Die Another Day (2002)


After a failed mission, M16’s James Bond (Pierce Brosnan, Seraphim Falls) is imprisoned by the brutal North Korean government. Bond is finally released from jail and is determined to unmask the person who betrayed him. Bond’s quest leads him to a mysterious British millionaire (Toby Stephens, TV’s Cambridge Spies) who has developed a powerful laser that threatens world peace.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”

Pierce Brosnan’s fourth and final Bond movie is one of the weakest entries in the franchise. Die Another Day, Bond #20, is a huge disappointment considering the money and talents involved — it’s my least favorite Bond movie up to this point.

Lee Tamahori (Along Came the Spider) directs from a script by the British writing team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (Let Him Have It and Johnny English). The first half is actually pretty good. This section of the movie is somber and gritty, making the decidedly empty-headed and cartoonish second half hard to accept.

Actor Roger Moore (The Spy Who Loved Me) could get away with silliness because he always played Bond in a droll, easy-going manner. Brosnan’s deadpan approach to everything makes the movie’s ridiculousness come across as bad camp. And, believe me, Die Another Day has lots of ridiculous moments.

Although the franchise was never grounded in reality, I thought Die Another Day crossed the line more than a few times. The invisible car and the ice castle were just too much. The silliness doesn’t stop here. In one scene, Bond swims in below freezing waters, but he looked as if he had just taken a big dip in the warm Caribbean Sea.

The supporting cast runs hot and cold. Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball) — she plays “Jinx,” a National Security Agency agent — has this “what-am-I-doing-here?” look throughout the movie. Toby Stephens’s main villain is boring. I did like Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) as an undercover MI6 agent. Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) plays Jinx’s boss. 

Dame Judi Dench (Philomena) and John Cleese (A Fish Called Wanda) return as “M” and “Q” respectively. Rick Yune (The Fast and the Furious) plays Stephens’s henchman, Tang Ling Zao. This is the last appearance of Samantha Bond (Erik the Viking) as Miss Moneypenny. Roger Moore’s daughter, Deborah Moore, has a bit part.

Madonna sings (she also has a cameo as a fencing instructor) what I consider the series’ worst song — it’s just terrible. I’m an ’80s kid, so it goes without saying that I have lots of love for pop star Madonna, but I can’t defend this song. She wrote the lyrics with French songwriter Mirwais Ahmadzaï. Composer Michel Colombier (The Golden Child and Ruthless People) wrote the music. Again, a horrible, horrible tune!

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

It pains me to say this: Pierce Brosnan left the series on a disappointingly flat note. The actor himself later said that he wasn’t happy with the results, and I have to agree with him. It’s really too bad that Brosnan’s swan song is one of the worst films in the franchise. I didn’t hate Die Another Day, but I thought it was merely average.

James Bond will return
Casino Royale (2006)

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