Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Book Preview: 'The World of GoldenEye', by Nicolás Suszczyk

As the silver anniversary of GoldenEye is around the corner, Nicolás Suszczyk, co-editor of this site, gives you a unique tribute to the 17th James Bond film. Set for June 8, 2019, the 25th anniversary of the day where Brosnan was officially announced as the fifth James Bond actor in London, the book will cover the generational impact of the 1995 film and the huge success of its many official and unofficial video game adaptations, starting with 1997’s GoldenEye 007 for Nintendo 64. At the same time, the filmmaking process of the film and the relation of the story with many historical events as the Cold War, the betrayal of the Cossacks at Lienz in World War II and the 1991 coup against Mikhail Gorbachov will be thoroughly covered.

GoldenEye was much more than the debut of Pierce Brosnan in the role of James Bond. It was the film that saved the series after facing six years of an uncertain future, and the title is now a popular legend among gamers thanks to the huge success of the Nintendo 64 video game adaptation. In the eve of its 25th anniversary in 2020, this book offers a comprehensive analysis on one of the best Bond films ever released and the impact in popular culture that brought a new generation of Bond fans, in a craze that was very reminiscent to the waves of Bond mania from the 1960s. The creative process behind the film, the emergence of a relatively unknown international cast, and the influence of the Cold War in the story are just some of the themes this comprehensive analysis of the 1995 film will address to prove GoldenEye is, many times, an overlooked classic.
The book is set to be released on June 8, 2019, by Amazon Publishing, to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Pierce Brosnan's announcement as James Bond. Print and ebook versions will be available.

Nicolás Suszczyk has been a James Bond fan since the day he first watched GoldenEye, aged 7, on his native Buenos Aires. A freelance writer, he has contributed for many Bond and movies related web sites and publications like MI6 Confidential and Le Bond, from the French 007 Fan Club. In 2011, he founded The GoldenEye Dossier, a tribute for his favourite James Bond film, which is set for a major update in 2020. He also manages Bond En Argentina, a site dedicated to the releases of Ian Fleming's fictional hero in his country, and co-admins The Secret Agent Lair, a blog dedicated to the fictional spies of cinema and literature, with Jack Walter Christian. The World of GoldenEye is his first book.

The book will be primarily promoted on The GoldenEye Dossier's Twitter account (@gedossier007), the official hashtag to be used is #GoldenEyeWorld.

Visit the book's official site at:

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Daniel Craig is joined by Rami Malek, Ana De Armas, Léa Seydoux and Jeffrey Wright in the yet-untitled Bond 25


JAMAICA, APRIL 25, 2019 – GoldenEye in Jamaica. James Bond Producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli today confirmed the start of principal photography on the 25th official James Bond film begins on 28 April 2019. From Albert R. Broccoli’s EON Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios, the film is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and stars Daniel Craig, who returns for his fifth film as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer will release the 25th James Bond feature film domestically through their United Artists Releasing banner on April 8, 2020; through Universal Pictures International and Metro Goldwyn Mayer in the UK and internationally from April 3, 2020.

Director Cary Joji Fukunaga confirmed the returning cast, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Jeffrey Wright and introduced Ana de Armas, Dali Benssalah, David Dencik, Lashana Lynch, Billy Magnussen and Rami Malek.

Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.

The 007 production will be based at Pinewood Studios in the UK, and on location in London, Italy, Jamaica and Norway.

Wilson and Broccoli commented, “We’re thrilled to return to Jamaica with Bond 25, Daniel Craig’s fifth instalment in the 007 series, where Ian Fleming created the iconic James Bond character and Dr No and Live And Let Die were filmed.”

Written by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade, Scott Z. Burns with Cary Joji Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, other members of the creative team are; Director of Photography Linus Sandgren, Editor Tom Cross and Elliot Graham, Production Designer Mark Tildesley, Costume Designer Suttirat Larlarb, Supervising Stunt Coordinator Olivier Schneider, 2nd Unit Stunt Coordinator Lee Morrison and Visual Effects Supervisor Charlie Noble. Returning members to the team are; 2nd Unit Director Alexander Witt, Special Effects and Action Vehicles Supervisor Chris Corbould and Casting Director Debbie McWilliams.

Spectre, the 24th James Bond film, was a global box office hit, opening #1 in 81 territories around the world, including the U.S., and earning $880 million at the global box office. The film broke a new all-time box office record in the UK with the biggest seven-day opening of all time at $63.8 million. Skyfall, the 23rd film in the series, earned $1.1 billion worldwide.

The start of production launch of Bond 25 was streamed live on the official James Bond channels:, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and the video is now available on demand on all of these sites.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

INTERVIEW: Jeff Kleeman, former United Artists VP, on GoldenEye's success and Bond 25

Graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in English, Jeff Kleeman has actively worked on the relaunching of the cinematic James Bond as United Artists’ Vice-president in the 1990s, conducting the difficult task of installing Pierce Brosnan as the new Bond on his first three movies. 
In this interview, Jeff talked with us about the uncertainty of GoldenEye’s release, the way in which Titanic affected Tomorrow Never Dies’ box office numbers and the treatment of spoilers in the promotional campaign of The World Is Not Enough. He also gave us his professional point of view on the two delays suffered by the Bond 25 release date.
First of all, thank you Jeff for allowing us to interview you. How did you become involved with United Artists and what are your fondest memories on working with the first three Pierce Brosnan 007 films?
I’d previously worked for Francis Coppola at American Zoetrope under a deal he had with Sony that led to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  When the Sony deal’s term ended, Francis decided not to renew and moved Zoetrope back to Northern California.  Gareth Wigan, a wonderful executive who oversaw the Zoetrope deal for Sony, suggested I meet John Calley who was coming out of retirement to oversee a new incarnation of United Artists.  I met with John and he offered me a job in the room which I enthusiastically accepted, especially because I knew UA controlled the rights to James Bond. I could write a lengthy book detailing amazing memories of my three Bond experiences.  For now, I’ll it to one...
GoldenEye had a Royal Premiere in London.  Before the screening started, a group of us were offered the honor of meeting Prince Charles.  We were instructed on proper behavior and arranged in a semi-circle.  Prince Charles began on the left end and one by one shook our hands and had a brief conversation with each of us.  I was approx four people in from the left side.  Opposite me, approximately four in from the right side, was Tina Turner.   We looked directly into each other’s face.  As Prince Charles held out his hand to me, Tina, like a mischievous kid, stuck her tongue out at me.   The Prince had his back to her so he was completely unaware.  He asked me about my work on GoldenEye and as I attempted to answer Tina began making a series of increasingly silly faces that only I could see.  What a surreal moment, the premiere of a Bond movie, talking with the Prince of England (who was incredibly charming) while Tina Turner tries to crack me up!

Internet played an important part in the promotion of GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough. How did you and the team deal with these new dynamics, like, regularly posting updates on the production online and the fact that people on the other side became much more impatient with a Bond release?

Did the Internet play an important role in their promotion?  GoldenEye came out in 1995.  Handheld screen devices were still to come and when we released Hackers around that same time many people were initially confused by the premise because the desktop (dial-up) online experience was still not well understood by mainstream audiences. Which isn’t to say there wasn’t an important online component to promoting those films, there might have been, but I wasn’t directly involved in it. However, the biggest new factor, the one that differentiated GoldenEye release from previous Bond films, was the Nintendo GoldenEye game.  It was a huge success and brought a new generation of kids into the Bond fold, something that the subsequent Bond films massively benefited from. The escalation of Bond releases to one every other year was a result of GoldenEye success.  MGM/UA realized Bond was its most bankable asset so they pushed for more films as quickly as possible.  We dealt with that the only way we could, by coming up with new methodologies that allowed us to write, shoot and navigate post-production more rapidly. Many of those methods have now become the norm for most studio franchises.

This leads ut a bit to Bond 25 and not only the internet but social networking. As you probably know, the upcoming Bond film had a change of director (Danny Boyle for Cary Fukunaga) and the release date has also changed three times between November 2019 and April 2020. Many Bond fans felt a bit disappointed, worried and even angry for these things. Would you say the immediacy of communications now causes these sort of feelings or it also happened in the 1990s?

The immediacy of today’s communications has led to a very different filmmaking environment, especially for high profile projects like Bond films. With GoldenEye MGM/UA questioned whether the public would have maintained an interest in Bond and it was only deep into production when the teaser trailer (“You know the name. You know the number”) was released in theatres that we were able to gauge any kind of response. Today, we often have audience reactions long before we’ve begun work on a script.

The three Bond films you worked on were released between November and December, a trend also followed by Die Another Day and the Daniel Craig movies, which were all released in the last trimester of their production years. Now Bond 25 is set for the beginning of 2020 (first February, then changed to April). Would you tell us it will impact differently to have a tank like Bond early in the year than closer to the Christmas season?

It should not have an impact.  When we originally began work on GoldenEye it was slated for a summer release - the kind of big June summer movie we see every year. We ended up postponing our start of production and that pushed us to Fall/Winter.  Some folks were very concerned by this change.  But as we now know, things went splendidly.  So well, that we got into the habit of releasing future Bond films then.  GoldenEye release date was happenstance, not strategy.  In general, I don’t think that one particular month is better than another, what matters most is what’s also happening at the time you release your movie.  Tomorrow Never Dies was released on the same day as Titanic (December 19, 1997 in the US). It would probably have performed even better if it had been held until February or April the following year having allowed Titanic to come and go.

Our final question is related to certain marketing techniques concerning spoilers. The trailers of GoldenEye revealed Bond's friend agent 006 as the main villain, while The World Is Not Enough hid the fact that the main villain was Elektra King, the woman he fell for. How is more or less the process of dealing with things like that? Is it completely an EON decision or does the studio have an important say? 

EON was always very collaborative.  Whatever the contractual rights of any of the parties, we all made decisions as a team.  With GoldenEye, we felt the idea of 006 vs 007 was a selling point.  It was a way to bring people back to Bond and introduce new audiences to Bond.  It’s a tiny spoiler that we felt didn’t ruin the experience of watching the movie.   However, we’d intentionally cast and scripted The World Is Not Enough, so as to mask Elektra King’s villainy for a while.  In that case it was important to us to keep that reveal out of the early marketing.  While there are some movies that rely on a plot twist to define the entire film’s experience, much like a punchline defines a joke, that doesn’t tend to be the way Bond films work.  The best are a consistent experience from beginning to end that can be enjoyed over and over again, no matter how aware you might be of the plot before you start watching.

We thank Jeff Kleeman once more for his very interesting insight that helps us to rethink the cinematic James Bond phenomenom on the big screen and to understand the interesting creative process behind the layout of these films from its commercial point of view. We also thank Phil Poggiali for contacting us with Jeff to make this interview possible.

Nicolás Suszczyk

Friday, March 22, 2019

“I Used To Be a Spy”: Revisiting ‘Burn Notice’

Created by American screenwriter Matt Nix and broadcasted by USA Network, Burn Notice was a TV series with seven seasons running from June 2007 to September 2013. It followed the story of Michael Westen, a CIA agent played by Jeremy Donovan who is “burned” from the secret service in the middle of a mission in Nigeria. Miraculously surviving, he is dumped on his hometown Miami and under strict FBI surveillance. Out of a job, he spends his days helping people with problems like blackmail, kidnappings or robberies at the same time he follows the few leads on the organization that burned him.

Westen is assisted by his ex-girlfriend, former IRA operative Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar) and his old friend Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), a former Navy SEAL member whose “origins” story was told in the 2011 TV film The Fall of Sam Axe. At the same time, Michael has to deal with his mother Madeleine (Sharon Gless) and his brother Nate (Seth Peterson), both at first strangers to his suspicious activities and job but later informally introduced to the spy business when a few things go awry. From season four onwards, Jesse Porter (Coby Bell), another CIA burned agent, also joins the team.

I came across Burn Notice back in 2007, yet I was unable to see all the episodes properly until very recently, where I watched all seasons in about a month. My memories on spotting it on TV were good enough to think the series deserved a full watch and I wasn’t disappointed at all now that I could finally go through it.

Burn Notice is highly attractive, innovative, funny and addictive during the first five seasons, with the latter two being so gritty and dramatic that at parts it looks like a different series. I’m not saying the six and seven seasons are bad, but there are quite a few things that make it repetitive, unnecessarily extended and the character of Michael Westen feels closer to an out-of-control disgraced operative, more akin to Jason Bourne than the sort of mix between Ethan Hunt and Simon Templar he was during the first seasons. Without getting into spoilers, there’s a nice nod in the very last chapter to the dialogues we hear in the introduction of every episode.

What I found fascinating was the leading character and the fact he uses spy and special ops techniques to be one step above the petty thieves, kidnappers or drug dealers threatening his clients or relatives. Most of the techniques have Westen getting the trust of his enemy, befriending him and then beating him in his own game – ending in their arrest or their death due to the given misdirection.

Jeffrey Donovan is a fantastic actor and it’s easy to sympathize with his character. Michael Westen isn’t as striking or stylish as James Bond or as determined as Ethan Hunt. His activity, tough, involves techniques used by many cinematic spies like the improvisation of guns and the impersonation of people from different nationalities, where Michael has to adopt the accent of a foreigner in the same way Val Kilmer did in the 1997 film adaptation of The Saint. This and the fact that he has a family (unlike Bond, Hunt, and Templar) generates a connection between the audience and the leading character, as well as his narration of different spy techniques throughout the episodes which felt to me as if he was giving us some basic lessons on how to be a spy. Top marks go to the research for these tidbits in every episode, which was very detailed.

The supporting cast is also very good, particularly the characters of Fiona and Sam and the incredible dynamic the trio have on the job in hand, dealing with last minute changes and having to improvise quickly to achieve their goals. This dynamic is sadly broken when Jesse Porter joins them, as the four tend to usually separate into two groups of two people, each of them handling either the “burn notice” business or solving the current client trouble. Sharon Gless also gives an effective performance as a chain-smoking mother who reprimands her son for “disappearing” plus other typical mother-and-son clichés which work very nicely at first give us the impression that even spies have domestic problems as everyone else.

While primarily set in Miami, later seasons move the actions to Washington and Central America, and the action scenes become more overdeveloped in the sense of a cinematic blockbuster: most of the sixth season has the team with a capture or kill warrant by the government, which detaches the story from the usual humoristic cloak-and-dagger techniques to more of a pure action production with recurring car chases and shootouts. Still, the series manages to attract and be completely addictive, and the 40 minutes of each episode flow in a very appealing way.

Despite the overloaded drama from the last two seasons, which is kind of a setback in comparison to the first ones, Burn Notice deserves a watch if you are a fan of the spy genre and enjoy a pinch of humor. The production makes great use of the usual secret agent clichés and while being very modern in terms of style and scripting they also have a room for escapism and entertainment from the old film and TV productions.

Nicolás Suszczyk

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

'I.G.I. - Origins' Announced!

Every glory has its beginnings. Every victory is achieved by climbing up the ropes and ladders. Every legend has its origins. And therefore comes the time those roots are explored.

Almost two decades after its last release, today the fans of the Project I.G.I. franchise can celebrate the announcement of the third entry in the series which Swedish video game studio Toadman Interactive is developing, aiming for a 2021 release.

I.G.I. - Origins takes us back in time when the organization was seeking its foundations to counter terrorism across the globe. When warlords and criminals were profiting off of civil and national unrest, protected by diplomatic immunity no law enforcement institution could've touched, someone had to step up to execute what others won't. No resources, no backup, an underfunded and nonexistent black ops unit was formed to prevent worldwide chaos before it is triggered.

Other than the reveal teaser trailer, we haven't been informed of much about the project other than its being in early development so far. The game was originally announced back in May 2017 as Project I.G.I.: We're Going In, five months after Artplant purchased the intellectual property from Square Enix. Only last year, Toadman Interactive bought Artplant in full, and now they've taken over the project.

Without revealing much, it was stated the title will feature "the freedom the series has become known for." However, as the current branding suggests, the game is set before the previous entries, serving as a prequel. The period piece wasn't specified by the reveal. But, it seemingly is set either during the 1970s or the early 1980s by the looks of it. Speculations are all over the place. Whether David Jones is going to be featured in the game or not, that is yet to be clarified.

While the project is said to include members who worked on the original two video games in the series, specifics aren't made yet on who's recurring and who isn't. The fans of Project I.G.I. for instance, highly expect the return of composer Kim M. Jensen who was instrumental in orchestrating the atmospheric soundtrack to the previous titles. But, those inclusions and exclusions are yet to be confirmed.

I.G.I. - Origins Reveal Trailer

For more information, visit the developer studio's official website here.

Thank you for reading. Feel free to discuss the topic below.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Aftertoughts on the 'The World Is Not Enough' Soundtrack

The day of 1999 when my grandmother bought me the soundtrack for The World Is Not Enough could have been somewhere on November or December, but it surely was before the release of the film in my country. I was nine years old and already a huge James Bond fan, having watched all (or most of all) the 007 films on VHS, and GoldenEye on TV and Tomorrow Never Dies on the cinema.

Back then my knowledge of James Bond wasn't big. I didn't even know who John Barry was and his important contribution to the music of the series. Also, I didn't even have a CD player or a PC. So the only option to listen to the soundtrack was going to the place of some of my relatives who had a PC or a CD player. The The World Is Not Enough soundtrack was the only CD I had back then besides the The Best of James Bond: 30th Anniversary Collection compilation which, being released in 1992, didn't reach the Pierce Brosnan era.

I remember that day fondly, I was extremely excited because I wasn't expecting to find it and it was a way to own a part of that new James Bond film, besides I heard parts of Garbage's main title song which I adored and, back then, we couldn't just pop into YouTube to listen to a song. You had to get the album, or wait until MTV shows the music video.

Now, as Renard says in the film, "with no more further interruption, let's proceed". I'll go track by track reflecting on the soundtrack. Mind you, I say "reflecting" and not "reviewing" because I'm not what you might call a music expert and I might be wrong when identifying the instruments used by composer David Arnold. So, it's gonna be more of an informal talk about the soundtrack. So, here we go...

Triptic booklet for the MCA Radioactive The World Is Not Enough CD soundtrack release

001. The World Is Not Enough (performed by Garbage, produced by Garbage and David Arnold, lyrics by Don Black) (3:55)
This is probably the best main title song of the Pierce Brosnan era: a versatile and catchy melody, haunting lyrics, and the great voice of Garbage's Shirley Manson. David Anold did a fantastic job composing this tune and the talent of Don Black needs no introduction. He always delivers what people want in the song he writes, in this case anticipating the evil nature of the victim-turned-villain Elektra King: "I know how to hurt, I know how to heal," the song begins. Fantastic. This song has aged quite well in these two decades.

002. Show Me The Money* (1:28) / 003. Come In 007, Your Time Is Up* (5:19)
Tracks two and three of the soundtrack are actually one, but for a reason split in two. Show Me The Money is, in the film, when Bond learns the briefcase he handed Sir Robert King is carrying a concealed explosive. Come In 007, Your Time Is Up contains the boat chase in the Thames River, with Bond on pursuit of the Cigar Girl. I personally think they shouldn't have divided it, let alone separating it during the James Bond Theme build-up (Bond stealing the Q Boat). I'd say that the Show Me The Money part is nothing out of this world, while Come In 007, Your Time Is Up kicks in with eleven powerful notes that derivate from the main title song or the Bond theme. All in all, there is better action tracks in other David Arnold or John Barry 007 soundtracks, but I don't want to remove merit for this one that fantastic during the boat chase.

004. Access Denied (1:33)
After the bombastic tracks two and three, David Arnold tones it down for track four. Access Denied is comprised of what probably are woodwind instruments and synthesizers. The music evokes a mood of mystery, investigation and sophistication with a little pinch of drama. Appropiate elements for the moment where 007 looks up information about Elektra King's kidnapping on the MI6 digital database.

005. M's Confession (1:32)
A dramatic track which is less consistent than Access Denied. It tries to stress on drama, on remembering something from the past, so probably the first word to associate with this music would be melancholy, a melancholy that is wiped out as Arnold introduces some modern synth sound that brings us back to the present. This is from the scene where M tells Bond how she advised Sir Robert King not to pay for Elektra's ransom in order to distract Renard and get a chance to kill him. To me, it's a fairly good track, but it lacks the panache and depth of the other ones.

006. Welcome To Baku (1:41)
And now, here comes the first awesome track of the soundtrack, which also contains characteristic bars of the main title song. As 007 drives his BMW Z8 trough the oil fields of Azerbaijan to meet Elektra, David Arnold gives us a melancholic and ethereal tune echoing the most identificative part of Garbage's song. In the film we have an orchestrated version, while in the soundtrack we also have an ethnic vocal by Natacha Atlas. Both are very good, altough I personally prefer the film version since I find Atlas' vocals a bit distracting. Anyway, this is the big peak of the soundtrack, the one that distinguishes it as a part of that film and it emphazises the Middle Eastern feeling of the story.

007. Casino (2:55)
This is the first track to use the music that characterizes Elektra King, which will be repeated often. Piano, trumpets and flute (I think) make up this adorable song which is sexy and melancholic at the same time. It may qualify as ambient music, in fact it is heard as Elektra King visits Valentin Zukovsky's casino L'Or Noir in Baku, but somehow it distinguishes itself from what you can label as source music because I feel this track has personality, is as if it's inviting us to relax, enjoy and feel a bit of nostalgia at the same time. It works that way with me, at least.

008. Ice Bandits (3:52)
We are back in action again with Ice Bandits. This track goes full techno and its notes again derivate from the main title song. It's catchy and adrenaline inducing, but no better than Come In 007, Your Time Is Up to me.

009. Elektra's Theme (2:06)
The Elektra motif is repeated again, this time in a soft piano version with a few wind instruments in the background. I like it very much, it's romantic but more dramatic and ten times more nostalgic than Casino, but not necessarily better. In fact, I consider it two-dimentional when comparing to the previous one, which I like best. Still, works beautifully for the scene when Bond intimates with Miss King.

010. Body Double (3:00)
Another mystery theme, much less nostalgic than Access Denied. This is for a espionage moment as Bond confronts Davidov and assumes his identity. While most of what we hear must be synthesizers, there are a few strings that make this one quite attractive. Arnold makes a good use of the qanun, a Middle Eastern instrument, for some notes. I adore the feeling of mystery with a touch of ethnical flavour.

011. Going Down - The Bunker (6:27)
This is perhaps my least liked track: too repetitive, a mash of techno sounds superimposing over each other. It starts good, with some suspense, but it gets wrong when it goes full techno and action. In the film, it had a James Bond Theme fanfare during the "Bond, James Bond" moment of this scene. Sadly, it was omitted from the soundtrack.

012. Pipeline (4:15)
This track is comprised of four notes repeated with different intensity, so it's very repetitive but still fantastic. One of the best of this soundtrack: totally catchy and appealing to suspense. The four note cue is accompained by another sound, probably some brass, that gives some direction to the melody until it reaches a spectacular closure. A huge improvement from Going Down - The Bunker.

013. Remember Pleasure (2:45)
Begins with the four notes of Pipeline and follows with a darker, more evil version of Elektra's Theme, perhaps to disclose what we see in the film which is her allegiance with Renard and their love story. I could describe it as a dark romantic theme slightly different to the original version, with some brass adding notes of suspense and cruelty. It's good, not the best of all, but good indeed.

014. Caviar Factory* (6:01)
This one is fantastic, particularly the first minute where Arnold goes full ethnic with Turkish flutes, qanun and other Balkanic sounds as the screen shows us the walkways of the Caspian Sea at night, where Bond confronts Zukovsky until they are surprised by deadly saw choppers and goons sent by Elektra and Renard. Then, the sound breaks with a five note fanfare to introduce us the danger 007, Christmas Jones and Zukovsky have to face. This melody is often intercut with a techno version of the James Bond Theme, which is nice, altough I would have preferred a less techno approach for that.

015. Torture Queen (2:22)
Very much in the vein of M's Confession, but with more darkness a than melancholy. It's a very dark theme for the moment where Elektra tortures Bond. It repeats sounds from the first minutes of Going Down - The Bunker and towards the end it makes use of the four notes from Pipeline. Wooden instruments are used for small percussions or a few distinctive sounds, but what hear the most is an approach to Elektra's Theme without precisely being Elektra's Theme. Nothing really special in this track, except for those few charactersitic sounds of Pipeline and Going Down - The Bunker.

016. I Never Miss (3:32)

We have an action tune again, this one handles brass, strings and piano for a little more than three minutes, with a slight techno feeling as action kicks in after a minute or so of build up. The build up comes as Elektra is about to kill Bond, Zukovsky comes to the rescue, gets killed and Bond gets himself free. Then we have a number of horns playing short sounds as 007 pursues Elektra to the top floor. As he kills her, we have the cue of her theme once again until we resume action, that is Bond jumping to the Bosphorus Sea to catch Renard's sub. This track is nothing special, similar to the last seconds of Pipeline and Going Down - The Bunker in a way, but I liked the Elektra rendition at the end.

017. Submarine* (10:19)

The longest track of the soundtrack covers, as the title implies, the climax at Renard's nuclear submarine. David Arnold takes elements from Pipeline and Caviar Factory, the most important cues of those tracks, and blends them with a mix of action and suspense troughout the 10 minute lenght of the track. Horns and synthesizers play an important role and the sound is a but similar to Going Down - The Bunker as well, but thankfully played at parts. It's overall very good and I liked the reuse of previously heard notes, but just like in Caviar Factory I didn't like the techno riff of the Bond Theme at the end. Could have been done less techno and it could have worked much better.

