Rakesh's movie talk
Die Another Day (2002)

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Directed by Lee Tamahori
Written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (Based on characters created by Ian Fleming)
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Rosamund Pike, Toby Stephens, Rick Yune, Judi Dench and John Cleese.


The following is written before watching the movie:

I saw the trailer of Die Another Day and here=s what I think: It=s gonna suck. I never liked The World Is Not Enough and I won=t be surprised if I find this movie to be stinking as well. The trailer is all about running, explosions, shootouts, and juvenile innuendos. I have as much expectation for a good Bond movie anymore as I have for the next Steven Seagal movie. However, I hope there will be plenty of references to the past movies and keep me excited. Let=s see...

Here=s the problem. Normal popcorn munching film goers outnumber Bond fan=s easily. That=s why the last few Bond films are the most successful in the series. It did not cater Bond fan specifically but rather the majority of action film lovers. Thus, the explosions and Bond=s personal love to mow hundreds of henchmen with machine guns. I shall watch and report.

The following is written after watching the movie:

Surprise, surprise. I went to watch this movie with expectation below sewerage level. And I came out actually feeling satisfied. Bond movies with Brosnan usually give me bad aftertaste after each outings. Goldeneye was very self-conscious with a new face for Bond and a very bad soundtrack to match. Tomorrow Never Dies had better music, but I could still not accept Brosnan as Bond, hated the heroine and felt that the bad guy was too pretentious. The World Is Not Enough was when I said >Enough is enough= and actually announced myself as an ex-Bond fan.

It was not soon that I felt that I should be more open-minded and accept these films. So, I revisited them and learnt to accept these films as flicks designed to please old Bond fans and more importantly win newer and younger audiences. As I said elsewhere, I feel grateful that these films managed to gain more fans that would eventually appreciate the older Bond flicks that I enjoy.

But watching this film revealed something else, Bond flicks can be fun after all. Or at least it was for the first three-quarters of the show. True enough there are many references made to earlier films, and I loved each of it. Better still, even the story seemed to have taken from various adventures found in both the films and the original books by Ian Fleming. I especially appreciate the latter as there are wealth of resources in the book that can be mined for the movies. Best of all, I found that the premise, the plot and the story, which seemed chaotic in the past three movies, are better told here. It is structured so well, that actually the pacing was good. Kudo=s to the scriptwriters.

I still have complaints though. The opening is very long, too long for a Bond movie. In a neat twist to the usual formula, Bond gets captured! And he is seen in the title sequence getting tortured. Which is fine, but the sequence is not graceful as usual, as we get the mix of ice, fire, beautiful sillouettes of nude women, plus the ugly scenes of torture. Not particularly nice to look at. Bond is later released, not by his wit, but by some prisoners exchange program. Looking like Robinson Crusoe (which Brosnan did play once), he is admitted to some medical faculty and is dismissed by M who doesn't trust him anymore since he was with the other side for too long - fourteen months. So, Bond breaks free and is a free agent. The last time he went on his own was in the excellent License To Kill. I like to break down my comments henceforth.

The PreTitle

As I said, too long. The hovercraft chase scene is very clumsily shot and edited. Better directors like Spielberg or Tim Burton could have a lot of fun with this scene. Instead, it=s another boring chase scene with tons of explosion and nothing resourceful about Bond getting out of it.

Title (Credit) sequences

They should have stuck to one thing. The ice and fire motive with nude women or just the torture scene. One distracts the other and only exposition later in the film, like the scorpion stings and the antidotes, tells us really what happened to Bond. Madonna=s song is too >techno=, but it is easily better than the previous two horrible ones.

The Plot

Nothing spectacular. The usual world domination stuff. When this was announced in the first film, Dr. No, Connery=s Bond remarked, AWorld domination, the same old drrream.@ Well, it=s still here. Even Dr. Evil, Austin Power=s arch nemesis wants that. Can they come up with something original? Bond loses the trust of the MI6 and goes freelance. We saw that in License to Kill, and with Dalton on board, I could believe that this Bond is capable of defying Her Majesties= Government and go about doing his own business. With Brosnan....

The Characters.

I still have problem accepting Brosnan as Bond. But here, he looks relaxed, though he is required to be tense most of the time. No more self conscious performance of the past, but we get to see Brosnan the hack doing what is required from an average actor. He doesn=t hide his age like Moore did in his last few Bond outings, and I was amused to see flecks of gray in this Bond=s crown of glory. And at least this Bond doesn=t try to be politically correct and smokes Cigar, like Moore=s. Remember, in Tomorrow Never Dies he announces smoking as, >Filthy habit=? I accept Brosnan now as my third favourite Bond, err...a tie with Moore of course.

