Die Another Day (2002)
Pierce Brosnan returns for his forth outing as super-spy James Bond, this time trying to thwart, here goes, a former North Korean militant who has switched genes to look like a wealthy Anglo-Saxon playboy. And what does this stupid evildoer want? To erase minefields in Korea with a giant reflective mirror in space that channels a giant solar beam of DOOM! Commence smacking of the forehead.
Berry may have an Oscar but she is not terribly great in Die Another Day. She is so awful that if she sucked anymore she would physically implode. Heres an example: she literally stabs someone with a book and glibly says, ”Read that, bitch.” Ugh. Want another? When asked by a diamond-studded baddie, whom sent her, Berry’s defensive reply is, “Your Mama.” How in the world did this person become a secret anything?
The Bond series has always been great escapist fare but its age is becoming much more apparent. Die Another Day starts with a montage of Bond being tortured in Korea. When he’s released our dapper gentleman looks exactly like the American Taliban, with flowing hair and beard. He’s been abandoned by his people out of the fear he has confessed vital info while under 14 months of torture. Yes, that’s right folks, 14 months of torture. You think an agent like Bond, who has foiled devious plots 19 previous times, would be worth retrieving.
Brosnan is dandy and a charming actor but even he is showing some gray. It may be time to tap another into the martini-swilling shoes. Dame Judi Dench and John Cleese provide stable supporting bits, but what is Michael Madsen doing in this?
Director Lee Tamahori has directed one of the best films on self-abusive relationships ever (Once Were Warriors) and also directed one of the worst thrillers ever (Along Came a Spider). Tamahori surprisingly brings some slick touches to Bond and seems to be trying to tinker with the stagy formula, and when he gets away with it Die Another Day is thrilling. A car chase set atop a glacier is visually stunning and pulse pounding. Then this chase continues into a melting ice palace. Brilliant if not a tad bizarre. What do ice palaces go for on the open market? Whats the upkeep like?
Die Another Day is the most self-conscious of the Bond franchise with numerous homages and in-jokes. Berry’s introduction is a direct reference to Ursula Andress classic bikini-clad ashore entrance in Dr. No. Bond confesses his relationships with women never seem to make it to second dates, despite the vigorous sex, and a female agent (Rosamund Pike) even jabs, “I know you, sex for dinner, death for breakfast.” The flaccid villain runs a diamond company and actually has a magazine headline that states: ”Diamonds Are Forever.” At least the multiple writers were having some fun.
The producers that hold the Bond rights are likely as stingy about following set guidelines as the ones behind the scenes at Harry Potter. Yes James Bond always has one foot planted in the fantastic, and the emphasis will still be on girls, gadgets and gargantuan explosions, but this formula cries out for some tinkering before more damage can be done. The robust derring-do occasionally lightens Die Another Day but the franchise is starting to look like it needs mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if it is to survive in our Mountain Dew, XXX world of tomorrow.
Nate’s Grade: C+
Posted on November 23, 2002, in 2002 Movies and tagged action, halle berry, james bond, john cleese, judi dench, lee tamahori, michael madsen, pierce brosnan, rosamund pike, spy thriller. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.