Die Another Day was surprisingly impressive considering its terrible reputation first time round but doesn't hold up well to a second viewing for a number of reasons. The pre-title sequence is particularly strong, and the film is plot-led with a good premise that it explores far more effectively than License to Kill - Bond screws up, gets captured and finds his license to kill revoked and has to go it alone. But to many wrong choices are made in the casting of those both in front of and behind the cameras to do it full justice.
Brosnan is certainly a major problem here, getting lazier in the role far sooner than his predecessors. He takes too much for granted and doesn't seem to be putting much effort into it in the assumption that he's got it down pat, when in reality he's starting to go to seed - certainly he must be the only man to come out of 14 months of torture in a Korean prison chubbier than when he went in, something his tendency to spend much of the opening of the film with his shirt off and hidden under a bushy Monty Python castaway beard only exacerbates.
He's not helped much by his co-stars either: Halle Berry, who seems to become a worse actress with each successive film, really can't handle sass or wisecracks, which is a shame since that's almost all her part consists of, and their initial meeting exchange of innuendoes seems more like eavesdropping a married man picking up a hooker to prove he's still got it than anything else. Rosamund Pike's other fatale femme fares a little better purely on he grounds that, while an extremely one-dimensional performer, to least her limited abilities fit the part. Toby Stephens' villain is a bigger problem. While it's a neat touch that he models himself on an unflattering portrait of Bond's vanity, Stephens actually seems to be basing his performance on Rik Mayall's caricatured MP Alan B'stard from sitcom The New Statesman, and the results aren't pretty - a largely ineffectual screen actor, it's no accident that he needs to don an electronic suit of armour to become a credible foe for Bond in the final punch-up. Curiously, two of the better performances on display come from bit-players John Cleese (pleasingly restrained) and Michael Madsen as a distinctly unimpressed company man. Even Madonna's unnecessary cameo as a lesbian fencing instructor is considerably less painful than her terrible title-song, easily the series' worst. Still, the resulting overly enthusiastic swordfight is okay but would probably have been even better had they hired William Hobbs to choreograph it instead of Bob Anderson (Anderson may have coached Errol Flynn, but only in some of his worst films).
The direction adds to the problems. Lee Tamahouri is a maddeningly variable director, and too often its his weaknesses on display here. For a series that prides itself on globe-trotting, he has a very poor sense of place (aside from the Iceland scenes, this is the first Bond film that really looks like they were afraid to leave the studio backlot) and his handling of action isn't always effective - indeed, the car chase actually looks like several shots are missing. Still, at least they manage to just about get away with the science behind the invisible car more effectively than the awful CGI that undermines the series' reputation for doing daring stunts for real: along with the occasionally slo-mo or sped up scene intros, it just seems horribly out of place without ever quite ruining the film.
Another big problem is the tone. As the 20th entry in EON's series, the desire to celebrate its heritage threatens at times to overwhelm the film as it becomes increasingly self-referential. With almost every scene having an homage, a prop or an audio or visual reference to a previous movie, it stops being fun and becomes labored long before the halfway point. Bond is feeding off himself so much here that at times it reminds you of one of those animals that, when caught in a trap, gnaws its own leg off. It just about gets away with it, but it gets messy. There's fun to be had, most of it in the first half before it goes all Diamonds Are Forever, but there's still the feeling that this could and should have been much better.
Even in a world full of hyperbole, calling the frankly rather shoddy downgrade 2-disc reissue release of this title an `Ultimate Edition' is taking liberties with the language that border on the actionable. Whereas the first 2-disc release of the 20th EON Bond film boasted a huge array of extras, the supposedly new and improved version drops nearly all of them and merely throws in a few scraps of filler instead. Gone is the 76-minute documentary `Inside Die Another Day,' replaced by a couple of shorter featurettes and some video footage of the location scout. And while the excellent 51-minute `Script to Screen' documentary on the difficult screenwriting process previously only available on the R2 DVD is retained along with the `Shaken and stirred On Ice' featurette, gone are the storyboard-to-film comparisons, multi-angle action sequences, title design and digital grading featurettes, gadget briefings, music video and featurette and even the 8 TV spots and 3 theatrical trailers from the original issue to be replaced by an exotic locations featurette. With so many of the extras being dumped, it's a wonder that the film itself (in apparently exactly the same transfer as previously available) still contains the same audio commentaries and interactive featurettes it had first time round. Frankly, there's no reason whatever to buy this if you already have the original 2-disc release. And sadly, it's the Ultimate edition extras that have been carried over to the Blu-ray release too.
...considering this was the Bond film which partly forced Bond to ‘reboot.’