Jinx - played by Halle Berry, this is a recycle of >Grampa= (go figure) Michelle Yeoh=s character in Tomorrow, which was a recycle of Carrey Lowell=s character in License To Kill, which was a recycle of Barbara Bach=s character in The Spy Who Loved Me, which was...oh, you get the idea. The problem with present day main Bond girl is, they always have more publicity than usual - declaring that they are independent, strong and equal to Bond. While Yeoh had to be rescued once in Tomorrow, Berry=s Jinx had to be rescued twice in this movie. I heard rumours of a separate spin-off with Jinx character. What are they going to do in that movie, introduce a cameo with Bond coming again to rescue her? Pshaw! I felt Berry=s character has a presence like a drop of oil in the water. A stick-on feeling. The movie could have done equally well, without her. It is just an extension of Berry=s Swordfish character.

Miranda Frost - The compulsory bad gal who also sleeps with Bond. Like her predecessors, she is a better reason to watch the film and seriously need more recognition. I think Rosamund Pike did a decent job, and I would like to see her more.

Gustave Grave - The main villain. Forgettable.

The henchmen - Forgettable.

The MI6 stable - M is boring as usual. Does Judi Dench has to play it like she is hoping for the first Oscar ever for a Bond film for acting? Doesn=t she get bored with the compulsory nominations she has been getting every year? Desmond Llewelyn, bless him, has gone and is well replaced by John Cleese who sports the same name, Q. Hey, he was even correctly referred to by Bond as >Quartermaster=, where the alpabhet comes from. Bravo to the scriptwriters. There is one reference to his predecessor with regards to Desmond=s best line in the series, AI don=t joke about my work, 007.@ Cute. I have always liked Q=s scenes. It has always been nostalgic and still is.

The action - Oh, the usual running, shootings and explosions. Bond gets to kill lesser henchmen now. I hope they will cut down the body-count rate. Even Schwarzenegger doesn=t kill that much these days. Some sequences are well choreographed and there are now signs of CGI creeping in. Should they do that? I liked the idea with the parachute and surfing, but need they do it with computer graphics? Bond used to be stunt double in such sequences, but now a pixel image? A dismissible small problem that I hope they will not repeat the next time. The fourth quarter of this movie drew yawns from me. Even though it was a succession of one action scene and another, it felt too long. Too damn long. Whatever was happening on the screen, I didn=t care.

The One-liners - One of the highlights of Bond films. It is just getting more and more juvenile these days. Heck, I remember reading Brosnan=s interviews and he was far more wittier than his Bond. Being post-Austin Power movies, the filmmaker should try and give a trifle more wit to the lines. I might have chuckled once or twice here, I don=t remember. And Brosnan is quite adept with comedy and why the heck not give him some humour to work with. Oh, I give up.

The Hardware - Welcome back Aston Martin (now, it=s the Vanquish version). After the boring BMW, it=s nice to see a car that Bond deserves. The last time we saw Aston Martin (Volante) was in The Living Daylights (1987) and ever since BMW was featured in all Brosnan films. While they feature interesting gadgets, it is definitely not the car James Bond would drive. Here, the Vanquish has all the gadgets the previous cars had, plus new ones. I like the way Bond used the ejector seat. Now, that is what I call resourceful. There are also reuse of older gadgets like the Rebreather (seen in Thunderball) and laser watch (Omega, like in Goldeneye). The best of the lot is the glass shattering ring. Not as powerful as marriage ring, but it was cool.

The score - nice touch by David Arnold. True to the 40th anniversary, there are plenty of references to John Barry=s old scores. But the usual techno touch creeps in and gives us the run-of-the-mill feeling associated with the last two films. Either Arnold must do something with that, or they should appoint someone else to take care of the score. How about Danny Elfman?

The editing and cinematograph - Nothing to shout about. There are MTV influences here and there, but not too distracting.


I like it better than all Brosnan=s outing and it=s easily his best. It has the fun qualities of the 70's Moore=s outing with a touch of realism ala Dalton=s two film. Of course, it can nowhere touch the magic of 60's Bond, but it was worth an effort. It delights old cranky fan like me and can win more new young fans. I can now look forward for the next outing with a relaxed feeling. Damn, this must be the longest review I had ever written.

Robinson Crusoe? Woodstock? No, it's Bond, James Bond