The 10 Best Pierce Brosnan Movies
Pierce Brosnan is an iconic actor. A precious few have donned the mantle of James Bond, 007 and he is one. His turn, however, was somewhat unique. Brosnan, as Bond, never appeared in an adaptation of one of creator Ian Fleming’s novels. He is the only actor yet to have this distinction. Even his predecessor, Daniel Craig, began his career as 007 in Casino Royale, which is based on Fleming’s first James Bond novel. Brosnan may still be the most likable Bond yet. His winning grin is undeniable, no matter how outlandish the situation. If each Bond is meant to capture the era in which they exist, the bombastic and downright silly Bond films of Brosnan do so perfectly. Nothing captures the blockbusters of the 1990s better than early CGI clumsily integrated into practical sets and effects. Brosnan’s storied career extends far beyond his four turns as James Bond, however. Here are his ten best to date, both inside and outside of the role which earned him worldwide attention.
Mamma Mia! (2008)
There are certain musicals which are destined to be put to film. West Side Story, for example, comes to mind. Mamma Mia! is one of these as well. A stage set — no matter how elaborate — cannot stand in for the undeniable natural beauty of Greece. This, coupled with a soundtrack composed of ABBA’s greatest hits, is a winning combination. A young woman named Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) invites three men (Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, and Colin Firth) from her mother Donna (Meryl Streep)’s past to her wedding. Her hope? To determine if one of them is her father, who she never knew.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)
Much like The Godfather Part 2 to The Godfather — but with much more ABBA music — Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again goes backward to move forward. It follows the dual storylines of Sophie (Seyfried)’s life after the first film, and that of young Donna (Lily James), when she met the three men who would become the possible fathers to Sophie. Though the film’s conceit results in a smaller role for Brosnan, he gives another sturdy performance nonetheless.
Mars Attacks! (1996)
When Martians come to slaughter the people of Earth, President James Dale (Jack Nicholson) is put in a difficult position. He calls upon Professor Donald Kessler (Brosnan) to help foster peace, but it does not go as planned. Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! may be the most underrated film in his oeuvre. It is a zanier, campier counterpart to Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day, which was released in the same year. The two follow similar plot beats, though Mars Attacks! is markedly more fun.
The World’s End (2013)
Starting with Shaun of the Dead and continuing with Hot Fuzz, Edgar Wright’s so-called Cornetto Trilogy ends here with The World’s End. Simon Pegg’s Gary King convinces his old friends from school — who have grown in the years since, though he has not — to attempt a bar crawl they failed to complete as teens. While on the crawl, they find that everyone in their hometown has been replaced by robotic lookalikes. As they continue the crawl, antics ensue, including a run-in with an old teacher named Guy Shepard (Brosnan). It is a wholly enjoyable science fiction comedy even if, like the rest of Wright’s work, it’s a bit too saccharine.
The Foreigner (2017)
Martin Campbell, who previously directed GoldenEye — as well as Casino Royale and the two Zorro films — teamed up with Brosnan once again for The Foreigner. Jackie Chan plays protagonist Ngoc Minh Quan, a veteran-turned-restaurant owner whose daughter is killed in an Irish Republican Army bombing. Seeking revenge, he sets his sights on Liam Hennessy (Brosnan), the Deputy Minister First who is outspoken about his former life as an IRA member. It is a surprising turn for both actors at its center and a gripping film as a result.
The World is Not Enough (1999)
Audiences continue to be split on The World is Not Enough, though it is quite good in its own right and likely Brosnan’s best turn as 007. He — along with Sophie Marceau as Elektra King and Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones — must uncover a plot to manipulate the world oil economy through shady means. Brosnan continues to be one of the more likable Bonds, and in spite of what many critics say, Richards does a perfectly serviceable job in her somewhat underwritten role.
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
In Brosnan’s second go at the role of Bond, he sets his sights on an evil media empire. The tycoon at its center, Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) hopes to bring a new era of war to the planet with a misinformation campaign. With some fun setpieces — and a small early career performance from Gerard Butler for any keen-eyed viewer — it is assuredly enjoyable throughout.
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Mrs. Doubtfire is another family classic crafted by the one and only Chris Columbus. Robin Williams’ protagonist Daniel Hillard seeks to reconnect with his children after losing a custody battle by posing as a nanny. Brosnan, for his part, plays Stu Dunmeyer, Daniel’s ex-wife Miranda (Sally Fields)’s new boyfriend. Though it sounds overly sentimental — it is — Mrs. Doubtfire is also funny, affecting film.
In the years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, their powerful satellite weapon known as GoldenEye has sat dormant. That is until a shady crime syndicate makes moves to take control of the weapon and set its sights on the United Kingdom. Brosnan’s first outing as James Bond may not be his best, but it is solid nonetheless. With a supporting performance from Sean Bean as well as Judi Dench making her first appearance as M, Bond’s superior, it is an enjoyable action flick.
Die Another Day (2002)
Best remembered for being the James Bond film co-starring Halle Berry, Brosnan’s 007 goes toe to toe with North Korea in Die Another Day. In an outlandish turn — even for this franchise — his main antagonist has his appearance altered through gene replacement. Unfortunately, Brosnan’s tenure as Bond ends with a whimper rather than a roar. Nonetheless, what is easily his worst film as the famous MI6 agent is still a watchable blockbuster.
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