"Die Another Day"
Directed by Lee Tamahori ("The Edge").
Written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry and Toby Stephens
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 11/26/02
This review is dedicated to Dr. B.A. “Mom, Not Baracus” Brunt, Gabe
Harris, Greg Abel, Mike Janzen, and any other Terps and friend-of-Terps
on the distro. I can’t remember for sure, but I think the final
score of UVA/Maryland on Saturday was UVA something, Maryland ain’t
shit! (Gabe—I’ll need a XXL...biznatch!!)
It was a pretty good weekend, I have to
say. Three house parties, 48-13, a great OSU/Michigan game complete
with subsequent rioting and burning of Columbus, dancing, 48-13, a
Thievery Corporation concert, smack-talkin’ with my man Tchaka, a
foam party, 48-13, nice weather, and a trip to the movie theater.
My last trip to a movie theater featuring a
movie starring Pierce Brosnan as James Bond did not go so well—in
“The World is Not Enough” was my pick for second-worst
Bond film of all time, just ahead of “Moonraker”, which has pretty
much locked up the crown in that department. Save for an incredible
opening scene in the Thames River featuring cool speedboats, “T.W.I.N.E.”
was flaming horseshit, and featured the single-most ridiculous Bond
girl of all, Denise Richards as...a nuclear scientist??? I clamored
for a better formula (like 48-13 Wahoos, for example), hoping that
anyone within earshot would be convinced that my idea for the next
Bond movie would be to hire someone like David Fincher (“Se7en”),
write a darker storyline, make Bond a woman, and get a major star to
play the bad guy (like a Pacino or someone similar). Then, you
might actually make these films interesting!
Well, I have to say that while the producers
took almost none of this advice, the newest Bond effort “Die Another
Day” is easily a top-five Bond film for me, and by far the best work
Brosnan has done in the role. The plot this time around takes 007
from North Korea to Cuba to 48-13 to Iceland as he tries to take
down a millionaire with some terrorist tendencies named Graves (Toby
Stephens) and a sidekick named Zao (Rick Yune) that has a score to
settle with Bond over some issues with Zao’s diamond-encrusted
face. In-between, Bond gets an assist from hot, beautiful, amazing
secret agent Jinx Johnson (Halle Berry) and Graves’ personal
assistant Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) and he blows a lot of shit
I don’t even know where to start in terms of
how much better this film is than the last ten Bond films. So,
let’s just put it out there.
-->Better action scenes. The number of
times Bond just fires a machine gun and levels an entire room used
to just be silly, and in the Brosnan set of Bond adventures, it was
getting out of hand; in “T.W.I.N.E.”, he does it just enough times
to make me nauseous. Here, director Lee Tamahori (“The Edge”) does
a great job staging his action in a couple of key scenes—an
incredible opening scene with a hovercraft battle and lots of shit
blowing up, and the first time I can ever remember something being
done that, on paper, is the easiest idea in the world: have a car
chase scene with TWO spy cars! So, the Aston Martin/Jaguar battle
near the end of the film is awesome just to see how many more
missiles will be fired out of the Jag’s trunk.
-->A much darker storyline. I don’t know if
there were more bodybags in this film over other Bond efforts, but
“Die Another Day” feels more violent. More stabbings, more
shootings without a punchline, more mean-spirited death and a great
introduction to this adventure by having Bond actually get captured
and tortured to start the film made “Die Another Day” feel like a
film, not a popcorn movie. This is also helped by the passion Zao
and Graves have in taking Bond out—one gets the feeling that they
actually hate Bond, not despise him for being the world’s top secret
agent. (Note to producers: young, handsome bad guys that can whoop
Bond’s ass—good idea.) My friend Matt was saying after our viewing
that Stephens has the best scowl he has ever seen—as Graves, he
plays it just bad enough to not totally go over the top with his
-->48-13. I mean, by the time Billy
McMullen barely escaped a tackle on a reverse in the backfield to
throw a f***ing touchdown pass, my man Brett and I were going
ballistic!! Is Darryl Blackstock the best name in UVA football
history? Or, does D’Brickashaw Ferguson still have him by a hair?
We whooped dat ass!!!
-->Winks to Bond films of the past. Being
number 20 in the series means that Tamahori and writers Neal Purvis
and Robert Wade got to pull out all the stops to reflect on the
past—from that infamous Connery jetpack to laser-beam torture
chambers to a record number of double entendres.
-->Michael Madsen. Hiring the famous
character actor to play an NSA director for our nation’s government
was perfect—Madsen only has one speed, and that is scowl, and he
does it like he invented it here in “Die Another Day.” By the time
he smokes a cigarette near the end of the film, everyone in my group
was doubled over in laughter.
-->A $125 million budget. One can imagine
that this production was all shot on location in England, Cuba,
Korea and Iceland, because it looks too good to be faked. I liked
the way that Tamahori mixed up the old-school way that Bond films
are normally shot by ripping off popular techniques from
contemporaries of the last five years—a little taste of slow-motion
here, zooming fast into a target only to slow down just as we arrive
at the camera subject and fight scenes at slightly-sped-up speeds
there. He didn’t throw bullet time in there, but you get the idea.
The angles feel a little fresher and the sets in Iceland are très
magnifique. And, blowing up your entire set in Korea can’t be
Now, all of this is not to say that “Die
Another Day” is without fault. Kind of like the Maryland football
team, the title song for this film is atrocious. It is nowhere near
as good as the best Bond song of all time, “A View to a Kill” by
Duran Duran. That’s probably because Madonna isn’t even singing
this song—damn this digital age! The song’s technique doesn’t fit
at all with a Bond song, and those pictures of the girls really have
to go. I like the way that the sequence is mixed with Bond getting
beat up in solitary confinement, but with the girls interspersed?
Come on. And, my continual beef with the 007 series is still
here—although he is the best spy in the business, he is always using
his real name wherever he goes. He seems to never be in disguise,
but almost every criminal he comes across has heard of him. He
seems to prefer the front door, guns without silencers (that
silenced PPK you see in the ads is, once again, nowhere in the film)
and blowing his cover. Could we at least KINDA make him a spy?
Otherwise, “Die Another Day” is all good.
Hey, did anybody catch that UVA/Maryland score?
Rating: $9.00 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard