Die Another Day (2002) – movie review

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Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, Rick Yune, Judi Dench
Director: Lee Tamahori

This year 2002 is the fortieth anniversary of the James Bond franchise and DIE ANOTHER DAY is the twentieth movie. Not bad for the British secret agent, but all I’ve heard in the build-up to its release are negative rumours about Bond no longer being able to deliver the goods. As I sat in anticipation in Fox’s London preview theatre watching the pristine print (an advantage of press previews) of the latest Bond adventure projected onto the screen I realised that the voices of doom were totally unfounded and simply based on disbelief that any cinematic character could sustain the kind of momentum necessary to deliver top class entertainment to audiences yet again.

The adventure starts off in typical Bond style with its usual long intro but there’s a very nicely done variation to its trademark title sequence as the traditional naked female silhouettes mix with the continuing story and are used to cover what would otherwise be quite a violent torture/interrogation scene.

The bad guys this time around come from North Korea and reflecting the current world political arena there are no Russian spies to confront 007 but there is certainly no lack of an evil villain with a political agenda in the shape of Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) and the Chinese also make an appearance.

International locations are also still on the bill as Bond (Pierce Brosnan) travels from North Korea (filmed in England and the surfing scene in Hawaii) to Hong Kong (mostly interiors filmed in England), Havana (filmed in Cadiz, Spain), Iceland (the ice field car chase) and of course London. Action is paramount in any Bond adventure and there are some spectacular sequences here including the latest Bond car being put to full use in a snowy car chase and the destruction of the villains HQ in an ice palace.

John Cleese steps fully into the role of Q as he rolls out the gadgets in typical Cleese style and Judi Dench returns as M, once again in confrontation with Bond. There’s also a humorous almost romantic scene between Bond and Moneypenny (Samantha Bond)

Bond wouldn’t be Bond without the Bond girls and Rosamund Pike certainly doesn’t disappoint as the very attractive Miranda Frost together with Jinx (Halle Berry) an American NSA agent who is after the same villain as Bond and certainly proves her worth in the action stakes.

But no matter how good the rest of the movie is 007 has to be played by the right actor and there is no doubt in my mind that in his fourth appearance as the super spy Pierce Brosnan really does fully fit the Bond role for the new millennium. Brosnan has stated he now feels comfortable in the role and has signed up for a fifth appearance in the next Bond movie.

With the recent release of Vin Diesel’s XXX challenging the Bond franchise and its near duplication of the essential Bond elements but adding its own rougher edge to its lead character, I really did wonder how this twentieth Bond could live up to today’s expectations especially as XXX did such a good job delivering a powerful all action spy movie. Fortunately I am very pleased to state that no one can out do 007 in this genre and to prove it the Bond franchise seems to have found its feet and managed to update itself for today’s audience whilst retaining those exclusive Bond characteristics. Even the use of CGI, previously taboo in a Bond movie, doesn’t detract from the uniqueness of the character and feel of the film.

Bond is back and delivers spectacular entertainment all the way in DIE ANOTHER DAY and the best thing of all is… James Bond will return!

6 out of 6 stars