Die Another Day (2002)
Directed by Lee Tamahori
The beauty of the James Bond franchise is that every film has a unique flare, yet they all share a common thread that sets them apart from every other spy movie out there. Different actors play the role, different actresses serve as Bond girls, different singers belt out iconic themes, but a Bond film is always a Bond film. And for 50 years, people have argued over which Bond is best. 90s kids like myself (we all love identifying as 90s kids, don’t we?) may not be able to say we lived in the golden era of Bond, though we did live in the GoldenEye era. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I love Pierce Brosnan and I’m not ashamed. When I was a ten-year-old boy obsessed with cool shootouts, Brosnan had his last bow as Bond in “Die Another Day.” Everything about it screamed the 1990s, from the Madonna theme to the unnecessarily large explosions to the outfits. Just ignore the fact that it was actually released in 2002.
Bond has troubles in North Korea when a popular engineer (Toby Stephens) creates a space weapon that harnesses the power of the sun and shoots beams of light more powerful than any amount of nuclear weapons. Bond finds the help of American spy Jinx Johnson (Halle Berry) and fellow MI6 agent Miranda Frost (Rosamond Pike) to stop the developer before he destroys an American base in South Korea and begins a third world war.
With a plot that includes surfing, hovercrafts, and a car chase on ice, “Die Another Day” threw plausibility out the window very early on. Not that Bond has ever been one to take the easy road. But even if the visual effects in 2002 didn’t allow Bond’s invisible Aston Martin to look quite right, you have to love the effort. It’s like “Die Another Day” recycled all of the absurd GoldenEye video game tricks and put them in a movie. And it has a notoriously bad case of the bad guys not being able to shoot anything, though they fire exponentially more rounds than Bond. It has the classic Bond word play, too. Brosnan and Berry have an entire conversation made up of playful metaphors and double entendres likening sexual promiscuity to the behavior of predatory animals. “Die Another Day” is full of those one-liners that make you smile and also make you ashamed.
Brosnan himself is, in my opinion, a stellar Bond. Not in the uber-classy, always serious way Daniel Craig is now. No one denies that he has really excelled. But Brosnan shines in a different way, in the cheesy, almost cartoonish way that I see the character of James Bond. Self-aware, always acknowledging his character and his quirks. It’s wonderful. Halle Berry, coming off her Best Actress win for “Monster’s Ball,” is unfortunately more reminiscent of her cheesy performance in “The Flintstones.” But she matches Brosnan’s charming wit. And gone girl Rosamond Pike definitely hadn’t hit her Oscar-nominated peak.
“Die Another Day” is classic James Bond, at least when you’re my age. In my mind, Bond can do no wrong. So even an otherwise dud of a movie like “Die Another Day” can live on in history without the ravages of a lethal review. Viva la Bond!