"There's no point in living if you can't feel alive."
— Elektra King
The one where Denise Richards plays a nuclear physicist.In Pierce Brosnan's third James Bond outing, Bond is assigned to watch over a once-kidnapped daughter of a Ruritanian oil baron after he dies securing money for her release. "Renard the Anarchist" is quickly deduced to be the likely culprit. MI6 tried to assassinate him before, but you can't keep a good terrorist down: it only resulted in lodging a bullet in Renard's brain, which is slowly killing him as it moves inwards but is also destroying all of his senses. Renard can't smell or taste anything and, crucially, he can't feel pain.Meanwhile, four rival oil pipelines are being built across Eurasia. The mogul's daughter, Elektra King, owns the British pipeline and is everyone's favourite heiress, meaning that Bond needs to protect her, though something just doesn't add up with her plans.Features:
Bond jumping out of a window.
The Q we knew and loved leaves.
Bond driving a speedboat out of the MI6 building.
A rather good ski chase.
A horrible pun for one of the Bond girls.
Bond shoots a woman in cold blood; a rarity.
This film contains examples of:
Action Insurance Gag: After his caviar factory is destroyed during a fight between Bond and some villains, Valentin Zukovsky laments "The insurance company is never going to believe this!"
Actually Pretty Funny: When Dr Christmas Jones gives Bond her name, she says "Don't make any jokes, I've heard them all". Bond replies with "No, I don't know any 'doctor' jokes". Jones looks up at him in a way that suggests that she hasn't heard that one before, and is at least slightly impressed by his quick and original wit.
Arc Words: "There's no point in living if you can't feel alive." Hearing Renard say this at gunpoint is the clue Bond needs to realise he and Elektra (who told him the same thing earlier, ipsis litteris) are working together.
Even IF the bullet in Renard's head could suppress his ability to feel pain (more than likely he'd be comatose), that does NOT simply grant him immunity from any damage. When he picks up the burning rock, his hand would still have had the skin burned off, just like Davidov (while Davidov's hand is totally bandaged in his next scene, Renard's hand remains unmarked for the rest of the film).
Bond and Jones launching themselves from the bottom of the Black Sea to the surface via a torpedo tube would have given both of them a horrifically painful and potentially lethal case of the bends.
Renard gets hold of the plutonium sphere from a bomb, forms it into a rod, and tries to insert it into the reactor of a submarine and cause a meltdown. Among the reasons this would never work: weapons-grade plutonium is less radioactive than reactor-grade plutonium. The reason you don't use reactor-grade Pu in a bomb is that the nuclear reaction will blow it to pieces part of the way through the detonation process, and you'll only get a small explosion.
Not to mention that Bond and Renard handle the plutonium bar with their bare hands. A rod of Pu that size would weigh at least 50 pounds, which is big enough to be a critical mass. It would be exceptionally hot to the touch, and also would be emitting lots of neutron radiation. Canadian physicist Louis Slotin was killed handling a much smaller critical mass of plutonium in a 1946 experimental accident; Slotin received a fatal dose in less than one second, and died of radiation sickness nine days later. The fact that Bond straddles the rod briefly may be a very subtle kind of Lampshade Hanging on why, in spite of his proclivities, James Bond never gets any Father's Day cards.
The reactor of the 1967-vintage nuclear sub had fuel assemblies (that plutonium rod) which could be manually inserted and removed. That's not how a Russian sub reactor is designed (though it is closer to certain heavy water power reactors.) To refuel the sub, they first need to shut down the reactor for 90 days so the fuel is not too hot from a radioactive and thermal standpoint. Then they cut open part of the sub's outside hull to remove the fuel assemblies. Big job, needed once every 5 to 10 years. The bullet stuck in the Renard's brain would have killed him by then and the audience would be quite bored.
As You Know: Bond explains to Jones that since the reactor room is flooded, they needn't worry about the imminent reactor explosion destroying Istanbul. Bond and Jones need only escape the explosion itself to survive. This is obviously not something that needs be explained to a nuclear physicist, so the line was put in there for the audience's sake.
Asshole Victim: Sir Robert turned out to be kind of a jackass, all things considered. On a less spoilery note, Mr Lachaise qualifies, too.
Bald of Evil: Renard, and, apparently, every member of his terrorist ring.
Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Heavily implied with Elektra, whether she was corrupted by Renard, or seduced him into her evil plot because she was so incensed at her father's refusal to rescue her.
Berserk Button: It was bad enough that Elektra betrayed James. But they made the mistake of kidnapping M.
Bond provides his own epitaph in the torture chair. "One last screw?", indeed.
Uniquely, the villain gets a one-liner of his own: Renard, tipped off on Bond's injury, quips, "I knew you couldn't shoulder the responsibility" before pushing down on it, causing Bond to shrivel up in agony.
And how could you forget the groan-inducing "I thought Christmas only came once a year" line?
While talking to the new Q, Bond puts on a pair of blue-ish sunglasses and looks him up and down, smirking slightly but never acknowledging it. An hour later in the film we see that those are X-ray glasses that let him see through clothing.
The first thing Zukovsky says to Bond is that he fears the latter's presence means he is not carrying enough insurance. After he and Bond narrowly escape the destruction of the caviar production facility, much later on, he despairs that "The insurance company is never going to believe this!"
Briefcase Full of Money: Which explodes in Sir Robert's face. Bond later discovers that somebody swapped Robert's lapel pin for a detonator, meaning that they wanted King to glimpse the cash before dying.
Consolation Backfire: A caviar factory owned by Bond's former enemy turned ally Valentin Zukovsky is the site of a lengthy battle between Bond and several mooks. While surveying the damage done to the factory after the battle ends, Zukovsky comments to his assistant that, "we may not have a roof, but at least, we still have four good walls." Seconds later, all four walls simultaneously collapse.
Valentin Zukovsky: The insurance company is NOT going to believe this!
Elektra asks Bond if he has ever lost a loved one. The uncomfortable look on his face and the manner in which he changes the subject is a dead give-away to long-time Bond fans. (As a bonus , to shorter-term Bond fans, it could also refer to Bond's Old Flame Paris Carver being murdered in the previous film.)
In the Scottish MI6 headquarters, there is a painting on the wall of Bernard Lee, the original M.
Cool Boat: The Q-Boat. Q claims it was never intended for service, and that it's his personal fishing boat(!).
Chronically Crashed Car \ Doomed Upgrade: Sure, he gets to drive around in it a bit and fire a missile at a helicopter, but it barely lasts a minute on screen. (and BMW reacted with Stunned Silence when the filmmakers declared their intention with the vehicle was to saw it in half...)
Main villain terrorist Renard has a bullet lodged in his brain from a previous encounter with an MI6 operative, but survived the assassination attempt. The bullet is still moving and will eventually kill him, giving him a perpetual reminder that his death is imminent.
There's also a jump to action version next to Renard's fatalistic one. To get revenge on M he assures her that he'll kill her the next day after she's been captured, and puts a clock in front of her cell so she can see the hours ticking by to make her experience what he feels like.
Disability Superpower: Renard's bullet wound is killing off his senses and will kill him eventually, but in the meantime it's effectively given him super-human stamina and disproportionate strength for a man his size.
Distressed Dude: Bond gets put into a torture machine that slowly strangles him and will break his neck if pulled far enough.
Empty Quiver: The theft of plutonium from the decommissioned missile silo in Kazakhstan.
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Renard seems to have fallen in love with Elektra after she initially seduced him when he held her hostage. She had to cut off part of her ear herself because he became reluctant to hurt her and he's enraged when Bond tells him he killed her. Although Renard and Elektra are lovers in the present, the feeling is not quite as mutual as Elektra remains fairly cold towards him throughout the film. Whether she's too emotionally damaged to love anyone, still quite justifiably hates him or is just manipulating Renard is open to interpretation.
Friendly Enemy: Bond and Zukovsky. Despite disliking each other at their last meeting in GoldenEye, and still distrustful of each other here, Zukovsky instantly joins forces with Bond when he realises the extent of Elektra and Renard's depravity, and, in fact, dies saving Bond's life.
Groin Attack: Bond drops Renard groin-first onto a pipe at one point, but because Renard can Feel No Pain, it only slows him down for a second.
Hoist By Her Own Petard: Elektra tries to seduce Bond as a means towards furthering her own plans for revenge against MI6. Although initially successful, Bond catches on pretty early in the film, but even during their final confrontation in Instanbul as he holds her at gunpoint if she fails to stop Renard herself, Elektra still insists that she means too much to Bond for him to bring himself to kill her. Guess who's proven wrong when she defies him for the last time.
Hollywood Density: That plutonium rod should have been a lot heavier than the actors treated it.
Hot Scientist: Dr Jones seems to be a graduate of that little-known school, The Graduate School Of Hot Babes of which Lara Croft is an alumna.
Hospital Hottie: Bond convinces the MI6 doctor to clear him for duty, provided he stays in close contact and shows sufficient stamina.
Is Nothing Sacred?: Zukovsky has a variant, "Is nothing straight?", which he asks both on the corruption he has to deal with as a gangster in post-Soviet Russia and on seeing a crooked wall painting.
Just a Stupid Accent: When Bond infiltrates a nuclear silo held by the bad guys, he poses as a Russian nuclear scientist, complete with heavy accent. However, when Christmas comments on his remarkably good English in Russian, he delivers a reasonable reply in Russian that is unaccented enough to pass without comment. Didn't stop her from digging deeper, though.
