24. Die Another Day (2002)
Runtime: 2 hr. 13 min.
For Your Eyes Only: Bond gets captured in North Korea, re-emerges with a beard, squares off with an enigmatic British millionaire, and eventually gets turned into shite CGI so he can fight yet another villainous laser.
Bond, James Bond Is… Pierce Brosnan.
Property of a Lady: Halle Berry, fresh off an Oscar for her devastating work in Monster’s Ball, played Jinx Johnson (cue the light giggling over alliteration). While Berry’s visual allusion to Ursula Andress’ Dr. No bikini and her mysterious, butt-kicking demeanor made for a nice touch, the fact remains that Jinx was a misshapen second fiddle to Bond. Jinx kinda feels like the initial, ironic jinx on Berry’s career since 2001.
SPECTRE of Death: Bond villains have never been strangers to physical deformation and odd quirks. Here, Die Another Day doubled down with gene therapy. For one, Toby Stephens was the evil Richard Branson-like Gustave Graves, formerly (twist!) Colonel Moon from North Korea! He changed his face and appearance and devised a laser and diamond scheme that seems like way too much effort. Speaking of diamonds, Rick Yoon played Zao, a pasty henchman with diamonds embedded in his face. Anyways, these bad guys are exhausting to describe as their motives and transformations are very convoluted. What’s wrong with just robbing Fort Knox, you know?
Her Majesty’s Secret Service…and Felix Leiter: John Cleese was officially the new Q, after playing R in The World Is Not Enough. Honestly, it would have been fun to see master-wit Cleese play Q for a handful of Bonds, but rebooting gave him the, er, boot.
Shaken and Stirred by Score: David Arnold went, like, full trip-hop with his score. Brass and machine drums.
Tsunami Surf Suckage: When Brosnan rides the waves in wobbly early 2000s computer effects fashion, Bond fanatics immediately gave Roger Moore snowboarding to The Beach Boys a pass. The iceberg-sailing surf is up there with fake-rubber Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man and wiggly Neville Longbottom in The Sorcerer’s Stone. Fans should have sent letters expressing their displeasure to the glut of effects houses that thought CGI-surfin’ Bond was a good idea — maybe they did.
Moore Says: Roger Moore says a lot of things about Bond these days, but perhaps the most inarguable comments he’s ever made were his thoughts on Die Another Day that he gave to The Times in 2008: “I thought it just went too far– and that’s from me, the first Bond in space! Invisible cars and dodgy CGI footage? Please!”
Quantum of Analysis: Director Lee Tamahori brought a certain inept splashiness to Bond, opting to mix the series’ signature ultra-budget flashes (endless locales, stunts, and effects) with the series’ sense of camp grandeur and silliness. In trying to please all contingents of the fan base, Die Another Day is the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink Bond, too big and too damned goofy for its own britches. It prompted the 2006 reboot and became known as the breaking point in a franchise where the hero had been shot into outer space, avoided STD’s and alcoholism for 40 years, and had been re-cast several times. Die Another Day finally made Bond what he’d avoided for so long: D.O.A.