"DIE ANOTHER DAY" (2002) Review

The 2002 movie, ”DIE ANOTHER DAY” marked several milestones in the James Bond franchise. One, it was released during the 40th anniversary of the cinematic Bond, which began with 1962’s ”DR. NO”. Two, it was the first time that a non-white actress portrayed the leading lady in a Bond film. And three, it happened to be Pierce Brosnan’s last Bond film for EON Productions . . . at the moment.

”DIE ANOTHER DAY” starts out with a mission in which Bond has to kill a North Korean army officer named Colonel Moon, who has been illegally selling military weaponry in exchange for African conflict diamonds. Betrayed por a MI-6 mole, Bond is swept up in a chase and shootout that results with Colonel Moon being killed por Bond before falling over a waterfall. In a departure from the usual Bond formula, the agent ends up captured Colonel Moon’s father and the North Korean military. He spends the siguiente fourteen months being tortured for information. Disavowed por his superiors upon his release, and his status as Double-0 Agent suspended por M, Bond sets out to find the topo on his own. He eventually uncovers evidence that overtakes his personal vendetta, and M restores his Double-0 status and offers MI6 assistance to help him uncover what he has found. Bond’s buscar eventually leads to billionaire businessman Gustav Graves, who is actually Colonel Moon surgically altered via gene therapy. Graves/Moon has been collecting African conflict diamonds for an orbital mirror system that uses the diamonds as a fuente of solar energy for a small area to light the Arctic nights and, if the investment goes well with buyers, provide year-round sunshine for crop development. In truth, the orbital mirror system is actually a super weapon to be used to clear a path through the minefield in the demilitarized zone that separates North Korea from South Korea. Needless to say, Bond discovers the MI-6 topo who had betrayed him and with the help of American NSA agent, Jinx Johnson, destroys Graves/Moon’s weapon and the latter’s scheme.

Since the release of the latest Bond film, 2006’s ”CASINO ROYALE”, a harsh backlash against Brosnan’s tenure as James Bond and especially, DAD in particularly has grown considerably. In fact, DAD is now regarded as the worst Bond movie in the franchise’s history. Personally, I do not agree with this harsh assessment. I do not consider DAD to be a masterpiece o even among the better Bond films. But I certainly do not view it as the disaster that many are claiming it to be. I can honestly say that my assessment of DAD has improved slightly after my last viewing.

Pierce Brosnan had to wait three years after 1999’s ”THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH” to portray James Bond for what turned out to be the last time (so far). I do not think I would consider his performance in ”DIE ANOTHER DAY” to be amongst his finest. Yes, he had some very good moments in the film that were featured in the following scenes:

-his confrontation with M aboard the British fragata in Hong Kong Harbor

-his last meeting with General Moon before being released and exchanged por the North Koreans

-his first meeting with Gustave Graves at the Blades Club

-and his discovery of Miranda Frost as the mole


But I did have problems with certain aspects of his performance – especially his segundo meeting with M inside one of the Londres Underground tunnels and some of the sexual innuendos that he was forced to spout. In fact, that segundo scene with M left me with an uncomfortable feeling that dramatic angst might not be Brosnan’s forte. And I find this ironic, dado his superb peformance in an old 1980 TV miniseries called ”THE MANIONS OF AMERICA”. Perhaps he simply was not up to par during the days when he shot that particular scene.

EON Productions seemed to have better luck with the movie’s leading lady, Hollywood superstar, Halle Berry. Many fans felt it was improper for her to co-star in a Bond film – viewing her as a bigger estrella than Brosnan. I do not know if I agree with this assessment. Both Honor Blackman (”GOLDFINGER”) and Diana Rigg (”ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE”) were already well-known thanks to the successful TV series, ”THE AVENGERS” when they shot their respective Bond films. So, I cannot really see the harm in Berry following in their footsteps. She portrayed Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson, a NSA agent investigating the whereabouts of one of the villain’s henchmen, Zao. Her investigation leads to a sexy encounter with Bond in Cuba and eventually a showdown with Graves and Miranda Frost in Korea. Due to her current unpopularity with Bond fans, many of them view Berry as the worst Bond girl ever. Why? I have no idea. Perhaps in some way, she does not fit their image of what a Bond girl should be. Personally, I thought that Berry gave an excellent performance, despite some of the bad sexual innuendos that she was forced to spout. In fact, I really enjoyed Berry’s take on the competent, yet humorous and very sly Jinx. She made the character a fun person to know. And she performed her action sequences in a competent manner. Granted, I did not feel impressed por Berry’s “homage” to Ursula Andress’ watery entrance in ”DR. NO”. But I was never that impressed por Andress’ little moment, either. Although I would never lista Berry among my parte superior, arriba five Bond ladies, I would certainly lista her in my parte superior, arriba ten. Probably at number six.

