Saturday 18 December 2010

Movie Review: Die Another Day (2002)

Just like it did in Moonraker in 1979, the James Bond series takes a very wrong turn towards the outer reaches of technological boundaries, stretching what is already an incredible premise into the realm of the ridiculous.

Die Another Day, the 20th Bond movie adventure, features human recreation using DNA technology; an invisible car; a battle between two cars packed with enough missiles to obliterate a small country; a killer satellite capable of zapping earth with laser weapons; and a most awful computer-generated Bond escape involving surfing with a parachute. Bond is always expected to be outlandish; Die Another Day unintentionally crosses into the territory of cheesy science fiction, and the cheese does not smell so good.

In Pierce Brosnan's fourth and final outing as Bond, he is captured, held prisoner and tortured in North Korea.  Exchanged for another spy, Bond is deactivated by MI6 and strikes out on his own to seek revenge on those who betrayed him.

His quest leads him from London to Cuba and then on to Iceland and back to North Korea, all on the trail of Sir Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), a mysterious and wealthy diamond baron intricately connected to bad guys from the secretive North Korean regime.  MI6 agent Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) has already infiltrated Graves' organization and is working with M (Judi Dench) using less lethal tactics than Bond.  Also pursuing Graves is the agent known as Jinx (Halle Berry), who both hinders and helps Bond before she finally teams up with him to bring down Graves. Jinx and Frost take turns sharing Bond's bed, as he wastes no time making up for the female deprivation he suffered during his time as a guest of North Korea's prison system.

Graves as a villain is exaggerated to comic book proportions.  The dialogue exchanges between Bond and Jinx are embarrassingly sophomoric.  And Frost is one of the blandest ladies ever to catch Bond's attention.  Director Lee Tamahori brings a couple of interesting artistic touches with effective use of brief slow motion tactics, but mostly he seems to be lost among all the outrageous technology.  And both the opening sequence and the title song, by Madonna, are weak.

Die Another Day forced another reboot of the series with an new lead actor and a back-to-basics ethic in  Casino Royale (2006).  Some of the films in the series may be duds, but Agent 007 always lives to fight another day.

All Ace Black Movie Reviews are here.

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