"Words are the new weapons; satellites, the new artillery."
— Elliot Carver
The one where James Bond beats up Rupert Murdoch.Tomorrow Never Dies is the 18th James Bond film, and the second starring Pierce Brosnan.A British warship and a Chinese aircraft are destroyed off the shore of China, an incident that threatens to ignite all-out war between the two countries. The British claim that their GPS locator showed they were in International Waters, causing MI6 to suspect foul play.The clues point towards the Carver Media Group Network, a worldwide media empire owned by Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce). James Bond is sent to investigate Carver and his organisation to find out if someone is engineering War for Fun and Profit; a task that sees him crossing paths with Chinese secret agent Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh).After the more introspective tone of GoldenEye, TND eases back into the Connery-esque "classic Bond" formula beat-for-beat, with one-liners galore, a Large Ham villain, and plenty of action setpieces that make full use of the Theme Music Power-Up trope. It was moderately well-received by the fanbase and critics, and further cemented Brosnan into the role, who began to carve his niche as the snarky Bond.
There's also significant elements of William Randolph Hearst, whose propaganda is sometimes credited for getting the US to launch the Spanish-American War. Carver even quotes him.
In addition to taking potshots at NewsCorp, 'Tommorrow'' bears more than a slight resemblance to Microsoft.
Carver: Mr. Jones, are we ready to release our new software? Jones: Yes, sir. As requested, it's full of bugs, which means people will be forced to upgrade for years. Carver: Outstanding!
Carver beginning a new media enterprise by announcing a "declaration of principles" is possibly a nod to Citizen Kane. Of course, he's already similar to Kane by virtue of being similar to Hearst.
As You Know: The first stealth-ship scene starts with a literal Captain Obvious reminding his men that the British will believe they're in international waters due to the manipulated GPS signal. Anyone who at this point in the operation didn't know that very definitely had no business knowing it - but then again, a penchant for summarizing and giving exposition at every possible opportunity may have been an entrance requirement for a job in Carver's corporation.
Awesome, but Impractical: The car's miniature wire cutting saw. Yes, it saves Bond during the chase scene but there is no other possible scenario where it would have been of any use. If the wire were just an inch higher or lower it would have been completely useless.
Big Bad Duumvirate: Averted, although technically speaking the PRC General Chang would be just as important to the scheme as Carver's contributions. The former is Demoted to Extra, appearing onscreen for a total of five seconds as Bond and Wai Lin are escorted past him.
After shoving a henchman into a printing press: "They'll print anything these days."
After ejecting an attacker from the back seat of a jet into an enemy jet above them: "Backseat driver..."
Even Eliot Carver gets off a clever one when he thinks Bond is dead.
"Even if they were looking for me, we're on a stealth boat! They can't see me. Or you. Or even your friend, the late Commander Bond, who is, I believe, at this moment, on his way to the bottom of the South China Sea. (beat) He's my new anchorman.
Bottomless Magazines: Averted in the case of Wai Lin near the end when she tosses an empty gun and only has two shots left in the other. Played straight in the case of Carver's mooks.
Creator Cameo: Producer Michael G. Wilson is seen as Mr. Wallace in Carver's videoconference.
Dead Star Walking: While Teri Hatcher was featured in the advertising campaign as much as (if not more than) Michelle Yeoh, her character is the requisite secondary Bond Girl who dies halfway through, as per tradition.
Total scene count for Paris in a two-hour film: three.
Denied Parody: While Elliot Carver looks at first glance like a thinly disguised version of Rupert Murdoch, the movie's main writer claims he was actually based on Robert Maxwell (this is supported by the cover story for Carver's death and the public's reaction to it mirroring Maxwell's fatal boat accident).
Distaff Counterpart: Wai Lin is basically a female, Chinese Bond, right down to the flirting, dry wit, and holding a military rank. Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize that this is exactly why her relationship with Bond is so shallow.
Double Entendre: Pretty much the whole Hamburg satellite launch party scene. Here's some of the best dialogue:
Elliot Carver: I'm thinking about getting Wei Lin behind a news desk...
Paris Carver:' I'm sure she won't resist...Much.
Bond: Tell me Elliot about your satellites, how you've positioned yourself globally...
Elliot Carver: They're merely tools for spreading information, Mr. Bond.
Bond: Or disinformation. Suppose you wished to alter the course of events, governments... or even a ship...
Elliot Carver:(staring at Bond) You have a vivid imagination for a banker, Mr. Bond. Perhaps I should commission you to write a novel.
Bond: Oh, no, I wouldn't know where to begin. I'd be lost at sea... adrift...
It's so over-the-top Bond pretty much has to be doing it on purpose.
Evil Is Petty: It would not be an exaggeration to state that Carver is one of the most powerful people on the planet, both obscenely rich and influential. When China refuses him broadcast rights, he decides to nuke the country. There's also the Mad Cow Scare, which he engineered because a guy wouldn't honor a poker bet.
