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Come back George, all is forgiven: At lease "On Her Majesty's Secret
Service" was recognizable as a Bond film. The latest installment in the
franchise, the 20th installment in fact, should have been a cause for
celebration. Instead, I have to rate it a solid 1, and that only because
the system won't let me rate it lower. When did James Bond morph with
Rambo? What happened to the wit and charm that was evident in the best of
the series, films like 'Goldfinger" and "The Spy Who Loved
There is nothing in this film that feels original or fresh. And the John Woo influenced cinematics have no place in a Bond film. And what's with the use of CGI in place of real stuntmen doing the impossible, as they did in every other film? Sure, it may look "super cool" in concept, but in fact it looks fake and out of place. They didn't use CGI to make trucks act like race cars in "License To Kill".
I'm afraid that on his 40th anniversary, the cinematic James Bond is looking every bit his age, dressed up like a 70 year old hustler trying to pick up teenagers. Forget the snazzy trappings and the flashy action scenes and get back to the basics.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Pis*-poor, Ill-conceived, soulless, mindless, horrifying - and thats just the title track in this 40th Anniversary defunctular - proof positive that the series is in terrible terrible trouble. In fact, based on the this exercise in self-parody (even the title sounds like a parody), devoid of any new or exciting elements, it might be worth pondering whether its time for the super-spy to take a sabbatical while all concerned contemplate a wholesale reinvention of the Francaise; a full-scale rebuilding from the ground up with absolutely no return to the cut and paste methodology that rots this one from the inside out. It isn't even worth discussing the story to this anniversary entry because there isn't one but it might be worth pointing out the contrast between this and the last anniversary story The Living Daylights (1987) for therein lies the clues to what's gone wrong with 007's exploits. Whereas Dalton's film used the anniversary as a sort of reaffirmation of principles and a throw back to the series dramatic and literary roots, a new dawn if you like (and frankly even if you don't), Die Another Dies goes the other way and represents the zenith of the Pervis/Wade era of Brosnan Bonds that has seen the action and budgets scale upward while the substance has conversely dipped and with the arrival of an invisible car, evaporated. This is about a trillion miles away from the 25th anniversary Bond in which familiar elements made the odd cameo appearance - the Astin Martin for example. Here the familiar is everything - in fact its the building blocks of the story (such as it is) and the characters and, well everything really. The tone is pure fantasy - deadly lasers in space, an evil ice palace lair for the villain, Madonna etc... Characters with silly names trade puns and insipid dialogue while Brosnan goes through the motions. If it was the intention of all concerned to make a companion piece for Austin Powers then they should consider DAD a roaring success. For those of us expecting a serious Bond movie however, its a minor travesty - Bonds have been lazy before (Moonraker, naturally) but this one completes the post-Goldeneye trajectory toward total self-parody and in doing so arguably takes its place along other genre greats such as Rocky 4, Star Trek: Nemesis and Batman and Robin in the 'film that crashed the series' category. Bond films have also been looking down the business end of oblivion before but 'tis no exaggeration to say that this time the martini loving super-spy is fighting for his life. Bond is a great character but unless the powers that be start to take him seriously again and refrain from this derivative fluff, they might as well call it a day.
On a mission in Korea, James Bond is captured and tortured for 18 months.
He is swapped with Korean agent Zao for his freedom. However M has swapped
him not to save him, but because she believes Bond has cracked and is giving
away information. However Bond knows there is another mole in the area and
escapes to uncover what Zao is up to and to uncover his Western
I looked forward to this film because I like Bond and easily get caught up in the hype. I think it is just down to the success of the formula and the fact that it feels comfortable to know you're getting a slightly different version of reliable product. For me, familiarity has yet to breed contempt in this series. I wanted to like this film more, although I did enjoy the vast majority of it. It's biggest problem is simply that it tries too hard and wants to do too much. The plot is OK and is a brave start showing our hero broken and in prison, but from there it does try and do way too much. It was good to relate the pre-credits scene to the rest of the film but the film seems restless unless it is having a major bit of plot happening - too many little twists or new bits of plot that stopped the film flowing. The plot is OK at heart but the little additions of diamonds, ice palace, weapons in space, DNA alteration, electrical suits all gets a bit much.
