The James Bond series was a monumental series for me growing up and, as I planned on featuring one of the 20+ films in the series as a Key Movie, I just couldn’t choose. Since I can’t choose a single one, I am reviewing each and every Bond film continuing with today’s entry, Die Another Day.
Welcome to Key Movies Of My Life James Bond Edition.
Today’s Key Movie:
After being imprisoned and tortured for over a year by North Korea, Bond must clear his name by determining how a North Korean terrorist and a ruthless diamond merchant are interconnected. Soon he uncovers a plot by his enemies to develop a dangerous space weapon that could spark all out war.
Why this movie?
Marking the twentieth official Bond Film in the franchise, this would also be the final appearance of Pierce Brosnan as the lead secret agent, James Bond 007. Featuring
Okay, you like this film, but is it really a ‘good film’?
The film opens with Bond and his team infiltrating a North Korean base using surfboards. Now, I am all for a cool entry but this comes across a little more like a scene out of Point Blank rather than a James Bond film but I can forgive this since it is something rather new for the franchise and they have to try to keep things fresh. This aside, the movie has one of the most action packed openings of any Bond Film before it with explosions, a hover craft chance and an intense torture scene that leads right into the opening song.
Speaking of the opening songs, lets pull the band-aid off early on this one. Performed by none other than pop star Madonna,the Die Another Day theme should have been among the best in the series. However, this is sadly not the case. Ranked as one of the worst Bond Themes in the franchise, this is also one of Madonna’s worst songs in her career. It seems the pop superstar couldn’t be bothered to record a solid song for what could have been a major milestone in her career. She even appears in the film in a small cameo as a fencing instructor, a role that was so much better than her song.
Now that we have exposed this villainous song for all of it’s ilk, lets discuss the films primary antagonists. This time around Bond faces Korean assassin Zao (Rick Yune) and international diamond smuggler Gustov Graves (Toby Stephens). Undergoing genetic therapy to change is identity, Zao is caught halfway through the process making him have a unique look throughout the film. He soon proves to be less than a match for Bond for the film and shows himself to be a mediocre Bond Villain at best.
The lead villain, Gustov Graves (Stephens) is a billionaire industrialist adrenaline junky who is setup to be one of Bond’s most dangerous foes and only ends up being one of the strangest and least believable. It turns out that his secret is that he is in fact a Korean officer named Colonel Moon who has undergone the same Gene Therapy that Bond interrupted for Zao only to turn Moon into a white British playboy with a penchant the dramatic. Heck, Graves even has a sword fight with Bond in one of the only interesting battles in the film.
Bond wastes no time in this entry with his conquests. Not long after his release from North Korea and his escape from MI6 does he meet with Jinx (an NSA agent played by Halle Berry) and quickly shares a rather intimate moment with this films Bond Girl. Despite her intimidate leap into bed with Bond, Berry’s portrayal as Jinx is pretty solid. She quickly proves to be a match to the secret agent both physically and mentally as the two work their way across the globe to take down their targets. Jinx is a strong enough character to star in her own film but is sadly never seen again.
No Bond film has only one sexual conquest for our philandering secret agent and this one is no different. The second Bond Girl in this one is Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) a fellow double-oh agent who initially seems to be an undercover operative that is poised to be an ally and backup to Bond. Of course, as telegraphed from the moment you meet her, she turns out to be a double agent who was the real traitor and soon tries to kill our hero. The two do manage to share a moment together before this betrayal but then again, how could Bond expect nothing less seeing his history with women.
One highlight in the film is the brief but fun appearance of John Cleese as the new ‘Q’. Paying homage to the franchise, the scene involves the newly appointed Quartermaster reviewing some of Bond’s gadgets. While going over options, we are presented with what is essentially a museum of past devices including the classic jet pack from Thunderball and even the small plane from Octopussy. It is a fun scene that reminds the viewers and fans of Bond’s past adventures spanning over thirty years.
Even though the theme, the villains, and even the story is rather lackluster in this entry, Brosnan still proves to be one of the best to portray the lead character in the franchise. We finally get a chance to see Bond’s resolve in a way we have never seen before. For the first time in the franchise, Bond is held and tortured for over a year and he is left weak and beaten. Even after enduring the torture, Bond remains faithful to his position and country despite MI6’s belief that he broke under the stress. It is that resolve and determination to prove himself that leads our special agent to escape from MI-6 in order to clear his name. While he once again goes rogue in this one, Bond shows that he has what it takes and nobody does it better.
All in all, this film is not only the last but also the worst of Brosnan’s outings as James Bond. The film, while fun and action packed, rely’s far to heavily on the popularity of Computer graphics of the time and has a story that is pretty predictable as it depends on all of the Bond Tropes the franchise has built up over the years. Sometimes these tropes can be forgiven as they work with the story, this one, however only manages to make it that much more disappointing.
OK, where do I get this movie?
I would not recommend this one on it’s own but if you want your monies worth I do recommend the boxed set of the Brosnan era of James Bond. For around $23 you can get all four of his films and,honestly, the first two make it absolutely worth the price.
oh and the trailer:
Bond will return with a new face and fresh reboot with Casino Royale.
Late To The Game 5/23/2019
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