Review of 'Die Another Day'

20th film in the 'James Bond' series

die_another_day.jpg In North Korea James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is captured having halted the sale of arms by a corrupt army officer in exchange for conflict diamonds. A year later he is part of a prisoner exchange but M (Dame Judi Dench) believes he may have compromised security and rescinds his 00 status. Bond travels to Cuba to seek out Zao (Rick Yune), the North Korean he was traded for where he meets NSA agent Giacinta 'Jinx' Johnson (Halle Berry) and discovers a clinic that sells gene therapy that allows patients to alter their appearance. Zao manages to escape but not before Bond takes some diamonds from him. Examining the diamonds Bond finds they bear the company mark of billionaire Gustave Graves (Toby Stephens). After an elaborate fencing match with Graves at a London club Bond is invited to attend a special event in Iceland where he wants to unveil a gift to the world, a satellite that is able to deliver solar power to any point on the planet…surely this is a good thing?

In this the twentieth James Bond film the franchise is stretched into different directions. During the opening titles we are shown a montage of scenes showing Bond's torture at the hands of the North Koreans - A vulnerable Bond that is rare in the series. I have to say I am a fan of Madonna's theme song, yeah a bit heavy on the computer stuff, but I think it sounds great particularly with the orchestration, it seems to really fit this scene.

The story is interesting and convoluted but not so much that it is impossible to follow. Of course, as it is James Bond, we are not so interested in that as long as there is a bad guy and a lot of big action, this is what we have come to expect and here this comes in spades. A car chase through a ice hotel, a battle on board a disintegrating airplane, racing hovercrafts over cliffs, duelling with swords in imaginative ways…“Die Another Day” does not disappoint on this front. For me it is the use of computer graphics that often grates, for example, I find it hard to forgive the unconvincing scene of Bond “surfing” the wave caused by a chunk of glacier falling into the ocean. “Unconvincing” is me being polite – It does not look good at all. There are other things such as the “adaptive camouflage” of Bond's Aston Martin that is hokey in the extreme and looks fake. The budget of this film has to have been astronomical yet there are these things that bring us out of the moment and, ultimately, fail to satisfy. Now that I have got this off my chest…

Brosnan was born to play bond and it shows with the confidence he plays the character in this his last appearance as Bond. Berry is not only an attractive piece of eye candy in the tradition of all Bond girls she actually ends up with a large part to play in the story, able to keep up with Bond quite easily. John Cleese returns as Q (following the death of Desmond Llewelyn shortly after “The World Is Not Enough”) but, sadly, is only on the screen for a short period of time so is unable to really show any of his dry wit and humour. Stephens as Gustave is suitably insane for a baddie (the cold eyes, the weird turning up of his lip, upper class accent…) though the attempts by the filmmakers to make him more relatable fall incredibly flat.

So, satisfies on the action front but not so much on the effects side and with a running time of more than two hours, a trifle long.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2019-11-10

Directed by: Lee Tamahori

Studio: Eon Productions

Year: 2002

Length: 133 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure

Other reviewed films in the 'James Bond' series: