinyl love dolls who've preceded her in this role. But goodgodalmighty is she a welcome change! As Chinese Col. Wai Lin, Bond's uneasy collaborator in his latest world-saving adventure, she becomes what none of his other female costars have been: a true sidekick and rival, not just a receptacle for his gin- and vermouth-infused bodily fluids. Bond (Brosnan) hooks up with Wai while pursuing a power-mad media baron named Elliot Carver (Pryce) who's trying to start a war between China and the Western alliance. Using his foreknowledge of the events, Carver (a chimerical blend of Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates) plans to dominate the breaking story with his worldwide satellite news network. That's right; in our post-Cold War era, “the media” is now a global menace beside which the supervillains of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. are lowly bush leaguers. Before Yeoh's arrival on the scene, Tomorrow cruises on languid autopilot, breezing past the inevitable touchstones of exotic opening titles, socko action intro, Q's new gadgets, etc. It's far from unenjoyable, but the dank shroud of the overfamiliar lies heavy over all, kind of like watching an Elvis concert circa 1976. Brosnan, visually perfect as he is for the role, can't break through the gathering ennui alone. Though he's able to register a few emotions previous Bonds couldn't or wouldn't (boyish glee for one), he lacks a certain vital spark. He's just a bit too debonair, I guess I'm saying. Almost as troubling -- and this is said in total deference to the virility of spy cinema's ultimate mack daddy character -- he sometimes runs like a girl in those slick-soled Italian shoes of his. Yeoh changes the whole dynamic, though. With her electrifying physicality, no-bull persona, and athletic eroticism (a fully clothed shower scene after one long chase scene is one of the sexiest moments in any Bond movie), she adds a hot gush of estrogen energy to every frame she's in. Her presence opens new stylistic vistas for Spottiswoode, who stages some gonzo action dustups that Ringo Lam or Stanley Tong might appreciate. Best of all, even pretty boy Brosnan looks and behaves like a different man around her. By the end of the film, he's flailing around, caked in sweat and blood with his hairy pecs bristling from a ripped shirt. Spent shells are flying from his machine gun, blood squibs are erupting in crimson symphony and a sort of idiot action bliss suffuses everything. And when he and Yeoh (yes, it's pronounced yow) finally exchange the traditional end-credits kiss, you may even find yourself actively looking forward to the next installment in this revitalized series.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Roger Spottiswoode Films
A Street Cat Named Bob
An addict's life is saved by a feline friend

Steve Davis, Nov. 18, 2016

The Children of Huang Shi
This would-be epic tells the story of George Hogg, an English adventurer who saved the lives of Chinese orphans during the Sino-Japanese War of the 1930s and Forties.

Josh Rosenblatt, June 27, 2008

More by Russell Smith
Juwanna Mann

June 28, 2002

Wrong Numbers

June 7, 2002


Tomorrow Never Dies, Roger Spottiswoode, Pierce Brosnan, Michelle Yeoh, Jonathan Pryce, Teri Hatcher, Judi Dench, Desmond Llewelyn

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle