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Pretty Boy Bond: Reflections on the Pierce Brosnan Era

To quote John Waters: “Sometimes, stupid and cute ARE enough.” Or are they? The Bondathon duo is back for an investigation into the legacy of Pierce Brosnan’s 007.
Tomorrow Never Dies Pierce Brosnan James Bond
By  and  · Published on September 30th, 2020

Die Another Day

Are the villains effective?

Bond Beginner:

Oh god, yes. I’ve been pretty, uh, down on the Brosnan Bonds thus far. But I’m no fool: these villains are some damn fine baddies. No prior tenure can boast this caliber of villain run. We’ve got Alec Trevelyan, a weaponized fake friend, secret Cossack, and justifiably vindictive life-long enemy of the British Secret Service. We’ve got Boris Grishenko, pervert, hacker, and fashion-forward e-boy. There’s oil baroness Elektra King, the first main female antagonist in the franchise. And there’s the freelance boogeyman Renard, who is unable to feel pain thanks to a bullet lodged in his head that will, eventually, kill him. A diamond-faced henchman? A North Korean military colonel disguised as a British businessman via revolutionary plastic surgery? What’s not to like? This banger rogues’ gallery is the highlight of the series. It’s almost as if Bond had to shutter up his own personality to make room for all these top tier big bads. If there is a weak point, it’s Elliot Carver, a corrupt media mogul who isn’t quite outrageous enough to contend with his pernicious peers. Still, he’s played by Jonathan Pryce, so that counts for something.

Bond Veteran:

One-hundred-percent yes. These villains are original, fun, and devilishly antagonistic. Some of them are clearly enjoying chomping down on the scenery while others deliver measured and menacing performances, but they’re all pretty spectacular. The Bond franchise loves a villain gimmick and Renard might just be the best of these. He’s a baddie who will grow stronger until he dies. It’s perfect. The *chef’s kiss* of it all is that he’s not even the big bad. That title belongs to Elektra King, the first full-fledged female villain and a genius who knows how to play every man around her like a fiddle. She’s my favorite of the Brosnan villains, but, frankly, anyone else could easily still give her a run for her money.

The World Is Not Enough James Bond Villain

Which film will you re-visit first?

Bond Beginner:

GoldenEye? I guess? It boasts the most villains, so at the very least I can spin it in my head and imagine that it’s their movie. Yeah, sure, I could see myself rewatching Alan Cumming’s GoldenEye.

Bond Veteran:

While The World is Not Enough isn’t my favorite Brosnan, it is the one I’ve seen the most, so I’m inclined to believe it’s the one I’ll revisit first. It’s a mixed bag, sure, but it’s a mixed bag filled to the brim with everything I want from Bond: a world-class cold open, a perfect title song, god-tier villains, a punny Bond girl, and a sincerely heartfelt curtain call for Desmond Llewelyn’s Q. Is it perfect? No. But it ranks pretty high on the list of movies that I’m willing to watch any time, any place.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).