Pierce Brosnan’s turn as James Bond has always been a hard sell. Most Bond fans agree that his take is the most milquetoast, a kind of neutered mix of Sean Connery’s gruff brutality and Roger Moore’s distinguished charm. Brosnan himself admits that he never quite got a feel for the character, and the mostly-uninspired writing across his four outings certainly didn’t help. Still, GoldenEye pulled the franchise back from the brink of death long enough for the Craig era* to reinvigorate it (and then ruin it again), so we owe Brosnan’s films some consideration. That said, what do we really remember about them? We remember Michelle Yeoh in Tomorrow Never Dies. We remember the invisible car in Die Another Day. Perhaps least fondly, we remember nuclear physicist Christmas Jones in The World is Not Enough. And while it’s true that TWINE has its problems — its very own metric fuck-ton of problems — it benefits from some fun supporting performances, an unconventional Bond villain, and yes, Denise Richards in a tank top.
Look, this movie is dumb. Nothing anyone does makes any sense, and, to make matters worse, it’s one of the most shoddily-made Bonds of the modern era.* It’s lousy with obvious stunt doubling and weird continuity errors. There are times when the editing is actually bad enough to ruin a scene. It stretches credibility even more than the usual Bond film: 007 tears up his shoulder and then goes skiing, which is literally the most specifically-strenuous shoulder-related sport he could have engaged in short of pitching an inning of baseball. Did they do that on purpose, or was no one paying attention? Anyway, the film may be dumb, but it’s dumb in that great Bond fashion: it’s got a submarine plot that recalls The Spy Who Loved Me, a ski chase that evokes On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and a weird boat-on-land gag that invites comparisons to Moonraker. Whereas most '90s entries aggressively tried to push Bond into the mass-media-diamond-laser-digital-age, this one threw back to something a little more straightforward: a guy has a bomb and wants to blow things up with it.
That guy, Renard, is also one of the most interesting villains in the Bond canon. He took a bullet to the head and kept trudging along even after it lodged itself in his brain and cut off all sensory perception. He can’t taste, smell, or feel anything, including pain. He knows full well that the bullet will kill him and just wants to use his remaining time to make a better world for his lady. In a franchise built on the megalomaniacal plans of villains lusting for Unlimited Power (including, we discover, Elektra), a bad guy with a death wish is an interesting spin. Granted, he doesn’t really do anything with that power aside from punch glass and juggle volcanic rocks, but it makes his catchphrase, “You can’t kill me! I’m already dead!” more interesting. There’s also something really tragic and compelling about his love story with Sophie Marceau’s steamy femme fatale: they were both so shocked by her father’s refusal to pay her ransom that he decided to help her get revenge. It’s almost admirable, really. They’re both lost children cast off by the powers-that-be.