The film's plot revolves around the assassination of billionaire Sir Robert King by the terrorist Renard, and Bond's subsequent assignment to protect King's daughter Elektra, who had previously been held for ransom by Renard. During his assignment, Bond unravels a scheme to increase petroleum prices by triggering a nuclear meltdown in the waters of Istanbul.
Filming locations included Spain, France, Azerbaijan, Turkey and the UK, with interiors shot at Pinewood Studios. Despite mixed critical reception, The World Is Not Enough earned $361,832,400 worldwide. It was also the first Eon-produced Bond film to be officially released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer instead of United Artists, the original distributor.
MI6 agent James Bond meets a Swiss banker in Bilbao, Spain to retrieve money for Sir Robert King, a British oil tycoon and friend of M. Bond tells the banker that King was buying a report stolen from an MI6 agent who was killed for it, and wants to know who killed him. The banker is killed by his assistant before he can reveal the assassin's name. Bond escapes with the money, but it is revealed to be booby-trapped; Sir Robert is killed by an explosion inside MI6 headquarters back in London. Bond gives chase to the assistant/assassin on a boat on the Thames to the Millennium Dome, where she attempts to escape via hot air balloon. Bond offers her protection, but she refuses, then causes the balloon to explode, killing herself.
After getting cleared by the doctor, Bond traces the recovered money to Viktor "Renard" Zokas, a KGB agent-turned-terrorist. Following an earlier attempt on his life by MI6, Renard was left with a bullet in his brain which is gradually destroying his senses, making him immune to pain. M assigns Bond to protect King's daughter, Elektra, against Renard, who had previously abducted her. Bond flies to Azerbaijan, where Elektra is overseeing the construction of an oil pipeline. During a tour of the pipeline's proposed route in the mountains, Bond and Elektra are attacked by a hit squad in armed, paraglider-equipped snowmobiles.
Afterwards Bond visits Valentin Zukovsky at a casino to acquire information about Elektra's attackers; he discovers that Elektra's head of security, Davidov, is secretly in league with Renard. Bond kills Davidov and boards a plane bound for a Russian ICBM base in Kazakhstan. He poses as a Russian nuclear scientist, meets American nuclear physicist Christmas Jones, and enters the silo. Inside, Renard is removing the GPS locator card and weapons-grade plutonium from a nuclear bomb. Before Bond can kill him, Jones blows his cover. Renard drops a hint that he and Elektra are collaborating and flees with the plutonium, while Bond and Jones escape the exploding silo with the locator card.
Back in Azerbaijan, Bond discloses to M that Elektra may not be as innocent as she seems. An alarm sounds while he is handing M the locator card as proof of the theft, which reveals that the stolen bomb from Kazakhstan is attached to an inspection rig heading towards the oil terminal. Bond and Jones enter the pipeline to deactivate the bomb, and Jones discovers that half of the plutonium is missing. They both jump clear of the rig, a large section of pipeline is destroyed, and they are presumed killed. Back at the command centre, Elektra reveals she and Renard are conspirators and that she killed her father as revenge for using her as bait for Renard. She abducts M, whom she resents for advising her father not to pay the ransom money, and imprisons her in the Maiden's Tower.
Bond accosts Zukovsky at his caviar factory in the Caspian Sea, which is then attacked by Elektra's sawing helicopters. Later, Zukovsky reveals his arrangement with Elektra was in exchange for the use of a submarine, currently being captained by Zukovsky's nephew, Nikolai. The group goes to Istanbul, where Jones realises that if Renard were to insert the stolen plutonium into the submarine's nuclear reactor, the resulting nuclear explosion would destroy Istanbul, sabotaging the Russians' oil pipeline in the Bosphorus. Bond then receives a signal from the locator card M has activated using a clock battery, just before Zukovsky's underling, Bullion blows up the command centre. Bond and Jones are captured by Elektra's henchmen. Jones is taken aboard the submarine. Bond is taken to the tower, where Elektra tortures him with a garrote. Zukovsky and his men seize the tower, but Zukovsky is shot by Elektra, freeing Bond with his cane gun with his last act. Bond frees M and kills Elektra.
