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THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH – David Arnold

November 19, 1999 Leave a comment Go to comments

theworldisnotenoughOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The nineteenth James Bond film, The World Is Not Enough, is significant for two reasons. Firstly, it marks the only the third occasion in history that the same actor – Pierce Brosnan – has returned to play Bond for a third time. It also heralds the “official” handing over of the Bond reins from John Barry to David Arnold who, after receiving critical acclaim for his last Bond score Tomorrow Never Dies, becomes the first ever composer to score more than one Bond movie – with the exception of Barry himself, of course.

In this latest big-screen adventure directed by Michael Apted, 007 is hot on the heels of a deadly Bosnian terrorist named Renard (Robert Carlyle) who, for reasons unknown, has assassinated wealthy oil magnate Sir Robert King and kidnapped his boss M (Judi Dench). Bond’s mission takes him hopping across the globe, from Spain to Azerbaijan to Turkey and beyond, and causes him to cross paths with a whole host of interesting folks, including the murdered aristocrat’s daughter Elektra King (Sophie Marceau), beautiful nuclear weapons expert Dr Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) and Russian arms dealer Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane), all of whom may or may not have something to do with the assassination.

If it goes on to be successful, it could well be that The World Is Not Enough ushers in a significantly different musical style for the Bond franchise – one where synthesizers and electronic beats are significantly more prominent than ever before. In Tomorrow Never Dies, Arnold paid homage to Barry’s legacy by writing a fairly straightforward orchestral action score. Hints of things to come were heard here and there, in cues like the popular ‘Backseat Driver’, but for the most part he remained acoustic. In The World Is Not Enough, Arnold has seemingly been given a freer hand and, as such, has taken his experimental electronics one step further.

Many of the action cues throb with powerful, rhythmic urban beats, especially the magnificent opening cues ‘Show Me The Money’ and ‘Come In 007, Your Time Is Up’, which underscore the spectacular pre-title sequence of Bond zooming up and down London’s River Thames in a speedboat. Screaming muted brasses and dancing strings are sent spinning into oblivion by a thick bed of electronic percussion, and his new arrangement of Monty Norman’s legendary Bond theme is nothing less than inspired. By echoing the musical preferences of much of today’s youth, Arnold really makes this incarnation of Bond a hero for the 21st century.

For much of the score, action dominates the proceedings, with tracks such as ‘Ice Bandits’, ‘Going Down – The Bunker’, ‘Pipeline’ and the enormous, 10-minute ‘Submarine’ maintaining Arnold’s defiantly fluid and modernistic style. Occasionally, a little bit of the familiar Independence Day bombast breaks rank and takes center stage, but on the whole this is kept to a minimum (although, somewhat bizarrely, the brass fanfares in ‘Caviar Factory’ do seem to mimic George S. Clinton’s spoof Bond score from Austin Powers!). On the flipside, this generous release from MCA also includes Arnold’s first attempt at low-key jazz in the surprisingly lovely ‘Casino’, the melody of which is vocalized in the conclusive song, Scott Walker’s ‘Only Myself To Blame’. Similarly, ‘Elektra’s Theme’, ‘Torture Queen’ and ‘Christmas In Turkey’ demonstrate the much more sedate and romantic side of Arnold’s talents, although the second of those three is tinged with a sense of mystery and a little hint of danger.

The all-important theme song, written by Arnold with lyrics by Don Black, is performed by the popular American rock group Garbage. It bears many Bondian trademarks – the immense string swirls at the start and the symphonic surge that ushers in the chorus all drip with nostalgia – but I’m not sure that vocalist Shirley Manson is quite up to the task. She seems to have suffered the same fate as befell Sheryl Crow last time out – she wants to sound like Shirley Bassey, but doesn’t quite have the range to do it. It’s a decent enough song as Bond songs go, but is not in the same league as the likes of Goldfinger or Diamonds Are Forever. Unlike previous Bond scores, the full melodic line of the theme is not completely incorporated into the underscore proper. Instead, Arnold takes the three-note “not e-nough” motif from the chorus and inserts it into many key moments. The cleverness of this approach is in its versatility: it can be playful (‘Access Denied’), exotic (‘Welcome To Baku’, where it is combined with Natascha Atlas’s eerily enticing vocals) and exciting, but it is always appropriate whatever the circumstances.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, for the first time, we are hearing the true musical voice of David Arnold here. Lest we forget, Arnold began his career writing and arranging for pop stars such as Bjork, and had very little symphonic knowledge before he hooked up with Nicholas Dodd on Stargate. This is the first score since The Young Americans in which Arnold’s electronic know-how has been allowed to take center stage, and it is apparent that he has a flair for programming. The World Is Not Enough may sound very different from John Barry’s sexy scores of the sixties, but Arnold’s work is still of a high caliber. It suits the style of the film, sounds great on disc, and is perfect for taking 007 into the new millennium.

Rating: ****

Track Listing:

  • The World Is Not Enough (written by David Arnold and Don Black, performed by Garbage) (3:55)
  • Show Me The Money (1:28)
  • Come In 007, Your Time Is Up (5:19)
  • Access Denied (1:33)
  • M’s Confession (1:32)
  • Welcome to Baku (1:41)
  • Casino (2:55)
  • Ice Bandits (3:52)
  • Elektra’s Theme (2:06)
  • Body Double (3:00)
  • Going Down – The Bunker (6:27)
  • Pipeline (4:15)
  • Remember Pleasure (2:45)
  • Caviar Factory (6:01)
  • Torture Queen (2:22)
  • I Never Miss (3:32)
  • Submarine (10:19)
  • Christmas In Turkey (1:27)
  • Only Myself To Blame (written by David Arnold and Don Black, performed by Scott Walker) (3:37)

Running Time: 68 minutes 13 seconds

Radioactive/MCA 112-161-2 (1999)

Music composed by David Arnold. Conducted and orchestrated by Nicholas Dodd. The James Bond Theme written by Monty Norman. Featured musical soloists Derek Watkins, Pete Lockett, Abullah Chhadeh, Natacha Atlas and Les Arnold. Jazz quartet Ian Thomas, Dave Hartley, Steve Pearce and John Giblin. Electronic programming by David Arnold and Steve Hilton. Recorded and mixed by Geoff Foster. Edited by Dina Eaton. Mastered by Joe Gastwirt. Album produced by David Arnold.

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