Retro Review: Die Another Day

Pierce Brosnan returns in his fourth outing as James Bond and the film franchise’s 20th film. Has Pierce found his own take on the character? How will a new Bond for a new millennium change the way we see our favorite secret agent? Or is this 40-year old franchise ready to lay down its Walther PPK?

In the latest Bond entry, we are blasted into a new reality as the film opens with a thrilling hovercraft chase that pits our hero against a corrupt branch of the Korean army. Unlike other film’s before Bond is captured and viciously tortured for 14 months as the infamous Bond opening credits commence. This is definitely not my dad’s James Bond.

The film continues as Bond must fight his way back after blundering Korea and losing to arch-villain, Zao (Fast & the Furious star Rick Yune). But what is Zao’s connection to diamond tycoon and megalomaniac Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens)? Furthermore who is the person who betrayed James Bond to the Koreans? And what’s with that curvaceous spunk-of-a-spy Jinx (Halle Berry)?

When it comes to James Bond, I have always found him to be my rock when it came to action films. I always relied on him to set the standard for action and be a reliable thrill. I was taken aloft when Brosnan took over the role in “Goldeneye”. Sure there were some spots in the film I had problems with but for the most part it was a decent James Bond entry.

In Brosnan’s second film “Tomorrow Never Dies”, I found myself cringing as the title track by Sheryl Crow flickered by.¬†Cringing summed up what I felt about that sequel.

Brosnan’s third entry, “The World is Not Enough”, was probably his best as the filmmakers returned to their roots as it felt like a conventional James Bond. And that made me smile with glee.

That brings me to the fourth film starring Brosnan. I did indeed cringe at Madonna’s opening credits as a dance-club song thundered across the screen. That coupled with the flashes of Bond being tortured beat me into submission. I had a hard time realizing I was seeing the same hero I had grown up with. As the rest of the film rolled I found there were signs of Bond in the film but the aspects that weren’t Bond made it hard to enjoy the rest.

I liked the acting in the film. I really liked the villains played by Rick Yune and Toby Stephens.

Stephens’ Graves reminded me some of Christopher Walken’s villain in “A View to a Kill”.

They were very traditional Bond villains except for their heavy reliance on technology.

The best scenes were when Bond wasn’t engaged in a stunt and it was just him verses his nemesis.

Like for instance, the fencing match between Brosnan and Stephens was brilliant. I really got into that duel.

The Bond women reminded me a lot of previous action heroines. The character of Miranda Frost (played by newcomer Rosamund Pike) reminded me a lot of Alison Doody’s character in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”.

Even Halle Berry’s Jinx reminded me some of Gloria Hendry’s character, Rosie Carter, in 1973’s “Live & Let Die”.

The always amazing Bond stunts were some what of a disappointment as they felt way over blown to be real. In one scene, Bond windsurfs down a tidal wave in Iceland after narrowly missing a heat ray from space.

Is Bond trying to be a secret agent or being a superhero?

Does Hollywood know the difference? So much CGI covers this movie that it felt like the majesty of Bond was indeed covered in the ice of technology.

(3.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

Brosnan as Bond rankings:

Die Another Day: 3.5 of 5
World is Not Enough: 4 of 5
Tomorrow Never Dies: 2.5 of 5
Goldeneye: 3.5 of 5

Posted: November 24, 2002

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