The film's direction is also a bit frantic. A little bit of Matrix creeping in and sudden rushing cameras etc. It isn't needed, indeed they make the cake feel over egged, like the director didn't trust himself enough to a good job and needed gimmicks etc. On top of this there are three or so cgi shots that are really poor (and I mean Mummy Returns poor). It doesn't help that the theme song is one of the worst ever but I could get past that as the action under the credits helped distract from it. The action is all good on the whole but there didn't seem enough room for them and all that plot - also everything was overdone. We don't need matrix type effects in Bond - all we need is a certain amount of flair and well designed shots etc. I sound negative but I still enjoyed this despite the weaknesses cause at the end of the day the formula still works even with the monkeying around.
One of the main reasons is Brosnan himself. he is getting better every film. He does some bad puns but never to the mocking extent of Moore and he also does the dangerous element of Connery. Even when the film starts to get silly he remains strong in the lead. Berry is wasted and is a distraction more than a good addition. From the cringe worthy first scene with Bond (trading smutty one liners) onwards she has no character worth speaking of. Her dialogue is innuendo and not lines, her acting is all in the twitch of her lips as she flirts and that's it. To look at, she does the job, but i thought we'd gotten past Bond girls that are eye-candy and nothing more. Pike is given a more frosty role and does pretty well despite being very cold when viewed beside the flirtatious Berry. Stephens hams it up as Graves. He starts well but the plot spin on his character (esp. the electric suit stuff) takes away from his credibility as a bad guy and he ends up as a cartoon type rather than a real threat. Yune on the other hand is a real good villain - a gimmick (his face) but also presence and real menace without hamming it up. I had hoped he would be the focus but alas no. Dench is good and Madsen is an interesting addition - but perhaps he wasn't the best choice for the head of NSA given the type of roles he is best known for - how many other people could only see Mr Blonde? Cleese does well as the new Q and brings his comedy into the role well, making it similar to the spirit of Q without being a copy. Madonna's cameo is as bad and as pointless as her theme song.
Overall let me stress I enjoyed this film but couldn't help but see the many flaws. It simply tries too hard in almost every area - plot, writing, action, direction. The formula is all there but it feels like they want to up the ante in every way, only at the basic level does the film feel comfortable in it's own skin and relaxes, for most of the time you'd think this was a new film desperately trying to start a franchise as opposed to a long running series.
It's the 20th Bond film and premiered on the 40th anniversary of the series, and, in many ways, it is really a tribute to the entire series itself. This film's strength and its weakness both lie in the fact that it is a blend of the classic Connery films, the outlandish Moore films, and the grittiness of the Dalton films. It's rolling the entire series into a single two hour adventure and the result is actually pretty entertaining. The first half is definitely stronger than the second; a more serious adventure with a classic feel to it, before taking a nose dive down into utter camp territory. I didn't mind the idea of making some scenes a little over-the-top, but I think they went overboard at times. Throughout the movie, the filmmakers toss in little references to previous Bond films. I suppose it's a fun idea to stop and consider how far these films have come over the last 40-something years, and a long time Bond fan can find amusement in finding these subtle, but long remembered treasures that poke their head in this film for one last time. As for the technical aspects of the film: The special effects are a little too ambitious and don't always come across convincing. The dialogue goes back and forth from excellent to atrocious. The ensemble of actors is pretty strong, except for Halle Berry, who in my opinion was completely wrong for a Bond movie. The villains are a little more dynamic. The action sequences are an improvement, in my mind. Granted, there are some instances where the filmmakers push the envelope a little too far, as mentioned above. However, they also show a certain amount of creativity that seemed to be lacking in the previous two films. Overall, this film is really a mixed bag. At moments there is potential for one of the greatest Bond adventures. At other moments you're thinking, "What the heck am I watching." Personally, I feel the positives balance out the negatives, but if anything, this film is a good popcorn movie. All in all, it wasn't a bad way to close out the series before rebooting it again with Casino Royale.
Creating new, exciting adventures for 007 after 20 feature films in
forty years is a difficult task at best, particularly as public tastes
change, and the character of James Bond has to maintain at least a
degree of the 'persona' created by Ian Fleming. While the heirs of
Albert Broccoli, his daughter Barbara and son-in-law Michael G. Wilson,
have done a remarkable job in keeping the series 'fresh', if DIE
ANOTHER DAY is any indication, the creative forces surrounding them
seem to be losing 'touch' with James Bond, and his world.
After an astonishing pre-title sequence, climaxing with Bond being captured by the North Koreans, the film offers a horrendous montage of torture, with Bond only surviving due to a timely prisoner exchange (with an unsympathetic M remarking, "If it had been up to me, you'd have stayed in North Korea...", obviously forgetting that 007 had saved her life in THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH). Pierce Brosnan, at fifty, is superb in this sequence, vulnerable yet defiant, and to this point, DIE ANOTHER DAY has all the makings of a first-class Bond entry.