For what it’s worth, I liked ‘Die Another Day.’ Okay, so it may never be up there with the best of the Bond movies, but it certainly doesn’t deserve to be down there with the worst. I’ll go as far as to say that it is a little effects-laden and the Madonna cameo just really shouldn’t be in there, but it’s still good fun (and isn’t that what a Bond film should be?).
This time Bond is captured by the North Koreans for a good year and a half near the beginning of the film (don’t think that should be too much of a spoiler – as it’s basically covered in the typically-weird opening credits montage) and tortured. When MI6 finally get him out, it’s because he’s being exchanged for a North Korean war criminal – in fact the very same war criminal he went to North Korea to assassinate.
Anyway, MI6 don’t really see much use for poor ol’ Bondy and consign him to the scrap heap. Only Bond has other ideas and kind of ‘goes rogue.’ Well, slightly rogue. Not quite as ‘rogue’ as Licensed to Kill’ but still rogue enough to be not on MI6’s payroll. And those dastardly North Koreans better watch out and not try starting a war with the rest of the world.
As I said, I quite liked it. It’s topical (what with the North Koreans regularly scaring the world with their sabre-rattling) and rolls along reasonably well. Maybe I’m just nostalgic as I liked the old ‘happy-go-lucky’ Bond films (before the darker and more gritty Daniel Craig era) and this was the last of its kind. A lot of people hated it because of its awful use of ‘green screen’ special effects. Okay, you may expect to be able to tell the hero is up against a green screen in your average B-movie, but this is a high-budget Bond film – it really is pretty awful. And then you have the invisible car. Over the decades Bond has had more than his fair share of cool gadgets to get him out of trouble. It seemed that a car that completely disappears at will was suspending the disbelief a little too much.
Overall, Die Another Day will never be a classic. There is a fair amount wrong with it. Halle Berry, although being a great actress, kind of suffered from the ‘Bond girl curse’ and didn’t really live up to expectations (there was even talk of a spin-off film series based on her character – never going to happen now). Don’t expect too much from this, but if you’re still okay with the lighter side of Bond (even though this one does try to ‘go dark’ - or as dark as anything pre-Craig ever will) and fancy a load of dodgy special effects and Pierce Brosnan’s smirk then there are worse films out there (there are also better Bond films out there, but you probably already know that).
And I still like John Cleese better as ‘Q’ than the kid they currently have.
on 26 December 2015
Brosnan without doubt the best Bond since Connery who in turn was without question the finest Bond ever .Have Brosnan's reviewing critics ever read his creators book on how he came to write the Bond stories i by doing so they will get a true insight as to
the type of actor who can portray the incarnation of James Bond..
In order of merit.
Connery. Brosnan, and Roger M..
on 25 October 2013
Funny how often movies that are hyped to the skies one day thud to earth the next. At the time of its release, "Die Another Die" was touted as the best Bond in decades, and it brought a large audience back to the franchise that deserted it after Connery. But a few years later, it comes across as a thoroughgoing mess: depressingly derivative plot; excruciating dialogue; uniformly lame performances; some of the worst special effects in film history.
A gaggle of quality character actors, British and American, look like they wish there was a cooling-off period in acting contracts. Halle Berry demonstrates that she IS just a pretty face. Pierce Brosnan demonstrates that he's not much more (amazing that, for a while, he expressed a desire to do another Bond). Toby Stephens spends most of his camera time praying that they'll lose the footage. Their efforts are complemented by dreadful CGI, amateurish makeup, cheesy back projections and feeble action: stunt men and women reacting to blows that miss them by several feet. Bond films aren't known for their realism, but how the hell does Bond find a way, in the few seconds before the ice-floe he's hanging from collapses, to STRAP that piece of fuselage to his feet???
Die Another Day is directed by Lee Tamahori and written by Neil Purvis and Robert Wade. It stars Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rick Yune, Rosamund Pike, John Cleese, Judi Dench and Michael Madsen. Music is scored by David Arnold and cinematography by David Tattersall.
Bond 20 and 007 is captured and tortured by the North Koreans after being betrayed by an MI6 mole. After being exchanged for a deadly enemy operative, Bond has his 007 status revoked and is forced to go rogue to find who the mole is.
As the Bond franchise celebrated 40 years of being, the film to mark the occasion, ironically, forgot the subtle ingredients that make up the best Bond movies. What we get is a chaotic movie, excess is the order of the day, with Eon allowing Tamahori to stack up scene after scene of video game standard ideas. There is no lack of effort here, the heart is full of good intentions, but some big cheese in a suit should have reined the director in. It's also a sad day in the Bond universe when a Bond film uses homage's to homage itself, only for that idea to tire itself out as well. There is barely any time for reflective silences, for a show of character depth, on the odd occasion the film slows down, gasping for air, Tamahori rushes into the next bit of noise annoys. While the action is often as laughable as the dialogue. This may have made a pot load of cash, but few serious Bond fans would have returned to see this again at the cinema. It's Bond for the non Bond fans, a lazy popcorn no brain for the gamers who just want crash, bang and wallop with no substance. Ssshh, did someone say Batman & Robin?
