Connect with us
Die Another Day James Bond 007
Image: 20th Century Fox


Die Another Day is Most Certainly Second-Rate Bond

James Bond is sent to investigate the connection between a North Korean terrorist and a diamond mogul, who is funding the development of an international space weapon.

James Bond Spotlight

The end of Die Another Day’s first act provides a set up to what could potentially have been one of the most freshly original Bond installments, an opportunity to explore deliciously dark corners of the iconic spy’s psyche. Forward wind an hour and the last major set piece leading up to the film’s climax includes an invisible Aston Martin dodging a minigun and stinger missile shooting Jaguar in an ice castle and a CGI Bond surfing laser cannon induced tidal waves. Between time spent with faces buried in palms, the audience must have wondered exactly how it all went so wrong.

Twentieth Bond outing and the last performance in the series by fan-favorite Pierce Brosnan, the expectation was that Lee Tamahori’s take on 007 would send the Irishman out on a high and settle murmuring discontent caused by the wobbly Tomorrow Never Dies and The World is Not Enough. Instead, huge box office success was not enough to offset the franchise crashing and burning into a sea of incredulous effects and Stephen Sommers-esque silliness. The fact that the grittier, more grounded reboot launched by Casino Royale was employed long after the dust had settled is no coincidence.

Die Another Day
Image: 20th Century Fox

A routine excursion in North Korea sees Bond take out rogue Colonel Moon but, unfortunately, run foul of the man’s political heavyweight father, leading to a fourteen-month stint of imprisonment and torture at the hands of his troops. This hell comes to an end when Bond is finally released in a prisoner exchange which sees Moon’s permanently scarred right-hand man Zao (Rick Yune) head the other way. Bearded and disheveled, Bond has his 00 status rescinded and is ostracized amidst suspicion that he has leaked information. Given what he’s been through, Jimmy is far from pleased and mounts an illegal and unofficial hunt for Zao using his own contacts.

This leads him to the Caribbean and NSA agent Giacinta ‘Jinx’ Johnson (Halle Berry), also on the Korean’s tail. Though the diamond-studded villain escapes his clutches, Bond learns of the involvement of mysterious British billionaire Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), who is developing a satellite capable of creating artificial sunlight. Naturally, Graves is already a person of interest to MI5 and even has an undercover agent, Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike), on his staff. On to a winner, M (Judi Dench) returns Bond’s privileges and sets him and new ally Jinx off on a twist-packed showdown in Iceland.

As well as being Brosnan’s last hurrah, the film’s billing as the 20th Bond film meant plenty of nods and winks to previous efforts, from iconic visuals to throwaway references. The fact that the Icarus program feels like a lazily conceived hybrid of Goldeneye and Diamonds are Forever’s main plot points means, however, that the ‘respect’ for the series also resorts to wholesale borrowing while also implementing action sequences and contrivances that somehow seem too over the top in a franchise already on shaky ground when discussing the finer points of realism.

James Bond Die Another Day
Image: 20th Century Fox

And this is where Die Another Day ultimately flounders; the daft larks quickly descend into bare-faced stupidity in search of new thrills, culminating in some of the worst moments that the series has to offer. Aside from the near-supernatural feats in the endgame already mentioned, there is an awful song that dampens the otherwise excellent opening courtesy of another past-it pastiche Madonna, who also shows up in an equally dismal and pointless cameo, virtual reality training, and a literal heart-stopping scene that push the boundaries of camp incredulity and, in Halle Berry, a poorly handled Bond girl high on sex appeal but low on anything else worthwhile.

Considering that ‘Jinx’ ends the film as almost a secondary protagonist, with the final battle on board a Hercules transport plane mounted as a double act, you would expect a great cinematic foil and a woman who might finally come across well as a female Bond. Instead, she is more often than not just as hapless and bland as the bimbos of the past despite her combat training and is far less interesting than Rosamund Pike’s more complex but ultimately disappointing Miranda Frost. The fact that a spin-off film was mooted for the near-useless NSA stooge is utterly mind-boggling.

The film’s villains are prone to the same problems, all set to be interesting and dynamic but ending up as two-dimensional and far from compelling. Toby Stephens, a relative unknown, snarls and hams it nicely as Gustav Graves but the character is subject to an ‘ugh’ causing reveal which grows in idiocy with every moment spent considering the fact, while Rick Yune’s Zao is given little of substance to do other than ‘grin with a nasty face’. Their arc would have been at home in a sci-fi thriller but loses any possible gravitas in its setting.

