Die Another Day
October 13, 2003
Brosnan burst onto the big screen in the 1995 film Goldeneye, a film that reclaimed Bond as a force still to be reckoned with at the cinema. Sadly Brosnan and his films seem to get worse as they go along and those dizzy heights are long gone.
The Bond machine has become so well oiled and businesslike, that watching Die Another Day, you can’t help but feel you’re watching stunt people show off for no particular reason. There’s no room for story or character development anymore, just make sure stuff blows up every five minutes and put in a glib one liner. This would be all well and good, but screenwriters Wade and Purvis seem to think their audience wants overkill (we’ll blow up more stuff than ever before! We’ll come up with the cheesiest double-entendres!) and this is why you end up cringeing at the screen for two hours.
Example: “My name is Mister Kil.”
“Well, there’s a name to die for.”
So what of the plot? Well, sadly there isn’t one. But we meet Bond at the start as he negotiates a shady deal with a bunch of North Koreans, but is rumbled and sent to prison where he’s tortured over the title music (and I don’t just mean having to listen to Madonna’s song). When he finally escapes he has to go AWOL (License to Kill anyone?) to find who set him up. Upon his travels he meets Jinx, a spunky spy who seems to be Bond’s female equivalent, and Gustav Graves (Stephens), a toff with plans to take over the world. Again. Then there’s Miranda Frost, played by newcomer Rosamund Pike with all the spark of a soggy match. She makes fun of Bond one minute and hops into bed with him the next, never once making her face change into anything resembling an expression. But with a script this bad, maybe we should cut her some slack.
Bond finds the elusive Zao (Yune) in a private hospital, with diamonds still encrusted in his face from the opening scene. Zao escapes, but not before Jinx has taken a pot-shot at him.
The one stand-out scene that reminded this reviewer of Bond’s glory days, was the sword fight with Graves and the ensuing cat and mouse twirl of destruction they create, changing from fencing swords right up to heavy-weight neck-choppers. Madonna has a cameo here, but she’s not as bad in small doses – it’s leading a movie that causes her grief. The car flipping over on the ice was pretty thrilling too…until it’d been shown fifty times on TV ads, so once you actually saw the film the effect was lost).
Director Tamahori (Along Came A Spider) can handle thrilling scenes, but has yet to make a film that doesn’t stutter the narrative along with good points and bad points. And you get the feeling from behind the scenes documentaries that he was carried away by the Bond phenomenon like a trout in a river; not able to control things much, but able to say that he was in the thick of it. (“I’ll leave it to Vic Armstrong,” he probably thought. “he’s the one really calling the shots after all.”)
I won’t even mention the invisible car, the dodgy CGI, or the naff Matrix rip-off.
Yet people seemed to lap up Die Another Day and it’ll certainly earn its money back at the box office. The audience I saw it with in the cinema were divided into those who couldn’t believe how cynical and hollow it was, to the older fans who just wanted to see Bond again (Brosnan dancing in a tutu wouldn’t put them off) and the little kids who didn’t know any better.
Okay, so you could see worse films, but this is the biggest and loudest Bond film to date, yet it left this reviewer stone cold. The ‘twists’ were laughable. After twenty films and having to resort to ‘homages’ to carry the entire movie (ie. re-using the union jack parachute stunt and the watch laser) it doesn’t take a genius to see this franchise is on its last legs. The humane thing to do might be to put a shotgun to its head and ease its pain. Either that, or really change things (get rid of Broccoli and Armstrong) and reinvent Bond entirely. Indeed, Jinx seems to be getting her own spy movie, so perhaps Ms Bond is the way forward. One thing is certain, something needs to change.