As the film unfolds in a blur of sledgehammer editing and lack of restraint, not to forget CGI that is shameful, the cast struggle to keep the good ship Bond afloat. Brosnan is on smug auto-pilot, this film proving to be a sad farewell for him from a role he had previously graced with some distinction. Berry is gorgeous but looks awkward with the action scenes and can't carry off the chirpy aspects of the script, though in her defence she's not done any favours by the writers and Tamahori is more concerned with showcasing her twin assets. Pike is ok, sexy and feisty, if a little difficult to accept as a MI6 agent. Stephens, who went on to do very good acting work later in his career, hams it up for all he is worth. Meant to be a shadow characterisation of Bond, Stephens plays Gustav Graves as some posh cartoon character from a Brit sit-com, a world away from the much needed dastard villain opposing Bond. His motives unclear and a victim of one of the film's more berserker twists. Yune is fun with his diamond studded face and old pros Cleese and Dench at least come out of it with reputations still intact. While Madsen is criminally underused.
Elsewhere on a technical front there's also not much to shout about. Madonna's title song, the worst in the series by far, is only beaten in awfulness by her cameo in the film. Tattersall's photography barely registers above the ordinary, with sub-standard location filming not helping either, and Arnold's score is about as far removed from Bond flavours as it can get. There are some good scenes within, a machismo pumped sword fight between Bond and Graves and a laser beam (hello Goldfinger my old friend) dodging fist fight stand tall above the messy quagmire, but the memory of the good sequences are quickly vanquished once the "invisible car" is put to field duty use! And with that there really is no more to say about the "quality" of Die Another Day. For Bond fans it's about a 5/10 movie, the low point of the franchise, a reinvention was now desperately needed. For casual blockbuster fans after a cheap thrill? It's the movie for them and no doubt will score considerably higher on the rating scale.
on 23 November 2003
I hate to say this but Bond films have been on a downward spiral since Goldeneye (which, incidentally was very good). I was hoping that the 20th Bond film might set things right, but unfortunately this was not to be....Die Another Day is the worst Bond film in the series without a doubt. Muddled, ridiculous plot, shocking CGI , a weak bad-guy and a woeful script. Brosnan appears to have not so much phoned in his performance than faxed it, as do most of his co-stars, although this could be contributed to the aforementioned dodgy script. The only person to come out of the film with any credit has to be Cleese, filling the Q shoes well, with a few comedic remarks belittling the smug 007.
Add to this the dreadful opening track provided by Madonna (I was never a fan before, and definitely wont be a fan after having to sit through this dross.) and you have a very poor 20th Bond film. If anything, the 20th should have been something special, but in reality it was a complete let down.
on 1 May 2003
As last year being the 40th anniversary of the Fictional agent James Bond, MGM still hasn't lost their touch as bringing an action packed, fight tolerating movie. This movie is not a miss. The special features on this DVD are absolutely excellent with music videos, featurettes and an animated menu. I would have to say this is one of the best movies to come in 2003. And the next bond film will probobly be bigger, and better.
on 9 November 2015
Without a doubt for me this is the worst Bond film in the offical series. It comes across more like a Bond parody than an actual 007 movie. This came out at bonds 40th aniversary & to celebrate this, Instead of giving us a well made film like with 2012s 50th aniversary film Skyfall, We are bombarded with stupid nods to past Bond films so many that it becomes anoying & affects the movie negatively rather than possitively.Then there are the horrid cartoonishly bad CGI sequence that look so fake & take you straight out of the movie. The dreadful wind surfing scene where Brosnan looks like he's obviously in studio infront of a green screen. The sea is rising 100ft in the sky all around him & Bond is bond is bone dry. The whole plane sequence is woeful as is Hale Berry diving off a cliff. Toby Stevens as the bad guy is like a pantomime villain & not remotely threatening & as he hams it up to 200%. oh & the dumb bullet down the barrel at the beging, uh!! It all just doesn't feel like a Bond Film. shove Wesley Snipes or Steven Segal in place of Bond & it would be an okay action film, but Bond pah!!. On the plus side the 2disc dvd is packed with special features including Audio commentry from Pierce Brosnan & from maker of this mess director Lee Tamahori with Producer Michael G. Wilson & many documentries too. The plus side is that this mess resulted in the Daniel Craig reboot era so there is a positive...just!!
on 12 January 2009
I'm the first to hold my hand up and admit when things are above and beyond me. All the technical stats and numbers surrounding the high-definition Blu-Ray market confuses me. What I do know, however, is that watching Blu-Ray is a far superior experience to simple DVD.
