Die Another Day Review
And so James Bond the movie legacy is forty years old, and what better way to celebrate this special anniversary than by producing a Bond film of the highest quality in Die Another Day. That was the plan at least, even if the producers haven’t realised that Bond has turned towards self-parody the moment the original source of influence, Ian Fleming’s novels, dried up.
Die Another Day is still enjoyable enough, and is by far the best Bond outing that stars Pierce Brosnan in the lead, even if that is far from an Earth-shattering claim. It’s enjoyable, and yet it shouldn’t be, as Bond is usually only as good as his star villain, and Die Another Day contains one of the most absurd and mind-numbingly boring villains to ever grace 007’s presence. It would have been more fitting to have such a villain in X-Men. Gone are the glory days of Blofeld and Goldfinger, instead we have Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), whose own name seems even a snooty self-parody.
With the exception of dear Miss Moneypenny (Samantha Bond) and our very own M (Dame Judi Dench), three notable women walk on during the film. Halle Berry, fresh from her tearful/awful Oscar acceptance, appears as Jinx, and gives Bond a run for his money even if she seems to merely get in James’ way for the most part. Rosamund Pike stars as M16 agent Miranda Frost, and proves to be the two-dimensional female foil for Bond whilst he’s on duty. Even Madonna has a walk-on part, as Frost’s lesbian Fencing coach, and ignore the critics who claim her technopop rendering of the film’s theme is awful, as if they expected Madonna to ever follow suit on anything. Don’t forget that Bond is forty years old, and in 1963 the theme tune to From Russia With Love was sung by Matt Monro!
Gadgets galore fill the plot holes, such as a brilliantly-ridiculous invisible car that helps our favourite secret agent out of all sorts of scrapes, and a ring that can send a seismic charge to destroy any type of glass, which is actually not as useful as it sounds. Luckily John Cleese knows not to take his role as R seriously, nor Michael Madsen, who must now be forever condemned to Mr. Blonde grisly typecasting and so has to resort to accepting token CIA American roles instead.
Oh and as for the plot, Bond is betrayed whilst on a mission in Korea and held captive and tortured for fourteen months(!). Bearded and imprisoned, Bond is helped by a mysterious old man (Richard Harris) who aids his escape...or is that Count Of Monte Cristo? That’s right, Bond is captured for fourteen months and traded back to the British in exchange for notorious prisoner Zao (Rick Yune). M deems Bond redundant, since she fears his imprisonment has caused him to spill the beans on many spy secrets. Bond however wants revenge, and embarks on a renegade mission to eliminate Zao and find out who betrayed him in the first place.
It’s all jokey and enjoyable entertainment, presented in a shallow but stylish framework that Bond has adopted since the early eighties. Die Another Day is by no means a film that would rank in the top half of the series in terms of quality, but it is a likeable slice of action and escapist lightweight fun in the stressful run up to Christmas, and should be enjoyed at all costs.