018. Christmas In Turkey (1:27)
The very last track from the movie is beautiful. A piano and a violin (I think) make up a beautiful composition for the very last scene when 007 and Dr. Jones celebrate, as the title says, Christmas day in Turkey. It's utterly melancholic, but at the same time sweet and definitively romantic. I feel like if this melody conceals the magic of Christmas Eve and love at the same time, that feeling of "the pain is gone, now you are with the girl celebrating", also a concealed "goodbye" to us from the film since this is what we last hear before the end credits in the last James Bond film before the new Millennium. Brilliant music here.

019. Only Myself To Blame** (performed by Scott Walker, produced by David Arnold, lyrics by Don Black) (3:37)
This is a vocal version of Elektra's Theme, although the orchestration is much closer to Casino with piano and brass. It was meant for the end titles but replaced for a new version of the James Bond Theme by David Arnold. The inception of this song what when lyricist Don Black felt that Elektra's Theme had a hidden song, and so he wrote it from the existentialist perspective of a man looking back at his love life and remembering an unique woman whose face he sees "from city to city" following him "round all over the place". This song is beautiful and striking as a standalone piece, but I think they did right in scrapping it out of the end titles because it wouldn't have fit the film as a whole or the happy ending between Bond and Christmas. However, I'm glad it made the soundtrack and it's a spiritual succesor of Louis Armstrong's We Have All The Time In The World from On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

020. Sweetest Coma Again*** (Japanese end title song - Performed by Luna Sea and DJ Krush, produced and arranged by Luna Sea) (5:10)
To attract a bigger audience for the film, in Japan the prints of The World Is Not Enough featured a Japanese song titled Sweetest Coma Again, performed by a national band known as Luna Sea and Tokio-born DJ Krush. A translation of the lyrics indicate that the song is related to the film indeed, dealing with a man left in "the sweetest" coma after loving a powerful and manipulative woman, apparently Elektra King. This song is indeed shocking for a James Bond film, particularly with that dance music feeling and the heavy techno melody. I can't really say I like it, but maybe people of Japan think differently. Perhaps a Japanese version of Garbage's song would have been more suitable.

*Contains portions of the James Bond Theme.
**Not heard in the film.
***Only in the Japanese edition of the soundtrack.

Enhanced CD Content (US Theatrical Trailer)
With the upswing of the personal computer era, the The World Is Not Enough CD soundtrack included a CD-ROM "enhanced" content. When you popped in the CD on your drive, the US Theatrical Trailer played in what is now a very low and pixelated quality. Nothing more than that. Watch here (in today's "good quality")

Left: cover artwork for the German edition of the The World Is Not Enough soundtrack, using the international artwork. Right: back cover for the Japanese CD soundtrack featuring Sweetest Coma Again, their exclusive end title song.

Unreleased Music

Some beautiful music for the film was sadly excluded of the CD release, altough two of them were available thanks to David Arnold trough his (now extinct) official web site for a while.

Snow Business (1:16)
It's so beautiful that its omission form the commercial score feels utterly painful. Horns, violins and bells emphasise the beautiful snowy mountains of the Caucasus as Bond and Elektra ski together. Very reminiscent to the beginning of the Ski Chase theme from On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Listen here.

Kazakhstan (1:22)
Another good use of the main title tune in a more powerful and steadfast way than in Welcome To Baku, used for when Bond goes incognito to a nuclear facility installation in Kazakhstan. It begins with a pinch of suspense and exoticism and then the crescendo introduces us the melody of The World Is Not Enough with some horns and drums. Again, it should have been on the album. Listen here.

More Unreleased Music
Some of the music never saw the light outside the film itself, starting with the gunbarrel sound (same as Tomorrow Never Dies but slightly more techno). The escape from the Swiss fight and fight with Lachaise's bodyguards featured a cool orchestration of the James Bond Theme, much better than the other techno sounds that made into the soundtrack. My personal favourite is the one heard as Bond kisses Dr. Warmflash, which consists of a few piano notes of The World Is Not Enough with a synthesizer heard in the background. There are other omitted themes, too, an evil music introducing Renard at the Devil's Breath and a cue similar to Remember Pleasure as Renard arrives to Istanbul to reunite with Elektra. The James Bond Theme from the end credits was not released either, it's actually the trademark Bond music intercut with a small suite of music from the film, the cues we can hear in Come In 007, Your Time Is Up. Listen to this Bond theme version here.

