Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh

Kinetic, knowing, crammed with high-tech gadgetry and sophisticated in the most superficial sense of the term: What else could you ask of a James Bond picture? Pierce Brosnan's sophomore effort duplicates the virtues of GOLDENEYE: Hong Kong action legend Michelle Yoeh is a phenomenal addition to the pantheon of Bond girls (Teri Hatcher isn't, but she's dealt with expediently), Jonathan Pryce's villain -- press mogul Elliott Carver -- is shrewdly overwrought and, in a clean break from a disagreeable tradition, the movie actually ends when it's over, rather than dragging viewers through a series of bogus -- sorry, bonus -- climaxes that leave them feeling as though they've been hauled through an explosive wringer. Brosnan's Bond delivers a few of the juvenile one-liners for which the series is famous, but the real humor comes from seeing Bond treated with such withering disdain by his cohorts: Q (Desmond Llewelyn), M (Judi Dench) and Miss Monneypenny (Samantha Bond) treat him as though he were a bright but undisciplined adolescent who needs a firm talking-to. Even Bond's new car talks back to him. The plot involves Carver's attempts to engineer a world crisis that will benefit his global media empire, including a fledgling satellite news network. To that end he and his nefarious cohorts, led by psycho Aryan ubermensch Stamper (Gotz Otto) sink a British naval ship and blame it on the Chinese. Pryce has a fine old time playing media megalomaniac Carver as an ungodly hybrid of Rupert Murdoch and William Randolph Hearst by way of Charles Foster Kane: The highlight of his upstart news network's launch is the reading of Carver's declaration of principles. Ultimately, though, the film is forgettable even by the standards of prefabricated pop ephemera.