A mook in Bilbao is about to shoot James, when the latter spots a red dot on his chest.
After MI6 is bombed and James is looking out of the hole in the building wall, he sees a laser sight just in time to duck out of the way. The shooter was located on a boat, about 300-400 meters away, with a G36 equipped with a scope. And she missed.
Last Breath Bullet: Zukovsky does this, spending his cane-gun's single bullet to enable Bond's escape from a slow-death machine.
Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: M is locked in a cell filled with random junk and isn't searched prior to her imprisonment. She isn't armed, but she has the tracking chip from a stolen nuke, which they surely would have found if they had bothered to search her. Combined with the battery from a clock left outside the cell and a broom in there with her, she's able to activate the chip and alert Bond.
Love Interest Traitor: The trope name alone is a spoiler, never mind who it refers to, but suffice to say that James Bond receives a nasty surprise over the course of the movie. Namely that Elekra King, his Love Interest, is in fact the Big Bad.
Made of Explodium: Most notably the ski mobiles, but also other things like a helicopter or two. Averted in some cases like the assassin's boat, which is merely wrecked by appropriately sized explosions when it's hit by two torpedoes.
Made of Iron: Bond spends the entire movie (save the cold open) with an injured shoulder. This only ever seems to bother him once, when Renard deliberately attacks it. Granted, with the amount of punishment Bond absorbs in one movie alone, let alone in his entire career, that cracked collarbone probably feels like a shaving cut until it's deliberately struck.
My Greatest Failure: M laments on having failed Elektra and her father; when Elektra was kidnapped by Renard, M followed the agency's policy to not negotiate with terrorists, ignoring the ransom demand. This leads Sir Robert to try and rescue his daughter himself... it doesn't end well. Come the time of the movie, this really comes back to bite everyone in the rear end. And I'm not talking about Renard.
Never Heard That One Before: Subverted: Dr Christmas Jones tells Bond at their first meeting that she doesn't want him to make any jokes about her name, but he mentions that he doesn't "know any doctor jokes".
Oedipus Complex: Electra Complex, rather. Literally. Although Electra hated her father rather than being attracted to him. This also plays into her relationship with Renard, even though he's not much older—watch the positively girlish way that she runs to the window to see him arriving, flings herself into his arms when he enters, then leads him off to present the captive M to him as a gift
Post Rape Taunt: As Bond prepares to execute the villain Renard, the latter quickly picks up on Bond's feelings for Elektra and taunts him thus:
Renard: "She's beautiful, isn't she? You should have had her before, when she was innocent. How does it feel to know I broke her in for you?"
Power Glows: The fuel rods in the submarine reactor glow red. The Plutonium Rod glows blue when it's being extruded.
Bond attempts one earlier, remarking "See you back at the lodge" after tricking a pursuing Parahawk into driving off a cliff - but it turns out to be premature, as the pilot deploys a spare chute, and flies back into the action. Could also count as a Call Back to the pre-titles sequence in The Spy Who Loved Me, where it's Bond who uses that trick.
Pretty in Mink: Elektra's crimson red ski outfit, complete with a giant fur hat.
Reality Ensues: Bond is, first and foremost, an agent of MI6 and will do anything for his country — the man is licensed to kill, after all. Elektra thought she could get around this by playing on his affections. She was wrong.
Recycled Premise: It might not be apparent as the villains' personalities are completely different, but the evil scheme in this film is effectively a modern update of the one in Goldfinger. Both involve the nuclear destruction of a massive store of a precious resource, with tens of thousands of civilian casualties, in order to massively drive up the price of said resource, allowing the villains, with huge stakes, to become the wealthiest people in the world.
Red Right Hand: Renard has a big scar on his forehead from a bullet's entry wound, with said bullet still slowly drilling into his brain. Also, Elektra's right earlobe is missing, and she covers the mutilation with a large earring. She actually cut it off herself so that Renard, whom she had seduced into working with her by that point, could send it to her father as a warning.
Shoot Out the Lock: Impressively, Bond manages to do this to the door to M's cell when he's standing outside the room (making it so his gun is parallel to the door) and only briefly pauses because he's in the middle of a chase.
Too Dumb to Live: Bond's execution of Elektra King. Bond told her, at gunpoint, to call off the sub. She instead takes the opportunity to tell Renard to dive - the exact opposite of what Bond wanted her to do. This is after she just spent a few minutes taunting him about how he wouldn't kill her. Smug Snake, Genre Blind and Tempting Fate all in one? She deserved to get shot.
Wham Episode: One of the better plot twist ideas of the Bond franchise: what if a Bond Girl was the Big Bad?
What the Hell, Hero?: Renard of all people delivers this to the captive M, when she chides him for corrupting Elektra, pointing out that he would never have had the chance to do so if MI6 had rescued her.