Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, British government agent
Hamburg, Germany, April 1997… specifically Saturday, April 12, 1997
Film: Tomorrow Never Dies
Release Date: December 6, 1997
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Costume Designer: Lindy Hemming
Tomorrow Never Dies, Pierce Brosnan’s second outing as Bond, also carried a few notable firsts. It was the first film produced after the death of longtime Bond producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, and it was the first film to not use any traditional Fleming title or plot elements; Licence to Kill had borrowed heavily from both Live and Let Die and “The Hildebrand Rarity”, and GoldenEye – though an original story – was the name of Ian Fleming’s home.
Thus, without two of its most influential auteurs’ assistance, Tomorrow Never Dies was left to its own devices – pun intended – and marked a significantly different direction for the series. Action was thrust to the forefront and, though he was still clad in sharp tailored suits (how could Pierce Brosnan not be?), Bond was now directed to appeal to a younger audience. GoldenEye had still maintained many of the classic elements of style but Tomorrow Never Dies emphasized action and technology. This emphasis was everywhere from the music to the technology itself. Moby created a remixed version of the Bond theme, and the Propellerheads created the track used during the parking garage chase. Even Bond’s venerable PPK, which he had carried since the early 1960s, was replaced by the new Walther P99.
Despite these changes, the filmmakers still had to give Bond audiences what they loved about the series since the beginning. This Hamburg sequence is a good example of this bizarre marriage between old and new without the direct “old ways are the best” message of Skyfall.
Elliot Carver is presented as a Hearst-like mogul (old) who uses modern technology to direct the news (new). Bond sneaks into the plant through information gained from a mistress (old) then steals the GPS encoder device while making his escape (new). Bond returns to his hotel room, pistol drawn, to find his mistress dead and an assassin waiting for him (old), but Bond is able to use a feature on his cell phone to defeat the assassin (new).
Next, we have the car chase. A fantastic action sequence, it too takes the old formula of bad guys chasing a car and adds a modern twist with the various gadgets of Bond’s car, not the least of which being the fact that he is controlling the car from a mobile phone in the back seat. Car Week continues with a breakdown of Bond’s attire and ride in this sequence.
What’d He Wear?
Bond suits up for his investigation of Carver’s printing press in a charcoal gray Brioni suit made of lightweight worsted flannel. This would be a very comfortable suit for April in Hamburg, which typically enjoys cool afternoons of temperatures around 50°F. The tobacco brown cashmere overcoat Brosnan wore with his suit the day before would have added an extra layer of warmth, but it would’ve undoubtedly hindered his progress while trying to make his quick escape from Carver’s thugs amid heavy gunfire.
For a more detailed expert breakdown of Bond’s clothing in this scene, visit The Suits of James Bond.
The suit has a slightly boxy fit with its strong shoulders and unsuppressed waist, but it still looks elegant on Pierce as he sneaks in and out of Carver’s secret office.
The single-breasted suit jacket has notch lapels with a buttonhole through the left lapel. The 3-button front stance is slightly lower than usual, but the center button meets the rise of the trousers perfectly near Brosnan’s natural waist. With his 6’2″ height and the comfortable fit of the suit, this lower stance is hardly an impediment to its elegance.
The jacket has a welted breast pocket that slants slightly inward while the flapped hip pockets slant slightly backward. There is a flapped ticket pocket on the right side on the same axis as the center button.
Brosnan’s strong profile comes from the padded shoulders, another element that may turn some off from this suit. The jacket also has double rear vents, roped sleeveheads, and 4-button cuffs.
The trousers have a moderately low rise near Brosnan’s natural waist. Though they are styled like some of Connery’s early suits with double pleats, tapered legs, and turn-ups, the low rise, pleat direction, and belt loops indicate markedly different trousers.
Brosnan’s trousers also have on-seam side pockets and jetted rear pockets that close with a button, best seen when he is leaping out of the BMW after his time as a “backseat driver”.
Bond wears a black leather belt with a rounded gold clasp. I feel like this type of belt was much more common in the ’90s; now, squared buckles and clasps seem to thankfully be the order of the day.
Although the suit may differ much from the Connery years, Brosnan returns to Turnbull & Asser with his light blue poplin shirt. The shirt has a spread collar, front placket, and – unlike the Connery shirts – standard double cuffs rather than turnback cuffs.
Brosnan fastens his cuffs with a pair of silver oval-shaped Dunhill cuff links with a gold center. More information about these links can be found on James Bond Lifestyle.
