Merry Christmas…Jones?

Denise Richards is a terrible actress. I feel a bit guilty writing a post that references one of her “characters” because it might seem like I like her or something, when in fact I do not.

But now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s move on to the latest installment in my ongoing series of Off-the-Wall Christmas movies. Today it’s “The World is Not Enough,” Pierce Brosnan’s third James Bond outing which was released in 1999. It’s a movie that gets kind of a bad rap nowadays. Lots of people seem to look down on Pierce Brosnan’s Bond flicks, which is really a shame because I always thought he was great as 007. “Goldeneye” was the first Bond flick I ever saw, and as such it marked an important milestone in my deep and abiding love of cinema.

But on to the Christmassy stuff. Specifically, Dr. Christmas Jones, a nuclear physicist in a Lara Croft outfit “played” by Denise Richards, widely regarded as one of the worst Bond girls of all time. I can’t say that I disagree with this sentiment. The esteemed Dr. Jones has no personality whatsoever, she exists simply to spout off random science-y sounding stuff and to look good while doing it, which, admittedly, she does.

Her name doesn’t even make sense. Why would anyone bother to name a character Christmas in the first place? Has any real human being in the history of the world ever before been named Christmas? There are only two reasons for this that I can think of: 1) because Bond girls of the past have had… shall we say, some interesting names, and 2) as a setup for a double entendre at the end of the film that completely flew over my head when I first saw this movie at the ripe old age of 11 but am now slightly embarrassed to admit that I actually understand.

So really, pretty much the only reason for naming a love interest “Christmas” is as a setup for a raunchy joke. And also so she can say the awful line, “Isn’t it about time you unwrapped your present?” before she and Bond kiss at the end of the movie.

This strikes me as just…odd. TWINE is in many ways a much more serious and emotionally hefty Bond film than its predecessors. There are no space lasers, no volcano lairs, and no flying cars. The villains are more grounded and the movie goes into some pretty dark territory. The character of Elektra King, played very well by the lovely Sophie Marceau, is one of the more complex and well-rounded characters to show up in a Bond film, even if she is completely unhinged.

There are flaws, sure. The main terrorist bad guy who feels no pain is a bit over-the-top, and there are some aspects of the plot that I still can’t seem to make any sense of. But overall it’s a complex, thoughtful film, which is why it is so strange that there would be a character like Christmas Jones who exists solely to look good, explain things to the audience, and be the setup for a raunchy joke.

It would have helped if she had been played by an actress with even a hint of charisma, but as played by Denise Richards she is as flat onscreen as she must have been in the script (well, metaphorically flat anyway). She’s the kind of character who drags down every scene she’s in, and when Bond saves her from drowning in the sinking submarine at the film’s climax, you kind of wish he had just left her so you wouldn’t have to continue to put up with how annoying and pointless she is.

But no, she gets to live, while lovely, complex, tragic Vesper in “Casino Royale” and sweet, innocent Agent Fields in “Quantum of Solace” die horrible deaths. I still think TWINE is a good movie, it’s just always frustrating when one really bad performance is so noticeably bad in an otherwise solid flick that the rest of the film suffers because of it. Ah, well. Life is fundamentally unfair, and it seems that applies to James Bond films as well.

But at least there’s still plenty of Christmas cheer in the movie, right?


Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a movie to watch.


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