Die Another Day
- Pierce Brosnan as James Bond
- Halle Berry as Jinx
- Toby Stephens as Gustav Graves
- Rosamund Pike as Miranda Frost
- Rick Yune as Zao
- Judi Dench as M
- John Cleese as Q
- Samantha Bond as Moneypenny
- Colin Salmon as Robinson
Just like Roger Moore did in A View to a Kill, Pierce Brosnan signed off as 007 in a film that wasn’t his best. That film is Die Another Day, which ranks as my least favourite Bond film. It is a shame that Brosnan should sign off in such a bad way, especially after the brilliance of GoldenEye and his other ventures as Bond. People may say that Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough are nothing special, but in comparison to the barely tolerable Die Another Day, they’re masterpieces. Anyway, back to my eventful review.
We start out with Bond in North Korea, infiltrating a military base run by the renegade Colonel Moon and his loyal friend Zao, who has been trading mass arms for conflict diamonds. Unfortunately for Bond, his cover is blown by someone in the West and he has to engage in an explosive battle with Colonel Moon, which presumably leads to his death. Bond is then captured and tortured for fourteen months. After his time in captivity, Bond is eventually swapped in a prison exchange for Zao. Bond knows that someone within his government betrayed him and is determined to find out. M, on the other hand, revokes his licence to kill for fear of political ramifications and that Bond has cracked and given away potentially dangerous information. 007 has different ideas and escapes from MI6 custody on a mission to track down the enemy and Zao, who has also escaped his imprisonment. Travelling to Cuba, he meets the seductive Jinx, an American agent who can ably handle herself and is also after the escaped Zao. Their trail leads to a nefarious gene therapy clinic, that can alter a person’s entire DNA. Bond surmises that Colonel Moon is in fact not dead and has taken on a new identity. That identity is one Gustav Graves, a playboy, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Supposedly a respectable businessman, his real plans are far from good as Bond soon discovers. Always with Graves is his aloof publicist Miranda Frost, who is an undercover British agent. From sunny Cuba to the cold of Iceland, Bond uncovers the full extent of Graves and his plan. With a specially designed satellite, he will cut through the border between North and South Korea, so that the North can invade. Yet Graves isn’t alone in his plan as the mysterious Miranda is in fact on his side and double-crossing Bond at every turn. With the sultry Jinx in toe, Bond must derail this plan before full on war erupts.
Now the main problem with Die Another Day is that it is far too focused on the action and not enough on the story. The opening is promising, but the rest of the film descends into mindless chaos and shoot them up action that is really out-of-place within the Bond formula. Yes, some of the action is good, with a fencing duel that soon turns nasty quite thrilling, but non-stop becomes too much and just not that enjoyable in the end. Lee Tamahori in the directing seat doesn’t help as he can’t bring anything new to the film and give the story anything of worth. He relies on too much slow motion and rapid cuts that start out as alright, but become monotonous in the long run. There is not sense of balance to the story and no amount of endless action can make up for that. Also, I don’t mind it when Bond films have references to the older films of the series, but Die Another Day goes overboard with this tactic and the end result is needless. There are some positives, albeit only some that give Die Another Day some value. The locations are pretty spectacular, with the Ice Palace owned by Graves a particular highlight of production design. David Arnold once again provides a classy score that gives Die Another Day some sophistication, interspersed with the non-stop action and some dodgy CGI( need I mention that wretched invisible car)? The less said about Madonna’s title song the better. Anyone who follows this blog will know I’m a fan of Madonna, but her contribution the series is one of the worst. It detracts from the brutal title sequence of fire and ice girls inter cut with Bond’s torture in North Korea and for that alone it is unforgivable.
It is such a shame that Pierce Brosnan signed off from the franchise with Die Another Day as his swan song. He really brought something good to the role and managed to balance the physical challenge and the wit. His performance here may not be his best, but we still buy him as Bond and still watch as he attempts to save the world again during his mission. Halle Berry is sexy and feisty as fellow agent Jinx, who is nifty in a fight and more than a match for Bond in terms of the innuendo stakes. She has great chemistry with Brosnan and their passionate as well as thrillingly dangerous encounters are well-executed to say the least. Toby Stephens may nail the smarmy and power-crazed personality of Gustav Graves, but as a villain he just isn’t that interesting to watch and he doesn’t join the gallery of iconic foes for 007. Thankfully the talented and stunning Rosamund Pike is on hand to give the role of the icy Miranda some dimension, as we watch her play Bond effortlessly because of her glacial beauty, icy demeanor and taciturn deception. Rick Yune is not used well enough as henchman Zao, who has diamonds embedded in his face after the opening encounter with Bond. He may have an interesting look as Zao, but he just doesn’t cut it because of the poor development of his character. At least we have Judi Dench who magnificently portrays M with authority, grave knowledge and a hint of pride for her top agent. John Cleese on the other hand is not that convincing as gadget master Q. No one was ever going to replicate the success of the late Desmond Llewelyn, but I just can’t take Cleese seriously in the role of Q. Samantha Bond and Colin Salmon are seen too infrequently to really register this time around as Moneypenny and Robinson.
Too much action and not enough plot scupper Die Another Day and this makes it one of the worst movies in the Bond series, my least favourite as well as a poor final outing for Pierce Brosnan after the potential of his previous movies.