As I waited for the movie to start, I began formulating possible opening action sequences that are the standard for spy films. I didn't expect Pierce Brosnan's 4th entrance as James Bond to be on a surfboard, the Blue Crush intro was something I didn't expect. And when it's over, Brosnan does get to die another day, as the 20th Bond film holds true, indisputably better than some of the ones that came before it.
I loved the opening title sequence. Without any corny dialogue, we see Bond going through months of torture in a North Korean prison camp, with Madonna’s "Die Another Day" theme song blaring in the background. The visuals during the sequence are cool looking, providing for a good transition into the movie. Some have criticized the movie for going the Madonna route, but I feel it was effective at shaking off any cobwebs that may have grown on the series. The move showed that Bond is still fresh, and won't be giving up anytime soon. Madonna even makes an onscreen cameo as a fencing instructor, it's only proper since her song is in the soundtrack.
Distinguishing itself from the other Bond flicks, the villains in this one are not comic book bad guys, but instead North Korean rebels. I was disappointed with the plot of Die Another Day. I expected something more rich, something to show that the writers actually thought about some substance to support the Bond name. But this one isn't any smarter than XXX. The bad guys in this deal with the diamond market, more specifically the "African Conflict Diamonds." One of the villains, Zao (Rick Yune), has a few of the precious metals embedded in one of his cheeks. The story gets a little deeper when a secret hospital performs complete bone marrow transplants, as a method for changing your identity.
There is one traditional Bond villain, Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), who has an orbiting space mirror that reflects powerful rays of light that cut through the Earth's crest like a steak knife. Never mind how Gustav could have created such a device that is apparently unknown by every major government across the globe, the way he can destroy any part of the world with the push of a button is a little ridiculous. But like many other elements that can hurt an action movie, James Bond can seemingly get away with it every time. Even in 2002, James Bond is still the same guy (even if the actors change) that started it all, so it's the makers will to keep the same silly plots intact.
Gustav's lair is an ice building made completely out of frozen water. Keeping in mind that his weapon of destruction uses heat on Earth, we now have the greatest example of foreshadowing in a movie.
Die Another has your typical stunts only Hollywood can pull off, and your super sexy costars. Did I fail to mention that Halle Berry is in this one? She plays Jinx, an NSA agent who kicks as much, possibly more butt than Bond. She works well, and Roger Ebert even compares her to Ursula Andress, from "Dr. No." They make a good team, and their dialogue exchanges are always full of sexual innuendoes to keep it steamy. Jinx's counterpart is the sly Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike). I promise that you won't have any trouble figuring which team she is on.
A moment that is always a classic in a spy films, is when the hero and villain both have their guns pointed at each other, and then someone from out of nowhere comes in with their gun. At this point, we learn which side that third person is on, as he/she moves the gun from one to the next. It' s been done so many times, but the Bond series can get away with it every time simply because this is James Bond.
Making up for a lackluster plot, Die Another Day is full of the much loved action chase scenes, full of explosions and gun fire. The weapons are much cooler too. Our buddy Q (John Cleese), supplies Bond with a new arsenal of upgraded firepower. We see a platform wheeled in on tracks in front of Bond and Q, but there is nothing on it. Now this is where I would have gotten excited. This is supposed to be the coolest gadget yet, and there's nothing there! You know there's a catch. But Bond looks puzzled until Q flips the switch. Ah, an invisible sports car that transform from visible to invisible in only seconds. Nice. I'll take it. The next gadget is my favorite weapon, a ring that looks ordinary, but when turned, it emits a large enough frequency to shatter glass and ice. Here comes that foreshadow thing again. Let's just say it's fortunate for Bond that the walls and floors of Gustav's palace are made out of ice and not steel or concrete.
There is also sword fighting, chick-fighting, hovercraft chasing, and even virtual reality simulation. There is never a moment in Die Another Day when nothing is happening. Like in virtually every action movie, everyone that isn't a butler owns a fancy exotic sports car. But the chasing in this movie is a little different. The ground is solid ice, making for an interesting game of who has the best traction. It's one of the best highlights of Die Another Day.
But the final battleground takes place on a large 740-CGI jet plane, and I'll tell you this much, the plane won't be making an easy landing after Bond, Jinx and the villains get through with each other while onboard.
The success of Die Another Day may mean yet another Bond film in the future. I wasn't too crazy for this one, but I did like it more than Tomorrow Never Dies. Pierce Brosnan's charm is classy, and one we'll expect to see in the future. As long as he is at the helm, we can expect the Bond franchise to steam forward with nothing to stop it.