Bond dives after the submarine, boards it, and frees Jones. Following a fight, the submarine hits the bottom of the Bosphorus, causing its hull to rupture. Bond catches up with Renard and kills him after a lengthy fight in the submarine's reactor. Bond and Jones escape from the submarine, leaving the flooded reactor to detonate safely underwater.Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, 007.
Sophie Marceau as Elektra King, an oil heiress who is seemingly being targeted by Renard, the world's most wanted terrorist. Bond is tasked by M to protect her at all costs, although he suspects that there is more to her than meets the eye.
Robert Carlyle as Victor "Renard" Zokas, a former KGB agent turned high-tech terrorist. Years ago, Renard kidnapped Elektra King in exchange for a massive ransom demand. The ordeal resulted in a failed assassination attempt by MI6 and left Renard with a bullet lodged in his brain which renders him impervious to pain as well as slowly killing off his other senses. Renard now seeks revenge on both the King family and MI6.
Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones, an American nuclear physicist assisting Bond in his mission. Richards stated that she liked the role because it was "brainy", "athletic", and had "depth of character, in contrast to Bond girls from previous decades". Richards stated that a lot of viewers "made fun of" the character's attire but that "These Bond girls are so outrageous and if I did really look like a scientist, the Bond fans would have been disappointed." Writer Ben Bussey stated in a Yahoo! Movies article that "it's clear that Eon were never aiming especially high with this character" since the company "reportedly" auditioned Geri Halliwell and Tiffani Thiessen for the role.
Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky: A former Russian mafia boss and Baku casino owner. Bond initially seeks out Zukovsky for intel on Renard and is subsequently aided by him when Zukovsky's nephew falls into Renard's captivity. Coltrane reprises his role from GoldenEye.
Judi Dench as M: The head of MI6.
Michael Kitchen as Bill Tanner: M's Chief of Staff.
Colin Salmon as Charles Robinson: M's Deputy Chief of Staff.
Desmond Llewelyn as Q: MI6's "quartermaster" who supplies Bond with multi-purpose vehicles and gadgets useful for the latter's mission. The film would be Llewelyn's final performance as Q. Although the actor was not officially retiring from the role, the Q character was training his eventual replacement in this film. Llewelyn was killed in a car accident shortly after the film's premiere.
John Cleese as R: Q's assistant and successor. The character is never formally introduced as "R" – This was simply an observation on Bond's part: "If you're Q....does that make him R?"
Samantha Bond as Miss Moneypenny: M's secretary
Serena Scott Thomas as Dr. Molly Warmflash.
John Seru as Gabor: Elektra King's bodyguard who is seen accompanying King wherever she travels.
Ulrich Thomsen as Sasha Davidov: Elektra King's head of security in Azerbaijan and Renard's secret liaison.
Goldie as Bull: Valentin Zukovsky's gold-toothed bodyguard. Although listed as 'Bull' in the credits, Zukovsky refers to him as 'Bullion' in the film.
Maria Grazia Cucinotta as Giulietta da Vinci, credited in the film as "Cigar Girl": An experienced assassin working for Renard.
David Calder as Sir Robert King: Elektra's father and an oil tycoon who is later killed during a bomb attack on MI6 headquarters.
Sean Cronin as Renard's Henchman (uncredited)
Joe Dante and then Peter Jackson were offered the opportunity to direct the film. Barbara Broccoli enjoyed Jackson's Heavenly Creatures, and a screening of The Frighteners was arranged for her. She disliked the latter film, however, and showed no further interest in Jackson. Jackson, a lifelong Bond fan, remarked that as Eon tended to go for less famous directors, he would likely not get another chance to direct a Bond film after The Lord of the Rings.
The pre-title sequence lasts for about 14 minutes, the longest pre-title sequence in the Bond series to date. In the "making of" documentaries on the Ultimate Edition DVD release, director Michael Apted said that the scene was originally much longer than that. Originally, the pre-credits sequence was to have ended with Bond's leap from the window and descent to the ground, finishing as Bond rushes away from the area as police cars approach. Then, after the credits the sequence in MI6 headquarters would have been next, with the boat scenes the next major action sequence. However, the pre-credits scenes were viewed as lacklustre when compared to ones from previous 007 films, so the credits were pushed back to appear after the boat sequence. The Daily Telegraph claimed that the British Government prevented some filming in front of the actual MI6 Headquarters at Vauxhall Cross, citing a security risk. However, a Foreign Office spokesperson rejected the claims and expressed displeasure with the article.