The Bond Lifestyle page also mentions a small continuity error in the film; when Bond enters his hotel room with his PPK drawn looking for Paris, his left cuff is loose with the link dangling. In the next shot, the link is properly secured again.
Bond livens up this understated suit with a loud brown and navy jacquard-weave tie constructed of dense English silk with a sky blue square motif. Although the tie’s design is more garish than the traditional Bond necktie, the length is perfect, meeting at the waistband as it properly should. Still, a few scenes of Brosnan wearing this tie next to his BMW makes him look as though he should be trying to sell it rather than drive it.
The tie was made by Turnbull & Asser and, in October 2010, was reintroduced on their site for £105. According to the site, this tie was designed specifically for Tomorrow Never Dies. Additional details are available from James Bond Lifestyle, which describes the tie as around 57″ long with a 3.75″ blade. A version of the tie actually worn by Pierce in the film is available at 007 Movie Props for €2786 (around $4,300).
Brosnan wears a pair of Church’s black leather oxford brogues with a cap toe and five lace eyelets, worn with black dress socks.
He keeps the black leather accessories going with the Galco Executive shoulder holster for his PPK. Since its appearance in the Bond series, the Galco Executive has been a wildly popular shoulder rig for PPK owners. It’s still available from Galco for $199.95, with model EX204 being the black right-handed model that Bond would have used.
The Galco Executive is constructed of a black steerhide harness, a 1″ elastic support strap with a black tri-slide adjuster and silver brass suspender clip that attaches to the trouser waistband. All Executive holsters are black with a horizontal holster that can fit either a semi-automatic pistol like the PPK or a revolver.
After first sporting an Omega in GoldenEye, Bond returned in Tomorrow Never Dies with a different model, the Omega Seamaster Professional 2531.80.00 Chronometer, on his left wrist. This stainless Seamaster had a blue dial and blue 12-sided unidirectional rotating bezel used to calculate diving time. The watch is water resistant down to 300 meters, but Bond doesn’t find himself needing that feature just yet.
According to James Bond Lifestyle, it originally retailed for somewhere between $1,000 and $1,300, but pieces are likely selling for much higher now due to the ended production and the watch’s use in three different Bond movies… not to mention the fact that it’s an Omega.
Certain angles during the action scenes reveal a white layer of clothing under Brosnan’s suit and shirt. This is likely for protection while being thrown around the tough sets of Carver’s printing press.
Go Big or Go Home
Most of his gadgets are car-related in this sequence, but Bond isn’t without a few of his own. Besides his obviously utilitarian Walther PPK pistol, Bond has a gray Ericsson cell phone – model JB007 if you’ll believe it – that has the convenient feature of electrocuting its user on command. So, let’s just say, if an assassin gets ahold of your phone and asks you for a sequence of numbers to press, you can tell him and it will zap him for just long enough to give you the upper hand. It may sound unbelievable, folks, but it finds its way into Tomorrow Never Dies! I’m still looking for an app like that for my iPhone.
This sequence also features the Bond’s franchise’s attempt at an apology for its horrible record of sexism by having Wai Lin outsmart Bond at every turn during their escape as she gets away clean and unnoticed while he is forced to shoot his way out against all of Carver’s generic hired goons and their automatic weapons. Of course, this “apology” fails to acknowledge that she’s the one that fucked things up in the first place by triggering the alarm, plus she didn’t even get what Bond was after (and he did!), plus her extra-obvious attire of black leather catsuit would make her stand out like a sore thumb compared to Bond’s standard business suit. In real life, she’d have been hanging by her toe-nails in Carver’s torture dungeon while Brosnan smirked through the parking lot to his BMW with the film’s MacGuffin in his coat pocket.
Anyway, if you’re looking to replicate Bond’s Hamburg trip without all of the unfortunate mistress deaths and gunfights, you should book a room at the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski in Hamburg. The address is:
An der Alster 72-79
Call them up at 040 28880 or shoot an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t tell the hotel you’re a Bond fan, though, as they may worry you’ll be climbing up from your suite to the roof globe like Pierce. You won’t be able to get Bond’s room, either, as that was actually filmed at the Stoke Poges Park Club… which you remember seeing in Goldfinger, don’t you?
How to Get the Look
Bond wears a mostly elegant suit with a few stylistic touches from the ’90s that can be corrected for a modern version. It’s a fine look appropriate either for a day at the office or a business holiday in Europe.
