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STEPHEN'S MOVIE GUIDE

Die Another Day (2002)_00   rating

Review: written 2008

Overblown end to Brosnan’s tenure as Bond

Die Another Day (2002)

Sadly, Brosnan's fourth and last outing as Bond is as tired, cheesy and over the top as Roger Moore's 4th Bond movie was.. Given that original script ideas for this story were taken from Moonraker, the symmetry is ironic.

Bond is captured in Korea, but is released as a prisoner transfer because the Americans suspect he has broken under torture. Removed of his 00 status (what, again?) he goes renegade to track down the mole that betrayed him. Along the way he crosses paths with a CIA agent (Halle Berry) and the trail leads to Gustaf Graves (Toby Stephens). Graves' unlikely Iceland diamond mine is a cover for the development of a powerful satellite based weapon which uses diamonds to focus the sun's energy to... oh, who cares, its all as ridiculous, if not more so, than a compilation of Bond's worst moments.

The movie muddles through feeling like someone forgot to shake OR stir, until the awful moment when the movie becomes irredeemably lost. A cgi Bond surfs on a wave using a parachute for guidance, in one of the most abysmally poorly executed special effects scenes put to film. Bond movies are always fantastic, sure, but they always have a veneer of reality - the gadgets look like they COULD work, the stunts you see are done for real, even if the stuntmen do have safety wires.. but here, all that heritage is thrown out the window, and the movie never quite recovers. Indeed, a few scenes later Bond gets into his invisible car just to seal the deal.

On the plus side there is a stunning set piece car chase on ice, with the Jaguar and Aston Martin going tete a tete, a pleasing sword-fight in a gentleman’s club in London, and David Arnold puts in his usual excellent score with multiple references to previous movies for the fans. Indeed, the numerous references to previous movies (most notably in the `Q' sequence, with gadgets from previous movies littering the background) are one of the few real pleasures of the movie. Halle Berry performs her task of looking hot in leather, and doing `that' walk out of the sea emulating Ursula Andress but with none of the mystery or charm. Rosamund Pike puts in a decent performance, and Judi Dench does what she is supposed to... but John Cleese is just not quite right yet as Q (though better than TWINE), and cameos from Madonna and Michael Madsen are an embarrassment. Toby Stephens does his best to make his hard to believe character believable, but none of the actors can rescue the movie from some of the most painful one liners and simply awful lines for many a year. A large chunk of the blame has to go to director Lee Tamahori, whose propensity for slowing and speeding up events is more `The Matrix' than Bond's classic style.

With an overblown budget and anticipation running as high as it had for a Bond movie, Die Another Day didn't just lose the race, it fell flat on its face somewhere along the way. Sure, you have to watch it to complete the Bond saga, but be grateful that just as Moonraker's excesses inspired the makers to return to basics in For Your Eyes Only, we can thank Die Another Day for bringing the producers to their senses and whittling Bond down to the basic ingredients again for Casino Royale.





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