#129 Die Another Day
After fears of him cracking under torture, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is freed from a North Korean prison and taken into custody by the British. Being unable to trust him, MI6 sidelines him and Bond has to go rouge once more to clear his name and find out who in MI6 set him up. On top of this a new multimillionaire, Gustave Graves (Toby Stevens), is using conflict diamonds for some nefarious purpose and he might hold the truth to Bond’s betrayal/imprisonment.
This is Brosnan’s final turn as Bond and, much like Roger Moore, he goes out on a sour note. DAD is bad. It’s up there with the worst of the series and it’s a horrible way to leave the series before the reboot of the franchise.
I think my main problem with this film is that it tries to cram way to much self referential elements into this film because it’s the 20th film and (at time of release) 40 years on from Dr No. There was a lot of pressure on this film even from the get go, and they just fumbled it. It’s been said that elements of all 19 previous films have been incorporated into the film (because of the series landmark it was going to be) and all that ended up doing was creating this hodge podge mess.
Now the film is not all bad. The story works well for maybe the first 40(ish) minutes. The pre-credit sequence is still pretty good and the intrigue of the betrayal from within and the long term imprisonment angles were good. I’d say everything in North Korea and Hong Kong works really well. It’s when the film gets to Cuba that the film begins to fall apart and it’s unsalvageable by the time Graves and Iceland are brought in.
I’d say Graves and his henchman Zao (Rick Yune), are probably the series worst villains. They are just too stupid and to far outside the stretch of believability that the viewer rejects them as a credible threat. It doesn’t help that Stevens is pretty poor actor as well. Yune isn’t bad, but his character (basically an albino North Korean with diamonds embedded in his face) is just ridiculous. He makes Jaws or Nick Nack seems like a real world possibility by comparison.
The girls this time around are Halle Berry as Jinx and Rosamund Pike as Miranda Frost. Berry has a good introduction (emerging from the sea in a nod to Ursula Andress in Dr No) but quickly establishes herself to have some of the most terrible dialogue in the film/series. Monster’s Ball this ain’t. Pike is pretty one note and forgotten for most of the film and therefore almost as forgettable to the viewer.
This film also uses an over abundance of CGI and it does not work. One of the main draws of a Bond film has always been the stunts. Relying on computers to do them in this film just jars with the rest of the series. One of the better parts of this film is a car chase between Zao and Bond which has Bond righting his car after it was flipped, by firing his ejector seat at the ground. That was pretty cool because it actually happens. Not long before it Bond windsurfed away from a tidal wave caused by an ice sheet falling away after outrunning a giant solar beams and no-one cared or talks about because it all looks incredibly fake.
Also the car turns invisible. I’m sure it was amazing to the kids watching but to everyone else it was really stupid. Q branch = wacky yet plausible gadgets. You could theoretically make a car turn into a sub, or be remote controlled, but you can’t turn it invisible and still claim this is set in a somewhat realistic world.
I’m not quite sure where this one rates overall from the 22 films for me, but it’s definitely in the 20’s that’s for sure. 1/5