Die Another Day (2002)
Grave Day for Bond
I know all about you - sex for dinner, death for breakfast - Miranda Frost
"Die Another Day" sort of proves my theory about Bond movies because the first two Pierce Brosnan Bond movies were okay and then the third "The World Is Not Enough" got it absolutely right and then came this fourth and it went down hill. But ironically it's not because of anything Brosnan does, in fact Brosnan plays his role very well but because the style has changed and not for the better. Basically where previous Bond movies have worked to a formula where we have equal parts story and action "Die Another Day" is mostly action and seriously over the top adrenalin junkie sort of action which ends up feeling fake. It means that for those who hoped for a clever storyline using the traditional Bond formula will be left numb and sometimes in fits of laughter at the over the top action.
Having spent 14 months as a prisoner in North Korea, Bond (Pierce Brosnan - The Thomas Crown Affair) finds himself surprisingly released in a trade for terrorist Zao (Rick Yune). With his "00" status rescinded Bond is forced to go it alone as he tries to bring in Zao on his own, a mission which sees him meeting the sexy Jinx Johnson (Halle Berry - Swordfish) who Bond quickly discovers is not all she seems to be. And it also sees him become suspicious of publicity seeking Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) and his assistant Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) something which puts him back in favour with "M" as they also believe that Graves is up to something.
In fairness I sometimes grow tired of the formula which has driven the majority of Bond movies and so I actually like the way that "Die Another Day" opens with a slight twist on the usual as we have Bond and some action but rather than escaping is caught and held prisoner for 14 months. And I like the way Bond ends up being released with him thinking he is about to be executed only to walk across the bridge to freedom. I even like how the main story starts with Bond having his "00" status rescinded because there is suspicion that he cracked under interrogation.
Unfortunately after this reasonable start which typically sees Bond going rogue and going after terrorist Zao who he was traded for things go down hill and quickly. And by that I mean whilst we have this story which sees Bond trying to recapture Zao which brings him into contact with the mysterious Gustav Graves and his assistant Miranda Frost an undercover MI6 Agent the storyline becomes less important. Instead we get one big action scene after another with a brief encounter with a sexy babe filling in the gaps in between. We still get the story but the balance is completely wrong this time with the action dominating proceedings.
Now in fairness for those who just want action then "Die Another Day" will entertain, you get the opening salvo, you get a sword fight which includes a cameo from Madonna; you get explosive action at a medical facility as well as several huge action scenes on ice. But the trouble is they all go from being Bond escapism to being fake and force, none more so which sees a daring escape by Bond on an adhoc surf board. These action scenes dominate "Die Another Day" so much that the storyline about the mysterious Gustav Graves and his laser called Icharus becomes unimportant.
But as already mentioned the ironic thing is that whilst the style of "Die Another Day" has changed and not for the good Pierce Brosnan does a good job of delivering the action hero. Yes the special effects which place him in some of the more outrageous moments look ropey but he delivers it as believably as he can. He also delivers the charmer with the quip again without letting it become cheesy and that does mean he manages to end up in bed with a couple of babes include Halle Berry as Jinx who ends up being most memorable for entering the movie in the same way as Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder in "Dr. No". And whilst the bad guys are under worked characters at least Rick Yune as Zao with the diamond shrapnel in his face looks strangely dangerous.
What this all boils down to is that "Die Another Day" is sadly a disappointment but not because Pierce Brosnan does anything wrong but because the balance between action and story is out of kilter. For those who just want adrenalin junkie style action it will entertain but for those who want some clever storyline to accompany will be left wanting.
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