Initially the film was to be released in 2000, rumoured to be titled Bond 2000. Other rumoured titles included Death Waits for No Man, Fire and Ice, Pressure Point and Dangerously Yours. The title The World Is Not Enough is an English translation of the Latin phrase Orbis non sufficit, which in real life was the motto of Sir Thomas Bond. In the novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service and its film adaptation, this is revealed to be the Bond family motto. The phrase originates from the epitaph of Alexander the Great.
Writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were hired after their work on Plunkett & Macleane. Dana Stevens did an uncredited rewrite before Bruce Feirstein, who worked in the previous two films, took over the script.
The pre-title sequence begins in Bilbao, Spain, featuring the Guggenheim Museum. After the opening scene, the film moves to London, showcasing the SIS Building and the Millennium Dome on the Thames. Following the title sequence, Eilean Donan castle in Scotland is used by MI6 as a location headquarters. Other locations include Baku, Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijan Oil Rocks and Istanbul, Turkey, where Maiden's Tower and Küçüksu Palace are shown.
The studio work for the film was shot as usual in Pinewood Studios, including Albert R. Broccoli's 007 Stage. Bilbao, Spain was used briefly for the exterior of the Swiss bank and flyover-bridge adjacent to the Guggenheim Museum. In London outdoor footage was shot of the SIS Building and Vauxhall Cross with several weeks filming the boat chase on the River Thames eastwards towards the Millennium Dome, Greenwich. The canal footage of the chase where Bond soaks the parking wardens was filmed at Wapping and the boat stunts in Millwall Dock and under Glengall Bridge were filmed at the Isle of Dogs. Chatham Dockyard was also used for part of the boat chase. Stowe School, Buckinghamshire, was used as the site of the King family estate on the banks of Loch Lomond. Filming continued in Scotland at Eilean Donan Castle which was used to depict the exterior of MI6 temporary operations centre "Castle Thane". The skiing chase sequence in the Caucasus was shot on the slopes of Chamonix, France. Filming of the scene was delayed by an avalanche; the crew helped in the rescue operation.
The interior (and single exterior shot) of L'Or Noir casino in Baku, Azerbaijan, was shot at Halton House, the Officers' Mess of RAF Halton. RAF Northolt was used to depict the airfield runway in Azerbaijan. Zukovsky's quayside caviar factory was shot entirely at the outdoor water tank at Pinewood.
The exterior of Kazakhstan nuclear facility was shot at the Bardenas Reales, in Navarre, Spain, and the exterior of the oil refinery control centre at the Motorola building in Groundwell, Swindon. The exterior of the oil pipeline was filmed in Cwm Dyli, Snowdonia, Wales, while the production teams shot the oil pipeline explosion in Hankley Common, Elstead, Surrey. Istanbul, Turkey, was indeed used in the film and Elektra King's Baku villa was actually in the city, also using the famous Maiden's Tower which was used as Renard's hideout in Turkey. The underwater submarine scenes were filmed in The Bahamas.
The BMW Z8 driven by Bond in the film was the final part of a three-film product placement deal with BMW (which began with the Z3 in GoldenEye and continued with the 750iL in Tomorrow Never Dies) but, due to filming preceding release of the Z8 by a few months, several working mock-ups and models were manufactured for filming purposes.
The soundtrack to The World Is Not Enough is the second Bond soundtrack to be composed by David Arnold. Arnold broke tradition by not ending the film with a reprise of the opening theme or, as with the previous three films, a new song. Originally, Arnold intended to use the song "Only Myself to Blame" at the end of the film; however, Apted discarded this and the song was replaced by a remix of the "James Bond Theme". "Only Myself to Blame", written by Arnold and Don Black and sung by Scott Walker, is the nineteenth and final track on the album and its melody is Elektra King's theme. The theme is heard in "Casino", "Elektra's Theme" and "I Never Miss". Arnold added two new themes to the final score, both of which are reused in the following film, Die Another Day.
