Film scores Franchises

Soundtrack review: James Bond – The world is not enough (David Arnold – 1999)

“The world is not enough” was the third James Bond movie starring Pierce Brosnan. As I’ve said before, his movies almost ruined the franchise for me and, what’s even worst, the movies declined in quality year after year. This being the third one, it’s also the second worst. And even so I like to watch it when it comes on because the Bond girl (Sophie Marceau) and the villain (Robert Carlyle) are some of the more memorable of recent years. Bond’s relationship with Elektra is also one of the more human and believable he had and it stuck with me. David Arnold had found his stride in his debut score for “Tomorrow never dies” and now it was time for him to confirm.

The main theme was performed by Garbage and is one of my favorite. Shirley Manson’s voice is very appropriate for a Bond theme and even if this is one of the cases where the theme doesn’t return very often in instrumental form I always find great pleasure in listening to it.

Arnold wastes no time in molding the opening of his score to the usual action extravaganza that starts a Bond movie. “Show me the money” and “Come in 007, your time is up” are flamboyant and spectacular action pieces that blend the original Bond theme with David Arnold’s pulsating electronic inserts. The pace is relentless, sparks are flying and I feel like jumping from my chair an applauding and we’re only 10 minutes into the score. Now this is what I call an entrance.

We deserve the break that we get with the quiet and moody “M’s confession”. This is David Arnold at his most melodic and melancholic. Again it’s with great joy that I see how this wonderful composer stepped into John Barry’s shoes and applied his own craft to the Bond formula. The Bond scores never sounded better. Just listen to “Welcome to Baku” and just as Asia meets Europe there so the ethnic percussion inserts meet the instrumental form of the main theme for a very enjoyable cocktail.

Elektra gets her own theme to underline her importance in the movie. “Casino” introduces it and it is a soft jazzy lounge melody that, enjoyable as it is, doesn’t capture the essence of the character for me. Elektra was a woman who had been abducted by the villain Renard and was now secretly working with him. I don’t hear that duality and her troubled soul in the first rendition of this quiet and light theme. Luckily David Arnold gave her the proper treatment on “Elektra’s theme”. The sound here is deeper and more mysterious. I can also hear the sadness and cold beauty of the character. Her theme isn’t the only romantic moment of this score. “Christmas in Turkey” ends the album with a love theme we will meet again.

“The world is not enough” is darker than your usual Bond score. David Arnold does a great job of getting under my skin with this one. The music is fast and relentless and every action piece is exciting and true to the spirit of the character. This is the clearest in the 10 minute long “Submarine”, the climax of the movie. This cue works like a suite of the entire score and if you enjoy it, there’s a lot more where that came from. As far as action oriented Bond scores go, it rarely gets better than this one. Always a joy to listen to it again.

Cue rating: 88 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 37 / 65

Album excellence: 57%

Highlights:

The world is not enough

Show Me The Money

Come In 007, Your Time Is Up

M’s Confession

Welcome To Baku

Ice Bandits

Elektra’s Theme

Going Down – The Bunker

Submarine

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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