Then Bond jaunts off to find the agent who betrayed him, becoming involved in an investigation involving diamonds, solar power, and a 'too-good-to-be-true' industrialist (smarmy Toby Stephens), and all of the creativity of the opening is lost, with the film becoming an uneasy mix of references to past films and silly, unbelievable situations, sets and gadgets (culminating with an 'Ice Palace' and an 'invisible' Aston Martin).
As she had won an Oscar prior to filming DIE ANOTHER DAY, sexy Halle Berry, 36, was publicized extensively as Bond's latest leading lady, CIA agent 'Jinx'. Unfortunately, after a spectacular 'rising from the waves' introduction (borrowed from Ursula Andress, in DR. NO), and a few nicely choreographed fights, she spoke...and lost all of her credibility in the role. While much of the problem was certainly in the script, she was never believable as Bond's 'counterpart' in the American intelligence community. On the other hand, Rosamund Pike, 23, was both sexy and duplicitous as British double agent Miranda Frost, as chilly as her name, but capable of igniting under 007's gaze. In a part equally poorly written, she made far more of her scenes than the writers gave her.
The most interesting character in the film was certainly Rick Yune, as Graves' 'enforcer', Zao. Charismatic, ruthless, and nearly unstoppable, Zao was nearly a primal force, far more menacing than Graves at his worst.
While a sword-fight sequence between Bond and Graves provided a rare film highlight, and certainly ranks as one of the film series' more memorable sequences, much of the rest of the production was silly, with the story set at a break-neck pace to 'hide' the absurdities. The climax, as a solar 'ray' destroyed the minefield between North and South Korea, allowing an 'invasion' to occur, as 007 and Jinx attempted to commandeer the aircraft controlling the 'ray', stands as one of the most ludicrous finales to a Bond film since MOONRAKER.
Although DIE ANOTHER DAY would become Pierce Brosnan's highest-grossing Bond, to date, the film, despite heavily promoting Halle Berry's presence, failed to crack the 'Top Ten' box office attractions in the U.S., and disappointed many fans, worldwide.
With the purchase of MGM by Sony, which has wanted to produce a Bond film for years (the studios were entangled in a legal suit that ended just as DIE began production), surprising changes were in store...CASINO ROYALE, the only Fleming title NOT owned by Eon Productions was named as the next 007 adventure...and Pierce Brosnan was FIRED (a sad finish for an actor who'd worked so hard to make 007 viable in the new millennium!) While Broccoli and Wilson are still 'in charge' of Bond productions, they have to answer to new bosses, with definite opinions of their own on where the franchise should go...Can 007 survive THIS?
We can only wait and see!
DIE ANOTHER DAY is a unique Bond film for me because I had seen the
other entries in the franchise before I discovered the IMDb . In other
words my only knowledge of its reputation is down to the comments I
have read on these pages and because many commentators are so loud in
their condemnation ( Bad CGI , awful title track etc ) I was expecting
a really bad movie never mind a really bad Bond movie , but DIE ANOTHER
DAY wasn't as bad as I was expecting
It's interesting to note that the Bond series never really concerned itself with painting communists as bad guys . OCTOPUSSY ties in with the cold war very much as does THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS to a lesser degree but in no way can the series be criticised as being right wing or reactionary with GOLDENEYE wearing its heart on it's sleeve that Russian gangsterism is more of a worry than Russian communism so it's something of a shock seeing Bond battle Stalinist commies in North Korea . That is in no way a criticism either .
We're then treated to a bizarre title sequence composed of a torture montage with quite simply the worst theme tune ever devised for a Bond movie . I don't know what is about the Pierce Brosnan Bonds but they all have very poor title songs despite having all round superb production values and DIE ANOTHER DAY continues the high production values , a lot of people complain about the CGI and I must admit the cartoonish jet at the end does look like a cartoon but compare this sequence to all the action scenes in the 1980s which were composed of Roger Moore standing in front of some back projection and no matter how much you don't want to say it you must confess we've come a long way since then
Some people have also let rip that the film is ruined by post modernist self reference but I disagree . Come on chaps when you've seen one Bond movie since the late 1960s you've seen most of them . Plot wise DIE ANOTHER DAY is very , very similar to GOLDENEYE with a " British " villain in charge of a death ray in outer space with a fair amount of LICENSED TO KILL thrown in . It should be remembered both YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME had the same identical plot with serious hardware being stolen from the USSR and America in order to start a nuclear holocaust . There is a ridiculous amount of humour though involving John Cleese as Q . I know you shouldn't take James Bond movies seriously but did we need an invisible car ?