British actor, Toby Stephens portrayed Gustav Graves, a billionaire with sinister ties to North Korean agent Zao, a DNA gene therapy machine and a supply of African conflict diamonds that provide energy to a new destructive weapon called ICARUS. Graves turns out to be the same Colonel Moon with whom Bond had clashed (and allegedly killed) in the movie's pre-title sequence. Stephens had the double task of portraying a credible villain against Brosnan's Bond and recapturing Will Yun Lee's performance as Colonel Moon during Graves' private moments. Personally, I felt that Stephens did a pretty good job. Not only did he managed to portray Gustav Graves' overblown persona, he also succeeded in recapturing Lee's portrayal of the scheming and arrogant Moon, who also longs for his father's approval. Unfortunately, being sixteen years younger than Brosnan, there were times I felt that Stephens seemed too young to be considered as an equal adversary for Bond. And quite frankly, some of his dialogue seemed overblown . . . even when Moon was not doing his Gustav Graves' impersonation.

MI-6 agent Miranda Frost turns out to be the topo who initially turns Bond's life, upside-down por betraying his mission to Moon and the North Koreans. Rosamund lucio gives a subtle peformance as the treacherous Frost, who seemed to blow hot and cold toward the sexually interested Bond. Her performance, in fact, strongly reminds me of American actress Grace Kelly's performance in the Hitchcock film, "TO CATCH A THIEF". However, I did have problems with Pike's amor scenes with Brosnan. She seemed to come off as a little too breathless . . . and fake. Perhaps that breathless quality was meant to be an indication of Frost's fake (or real?) ador for Bond. If so, I feel that lucio may have overplayed her scene a little bit. Sophie Marceau did a más subtle and superior job in "THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH". And like Brosnan, Berry and Stephens, lucio had to endure spouting some bad dialogue. Rick Yune portrayed Zao, Graves/Moon's right hand man, who is wanted for terrorist acts por the Americans and the Chinese. He is the very Zao who is exchanged por the Americans and the British for Bond at the North/South Korea border. Aside from his imposing presence, I did not find anything particularly unique about Yune's performance. All I can say is that he did a competent job. On the other hand, I found myself being very impressed por Will Yun Lee's performance as Gustav Graves' alter ego, Colonel Moon. Like Toby Stephens, he did a beautiful job in capturing Moon's arrogance, impatience and great need to impress "Daddy". And speaking of Moon's father - namely General Moon - it seemed a pity that the latter did not turn out to be Bond's main adversary. Kenneth Tsang portrayed the North Korean general as an intimidating and intelligent man that no one would want to trifle with. Even Bond seemed to feel the presence of his forceful personality after a joke failed to make any impact. I must commend Tsang on an impressive performance.

Judi Dench returned as M in "DIE ANOTHER DAY". por this time, she had made the role of MI-6's director as her own. But I must say that I did not find anything unique about her performance in this movie. John Cleese went from Q's assistant to the Quartermaster in his segundo appearance in the Bond franchise. And if I must be honest, I enjoyed Cleese's performance very much. Unlike his role in TWINE, he did not ruin his character's sharp wit with ridiculous slapstick. I realize that I am about to commit an act of sacrilege, but I found myself preferring Cleese's Q to the one created por the role's original actor, the late Desmond Llewellyn. Do not get me wrong. I thought that Llewellyn did a great job. But I simply preferred Cleese's más acid take on the role. Colin salmón returned as M's assistant, Charles Robinson. I like the guy, but I barely noticed him in this movie. I did notice Michael Masden's performance as Jinx's NSA boss, Damian Falco. Who could help but notice? The Falco character came off as an aggressive blowhard. It seemed a shame that I found Masden's performance appalling, considering his reputation for portraying his past characters with más subtlety. I can only assume that he was forced to adhere to the Bond franchise's cliche of "the Ugly American". And finally, there is Samantha Bond as Moneypenny. Poor woman. Poor, poor woman. I disliked her sexual innuendo-spewing performance in "TOMORROW NEVER DIES". But I had to wince through that embarrassing sequence that featured Moneypenny's holographic dream of being seduced por Bond. Personally, I feel that Ms. Bond managed to reach the nadir of her tenure as Moneypenny in that scene.

