Do a Shot: whenever Elliot implausibly types one-handed on his keyboard like a maniac
Take a Drink: for every sexual innuendo
Chug a Beer: when Bond does his lighter trick
Do a Shot: when the Bond theme appears
By: Frank Cerros (Three Beers) –
1997 was a magical time. DVD was rapidly replacing VHS in the living room. MP3s were starting to come into their own, though the iPod was nothing but a distant dream. Netscape Navigator was the preferred way to surf the web at the blazing fast speed of 56Kbps. And Pierce Brosnan was on a roll. He had three movies come out that year and he was at the (Dante’s) peak of his career, and 15-year-old me couldn’t have been happier.
I spoke previously in my GoldenEye review that Pierce Brosnan was my James Bond. Having been a fan of the early 007 films, I finally got to see Bond on the big screen when Brosnan took over the role and they connected with me in a big, bad way. I loved his Bond so much that I even sought out other Pierce Brosnan flicks, just to get a little more of him while I waited for the next Bond movie. I made my parents rent Dante’s Peak, Robinson Crusoe, Mars Attacks, and The Lawnmower Man for me. Hell, I even asked them to get The Mirror Has Two Faces, thinking it was a Jekyll & Hyde-type horror movie, just because he was in it. I was VERY wrong on that one. With how big a fan I was of the movies back then, I wanted to revisit this movie 17 years later and see if it was actually any good, or if I was just watching it through Brosnan-colored glasses.
How I felt when watching The Mirror Has Two Faces
Megalomaniacal multimedia mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) is trying to complete his global news empire by securing exclusive media rights in China. In order to do so, his plan is to create a conflict between Great Britain and China and potentially start World War III. When Elliot is tied to a sunken British Naval ship, James Bond is brought on the case. He must team up with an old flame, who is also Elliot’s wife (Teri Hatcher), a Chinese newswoman with a secret (Michelle Yeoh), and a BMW to stop a man with the power to topple governments with a single headline. Will he be able to do it? Spoiler alert: Yes. He’s James Bond.
To an atypical weeny of a villain. Elliot’s power did not come from his muscles or physical prowess but simply from his words. As an aspiring writer, I always appreciated that attempt to stray from the norm of brutish villains who could take Bond in single combat. Elliot lets Stamper do all his physical fighting for him, and even when Elliot does hit James Bond, it’s a pistol whip from behind. He’s simply no match for Bond one-on-one, so he usually doesn’t even try. Yes, his plan is idiotic, and in light of what the internet did to newspapers, not very forward-thinking. However, Jonathan Pryce appears to be having a ball as Carver, and it still works for me.
Pierce Brosnan also seems to be settling in nicely in his role as James Bond. In GoldenEye, he seemed stiff and unsure of how to portray the character. Here, he seems to have found his groove and seems to be enjoying himself a lot more as he embodies the humor and sex drive of Bond to a T. Basically, he acts like he wants to fuck everyone. It works.
Seriously, watch how Bond even eye-fucks Q during this scene
I also really appreciated the inclusion of Wai-Lin. Yes, this is obviously during the period in the 90s when Kung-Fu movies were breaking through to American audiences and Jackie Chan was a household name. Michelle Yeoh brings a confidence to her role and her action sequences that we haven’t really seen from any other Bond girls. She kicks ass as the female counterpart to Bond, and she’s fantastic in all of her fighting and stunt scenes.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Teri Hatcher’s role as Elliot’s wife Paris. She’s simply a woman in a refrigerator in this film, and provides a very tacked-on revenge motive that simply wasn’t necessary. Bond doesn’t really seem to be very concerned with vengeance against Carver, so maybe he didn’t really care about Paris after all. It was simply unnecessary and puts a damper on the somewhat progressive nature of the Wai-Lin character.
The product placement is rampant throughout this movie. Not only does Bond get a hideous new BMW car (though the gadgets included are awesome), he also specifically passes over three motorcycles just so he can pick the bike that’s a BMW (again). Honestly, they should have just stuck with the Aston Martin, it’s a beauty. Also, AVIS gets some pretty obvious real estate in the movie, for some reason. Sticking Q in that red blazer was just a travesty, especially in his second-to-last appearance.
The question is: Why WOULDN’T you find a brand new BMW bike in a poor shantytown?
While not as amazing as I thought it was when I was 15, this movie still holds up. It’s definitely not as good overall as GoldenEye. The story and Bond’s connection to the villain is not as strong. And while Wai-Lin is a step forward for Bond girls, Paris Carver is two steps back. However, the action sequences are solid, the humor is cheesy and the martinis are dry. What else could you ask for?