|Die Another Day
We start in North Korea, where Bond (Brosnan) is undercover on some sort of diamonds-for-arms deal that goes horribly wrong, leading to literally 14 months of torture (perhaps the first Bond title sequence that actually advances the plot!). Once freed, Bond is now suspect--was he brainwashed by the Axis of Evil? But of course, he knows there's a massive plot afoot to take over the planet, and so he heads off to Havana, London, Iceland and back to Korea to catch billionaire madman Gustav Graves (Stephens) and his diamond-studded henchman Zao (Yune). Of course, he picks up two gorgeous and very feisty women along the way (Berry and Pike), each of whom play pivotal roles in the adventure.
Even with this more sober sensibility, the film is a lot of fun, unafraid to flirt with absurd humour and pure silliness, endless double entendre and outlandish stunts that really get our adrenaline pumping (only one looks digitally faked). In fact, the sword fight is one of the best ever put on film--awkward, rough and thrilling. In this sense it's the first Bond film in years that feels like a true classic of the genre. Production values are very high indeed, and Tamahori somehow manages to balance the film's over-the-top elements (a ludicrous hotel built out of ice*) with more believable down-to-earth tension.
These more dramatic aspects of the film make it feel long sometimes--it drags a bit, which is surprising, but usually means characters are being developed more than usual. Brosnan continues to mature as his own distinctive Bond--darker, more complex, not completely trustworthy. And the supporting cast actually get characters who make sense ... within the daft 007 world of course. All seem to be having a great time, taking the story seriously, but only to a point. It's pure class, along with lots of carefully crafted humour that's genuinely sharp and funny. Honestly, nobody does it better! Rob Cohen and Vin Diesel must cry themselves to sleep at night; XXX simply doesn't hold a candle to this.
* Note: Yes, I know there are a couple of actual hotels made of ice in the Arctic. But they're nothing like this, hence my use of the word 'ludicrous'. So please stop writing me about this, ok? See the movie first! --Ed.
dir Lee Tamahori
scr Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
with Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, Rick Yune, John Cleese, Judi Dench, Michael Madsen, Samantha Bond, Colin Salmon, Will Yun Lee, Madonna
release UK 20.Nov.02; US 22.Nov.02
Buy British. Bond has a look at Q's latest gadget-packet car (Brosnan and Cleese)
"I saw the film and it wasn't good because there wasn't a lot of sex. It wasn't real. Bad." --Ramy, Canada 18.Nov.02
"What an awful film. Should have been aware of this; the media hype has been unbelievable as have the supine British reviews. Turkey came early this year." --Peter Blogg, Bristol UK 21.Nov.02
"This movie has gotten quite the big hype. Everyone has been bombarded with that scene of Barry as Jinx coming out of the water in that bikini - she looks hot, no doubt about that. Brosnan is a great Bond, in my opinion - sexy, handsome, charming, sophisticated, and the British accent we Americans love so dearly. That being said - I was disappointed in the movie. Sure, there is lots of action, lots of cool Bond gadgets, a hot car, sexy chicks, and even a sexy evil chick out to seduce Bond and then betray him - all the right Bond movie things are in place. But honestly - the plot? Even now I am thinking, What was that again? I can tell you the scenes, the cool stuff - but the plot? That I seem to have forgotten. I think it started with Bond in captivity by the bad guys. Okay, I could go look it up but why bother? If you want to see a Bond movie with lots of action, cool cars, nifty gadgets and sexy ladies, go see this movie - but tell me if you find the plot. It was entertaining in a mindless sorta way. I feel that they made a movie to show off Bond and his gadgets and did not put enough emphasis on the plot." --Laurie T, Minneapolis 8.Dec.02