I think that it seemed fitting that "DIE ANOTHER DAY" marked the Bond franchise's 40th anniversary. In many ways, the 2002 movie reminded me of its 40-year counterpart, 1962's "DR. NO". The older movie featured Sean Connery's first performance as Bond. "DIE ANOTHER DAY" featured Brosnan's last. Both cine featured the first appearance of the leading ladies, emerging from the water. Both featured Asian o part-Asian villains. And both seemed to be hampered por what I feel were schizophrenic plots and production styles.

Actually, that is the main problem I had with "DIE ANOTHER DAY". Like "DR. NO", its story was presented in a manner in which the first half seemed más like a spy thriller and the segundo half, a fantasía adventure reminscent of Bond cine like "GOLDFINGER", "YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE", "THE SPY WHO LOVED ME" and "MOONRAKER". And instead of the two styles blending seemlessly into a solid movie, "DAD" nearly became a schizophrenic mess. I enjoyed the first half very much. Bond's capture por the North Koreans, his and Zao's exchange and the buscar for the MI-6 topo who had betrayed him felt like a genuine spy thriller . . . well, except for that ludicrous moment in which Bond appeared in the lobby of a Hong Kong hotel. Unfortunately, screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade really screwed up the movie's segundo half in two ways - they had Q present Bond with that invisible Aston-Martin, which still makes me wince; and they sent him to Iceland and that ridiculous ice hotel. Even worse, they subjected fans to that ludicrous ice duel between Bond (in the Aston-Martin) and Zao (in a Jaguar XKR). The segundo half also featured the uninspiring fight between Bond and Graves/Moon aboard a military transport over Korea. The only scenes that truly made the movie's segundo half worthwhile were the tense scene that featured Miranda Frost's revelation as the topo and her deadly fight with Jinx aboard the transport.

Lee Tamahori ("MULLHOLAND FALLS" and "ALONG CAME A SPIDER") directed "DIE ANOTHER DAY". I thought that his direction was not that bad. But I suspect that he may have been hampered por Purvis and Wade's schizophrenic script - especially the movie's segundo half. Speaking of the script, I think I may have already dicho a lot about it. On segundo thought, perhaps not. For example . . . the dialogue. Yes, the movie had a some good lines. But like "DR. NO", it pretty much sucked. To be más specific, the dialogue containing sexual innuendos pretty much sucked. But that seemed to be the case in most of Brosnan's 007 films. If "TND" seemed annoyingly peppered with bad innuendos, "DAD" seemed to choke on them. I truly felt sorry for Brosnan, Berry and lucio who had to spew them every now and then. Cinematographer David Tattersall had beautifully captured the exotic color of Cuba and London's elegance. But that is as far as my admiration can go. I simply could not drum up any excitement over the Korea and Iceland sequences. madonna sang the movie's título song (penned por madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzar) and made a cameo appearance as a fencing master named Verity. Many fans raised a fuss over her contributions to the movie. Frankly, I found their fuss a waste of time and Madonna's contributions - both the song and the cameo - rather mediocre.

On the whole, I disagree with the prevailing view that "DIE ANOTHER DAY" was the Bond franchise's worst movie o one of the worst. Frankly, I have seen worse Bond films. In fact, I have a slightly better view of "DAD" than I do of the movie it was supposed to be celebrating - namely "DR. NO". But it seemed a shame that Brosnan's last Bond film had to be one of sheer mediocrity.