DIE ANOTHER DAY
Betrayed by a MI6 traitor, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is imprisoned in a Korean jail, but is released in exchange for a Korean spy when the agency believe he is about to crack. As Bond circles the globe to expose the traitor and prevent a war of catastrophic proportions, he meets Jinx (Halle Berry) in Havana, and Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) in London, the protégé of evil megalomaniac Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) and his right-hand man Zao (Rick Yune). Bond travels to Iceland where he infiltrates the villain’s lair, a fantastic palace built entirely of ice, where he experiences firsthand the power of a new hi-tech weapon.
Review by Louise Keller:
Delivering on every count, Die Another Day is one of the best Bond films ever. Action-stacked, this roller coaster of thrills combines a riveting narrative with the ever-seductive recipe of innovative gadgets, breathtaking stunts and beautiful women. With Lee Tamahori at the helm and Pierce Brosnan comfortable in the Bond shoes, this 20th in the series exudes vitality and genuine thrills. With its theme of fire and ice, the credits sequence is spectacular with its imagery of naked women gliding effortlessly through visual effects. Splendid stuff. The only disappointment lies in Madonna’s title song; she is no Shirley Bassey, nor is there anything remotely memorable about the tune or the delivery. (Madonna does look the part, however, in an uncredited cameo at the exclusive fencing club, wearing striking, laced-up black leather.) But that aside, prepare yourself to be swept away by a spectacle of immense proportions where the action smoulders at melting point and ideas glide as smoothly as the mirror-surfaces of Iceland. Brosnan has visibly beefed up for this ultra-physical role and he has never been more effective. More handsome than any man deserves to be, Brosnan is convincingly physical, suave and sexy; his 007 counterpart still drinks vodka martinis, is partial to a drop of Bollinger and likes his women curvaceous. In many ways Halle Berry is the ultimate Bond girl – a stunning package of lethal femininity in the form of the delectably clad Jinx, the girl who hates being tied down. In a tip of the hat to the Bonds of yesteryear (or specifically to the luscious Ursula Andress), we first meet Jinx as she emerges like a goddess from the sea in a skimpy tangerine bikini and a white knife belt. Men will swoon…. English rose Rosalind Pike’s chilly Miss Frost is a delectable contrast, as the sedate fencing champion whose armour seems to thaw on impact. Effective and memorable villains in the shape of Toby Stephens’ enigmatic wealthy swordsman Gustav Graves (son of thesp Maggie Smith) and Rick Yune as albino-eyed Zao (love the distinctive diamond-studded scars), fit the bill as apt adversaries. The stunts are mind-blowing and varied - from the impressive surfing sequence to the high-octane car chase on ice between the Bond Aston Martin V12 Vanguish and the sleek avocado green Jaguar XKR. I especially liked the exhilarating fencing scenes set in the conservative wooden panelled surrounds of a London gentleman’s club. Very Bond. Of course there are the new gadgets, and old favourites M, Q and Moneypenny are back. The Ice Palace setting is wonderfully extravagant, offering sharp contrasts to the rugged North Korean backdrop and exotic Havana tropical haven. There’s great attention to every detail – from the fabulous costumes and production design to the dazzling array of locations. A vital new Bond for the 21st century, Die Another Day is great fun and a thrilling spectacle besides.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The only thing left of the original James Bond films is Monty Norman’s signature theme and its various stings, plus the now adolescent-sounding double entendres. (In the early 60s they seemed risque.) This 20th in the series underlines how far new writers have strayed from Ian Fleming’s bequest. Overtaken by the gizmos and gadgets, the script – and hence the film and the whole franchise – has shifted further and further from its source, to become indistinguishable from other major stunt driven action films. Actually, it’s just that they’ve been imitated. Is James Bond disappearing, turning into a hologram of the character, a memory-stamp that has less and less flesh and blood? Is there too much of everything else, less of his persona? The first act of Die Another Day holds much promise that this is indeed a developed James Bond outing, with Bond held prisoner in North Korea (one of the ‘evil empire’ states that can be usefully cast as a baddie). For a while I thought we were in for an interesting exploration of the James Bond character tackling powerlessness prior to his inevitable breakout and his inevitable road to successfully saving the world. The breakout is a bit flimsier than I expected and leads to a series of stunts strung together with short (made for attention-span-deficit disorder audiences) plot-driving scenes. The movie continues as a series of stunts ranging from huge to mega to kerrraboooom. All James Bond films need a master villain or two, but there have been so many great villains, it’s a hard act to follow. Although Rick Yune is highly effective in his limited role as the Korean spy, top villain Toby Stephens is too reliant on a sneer in his stiff upper lip to be truly fearsome. He is acting a baddie – not being one. Halle Berry, on the other bush, is perfectly fine by me, a Jinx by any other name whose versatility is admirable. Pierce Brosnan is best here in those early scenes, unrecognisable under a two year beard, hair lanky and unkempt, wearing uncharacteristically shoddy rags in his feeelthy prison. Once he’s back in the suits (dinner or action) Brosnan has little time to do much more than pull triggers, grimace and run. It’s hardly acting, old chap, but he looks good enough. And he IS good enough to handle more and I hope he gets the chance. Edgily directed by Lee Tamahori (keeping the humour to the minimum), Die Another Day certainly satisfies on the action level – not that James Bond was ever more than a fantasy creation for a screen escapade. The occasional echoes from earlier Bond films are well executed, and the performances are solid, but Madonna’s song is underwhelming. I guess there’s a lot to live up to.
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Andrew L. Urban meets PIERCE BROSNAN, Rosamund Pike and the Bond Team
HALLE BERRY INTERVIEW by Jenny Coony Carrillo
SOUNDTRACK REVIEW by Brad Green
DIE ANOTHER DAY (M)
CAST: Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Rosamund Pike, Toby Stephens, Rick Yune, Kenneth Tsang, Will Yun Lee, Emilio Echevarria, Samantha Bond, Colin Salmon, Michael Gorevoy, Lawrence Makoare, John Cleese and Judi Dench.
PRODUCER: Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli
DIRECTOR: Lee Tamahori (2nd unit dir: Vic Armstrong)
SCRIPT: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade (character from book by Ian Fleming)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Tattersall BSC
EDITOR: Christian Wagner
MUSIC: David Arnold (James Bond theme - Monty Norman)
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Peter Lamont
RUNNING TIME: 125 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 12, 2002