FILM REVIEW **1/2
Bond Will Never Die
He May Be Formulaic, but 007’s Still Explosive
Die Another Day
Written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade
Directed by Lee Tamahori
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Judi Dench
As much as his enemies, be they onscreen or off, wish he would, Bond will never die. He’s an American institution. Although he works for the English government, he might as well work for America, because we have him booked for the next few centuries.
Whether or not this is Pierce Brosnan’s last attempt at playing the sleek English spy with a license to kill, 007 will grace the screens over and over. The same formula will be reinvented throughout years to come. The bad guy and his bizarre looking right hand man try to take over the world with massive new technology, and Bond comes and stops them. Two women, one good, one evil, hang off of him, guiding him along the way or betraying him. Throw in a handful of plot twists and a dash of chase scenes, and you have the perfect Bond movie.
Die Another Day, like all Bond movies, takes that formula and pushes it to the limits of believability. In each new film, the audience wants more. We’ve seen the underwater cars he has, we’ve seen the laser watches. We always want bigger and better, and Die Another Day gives it to us. Ice palaces, invisible cars, genetic makeovers in Cuba, and massive explosions around every corner satisfy.
The movie starts in blatant disregard for the Bond formula. A mission in North Korea goes awry, and Bond is captured and placed in an interrogation center for 14 months. As scorpions sting and he is thrust underwater, this is not the Bond we came to see. We never would have thought Bond could get into trouble like this. He escapes death when England trades a Korean terrorist for him, and is taken prisoner by the English government. Apparently someone was leaking secrets while he was away, and it looks like Bond cracked under the pressure of torture.
He vows to find the agent who betrayed him, and in the chase that follows, the old Bond plotlines are picked up again. Fans of the Bond series will pick up on who’s evil and who’s good almost immediately. A billionaire diamond dealer, Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), happens to be selling diamonds which chemically appear to be the same diamonds traded in the deal that went under 14 months ago. After a grueling swordfight at his fencing club with 007, Graves invites Bond to his ice castle in Antarctica for a demonstration of his new project Icarus, a giant floating satellite system with no apparent purpose but to shine light on fields year-round.
The plot’s not important, as in all the Bond movies. What is important are the girls, the cars, the gadgets, and the explosions. Halle Berry plays Jinx, a mysterious woman Bond finds halfway through the movie, while posing as an Ornithologist (pronounced like horny-thologist with a pseudo-English accent). Somehow she doesn’t seem to buy his cover, but she lets it, and other things, slide. Practically every other line in Die Another Day is a bad pun, usually with sexual references. Apparently those fourteen months in the prison camp did wonders for James’ libido.
Bond’s new car, along with other gadgets supplied by the new Q (John Cleese, formerly R), cannot be explained by normal science. Tiny LCD panels on the car play back the image even smaller video cameras see on the other side of the car, rendering it invisible most of the time. This is the craziest new technology we see in the movie; maybe the screenwriters are running out of ideas.
As for special effects, they are almost main characters in the Bond series, and Die Another Day doesn’t disappoint. There are bigger explosions in this than Bond has ever seen before, and just when escape seems impossible, Bond figures out a plan.
While the plot of Die Another Day doesn’t do anything more than expedite girls, explosions, and chase scenes, neither did any of the other Bond movies. If you want deep insight into the human condition, go read a book. If you’re up for mindless action, amazing cars, over-the-top acting, genius special effects, and headache-inducing bad puns, Die Another Day is for you.