20 years later: a look back at Tomorrow Never Dies

Tomorrow Never Dies theater poster. 1997.
Tomorrow Never Dies theater poster. 1997. /

Twenty years ago this week, the 18th Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies, was released. The film was Pierce Brosnan’s second as 007, this time with seasoned director Roger Spottiswoode at the helm. Let’s take a look back at the film and its legacy.

Tomorrow Never Dies was released opposite Titanic and yet it still raked in nearly $42 million in its opening week in the U.S. Overall, the film grossed $125 million; in adjusted dollars, it was the fifth highest-grossing Bond film of all time. Audiences were treated to a new kind of villain: a media mogul Elliot Carver (played to the hilt by Jonathan Pryce) who looks to expand his media empire by provoking a conflict between China and Great Britain.

The film features its share of Bond girls (Teri Hatcher, Michelle Yeoh, and an underrated Daphne Decker); its share of action sequences, including high octane plane and motorcycle chases; and its share of gizmos: a well-placed remote control BMW, for one. It also has a menacing henchman in Richard Stamper (Gotz Otto). The film’s theme song was performed by Sheryl Crow, who had experienced a meteoric rise to success over the previous three years.

But what seemed to be missing was excitement, per the critics. Owen Glieberman at Entertainment Weekly noted that Bond had lost his “license to thrill.” Peter Travers of Rolling Stone was so bored, it seems, that he could only review the film in comparison to Spice World. But other critics, like the late Gene Siskel, found the film thoroughly enjoyable.

Regardless, Tomorrow Never Dies made a deeper point about the media, one that resonated then–and much more now. Princess Diana had died tragically just four months prior to the film’s release; while there was no allusion to this in the story, one can’t help but reflect on the media as enemy, here.  Now, with media and telecommunications companies rising in power, Bond fans can’t help but see a bit of Elliot Carver in all this.

After Tomorrow Never Dies, Brosnan went on to complete two more Bond films, as well as The Thomas Crown Affair and Momma Mia! Today, he has seen a bit of a career resurgence, with The November Man, No Escape, and The Only Living Boy in New York.  Teri Hatcher, of course, went on to star on TV’s Desperate Housewives. Michelle Yeoh recently appeared in The Mechanic: Resurrection and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2.  Jonathan Pryce recently starred in Game of Thrones.

Sheryl Crow went on to have further success, with The Globe Sessions and C’mon C’mon. But her last platinum album was 2005’s Wildflower. Spottiswoode’s directing career, sadly, tapered off significantly after Tomorrow Never Dies. The Canadian had helmed Shoot to Kill, Turner and HoochAir America, and The Band Played On before tackling Bond.

Where does Tomorrow Never Dies rank on your Bond films list?

As always thank you for reading. Check back for mire Bond news and information.