Anthony's Film Review
Die Another Day (2002)
Bond #20 marks 40 years, but filled with action that is over the top...
It's always nice to have a James Bond film released in an anniversary year. The Living Daylights marked the 25th anniversary of the James Bond films and Die Another Day marked the 40th. Unlike Die Another Day, however, The Living Daylights did not celebrate the anniversary within the film itself. The celebration was simply something done as part of the film's promotion. Die Another Day could be improved without the references to every previous Bond film within the movie itself. While I had fun spotting the references to the older Bond films, it was not the purpose of watching it in the first place.
Besides that, the other problem I had with the movie is some of the special effect scenes, including a stunt that Bond does with a parachute over a glacier. The scene is obviously done with CGI instead of real stunt doubles, which made some action scenes of the previous Bond films more jaw-dropping. Even though some CGI has been used for other recent Bond films, like Goldeneye, there seems to be too much here. James Bond is supposed to be someone who can save the day with his strength, wit, and gun. Introducing too many special effects into the film weakens his character. Having some unrealistic gadgets, like Bond's car that could turn invisible, has the same effect.
But all of this does not make it a very bad movie. There are some things I did like about Die Another Day. It's another Bond film that reflects the current state of the world. In this case, one of the villains is from the rogue nation of North Korea. In addition, some situations are a first for the series, including Bond being in a prison and tortured followed by medical treatment. It's the same reason I enjoyed The World Is Not Enough: originality. The title song by Madonna is not bad, although it takes time to get used to since a techno song hasn't been used for a Bond title song before. Then again, Live and Let Die used the first rock song for a Bond title song.
I enjoy watching the James Bond movies to see a variety of actors leave their mark on the series. I thought Halle Berry as Jinx was a good idea even before seeing it. Will Yun Lee and Rick Yune are great in their roles as villains along with Toby Stephens as the mysterious Gustav Graves. As for the other Bond girl, Rosamund Pike does a nice job as the stunning Miranda Frost. Of course, who can forget Miss Moneypenny and her usual short encounters with Bond? There is a nice, humorous surprise with her at the end, so stay tuned.
Overall, Die Another Day is one of those Bond films that I consider a mixed bag, featuring things that work and things that don't. The climax, plot, and characters work. The unnecessary special effects and, to a certain extent, references to the rest of the Bond series don't. I'm starting to think that if there's a Third Film Theory saying that a Bond actor's third film works very well, then there must be a Fourth Film Theory saying that a Bond actor's fourth film goes over the top but is still fun. In other words, Die Another Day is Pierce Brosnan's Thunderball and Moonraker. It's a film that doesn't fully thrill the first time, but it can still be appreciated after subsequent viewings.
For more information about Die Another Day, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of the following:
Official James Bond Films
Unofficial James Bond Films