Reviewed by: Douglas M. Downs
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Judi Dench, John Cleese, Rosamund Pike | Directed by: Lee Tamahori | Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli | Written by: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade | Distributor: MGM
“Pierce Brosnan as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007”
This is the 40th anniversary year of the James Bond film franchise. It is the 20th movie in the series of our indestructible British spy hero, as well as the 4th appearance for Irish-born Pierce Brosnan. All 20 films have carried basically the same formula: 1) an attention grabbing action sequence opener, 2) scenes portraying Bond as a womanizer, 3) numerous double/sexual innuendoes, 4) always one primary villain who wants to rule the world or change all the rules, 5) new Bond gadgets and fantasy automobile, 6) the martini—shaken but not stirred, 7) usually minimal profanity, 8) closing scenes showing the villain’s empire blows up in his face, 9) a film conclusion usually showing Bond romantically wrapped up in the arms of a woman.
“Die Another Day” follows all the standard Bond elements. No surprises here. You may wonder if Bond films now are more offensive, or have we just become used to this genre? To answer that question let me do a side by side comparison of the last 3 films:
|Tomorrow Never Dies||The World Is Not Enough||Die Another Day|
|Alcohol Use Scenes: 4||Alcohol Use Scenes: 5||Alcohol Use Scenes: 7|
|Blood/Gore Scenes: 6||Blood/Gore Scenes: 8||Blood/Gore Scenes: 8|
|Sex Scenes: 6||Sex Scenes: 15||Sex Scenes: 18|
|Violent Scenes: 24||Violent Scenes: 28||Violent Scenes: 39|
There is one factor that is fairly consistent with the Bond films: each one is more violent than the previous. That is common among most action films. The audience expects more explosions and more perilous stunts with each new movie. My review then is more like a “here’s what’s inside—you decide” approach.
“Die Another Day” is darker and a little edgier than the other titles in the series. You have Bond in conflict with his superiors to the point where they want nothing to do with him. The movie also spends a lot of time reinventing the Cold War. We have the conflict between North Korea and South Korea. We also have our hero seeking answers in Cuba. These three countries are symbols of past political and social conflict. To really cool things off, all our heroes and villains end up in Iceland!
The action is consistent with the 21st century, but the story lacks much original content. Let’s admit one thing at the beginning: we don’t usually watch these adventures for the story. We watch them for the action and the suspense. “Die Another Day” opens with Bond trying disarm a weapons deal with North Korea. In my opinion, the best opening sequence of any Bond film to date. The plan fails and Bond tries to escape in a Hovercraft. Bond is captured and placed in a prison to be tortured for information. This 14-month experience is all woven into the opening credits.
Bond is eventually released as a part of a prisoner exchange and the rest of the film has Bond trying to redeem his good name. Along the way James meets Jinx (Halle Berry) who rises out of the Havana harbor in a tiny bikini (in the tradition of Ursula Andress during the first Bond film Dr. No). Berry and Bond end up chasing the same villain—the dapper Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens). He is a mysterious billionaire who has made his fortune in diamonds, but has a hidden agenda to create a weapons satellite that will help North Koreans dominate the world. James meets his foes on more than one occasion and must, in the end, try to save the world from evil.
Most of the action is very well done, though one scene is quite contrived and included a lot of CGI. It smelled like “video game.” Furthermore, Madonna’s opening theme song is regrettably the worst ever written for this series. Director Lee Tamahori does a decent job with the assignment. If you are a fan of the series, you will no doubt want to see this. But you must also already know that it is more of the same: the obligatory sex scenes (veiled and not over done in most cases), the usual “tongue in check” double innuendoes, darker violence, and a strong theme of revenge and “reputation repair.” There are moles and typical plot twists. The action is well staged, but sometimes defiles logic. What else can I say? It is after all Bond… James Bond. You will have to make that choice.
A quick reminder that the “PG-13” rating should be observed. Parents: remember there is no “fast forward” or “skip” functions in the theater. I personally am not comfortable with the glorification of pre-marital sex, though I do enjoy a good high-octane thriller. Know before you go.
It was an okay movie, I mean it actually showed him having sex one time, I don’t think they should show that, I think its gross. and there was a guy with bullets in his face the whole time, it was gross.
[Average / 3]
—Stefanie, age 15