Die Another Day
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When his top-secret mission is sabotaged, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) finds himself captured by theenemy, abandoned by MI6 and stripped of his 00-license. Determined to get revenge, Bond goes head-to-head with a sultry spy (OscarÂ(r) winner* Halle Berry), a frosty agent (Rosamund Pike) anda shadowy billionaire (Toby Stephens) whose business is diamonds but whose secret is a diabolical weapon that could bring the world to its knees! Bristling with excitement and bursting with explosivespecial effects, Die Another Day is an adrenaline-pumping thrill-ride with "stunts and non-stop action [that] will astonish you" (Jeffrey Lyons, WNBC-TV)! *2001: Actress, Monster'sBall
James Bond DVDs have in general been pretty loaded, but Die Another Day raises the bar with a two-disc set featuring dynamic DTS 6.1 ES and Dolby Digital 5.1 EX sound that makes good use of the rear speakers. The first commentary track is by Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike (who plays villain Miranda Frost). They weren't together at the time, so their comments are spliced into one track. Brosnan has a good time watching and is proud of the film but also doesn't take himself too seriously ("They don't teach you this stuff at drama school: 'OK, now you're going to be electrocuted by the bad guy.'"). Self-proclaimed "Bond novice" Pike also is proud of the film and says she's annoyed by people who question whether there's still a need for Bond. On the second commentary track, director Lee Tamahori and producer Michael G. Wilson chat about topics as diverse as casting, Bond lore, and product placements. For more Bond lore, don't overlook the trivia track, which offers pop-up tidbits about the filming and tips on the inside jokes.
The centerpiece of the second disc is the 80-minute "Inside Die Another Day" documentary, which is a set of featurettes strung together. Topics include the opening surfing sequence; the scenes set in North Korea and Cuba (including Halle Berry's bikini tribute to Ursula Andress); the ice palace; post-production elements such as computer graphics, editing, and music; the car battle (finding strong ice was the key safety issue); and the passing of the "Q" torch from Desmond Llewellyn to John Cleese. --David Horiuchi
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Bond deals with an ordinary smuggling operation that is blown from a traitor within MI6 as he serves time in a North Korean prison. Exchanged but disgraced, Bond is burned as he goes on a journey to clear his name but also find out what this conspiracy is all about. From North Korea, Hong Kong, Cuba, England and Iceland, this Bond movie lives up to its predictable but glorious adventure in the world of espionage.
This was a pretty cool story, supported by Brosnan looking good in the role and adding some of his strong intensity. But the story is far fetched of his stories, feeling more like the silly adventures of Roger Moore. North Korea is a legitimate threat, but coat that with diamonds scarred on henchmen faces, unrealistically gorgeous women, and outrageous adventure, I can see why this is slightly marred.
Still, its not exactly atypical Bond stuff. Great stuff for fans. B
And Brosnan's last ride is with the hottest Bond girl of all time for my money, Halle Berry. So many Bond girls of the past were beautiful but helpless, or beautiful but feckless, and of course there were the femme fatales, but ... Halle's Jinx was Bond's equal. (Yes, he did get her out of a jam, but just that one time.) She enters the scene - and leaves it - with a splash. When she beats Bond to the helicopter full of bad guys, and then escapes police with a sexy dive from an impossible height, Bond is terrified -- and impressed.
Die Another Day is a great ride, and I love the John Barry score as always. (Anyone else notice the soundtrack over that last scene in the little hut sounds a lot like Out of Africa?) Enjoy!
Additionally, the CGI makes for some of the only scenes in the franchise that look truly "dated". There's a bit of this in the other films of the Brosnan era, but none are so egregious as the windsurfing scene in this movie. The reason Bond films are such classics is because they are audially and visually stunning, using physically constructed sets or filming on location.
Three stars because it's a Bond movie, and aside from some clunky 90's CGI and one gadget that's just to much, it has what a Bond film should have: car chases, beautiful women, and cheesy humor arranged on a simple structure to create an entertaining effect.
As a stand-alone Bond movie (i.e. disregarding the connections with the past), this is somewhat above average in my view. But it's the connections with the past that move it significantly higher than that. The connections are too numerous to mention them all, but consider - WARNING, MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD -
- At one point, Bond pretends to be an ornithologist, this is a reference to the fact that the original "James Bond" was an actual American ornithologist, who Ian Fleming respected and who's name was borrowed for his protagonist.
- Halle Berry appears out of the water in a swimsuit, a la "Dr. No".
- There is a diamond-studded space-ray, a la "Diamonds Are Forever".
- There's a use of lasers that reminds one of the famous "Goldfinger" scene.
- Many of the past technology gadgets are seen again (including at least two that I recognized from "Thunderball"), and comments are made by Q's replacement which mirror Q's from the past.
- Speaking of technology/gadgets, some reviewers have derided the "invisible car". I have no problem with the car, and I give credit to it being an Aston-Martin (albeit a new one) - a nod Bond's first gadget-laden car from "Goldfinger". I believe it's the first time an A-M has been featured since "Goldfinger", probably the best-loved film of the series.
- The connections to the past are endless, far more than I have revealed above (a connection with "The Spy Who Loved Me" is especially memorable). At one point I could even swear I saw one of that bad guys stroking a hand-held controller in much the way that Blofeld stroked his cat in various Bond films. A true Bond nut could probably find dozens of connections, and still miss a few of them. How great is that for the 20th film, 40-year anniversary?
As far as the plot itself, making North Korean military leaders the bad guys was a great idea, something that still works today. This is also easily the most technology laden Bond film, as the reboot with Daniel Craig sought to reduce the technology role. And yet Bond is also very physical in this film, much like Connery and Dalton. This is Pierce Brosnan's best acting work as Bond; I thought he was weak in Goldeneye, but grew into the role, getting better each time.
There are some lesser points of course. The ending was not particularly strong IMO, though there was another nice homage to "Goldfinger" involving the airplane. There's a ridiculous moment where Bond "para-surfs" on a wave of water; someone here suggested that was itself an homage to some of the more ridiculous moments in the Moore films, maybe so. Like it or not, it lasts less than 15 seconds; I try not to let it detract from the rest of the film. There are almost always "cartoonish" moments in these films, but that scene may be the most cartoonish one of all. At least it's memorable; memorably bad! Some people have objected to the ice hotel as unrealistic - I don't know where they've been, because there are actual ice hotels (built new every year in winter), mainly in Scandinavian countries (and this one is in Iceland, so it fits). Some people also object to the gene-therapy used to change appearances. Sure that's far fetched, but it could also be an homage to Bond's own appearance change in "You Only Live Twice".
All in all, this is not to be missed, for those who have seen all the Bond films that went before it. It does not work as well though if you haven't seen the earlier ones, so don't make this the first Bond film you see. Best to view the other ones first, then this becomes the real treat that it was meant to be.