The other thing I disliked was Jinx . Think about it , she's tough and kills without hesitation so how come she needs rescuing from Bond ? She's just a cypher there to create a love interest and it's amazing that the producers seriously considered starting a spin off series with Jinx as the heroine . It would have been as successful as CATWOMEN . There is a problem with a plot twist involving both Gustav Graves and Miranda Frost , the twist is good but unfortunately the surprise only works once which means on second viewing the shock value of the plot revelation is gone therefore DIE ANOTHER DAY doesn't have the same enjoyment second , third or fourth viewing unlike classic Bond movies
I'm not a big Bond fan but have been fairly impressed with the standards of the franchise from GOLDENEYE to DIE ANOTHER DAY , they've really come leaps and bounds from the Roger Moore debacles like MOONRAKER and VIEW TO A KILL . One aspect that is over looked in the series is the character interaction between Bond and M ( Convincingly played by Judi Dench ) and I hope to see this abrasive relationship continue when the series returns with a new actor in the lead role
After being captured, imprisoned and tortured in North Korea for 14
months, Bond (Pierce Brosnon) is released in exchange for a recently
Unfortunately, MI6 and the American NSA believe the
mission was compromised
They think their super agent has cracked under
So Bond's license to kill is rescinded along with his freedom
by M (Judi Dench) and is ordered to be send to an evaluation center in
Determined to clear his name and find out who really betrayed him in North Korea, Bond soon escapes and tracks Zao to Cuba, who was undergoing a 'D.N.A. transplant,' in a strange clinic, to heal his ravaged face There, he finds someone else after the Korean, a capable secret agent, called Jinx...
After having proved himself to MI6 and to the NSA, Bond returns to London and has a spirited fencing match with Graves at the Blades Club There he meets his publicist the gorgeous Miranda Frost
In "Die Another Day," Brosnon is wild, and ready to light the fuse on any explosive situation His methods are to provoke and confront His Aston Martin is loaded with high tech gadgetry that renders his vehicle invisible to Zao's sporty Jaguar There's an amazing chase between the two across the frozen waters of Iceland There's also an interesting battle inside Graves' treacherous fortress; and two battles to the death aboard Graves' airplane
Halle Berry is one of the Bond girls who looks so stunning especially when she emerged from the Cuban waters in her bright orange bikini This Oscar-winning beauty matches 007 in intelligence, sophistication and toughness, leaving Bond in the island in an explosive situation
Toby Stephens as the psycho billionaire Gustav Graves appears determined to use his unique satellite the Icarus using its power to 'bring light and warmth to the darkest parts of the world or to clear the minefield creating a highway for his North Korean's troops Rosamund Pile plays the fencing master with breathless beauty Miranda Frost
Rick Yune plays Zao, the dangerous Korean arms dealer and sports-car aficionado who works for Colonel Moon (Will Yun Lee), the renegade North Korean army officer who was determined to invade the south
Michael Madsen plays Damian Falco, NSA spy master and Jinx's boss who's tough on Bond
The comical British character actor John Cleese takes over the role of Q...
Madonna was hired to record the title tune and appeared in a cameo role as a fencing instructor
"Die Another Day" is the 20th in the series, and is arguably a fun movie to watch delivering a great sword fight so don't miss it!
To its credit, "Die Another Day" starts out reasonably well, even the
much maligned title song actually isn't terrible. Then it gets worse,
and worse, and worse. You know, there's ridiculousness that's
enjoyable, like in "GoldenEye", then there's "Die Another Day", a movie
so caught up in its complete silliness it forgets to realize it,
thinking its overzealous use of gadgetry, its hilariously bad
Robo-villain (cut me some slack, I couldn't think of a better
nickname), and Halle Berry. Miss Berry is easily among the very worst
Bond girls, and the fact that she's alongside Rosamund Pike, who
manages to do such a good job with what little she's given, doesn't
really help at all.
