“Die Another Day”
Bond: Pierce Brosnan
Classic, Cheese, or Crap?: CRAP
“Die Another Day” was Pierce Brosnan’s fourth and final Bond film.
Prominently featuring Halle Berry (at her zenith), sporting the latest techniques in special effects, and a themesong by the legendary Madonna, the movie was an enormous success. It grossed over $400 million worldwide.
It was also the moment I knew the Brosnan era needed to come to an end.
Like many other Bond films, I can say “I really like this one up til a certain point”. The movie opens strongly, with Bond in a great action sequence in Korea, then captured (captured!) and finally, escaping MI6 and tracking the villains to Cuba.
The moment Halle Berry takes that enormous swan dive off the Cuban cliffs, though, so does the movie. The narrative begins to get confused by introducing “Gustav Graves” without connecting the dots for the audience, there’s the horrifying Madonna cameo, and the product placement begins! Before you know it, Bond is in Iceland and the horror is underway…
Being the 40th Anniversary of the Franchise, and the 20th film in the series, “Die Another Day” attempted to incorporate nods and allusions to each of the 19 previous Bond outings. Notably absent though was any reference to quality.
The story is a mess (DNA replacement, conflict diamonds and Space Lasers do not mix) and the main villain is a tool. I do think the main henchman, Zao, was cool, but he’s wasted here. A great concept lost amongst the dreck. Berry is awful, and her character is no better. She’s reportedly one of the “Hold her own/Bond’s equal” Bond Girls, but she winds up needing rescue more often than Holly Goodhead, Stacy Sutton and Christmas Jones combined. One of my LEAST favorite Bond Girls ever.
But the primary charge in “Die Another Day”‘s long litany of offenses may just be the CGI. In any technological revolution, there are going to be casualties. Tragic missteps where the reach exceeds the grasp and the result is painful to watch. Not only did the CGI look poor onscreen, but the newfound capabilities led to outrageous creative choices, including Bond parasailing off of the melting glacier, and the ridiculous finale where Bond and Jinx each square off against their opposite numbers (with Graves in a robo-powersuit) as the plane is shredded by the Icarus space laser. (Sunbeam. Whatever)
There is a cheesy enjoyment factor in it for me, but the stench is undeniable and I couldn’t respect myself here if I didn’t classify it as crap. There ARE a FEW high quality elements, including the entire first third and the excellent car chase on ice sequence, but they can’t come close to overcoming a bad plot, poor villains, a sore thumb cameo, obnoxious product placement, an irritating Bond Girl and some of the worst visual effects ever seen in the history of Bond.