The title song, "The World Is Not Enough", was written by David Arnold with Don Black and performed by Garbage. It is the fifth Bond theme co-written by Black, preceded by "Thunderball", "Diamonds Are Forever", "The Man with the Golden Gun", and "Tomorrow Never Dies". IGN chose "The World Is Not Enough" as the ninth-best James Bond theme of all time. In 2012 Grantland ranked the song as the second-best Bond song of all-time, behind only "Goldfinger." The song also appeared in two "best of 1999" polls: #87 in 89X's "Top 89 Songs of 1999" and No. 100 in Q101's "Top 101 of 1999".
The World Is Not Enough premiered on 19 November 1999 in the United States and on 26 November 1999 in the United Kingdom. Its world premiere was 8 November 1999 at the Fox Bruin Theater, Los Angeles, USA. At that time MGM signed a marketing partnership with MTV, primarily for American youths, who were assumed to have considered Bond as "an old-fashioned secret service agent". As a result, MTV broadcast more than 100 hours of Bond-related programmes immediately after the film was released, most being presented by Denise Richards.
The film opened at the top of the North American box office with $35.5 million. Its final worldwide gross was $361 million worldwide, with $126 million in the United States alone. It became the highest grossing James Bond film of all time until the release of Die Another Day. The film was also selected for the first round of nominations for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects but failed. The film was nominated for a Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film Saturn Award, Pierce Brosnan won both the Empire Award and the Blockbuster Entertainment Award as Best Actor, and David Arnold won a BMI Film Music Award for his score. The film became the first in the Bond series to win a Golden Raspberry when Denise Richards was chosen as "Worst Supporting Actress" at the 1999 Razzie Awards. Richards and Brosnan were also nominated for "Worst Screen Couple".
The initial release of the DVD includes the featurette "Secrets of 007", which cuts into "making of" material during the film; the documentary "The Making of The World Is Not Enough"; two commentary tracks—one by director Michael Apted, and the other by production designer Peter Lamont, second unit director Vic Armstrong, and composer David Arnold; a trailer for the PlayStation video game, and the Garbage music video. The Ultimate Edition released in 2006 had as additional extras a 2000 documentary named "Bond Cocktail", a featurette on shooting the Q Boat scenes, Pierce Brosnan in a press conference in Hong Kong, deleted scenes, and a tribute to Desmond Llewelyn.
Reception was mixed. Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert said the film was a "splendid comic thriller, exciting and graceful, endlessly inventive", and gave it three-and-a-half stars out of four. On the other hand, Eleanor Ringel Gillespie of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution disliked the film, calling it "dated and confused". Rotten Tomatoes gave The World Is Not Enough a 51% rating, the lowest of the Brosnan films, and Metacritic gave the film a score of 59 out of 100. Negative criticism was focused on the execution of the plot, and the action scenes were considered excessive. Entertainment Weekly picked it as the worst Bond film of all time, saying it had a plot "so convoluted even Pierce Brosnan has admitted to being mystified". Norman Wilner of MSN chose it as the third worst film, above A View to a Kill and Licence to Kill, while IGN chose it as the fifth worst.
Richards was criticised as not being credible in the role of a nuclear scientist. She was ranked as one of the worst Bond girls of all time by Entertainment Weekly in 2008.
The film was adapted into a trading card series which was released by Inkworks. Bond novelist Raymond Benson wrote his adaptation of The World Is Not Enough from the film's screenplay. It was Benson's fourth Bond novel and followed the story closely, but with some details changed. For instance, Elektra sings quietly before her death and Bond still carries his Walther PPK instead of the newer P99. The novel also gave the cigar girl/assassin the name Giulietta da Vinci and retained a scene between her and Renard that was cut from the film (this scene was also retained in the card series).
In 2000, the film was adapted by Electronic Arts to create two first-person shooters of the same name for the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation. The Nintendo 64 version was developed by Eurocom and the PlayStation version was developed by Black Ops. Versions of The World Is Not Enough for the PC and the PlayStation 2 were planned for release in 2000, but both were cancelled. These versions would have used the id Tech 3 game engine. Although this game marks Pierce Brosnan's fifth appearance in a Bond video game, the game includes only his likeness; the character is voiced by Adam Blackwood.