Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The World Is Not Enough (1999) | Villains

The first henchman we meet is known in the credits only as Cigar Girl, but the novelization for The World Is Not Enough calls her Giulietta da Vinci. She's not a great henchman. For instance,  she unnecessarily calls attention to herself by shooting at MI6 HQ from her boat on the Thames. But it's nice to see a woman henchman in a role that doesn't explicitly demand one (ie, there's no romantic angle between her and Bond).

I don't know why I even bring up Elektra's security chief Davidov, except that he's an important plot point. He's a nothing character whose motivation is unclear until the movie's real villain is revealed. And by then Davidov is dead.

I love Robert Carlyle and I love the potential of a dying man who can feel no pain and has nothing to lose. But World doesn't do enough with Renard. Once Elektra emerges as the movie's real villain, Renard becomes nothing more than another henchman with a gimmick. I mean, he's still played by Robert Carlyle, which is awesome, but he's not as awesome through and through as he should have been.

Bravo for his use of the parahawks though. That attack sequence is probably my favorite part of the movie.

It's such a great idea to reveal that the Bond Girl is actually the villain. This is why I don't really care that much that Renard gets demoted in the third act. Elektra is a great idea and she's wonderfully played by Sophie Marceau.

But like I mentioned yesterday, there are too many unanswered questions about her. Most importantly, why did she go crazy? Was is just the kidnapping or did she already have that tendency? And why is she so obsessed with sex?

A clue to that last question is when she tells Bond about seducing her guards to get away from Renard when he'd kidnapped her. In hindsight, it sounds like she really only seduced Renard, but her feelings about the event are probably honest. She describes it to Bond as "taking control," which makes a lot of sense for a young woman with an extremely powerful father. It sounds like she got a thrill from rescuing herself. And if she already resented her dad for being overprotective (this is totally reading between the lines, but that's all we've got to go on), her experience overcoming Renard probably gave her the confidence to eliminate her pop.

But she's wired so strangely that she now seems to conflate control with sex. She's consumed by sex. Even when it's clear that she and Bond are on opposite sides, she wants to be lovers with him again. And she's overly concerned about whether Bond and Christmas have been intimate. She doesn't sound that jealous when she asks - her issue isn't the same as Fatima Blush's - she just realizes that her control over Bond is diminished if he's moved on.

I wish all that was clearer or better explored in the movie. She's a great start to a character, but the villains suffer a lot in World by having to split the film between them. Renard is the bad guy for the first half and Elektra takes over for the end, with neither getting as much attention as they deserve.

Top Ten Villains

1. Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)
2. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Never Say Never Again)
3. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia With Love and Thunderball)
4. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
5. Maximilian Largo (Never Say Never Again)
6. Francisco Scaramanga (The Man with the Golden Gun)
7. Dr. Kananga (Live and Let Die)
8. Doctor No (Dr. No)
9. General Gogol (For Your Eyes Only)
10. Karl Stromberg (The Spy Who Loved Me)

Top Ten Henchmen

1. Baron Samedi (Live and Let Die)
2. Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
3. Grant (From Russia with Love)
4. Nick Nack (The Man with the Golden Gun)
5. Gobinda (Octopussy)
6. May Day (A View to a Kill)
7. Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker)
8. Naomi (The Spy Who Loved Me)
9. Oddjob (Goldfinger)
10. Necros (The Living Daylights)

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