- Charcoal gray lightweight flannel wool Brioni suit:
- Single-breasted jacket with notch lapels, low 3-button front, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, flapped ticket pocket, padded shoulders, double rear vents, and 4-button cuffs
- Double reverse-pleated low rise trousers with belt loops, on-seam side pockets, jetted button-through rear pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- Light blue cotton poplin Turnbull & Asser dress shirt with spread collar, front placket, and double/French cuffs
- Brown and navy jacquard-weave silk Turnbull & Asser tie with sky blue square motif
- Silver oval-shaped Dunhill cuff links with gold center
- Black leather belt with gold rounded clasp
- Black leather 5-eyelet Church’s cap-toe oxford brogues
- Black dress socks
- Omega Seamaster Professional 2531.80.00 Chronometer with blue dial and bezel, stainless case, and stainless bracelet
- Galco Executive EX204 shoulder holster, for Walther PPK pistol
Tomorrow Never Dies marked the second entry in the Bond franchise’s three-film deal with BMW, this time placing Bond in a BMW 750iL, the first four-door sedan ever issued to him by Q Branch.
Q: Your new BMW 750. All the usual refinements… machine guns, rockets, and a GPS tracking system.
BMW computer: Welcome. Please obey all instructions for a safe trip.
Q: Thought you’d pay more attention to a female voice.
Bond: I think we’ve met.
Q: I am not interested in your sordid escapades. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
Although it had been introduced twenty years earlier, the 7 Series was still BMW’s flagship sedan in 1997 and was a reasonable choice for BMW to offer EON Productions as part of their new product placement deal with the Bond franchise. In keeping with the film’s emphasis on technology, specifically GPS and location services, BMW became the first European car manufacturer to offer an integrated satellite navigation system with the 7 Series.
The 750iL was part of BMW’s E38 generation of 7 Series cars, manufactured between 1994 and 2001. The 750i was the base model while the iL (“L” for lang, German for “long”) indicated a longer wheelbase. Interestingly, though the 750i and 750iL were both available in Europe, only the 750iL was available in the U.S. Both the 750i and the 750iL were powered by BMW’s 5.4 L M73B54 twelve-cylinder engine, producing 322 horsepower. With this under the hood, the 750iL could reach 60 mph in 6.3 seconds and had a top speed just shy of 160 mph.
The standard gearbox was the five-speed ZF automatic with Steptronic manual shift. The 750iL was further enhanced by high-pressure headlight washers, groundbreaking xenon HID headlights, a power sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, and a powerful sound system with 14 speakers, four subwoofers, and a 6-disc CD changer.
The car provided by BMW to Tomorrow Never Dies was actually the lower tier 740iL, powered by a 4.4 L V8 and rebadged as the 750iL. However, it was clearly intended to be a 750iL so we’ll treat it as one… even if we know better.
1997 BMW 750iL
Body Style: 4-door sedan
Engine: 5.4 L BMW M73B54 V12
Power: 322 hp (240 kW; 326 PS) @ 5000 rpm
Torque: 361 lb·ft (490 N·m) @ 3900 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed ZF 5HP30 automatic with Steptronic manual shift mode
Wheelbase: 121 inches (3070 mm)
Length: 201.7 inches (5124 mm)
Width: 73.3 inches (1862 mm)
Height: 56.5 inches (1435 mm)
Bond does as the Germans do by driving his BMW exclusively during his time in Germany. The car, supposedly rented from Avis, has a number of overly-convenient features:
- remote controlled engine and windows via Bond’s Ericsson cell phone
- electric tear gas security system
- re-inflating tires
- security glass windows
- hood emblem cable-cutting device (at just the right height!)
- roof-mounted rocket launcher
- fingerprint-locking airbag compartment safe
A total of seventeen 750iL sedans (or rebadged 740iL sedans) were used during the production, with four adapted as “hidden driver” cars for when Bond was in the back seat; in fact, a small steering wheel was installed in the back seat for the stunt driver with video monitors guiding his progress. Another car – only one – had the sliding safe compartment built in for Bond’s PPK. The car that ended the sequence by flying off the hotel roof into the Avis shop was known as the “cannon” and was stripped of as much of its weight as possible to prepare it for an effective jump. Seven cars remained – three served as backup for the “hidden driver” cars – and were used for the non-demanding exterior shots.
The registration plates on Bond’s car were B-MT2144, a nod to the BMT-214A plates on his Aston Martin in GoldenEye. (The original DB5 plates from the Connery films were BMT-216A, if you’re curious.)
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Dr. Kaufman: I’m just a professional doing a job!
Bond: Me too.
You’re a fool if you call yourself a James Bond fan and you haven’t yet read Matt Spaiser’s excellent blog The Suits of James Bond. Matt discusses this suit in one of his earlier posts.