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. Here’s 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? What’s 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+

About natezoebl

One man. Many movies. I am a cinephile (which spell-check suggests should really be "epinephine"). I was told that a passion for movies was in his blood since I was conceived at a movie convention. While scientifically questionable, I do remember a childhood where I would wake up Saturday mornings, bounce on my parents' bed, and watch Siskel and Ebert's syndicated TV show. That doesn't seem normal. At age 17, I began writing movie reviews and have been unable to stop ever since. I was the co-founder and chief editor at PictureShowPundits.com (2007-2014) and now write freelance. I have over 1400 written film reviews to my name and counting. I am also a proud member of the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA) since 2012. In my (dwindling) free time, I like to write uncontrollably. I wrote a theatrical genre mash-up adaptation titled "Our Town... Attacked by Zombies" that was staged at my alma mater, Capital University in the fall of 2010 with minimal causalities and zero lawsuits. I have also written or co-written sixteen screenplays and pilots, with one of those scripts reviewed on industry blog Script Shadow. Thanks to the positive exposure, I am now also dipping my toes into the very industry I've been obsessed over since I was yea-high to whatever people are yea-high to in comparisons.

Posted on November 23, 2002, in 2002 Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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