Die Another Day Halle Berry
Image: 20th Century Fox

If those warm to the merits of the film are to be believed, the main source of joy to be brought from Die Another Day is the very thing that makes it so unapologetically lame: its ridiculousness. It would certainly be hypocritical to demand pathos or harsh reality from a Bond outing, but the sheer level of absurdity here is too hard to swallow, especially when complemented by Kiwi director Tamahori’s inappropriate penchant for slow-mo and freeze-frame at critical moments. While the fencing scene and the film’s early stages show his talent for action, it’s more often than not the wrong kind of action, though he’s hardly helped by a terrible script that even makes the flirts ham-fisted.

Indeed, the best things about the film are the most tragic; its untouched promise. After being released under regrettable circumstances from over a year of utter deprivation, shorn of his license, and professional pride, one expects roughed up Bond to go bad agent on us, no longer constricted by a protocol. Instead, he just goes about his business, as usual, wasting Brosnan’s acting chops and a mountain of potential brilliance, and M reinstating him does nothing to the plot. Indeed, Bond’s ‘expulsion’ from MI5 could have been edited out in post without any noticeable effect.

Fortunately, four years later a new line of thinking and the casting of Daniel Craig rescued and rejuvenated the Bond franchise, meaning fans were now excited about new films being released as opposed to dreading what new lows could be hit. As a piece of utterly disposable pulp, Die Another Day has some entertainment value, but as a critique, this is simply not good enough, even for second-rate Bond. And this is most certainly second rate.

– Scott Patterson

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published under our old brand, Sound On Sight. The article is part of our James Bond Spotlight.

Now Streaming

Written By

Born to unknowing parents, Scott hails from the land seen as romantic to those who don’t know, and a place for heavy drinking and hypocritical cynicism to those who do know. Although he’s yet to rise to great acclaim and disgraceful rich antics, he writes fiction and factual, the latter mainly on his greatest passion of film, in all forms and variety, all genres or styles. What matters to him is a good story, whether it be in cinema, literature, anecdote or excuse for having a suspicious stain on one’s trousers. His sense of humor falls somewhere between wry and outrageous, and he fights hard every day to avoid being misunderstood in this regard, though not in any other. His politics can be best described as militantly neutral, bordering on passive-aggressive. Favored pass times include watching what he calls football, and will never stop calling football even if it is lost in a common language, quiet conversation with friends, a night at the movies and the company of a darling woman, preference vague if not fluctuating. Favorite Films: Apocalypse Now Memento The Fountain Fight Club Inception LA Confidential Seven The Usual Suspects Wonder Boys Goodfellas.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.



Review Bombing Review Bombing

The Rings of Power and Review Bombing: The Online A-Bomb



WTH is Going on with HBO Max/Discovery?


BEST AEW PPV Matches 2022 BEST AEW PPV Matches 2022

Best AEW PPV Matches of 2022 (So Far)


Project Wolf Hunting Project Wolf Hunting

Project Wolf Hunting is a Bloody and Entertaining Midnight Delight


While We Watched While We Watched

While We Watched Reveals the Destabilization of Democracy in India


Cheers Pilot Review - Give Me A Ring Sometime Cheers Pilot Review - Give Me A Ring Sometime

Cheers: ‘Give Me A Ring Sometime’ is the Definitive Sitcom Pilot


L.A. Confidential Directed by Curtis Hanson L.A. Confidential Directed by Curtis Hanson

25 Years Later: L.A. Confidential is Hollywood’s last great noir

Friday Film Noir

Marvel D3 2022 Marvel D3 2022

A Breakdown Of Every Marvel Studios Announcement At D23


Eastern Promises (2007) Eastern Promises (2007)

Eastern Promises at 15: Cronenberg’s Gangster Triumph 


Roger Maris breaks home run record Roger Maris breaks home run record

On This Day in Sports:  Roger Maris Broke the Home Run Record, with 61 in ’61, 61 years ago 


Corsage movie review Corsage movie review

Corsage is a Lush Portrait of Empress Elizabeth of Austria


Anvil! The Story of Anvil Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Anvil! The Story of Anvil — The Inspiring Story of the Canadian 80s Metal Band


Orcs! Orcs!

The Rings of Power: “Udûn” Finally Raises Hell


The Lost King review The Lost King review

The Lost King is an Unlively Attempt at Revisionism


Emily movie review Emily movie review

Emily is a Rapturous Evocation of Brontë’s Artistic Discoveries


Muru Muru

Muru Surfaces a Century of Discrimination