James Bond’s newest mission begins with a high-speed hovercraft chasethrough a minefield in the demilitarized zone separating North and SouthKorea – which leads to his capture and a 14-month period of torture. Finallyreleased, Bond circles the world from Hong Kong through Cuba to London in hisquest to unmask the traitor responsible for setting him up. On his way he crosses paths withJinx (Halle Berry), a CIA agent who is in pursuit of the same person.
The trail leads to a deadly megalomaniac named Gustav Graves (TobyStephens) and his ruthless right-hand man, Zao (Rick Yune). Bond travels toIceland into the villain’s lair – a palace built entirely of ice. There heexperiences firsthand the power of a new hi-tech weapon. Ultimately it allleads back to Korea, where it all started.
Die Another Day, the twentieth film in the James Bond franchise,certainly starts off well enough. The first thirty minutes is exciting andhas a few nice variations on the film series’ formula. For a while, it looksas if director Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors) and screenwritersRobert Wade and Neil Purvis were allowed to experiment and perhaps take theaging franchise into new and exciting directions.
Then comes the rest of the film. When the action leaves Cuba and shiftsback to London, where Gustav Graves is introduced, the film loses its edgeand becomes your Standard Bond Film. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that -I for one happen to love the series. The problem that plagues this one is thatDie Another Day becomes too reliant on the stunts, the gadgets, somereally bad visual effects (a parasailing scene with Bond may be some of theworst effects put to film in a decade) and action sequences that are ratherpedestrian.
Brosnan once again shows that he’s the best Bond since Sean Connery,erasing comparisons between him and previous 007s once and for all. Berrydoes a decent job as Jinx, but the screenplay never develops her characterenough. It also doesn’t spark up any sort of romantic heat between her andBond. Tobey Stephens is decent hamming it up as Graves, while Rick Yune ismuch more impressive as the creepy Zao. Rosamund Pike is certainly stunningto look at, but her Miranda Frost winds up amounting to just being eye candywith an accent (once again, thank the script).
Die Another Day marks James Bond’s 40th anniversary as a cinemaicon, showing signs of promise here and there that 007 might be starting toact, not show, his age. But I guess he’ll just have to try another day.