Face Death with Dignity: Paris Carver knew her number was up as soon as she went to help Bond. She spends one last night with him, gives him the information he needs to infiltrate her husband Elliot's secret lab, and leaves, telling James not even he can protect her. The way the scene plays out, Paris seems to know she'll be dead before the day is out, and accepts it.
Carver's goons grab Bond and take him to a soundproof recording studio to beat him until he talks. As one of them stands watch outside, you can see (but not hear) Bond turning the tables of the fight and beating the goons with the various instruments.
Idiot Ball: The Admirals, who just witnessed the 'terrorist supermarket' with even nuclear torpedoes for sale and Gupta buying an American GPS encoder, still decide to potentially go to war with China over the Chinese apparently murdering their sailors even though M flat-out tells them someone was messing with the GPS signal. They might have been a bit more open-minded if she'd let them in on Carver's involvement, but it's still incredibly reckless.
In Memoriam: Dedicated to longtime producer Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli.
Irony: When Bond discovers Paris Carver dead in his hotel room, a news broadcast states that she was found dead along with an "unidentified man who apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound". It is at this point that Bond encounters Dr. Kaufman aiming at him with a gun and who tells him that story will be on the air in an hour. Of course, Bond overcomes Dr. Kaufman and turns his own gun upon him so that the crime scene does in fact appear as the newscast states.
Irrevocable Order: The Royal Navy launches a Tomahawk missile to destroy a terrorist arms depot. Soon after, Bond discovers that there are nukes at the camp, but by this time the missile is out of radio range, requiring typical James Bond action theatrics to remove them before the missile hits.
Lampshade Hanging: Bond lets Carver know that starting World War III for ratings' sake is really quite insane.
Large Ham: Jonathan Pryce's magnificently over-the-top villain is one of the most memorable things about this movie. Same goes for Vincent Schiavelli's Dr. Kaufman, who knows he's a Bond henchman, and milks it for all its worth.
Malevolent Mugshot: Carver loves his banners. Bond gets in a good dig at his expense for it.
Milkman Conspiracy: The Carver Media Group blackmails a President, is implied to orchestrate global floods, riots and plane crashes, sells buggy software (to force people to upgrade it for years), sinks a British Destroyer, massacres the survivors, steals one of its cruise missiles, plans to use said missile on Beijing to set up a new Chinese government friendly to its interests (i.e. broadcasting rights) after bringing Britain and China to the brink of nuclear war, and employs terrorists, torturers and professional assassins, plus the average Carver Media Group employees, who based on the evidence, are Always Chaotic Evil and whose uniforms always come with machine guns. All for the sake of its ratings. Carver also apparently faked the Mad Cow disease scare of 1997 because a British beef baron owed him money (from a poker game, a mere £10,000) and refused to pay... then the French paid him to run the stories for another year.
Misguided Missile: A Tomahawk missile is launched at an Arms Fair in the Pre Titles Sequence. Bond realises there is a nuclear torpedo attached to an L-39 trainer there. When the Royal Navy are unable to self-destruct the inbound Tomahawk, he nicks the plane.
Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Kaufmann, naturally. (And he claims he actually does hold several medical degrees, the reason he can make a hit look like a suicide.)
Mythology Gag: in You Only Live Twice, Bond says he doesn't need "Instant Japanese" at all, since he has a degree in "Oriental Languages"; in this film, however, he is completely baffled by Wai Lin's Chinese keyboard. note (Which, by the way, isn't a real keyboard at all, not in Mainland China at least, where they use either Pinyin-based or Wubi (four-digits that stand for a character) input methods)
N.G.O. Superpower: Carver Media Group Network, which already influences most of the world. But since its led by a megalomaniac, the organization takes the extra step forward of forming a small army, build a stealth ship, and stir up a war between Britain and China.
Sink The Life Boats: Carver orders the surviving sailors from the HMS Devonshire machine-gunned. This is so their deaths can be blamed on the Chinese, and the fact that any survivors would contradict his story.
Title Drop: The film itself doesn't have one, but the Playstation video game does: After being beaten by Bond in their shootout, Elliot Carver' last words before succumbing to his injuries are ironically "Tomorrow never dies".
To the Pain: When Carver tells Bond about how Mr. Stamper is going to torture him, although the movie gets more mileage out of the Cow Tools presented as Mr. Stamper's torture implements than it does out of Carver's little speech.
Torture Technician: Dr. Kaufmann and his protégé Mr. Stamper. (Kaufmann claims it's "a hobby" of his.)
Q is standing right next to Bond, and doesn't even flinch. Just goes to show how much faith he has in 007.
Unintentional Period Piece: The mentions of Britain's return of Hong Kong to China and the focus on a diplomatic crisis between the two nations dates this to 1997, but in some cases, this is actually averted. Concerns of over China's growing power and the way journalistic warmongering can manipulate public opinion with potentially catastrophic consequences is pretty relevant now, as well as back then.
With Friends Like These...: Bond is breaking into Carter's office, when Wai Lin breaks in at the same time, setting off the alarm. As Bond is shot at by SMG-toting mooks, he looks up and sees Lin climbing a wall while cheerfully waving at Bond as he draws off the men who'd normally be chasing after her.