Die Another Day (2002) – Lee Tamahori

Pierce Brosnan returns for his fourth and final outing in Die Another Day, the 20th canon James Bond film. Directed by Lee Tamahori, the milestone film is a bit of a fumble on the part of the writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade as they throw in tons of visual nods and references to previous Bond films and have so much going on that the film simply rockets from set piece to set piece without much in the way of a cohesive, or enjoyable film.

Having said that there are things I like about the film, and there are a number of sequences I enjoy but even David Arnold’s score isn’t as superlative (though uses an updated of The 007 Theme by John Barry) as his previous two 007 scores were. And how did a title track by Madonna get her an extended cameo in the film?

This time out, the iconic Ian Fleming-created character, is investigating a diamond mogul, Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) who has connections to a North Korean Colonel, Moon (Will Yun Lee) – a nod to the novels, the first non-Fleming written tale was Colonel Sun.

Bond isn’t prepared for what he finds, even when M (Judi Dench) informs him that they have a man on the inside of Graves’ company, Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) and a CIA agent, Jinx (Halle Berry) shows up with her own agenda.

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The gadgets end up being extremely silly in this film, an invisible car, and the computer work, noticeable especially in the opening surfing sequence (sigh) is pretty abysmal, even for the time.

And while the locations and camerawork are lovely, the story isn’t quite as engaging as a film, the 20th in a blockbuster series, should be. Brosnan had wanted a return to a grittier 007, there were rumours of spinning Jinx off into her own series, and the producers and writers seemed to be throwing everything they could into the script whether it worked or not.

On the flip side, the creative team took the full blame for the film and its reception, and moved the series in an appropriate direction for the next film.

There are tons of nods to Bond’s literary and film history throughout this movie, and while the nods are nice, a less fantastical story would have served just as nicely. Brosnan, while not appearing uncomfortable in the film, definitely isn’t delivering his best and perhaps that’s because he wasn’t keen on the story either.

While not the worst film in the series, this one was decidedly a fumble, and was definitely not to celebrate 50 years of Bond literary history, and 40 years of 007 cinematic adventures.

Happily, the series, as always, would endure. There would be an actor change and tonal shift change and the franchise would find new life when James Bond returned in Casino Royale…

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