Review: Die Another Day

by Jake Sproul

Rating: (out of )

After a three year absence from the box office, James Bond is back in this twentieth installment in the world famous franchise. This time, with Oscar winner Halle Berry as the “bond girl.” And even with such a talented co-star, Die Another Day proves to be one of the worst James Bond films in recent memory, and even draws up questions of whether James Bond is losing his touch.

The box office take of Die Another Day is proving that James Bond is far from over. However, the quality of the movie would suggest otherwise. I was hoping that Die Another Day would be of a high quality as to thwart the suggestions that super heroes like XXX are destined to take the place of James Bond. And as bad as XXX was, I am beginning to give into a few of these rumors.

Gustav Graves is a megalomaniac who is bent on taking over the world. (Shocker, isn’t it.) His method is through a satellite that refocuses the sun’s light/energy, which he can then direct wherever he wants, with catastrophic effects. However, Bond discovers that Gustav Graves is really an evil Korean military general’s son, whom Bond supposedly killed in a mission shown in an opening scene. With the help of Jinx, Bond works to destroy this madman...again!

Halle Berry’s role as a Bond girl has been much talked about in the buzz reports, due to her Oscar win last March. She takes on her role with gusto and sex appeal. She is the perfect Bond girl, great tits, fantastic attitude, and handles a gun excellently (no pun intended). Halle Berry is a far better Bond girl than Densie Richards, in The World is Not Enough. Unfortunately, the role of Jinx is not written well. Her motives for wanting Grave’s and his diamond-encrusted henchmen killed are never revealed. At the end, we find out why, but the whole movie, we are just forced to accept that she is just “there.”

I wasn’t so much discouraged with the plot, than I was the fact that the director seems to have abandoned the tried ‘n true Bond formula for a new, cliched and typical, movie that prefers special effects over the story. It seems that Die Another Day sunk to the level of XXX, and accepted its challenge to see who could make to the most useless special effects.

I am angered that I have to compare Die Another Die to XXX, but I do considering the unfortunate similarities between the two films. And its important to note that James Bond does have one thing on Triple X. Bond is suave and stylish. I have always liked that about the James Bond franchise. One-liners are far better delivered from the mouth of Pierce Brosnan that the brash, (and I personally found him to be offensive,) Vin Diesel. However, style can only account for so much, and when it isn’t met with equal amount of substance (and Die Another Day doesn’t), it just feels like eating a bowl of sugar for dinner.

On par with similar films, Die Another Die has surprisingly ho-hum special effects. This is even more surprising considering Die Another Day’s price-tag came in at 142 million! At several points during the movie, I was painfully aware that the actors were standing in front of a green screen. This was no more obvious than it the opening scene. Die Another Day is able to culminate with an impressive climactic special effects sequence, involving an ultra-cool car chase.

As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, this is the worst James Bond in recent memory. It isn’t as bad as Moonraker and Live and Let Die, however, it rivals these two films in silliness. Even I was screaming, “Oh, come on!” when James is hanging off a massive glacier in a rocket car, with the power of the sun approaching him, and he is able to pull off an escape not even McGyver would have come up with!

With 2 Oscar winners, and one Oscar nominated actors on the bill for Die Another Day, the acting is all splendid. Its hard to mess up a James Bond movie, (in terms of acting), and this proves true here. However, Judi Dench plays such a bitch, I wanted to slap the shit out of her right then and there! However, Halle Berry more than makes up for Judi Dench’s frigidness.

Die Another Die is not a total disappointment. There are some jollies to be enjoyed, but they are far and few. Ultimately, though, director Lee Tamahori has disappointed the Bond franchise, and me. Let us hope that the 21st Bond installment will be significantly better. Silly, lifeless, unmemorable. Use these words when describing Die Another Day to your friends.

© 2002 Jacob Sproul

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