We gave it a B-
In his third outing as James Bond, Pierce Brosnan finally imprints his own personality on the role. Just in time too, because his smoother, cooler superspy proves the sturdiest aspect of The World Is Not Enough — which tentatively tries to shake up the formula without really stirring the foundation.
And so, as 007 zips around the globe protecting a gorgeous oil heiress (Sophie Marceau) from a nutzoid terrorist (Robert Carlyle), we meet Q’s permanent replacement (John Cleese), see the usually deskbound M (Judi Dench) out in the field, and get a bad Bond girl who actually steals Bond’s heart.
Unfortunately, Bond’s world hasn’t changed enough. His double entendres are, if anything, lamer than usual. So is the movie’s ”good” Bond girl, Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), a pouty nuclear physicist in short shorts, who ranks as this series’ most improbable Ph.D. since ”Moonraker”’s Dr. Holly Goodhead. What were the filmmakers thinking? What were they thinking with?
Maybe it’s for the best that this movie’s convoluted plot turns Marceau to the dark side. A soulful, sensual femme fatale with complex motivations, Marceau gives Bond a real woman to deal with for once. That’s almost more change than a James Bond film can handle.