DIE ANOTHER DAY is a cracking James Bond adventure and, given the care and attention Bond films are made with, it makes a perfect candidate for the Blu-Ray experience. The picture and sound are both jaw-droppingly good, the film itself hardly mattering as you marvel at the individual hairs on Pierce Brosnan's head or indulge in the individual bullet pings during a shootout. A clever little menu also allows you to pick and choose your favourite moments from the film and watch them individually to sample the high-definition Bond experience. With a decent haul of other special features too (not as many as the original two-disc Special Edition DVD, but enough to keep fans happy) the disc presentation is flawless. For the film that introduced Bond to the 21st Century back in 2002, this is a welcome introduction to the format of the future.
The film itself shines on Blu-Ray. Those who grumbled at the use of CGI will be subdued by the fact that, in high-definition, the special effects are laden with fine details missed by the standard DVD format. During the infamous icewave surf, the tiny Bond is recognisable as Pierce Brosnan this time around, and the water and ice around him glistens with precision. Make what you will of the plot (Bond is captured in North Korea and imprisoned for 14 months, betrayed by somebody within the intelligence community, and when he is finally released he engages on a mission of revenge with or without the assistance of M and the Double-Oh Section) but there are enough bangs and plot twists to keep action, adventure and spy fans happy. This was the last hurrah of the old-style James Bond before Daniel Craig came and injected the franchise with a Bourne-style makeover. Half LICENCE TO KILL, half MOONRAKER, DIE ANOTHER DAY is literally a "Best of Bond" collection, lovingly presented with lavish production values and terrific acting on the part of Pierce Brosnan, Toby Stephens and Rosamund Pike. Even Halle Berry is tolerable, which is nice.
So full marks from me? Absolutely. In the wake of my first Blu-Ray experience, I'm left feeling rather sorry for the DVD format. Like VHS before it, the sun is setting on the humble DVD. It's okay, though, because tomorrow will be lit by Blu-Ray... and I, for one, am not complaining.
on 18 October 2003
The 20th Bond flick in this 40 year franchise (second only to Toho's 49 year/27 film "Godzilla" movies in longevity), "Die Another Day" dispenses with the credibility built up over the three previous Brosnan-Bond flicks and goes for comic-book excess, bad CGI effects and one-liners that sound like "Carry On.." rejects.
Not that it doesn't start off well - Bond gets captured in North Korea and endures a year-long imprisonment of beating and torture as MI5 wash their hands of him. Released as part of a prisoner exchange, the scenes of a long-haired Bond clashing with M (the ever excellent Dame Judy Dench) are electric stuff and promise a perhaps darker, more character led movie. Alas, that's where it really all ends, for once Bond has a wash, shave and a haircut, its like nothing had happened in the last 18 months.
The plot at times seems a rehash of "Diamond Are Forever" - Bond is on the trial of some dodgy diamonds being used by evil villain Gustav Graves (a wonderfully OTT Toby Stevens) who is developing some big space-laser thing blah blah... There are two Bond girls, the enigmatic (and woefully underused) MI5 agent Miranda Frost (Rosalind Pike) and the smug, irritaing (and overused) CIA agent Jinx (Halle Berry).
Things that probably sounded great on paper look bad on screen - the GCI tsunami wave sequence is so hokey as to be laughable. The chase between Bond's Aston Martin and the baddies Jag is a thrill-less series of bangs. The ice setting is spectacular but a big empty space does not have the same excitement as a busy city - who cares if a few ice bergs get blown up? And an invisible car..? Eeek!
The whole Project Icarus thing gets plonked into the film with no air of mystery of majesty - the space weapon is just there on screen rather than a slow reveal ala Drax's station in "Moonraker". Ah, "Moonraker"... there was a film where the producers seemed to loose all sight of restraint and the same can be said of "Die Another Day" - at times it seems like no one ever said "enough!".
Without wanting to spoil the ending, Bond battles Graves in his electric body-armour-suit-thing (anyone care to explain what that was ever intended for?) in a burning Antanov transporter jet as the makers throw special effects at the audience in the hope they won't actually stop and think what is going on here.
David Arnold's score is largely anonymous, having had the melody-free Madonna theme song forced on him. The visual effects range from obvious to just plain awful. Brosnan excels in the first half hour then phones his performance in for the rest - save for another excellent sequence with Dench in the London Underground. John Cleese takes on the mantle of Q with ease and we get to see some of the old gadgets in his workshop.
Sad to say but this Bond fan found "Die Another Day" to be a real clunker. It has its good bits, but these are outweighed by the naff stuff that makes up most of the movie. It makes the less-than brilliant "The Word Is Not Enough" looks like a classic - in fact that movie is much more watchable and entertaning than this guff.
Oh well, they have Bond 21 to make things right...