In "Die Another Day", there's not a second of humor that works. All the one-liners will have you cringing, albeit less than any attempt at actual serious dialogue this pathetic mess makes, as the script is completely ludicrous from start to finish, which is a continuation of the 'good writers writing terribly' theme in Bond history, where genuinely good writers write horrible messes like this, mainly because it seems they're lazy. I do find it humorous that the biggest fans of "Casino Royale" who claim it is by far the best Bond film conveniently ignore the fact that it was written by the same writing crew (with the addition of script-polisher Paul Haggis) which gave us the last three installments of the Bond franchise. Writers do what they're asked to do, and my guess is that "Die Another Day" is as much the producers' fault as the writers'.
Lee Tamahori is a completely bizarre choice for director, and a terrible one at that, seeing how he has never made an especially good film. David Arnold's score is again very good but he can't save the film and though I really like Brosnan's Bond the direction the series was going in at this point was truly dangerous and could've resulted in the end for Bond if allowed to go on. There was no reason to stop- "Die Another Day" was a massive financial success, the highest grossing of Brosnan's films and actually about as well-reviewed by major critics as the last two films in the series, but audience feedback and hopefully common sense led to the reinvigoration of the franchise in "Casino Royale". Thank heavens for that.
Look, let's be clear about it...it's the year 2002, not 1962. This
franchise of movies has evolved over the years from a cool and clever spy
series to an over-the-top slam bang action series. When you go to see a
James Bond film, you should EXPECT any or all of the following:
1) A completely unrealistic, contrived plot
2) Unbelievably cheesy and corny one-liners (almost all of which are
3) A supervillain seemingly brilliant and mad enough to quest for world
domination, but is somehow stupid enough to let Bond get close enough to
spoil the whole thing
4) A female counterpart (or several) that looks good, gets captured, and
ultimately gets saved by our hero
5) Gadgets, cars, and weapons that do fantastic, unbelievable
6) Action sequences and stunts that defy fundamental laws of physics and
Having said all of that, and knowing what I knew, I was so excited to see this movie, and I loved it. Why? Because I got to escape for a couple of hours in a fantasy-spy world. Because I've seen the other 19 movies and I got to see what other directions they went with the characters. Because I love the characters and have gotten to know them over the course of the last 19 movies. Of course it has its shortcomings (the CG was weak in parts) but it has everything that makes the franchise successful. It pays homage to the older films while pleasing younger fans with it's incredible action sequences.
Like it or not, this is what the series has evolved to. Personally, I like it, but having seen Dr. No, From Russia With Love, etc, I know that the newer movies don't really appeal to many of the fans of those movies (my dad hates the new movies) because they have completely moved away from reality (not to mention the novels). So understand that before you go and see this movie. If you can just sit back and enjoy the ride, you will. But if you're looking for the magic of 1962 to return, than you might be disappointed. But I will bet on this...judging by the reaction of the theater I was at, James Bond isn't going away anytime soon.
Oh by the way, what's with the comment "Look out Bond, xXx is taking over." Huh? When xXx has 20 successful movies under his belt, then we can start comparing the two.
Pierce Brosnan's last outing as James Bond takes place in Die Another
Day which finds 007 trying to stop a rogue North Korean general from
starting the Korean War all over again with the attending consequences.
The North Koreans must have been watching Plan 9 From Outer Space
because the gimmick they've come up with sounds remarkably like what
those aliens were warning the Earth against developing.
The power of the sun itself is brought into play here. There's a giant mirror in space which seeks to focus and concentrate the sun's energy for peaceful power purposes. But it sure can be an effective weapon of war as we see towards the film's end as Brosnan and his American counterpart agent Halle Berry.
Part of the charm of the James Bond series is that you don't take it too seriously, but there are times that it becomes more like Indiana Jones and his narrow escapes than a modern espionage story. Die Another Day takes this point to the extreme.
The year before Halle Berry won her Oscar for Monster's Ball and Die Another Day was her next film. Of course she's forever in the record books as the first black woman to win a Best Actress Oscar. But that's for history. I wonder if film fans remember her better as a Bond girl.
There's another Bond girl as well, another MI6 agent played by Rosamund Pike. She's one deadly female and most resourceful. Toby Stephens, son of Maggie Smith plays a wealthy industrialist with a mysterious past and a cunning adversary for Pierce Brosnan.
One thing I really liked towards the end was Ms. Moneypenny fulfilling her fantasy with James Bond. She's engaged in an early version of the Star Trek holograph deck. The poor woman has been carrying a torch for 007 for almost 50 years now, you'd think one of the Bonds would have given her a tumble already. Poor lovelorn Lois Maxwell now Samantha Bond ain't that ironic casting.
Die Another Day is not as good as some of the other Brosnan entries in the Bond series, but should satisfy the cult of fans out there.
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