Directed by Lee Tamahori
A failed mission in North Korea leaves James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) a prisoner of the hermit kingdom. After a prisoner exchange sets a terrorist free, Bond escapes and seeks out revenge only to uncover a conspiracy to allow North Korea to conquer the South.
This was Pierce Brosnan‘s final outing as James Bond. For a swan song of his time in the role he is not bad, but he does nothing special here with 007. Bond is not given much new to do or to react to as compared to the previous three. While entertaining, his role here is not special.
John Cleese’s turn as the new Q (having been jokingly referred to as R in the previous film) gave me hope for future Bond films even if Brosnan was not going to be James Bond anymore. While Desmond Llewelyn was a playful mad scientist, Cleese was an irritated intellectual who felt he was dealing with a child. Unfortunately this was his last appearance as the character or successor however you look at it.
Halle Berry is NSA agent Jinx Johnson. The character is mostly spunk and attitude. Spunk is good but as the major defining characteristic of a character it just does not work. She felt a little underdeveloped. It felt they were going for Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) vibe here but it fell a little short.
Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) does a good job of being the anti-James Bond in this film. He is what Christopher Lee should have been in The Man with The Golden Gun. I am not talking smack on Christopher Lee. The guy is great, but Graves was closer to being the opposite of James Bond or the evil version of James Bond than what Christopher Lee was. Graves was just as capable and charming and roguish and acceptable to society as Bond, but he was also evil.
Rosamund Pike as undercover MI6 agent and double agent Miranda Frost just did not work for me. Dangerous Bond women were nothing new, but her turn was not a surprise. You saw that train coming miles away. She was unnecessarily difficult every step of the way. If you could not tell she was working against Bond then you are deaf and blind. I am not requesting a sophisticated narrative. I am just saying it needed to be much less obvious.
In Die Another Day we have the usual bag of over the top villains and unusual henchmen. I really miss that in the current crop of James Bond movies. We do not get that it seems anymore and that was a notable element of the series.
Ricky Yune is great here as the terrorist Zao who was exchanged for Bond and that Bond escapes from the medical facility in which he is being held after being repatriated to pursue. The guy plays great villains. He never disappoints. And the look of the character is perfectly unusual for a main Bond henchvillain. Zao has a sprinkling of conflict diamonds permanently embedded in his face. That gets mixed in with weird genetic work that is being done on him that is never finished to create a pale skin and pale eyed look.
This was the 40th anniversary film and it was filled with allusions to previous Bond films. From Jinx coming out of the water in that particular bikini to props from previous Bond films being in the background there is something for fans from the beginning to get a little kick out of. The homage to Goldfinger with Jinx being the one to be killed by lasers was my personal favorite.
Supposedly there is a lot of product placement in this movie, but I am not exactly sure of what. Maybe I am just ignorant of what was out on the market at the time. Or maybe they are referring to all the high-end stuff Bond encounters that most movie goers cannot even consider buying.
This is a pretty fun and exciting movie even if it does have that awful tsunami surfing scene. It is almost as bad as Roger Moore snowboarding in A View to a Kill. The film did use a great more computer effects than previous Bond films and they were not up to snuff for the goals. Bond had always been heavy into practical effects and this was their first real foray into the digital world, and it did not work. They reached too far in what they were trying to do. The FX technology just was not up to what they wanted.
That theme song by Madonna was probably the worst of the Brosnan Era and probably one of the worst of the James Bond films in general. It is too much of a dance song and not enough of a spy film song. The graphics in the opening credits are great. But the inclusion use of that song diminishes those graphics because the music is ill fitting for the series. Either they should have gone to a different artist or used a completely different song.
I remember when this movie came out it was reported that North Korea said that this movie showed America’s hatred for their country. Let that sink in. A film about a British secret agent showed the American hatred for North Korea. I guess that shows the character’s reach.
They tap into some realities of the world here to create a thrilling story. It has been suggested for decades that North Korea would readily invade the south if it thought it had a shot. Die Another Day ran with that idea but made it all the idea of some rogue son of some North Korean general which I could not quite buy. The country itself appears to be tightly controlled-especially in the hierarchy. Somebody could not go rogue for very long. Still this is a superspy film so you have to suspend your disbelief at times.
Die Another Day is not a bad Bond film. It is not the greatest, but it still manages to be entertaining despite its flaws. I think it gets more hate than it deserves. It once again taps into real world things to produce an exciting superspy story. Even though there are flaws, you will enjoy this outing.