DIE ANOTHER DAY—-last of the four Pierce Brosnan 007 movies is enjoyable enough, if patently absurd. At least it gave him a better parting shot than Connery (Diamonds Are Forever) or Moore (A View To A Kill ): the Bond character absorbs and burns out actors as each plot and production tries to top the previous.*
Captured and tortured by the North Koreans (boo, hiss) for 14 months (told with brevity mostly through the title sequence, backed by Madonna’s techno-tweaked song), Bond seeks vengeance and redemption along with official mission sanction. Another megalomaniac (Toby Stephens, vicious as a kind of evil Richard Branson) threatens peace, and his headquarters (an ice palace in Iceland) has to be destroyed. A side jaunt to Cuba (impersonated by La Caleta, Spain) comes first, where Bond meets helper assassin and voracious bedmate ‘Jinx’, played by Halle Berry, who is given a suitably hot emerge-from-ocean-in-bikini entrance consciously mimicking Ursula Andress’ classic ‘hello,Venus’ intro from Dr.No—this 20th Bond film coming out in 2002 marked 40 years since the first.
The fights are overlong, the gadgetry (an invisible car, for one) is too much, and some of the outlandish special effects mixed in with the stunts (surfing a tidal wave? c’mon!) are, uh.. less than believable. $142,000,000 was plowed into the 133 minutes, exactly 142 times the cost of Dr.No back in 1962, and grosses came to $432,000,000–if you fiddle with inflation that puts this one at spot #13 in the series as of 2017.
Good work from Rosamund Pike (debut), Rick Yune, Judi Dench, Will Yun Lee, Kenneth Tsang, Emelio Ecchevaria and John Cleese. Michael Madsen is miscast (the guy’s okay as a gangster but not as a CIA agent). Madonna pulls a cameo and doesn’t mangle it. Head villain Stephens is the son of Maggie Smith, so he has the Taunting Gene in his blood. Lee Tamahori directed, Danny Arnold did the score. Some filming was done in Norway, the wave shots in Hawaii.
*Brosnan, 49, didn’t care for it, ticked by the overdone effects. Roger Moore felt compelled to offer “I thought it just went too far – and that’s from me, the first Bond in space! Invisible cars and dodgy CGI footage? Please!” The Koreas, North and South, were not pleased, then director Tamahori piped up with “To hell with North Korea. It’s a basket-case country and the sooner its leaders all roll over and die, the better.” That did not sit well with the ‘Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland’ (yes, there is such a body, and taking a joke is not their strong suit.) And yes, if you want to get technical, Connery’s last was “unofficial” Never Say Never Again.