Awfully Good: Die Another Day
Early reviews of SPECTRE are mixed, but let's keep things in perspective...
Die Another Day (2002)
Director: Lee Tamahori
Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Rosamund Pike
James Bond must save the world from a rogue North Korean leader in extreme whiteface, who wants to destroy everyone with his giant sun laser. Also, he has to bang Halle Berry because she's there.
Poor Pierce Brosnan. The man just wanted to make a really good James Bond movie. Instead he got Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist and this film, which represents a true nadir in the 007 series. The only good thing to come of this admitted trainwreck is that it was so bad it forced the producers to actually try with CASINO ROYALE.
Granted, there are plenty of lesser Bond movies out there. Roger Moore had his share of stinkers and we even covered Sean Connery's embarrassing return in NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN. But one could argue those films at least had their charms. DIE ANOTHER DAY is devoid of anything fun or worthwhile and in fact actively tries to shoehorn in unnecessary terribleness. (Madonna's auto-tuned theme song is bad enough, but who allowed her to actually have a speaking role?) The script relies solely on gimmicks, gadgets and attempted one-liners instead of an actual story. Writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade immediately followed this up with the Bond parody JOHNNY ENGLISH and it's definitely possible that they got confused which movie they were writing given the amount of unintentional comedy here.
"Pierce Brosnan was electrifying!"
The film prepares you for suckage with an opening sequence that involves Bond surfing in to North Korea, creating a diamond bomb, and taking on the entire North Korean army in a hovercraft chase. He kills the general's son, makes a Zack Morris reference, and is promptly captured before the torture-themed credits even start. (And I don't say "torture" because of the Madonna song. The opening titles are actually built around the various methods they use to try and break the spy, from scorpions to near drowning.) After a year of being tormented, a bearded Bond is released and predictably disregards M's orders and immediately starts looking for more Korean terrorists.
Mr. Blonde's mom was always talking his ear off.
I will now skip to the end because DIE ANOTHER DAY has no actual plot besides "Bond chases Korean bad guys all over the world." Eventually, 007 spots the main terrorist hanging out with a rich white guy, who [spoiler for the stupid] of course ends up being the North Korean general's son who apparently didn't die in the clearly fatal hovercraft accident in the beginning. I know that these kinds of movies should be taken with a grain of salt when it comes to realism, but the idea that an Asian guy could get gene therapy and become a flawlessly handsome, taller Englishman who's a world famous business mogul ala Richard Branson—all within a year's time—is dumber than casting Denise Richard's as a nuclear physicist named Christmas Jones. The film's attempt at creating an iconic henchman with Rick Yune's Zao is also a massive fail. I'm supposed to be impressed/intimidated by a guy who had diamonds exploded in to his face and is pale and sickly from undergoing genetic treatment? Nope! Seriously, Zao looks like a sparkly version of Powder (from the movie POWDER).
You know, you can probably just take those out. They look like they're barely stuck in there.
Brosnan constantly looks embarrassed throughout the entire 2+ hour runtime, not just for how clearly dumb and poorly thought out DIE ANOTHER DAY is, but for some of the truly terrible things he's forced to say. And nothing is worse than his chemistry and banter with Oscar-winner Halle Berry, who's easy on the eyes but painful on the everything else as Bond girl Jinx. The writers don't even bother to explain her presence in the movie, just saying she's an NSA agent and letting her character do whatever they feel like, including murdering random doctors and blowing up their offices. Berry actually won her Academy Award during filming, though you wouldn't know it from her wooden, unnatural performance. Though I don't know if even Meryl Streep could do anything with pre-coital dialogue like this:
"So what do predators do when the sun goes down?"
"They feast…like there's no tomorrow."
Some fans still haven't forgotten about CATWOMAN.
If you were at least hoping for some decent action sequences…no, I'm sorry. Lee Tamahori, who started out his career promisingly with movies like MULHOLLAND FALLS and THE EDGE, but went on to make this and XXX: STATE OF THE UNION, seemingly forgets how to craft any sort of believable thrills or excitement. (His ALONG CAME A SPIDER contains perhaps the worst car crash ever in cinematic history, and Tamahori uses similarly bad CGI with his Bond movie.) There's an overabundance of random gadgets/technology and cool locations (Iceland, Cuba), but nobody came up with any good ideas on how to use them.
Chuck Lo Pan only had half of his father's genetics, but all of his spirit.
Bond has an invisible Aston Martin this time around, but it spends almost all of its screentime just sitting there. When there finally is a car chase on a frozen lake (which sounds promising), the invisibility shield immediately breaks down and the chase moves inside an ice hotel where the two cars impossibly drive through the entire building up to the top floor. There's also a giant space laser that harnesses the power of the sun (and is controlled by the villain's souped-up Power Glove with a Logitech trackball), but its mostly used in boring, unpopulated areas to little destruction. However, if you remember anything about DIE ANOTHER DAY, it's probably the godawful scene where Bond escapes a melting glacier tsunami by kitesurfing it. With some of the worst computer graphics ever, this truly feels like a sequence that belongs in a SyFy Channel movie rather than a big budget Hollywood blockbuster.
Ironically, an afternoon at Chipotle before being captured meant Halle was the one doing the torturing.
Of course Bond wins in the end and makes off with the girl…but not before one final surprise. In perhaps the least sexy moment in the entire franchise, DIE ANOTHER DAY ends with James Bond sensually putting stolen blood diamonds inside his lover's belly button, while the two engage in a double-entendre conversation that would've been rejected by Three's Company:
Jinx: Wait, don't pull it out. I'm not finished with it yet.
Bond: See? It's a perfect fit.
Jinx: Uh-huh. Leave it in.
Bond: It's got to come out sooner or later.
Jinx: No, leave it in, please. A few more minutes?
And that brings a close to Brosnan's career as 007. Poor Pierce Brosnan.
Legend has it that if you count her rings, you can actually tell Madonna's real age.
A collection of the biggest groaners, from bad Brosnan puns to the painful verbal foreplay between Jinx and Bond.
Some of the most ridiculous action sequences, including para-surfing a glacier tsunami, an icy car chase, and the glorious catfight between Halle Berry and Rosamund Pike.
Nada. Rent SWORDFISH if you must.
Take a shot or drink every time:
- Something happens that's unlikely due to the laws of physics
- Someone says an eye-rolling one-liner
- The movie moves to a different country
- There's unnecessary slow motion
- Someone gets electrocuted
- James Bond swims in freezing water without any protection
Double shot if:
- James Bond says "Bond, James Bond"
- Someone actually says the title of the movie
Thanks to Farzad for suggesting this week's movie!
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