Die Another Day (2002)
Ebert: Rolling Stone: TV Guide:1/2
Warning, minor plot points revealed!
I've never not liked a James Bond movie. I've seen them all countless times and if I catch one in progress on TV I almost always watch it to the end. The series has always appealed to me. I love everything about these movies. The exotic locales, the hot Bond Girls, the impossible action sequences, the neat gadgets, the insanely wealthy crazed super villains who will stop at nothing less than world domination or destruction, the last second get-a-ways, and the coolest spy to ever sport a tux and a martini, Bond...James Bond.
Die Another Day is the 20th, film in the series (not including the 1967 Bond spoof Casino Royale and the unofficial 1983 film Never say Never Again) and marks the 40th anniversary of the film franchise. The story begins in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea with a great hovercraft chase and continues via Hong Kong to Cuba and London where Bond meets up with sexy American secret service agent Jinx and sexy fellow London agent Miranda Frost. After the opening, we see Bond's capture and imprisonment by the Korean bad guys. Madonna's theme song for the film is an excellent soundtrack for his subsequent torture sessions. Bond is eventually released by way of a prisoner exchange and sent back to his handlers who promptly label him a disgrace and relieve him of rank and duty. He immediately escapes his own people and begins his search to uncover the traitor who sold him out and prevent a war of catastrophic consequence.
As I watched the James Bondish XXX this summer I was reminded again how much I like the real Bond movies. XXX is Bond to the nth degree but classic Bond is just as good. In fact XXX may have given the already stunt heavy series a boost to the next level. The films have always broken new boundaries with their awesome and extravagant stunt work but now with digital effects anything is possible. The stunts in this movie reflect the new era of special effects with a huge emphasis on speed and action. Everything is fast and in rapid cuts. Watching one of these sequences could easily induce seizure. I love the fact that as our ability to process information has increased, the way films are edited have adapted as well. Even though this new ability of ours is often considered a negative advance, '...These short attention spans as a result of MTV and video games are ruining the world...' I would be inclined to call it a virtue. So see, not only is this a great movie, it may even have the ability to promote our very species to the next plateau of our evolution!
Pierce Brosnan is my favorite James Bond. I know it's blasphemous to say Sean Connery is not the best and most people who really like the series are completely loyal to Connery but I really believe Brosnan was born to play the part. He has the great Connery style and the comedic wit of Roger Moore. He also has that touch of anger that Timothy Dalton brought to the role. If you add it all up he should be everybody's favorite James Bond! One of the best features of his character is that he is not always in control. Die Another Day is a great example. He's fighting to stop a war and save the world as usual but at the same time it's personal vengeance that drives him. He was betrayed, captured, tortured, abandoned, and now he's mad. During a fencing match that becomes a full out sword brawl, you actually see him loose it. For a few minutes he's not the suave sophisticated even tempered agent we're all familiar with, he's blood thirsty and savage. And that's why I like him. This Bond is dangerous.
The rest of the cast is great too. Halle Berry is super hot and one of the first Bond Girls who is an equal to the super agent in nearly every way. I've even heard rumors that the studio may spin her character off into her own series of films. Judy Dench is back as M. Her adversarial relationship with Bond always adds great tension. John Cleese has easily taken on the role of gadget wizard Q. His pomp and humor play perfectly against Bond.
Die Another Day is a great action film. It's everything you have come to expect from the Bond movies and more. If you're a fan of the series, you will not be disappointed.