Early track listing
It usually happens that the track listing change their titles since their announcement and The World Is Not Enough wasn't an exception. Here's the preliminary track listing for the Bond 19 soundtrack. One track is missing: Casino. Perhaps they decided to add it later. Anyway, I'll post the early track listing before it gets lost on the cyberspace.

  1. The World Is Not Enough (performed by Garbage)
  2. Show Me The Money
  3. Q Boat Chase
  4. Bonding At The Computer
  5. M's Confession
  6. Baku
  7. Ski Chase
  8. Elektra's Theme: The Bedroom
  9. Spying In Baku
  10. Going Down
  11. Pipeline
  12. M And Renard
  13. Caviar Factory
  14. Garotte
  15. Elektra Upstairs
  16. Submarine
  17. Christmas In Turkey
  18. Only Myself To Blame (performed by Scott Walker)

In retrospect, I see The World Is Not Enough as a fantastic album, perhaps my favourite from David Arnold. While Tomorrow Never Dies is very good and it's very Bondian without doubt, I feel like this one is a bit more exotic and the music fits the film perfectly. I would have preferred that Arnold avoided going too techno sometimes, notably in Going Down - The Bunker, but the romantic and "Bond goes to the mission" tracks have an unique feeling.  

Nicolás Suszczyk

UPDATE - November 23, 2018: La La Land Records has announced a 2 CD edition of this soundtrack complete with unreleased music and bonus tracks to be released on November 27, 2018. Check it out here.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

'Johnny English Strikes Again': A Bit Repetitive, But Nonetheless a Welcomed Return

Without doubt, any James Bond fan who also had a good laugh with Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean in the 1990s will adore the Johnny English trilogy. The first one, simply titled Johnny English, came in 2003 shortly after Die Another Day was released and with the same team of writers behind the 20th Bond adventure. It was funny, yet it felt a little weak and cheap at times. Much better was 2011's Johnny English Reborn, with a much more developed plot, bugdet and locations, plus the inclusion of a former Bond girl like Rosamund Pike. In that film, Atkinson went a bit further than just mocking 007 and added some Inspector Clouseau antics that made that film more richer.

So, what can we expect from Johnny English Strikes Again?

The third entry of the "greatest" MI7 spy played by Rowan Atkinson has the development of the second one, but the structure it's sadly very similar to the first one, and that's what disappoints a little. Like in the 2003 entry, the threat comes from someone who befriends an important person in the British Government (in this case, the despotic Prime Minister played by Emma Thompson) and wants to ridicule the country from the inside. It all sounds very much to John Malkovich's Pascal Sauvage, but here the villain has some links with Skyfall's Raoul Silva with his obsession of technology and data - which is the way he hacks into the British Secret Service and leaks the identity of every agent. This is what leads to MI7 to hire the retired Johnny English (now a Geography primary school teacher, secretly training kids as potential agents) once again with a number of former operatives in their eighties, two of them played by Charles Dance and Edward Fox.

To get the job done, English reunites with Bough (Ben Miller, who appeared in the first film) and heads to Antibes, from where the prime suspect has apparently initiated the hacking to MI7. As the attacks begin to become more and more frequent (one includes dealing with the London Eye), English thinks the best way to defeat this mysterious villain is to avoid the use of smartphones or any kind of 2.0 technology, which leads to incredibly funny situations.

This is perhaps the most positive point of the movie, the dealing with the old and new ways. How English tries to familiarize with the technology he trivializes and how that takes him to cause panic: for example, the brilliantly done the virtual reality scene where he ends up attacking innocent turists and citizens thinking he has infiltrated the enemy field.

Johnny English Strikes Again is overall funny, but the humour is a bit toned down in comparison to the previous entry. It lacks that punchy feeling Reborn had seven years ago. Also, there are too many parts dedicated to the Prime Minister and her troubles. Some scenes, also, are a bit over the top and predictable, particularly if you watched and remember well the first entry. And while Olga Kurylenko's character is fantastic (and she looks much prettier here than in any film before!), her relationship with Johnny feels a little bit rushed towards the end.

In the end, despite its small flaws, the return of Johnny English is more than welcome and we can always hope another one is coming in the next couple of years!

Nicolás Suszczyk