Die Another Day
Director Lee Tamahori's take on the internationally known super-spy with a penchant for womanizing and martinis gets off to an interesting start as it places James Bond in a rarely-seen scenario: captivity. As Die Another Day, the 20th entry in the 007 franchise, begins there is a giddy sense that we might get to see a more human incarnation of the unshakable secret agent. Certainly the spy as untouchable superhero image, which is James Bond is famous for perpetrating, crumbles a bit as Pierce Brosnan undergoes a fierce beating. Unfortunately, Tamahori's opening credit sequence, which displays Brosnan as a literal whipping post to the beat of Madonna's new theme song and the overlay of computer generated Bond girls, made up of fire and ice, gyrating to the beat, is as good as it gets in this tale of international intrigue.
Although James is globetrotting in the 21st century these days, you wouldn't know it's not still 1970 from the looks of Tamahori's film. Sure the politics have been slightly re-vamped (James is now fighting terrorists), the gadgets upgraded (the virtual reality training session/shooting gallery is especially fun), with even the Bond girls getting re-vamped (Halle Berry is the first African American woman to appear in the role), but 007 is still the same iconoclastic rogue he's always been. And now, watching Brosnan jump in and out of bed with beautiful women and repeatedly escape death without so much as breaking a sweat, well it all feels more than a little forced. You can't help but wonder when Mike Myers is going to crash onto the scene and reveal this somber affair for what it really must be: a joke.
When Vin Diesel snowboarded down the Alps, successfully escaping the clutches of a fast-approaching avalanche in XXX, it seemed that the spy genre had hit an all-time low. But, after seeing Pierce Brosnan surf to freedom on a piece of sheet metal, beating out a melting polar ice cap, it's clear that no feat is too impossible for our gifted cinematic agents. Spun around a plot which is even more idiotic than the garbage that propelled XXX, James is in hot pursuit of a malevolent Korean agent who is on the loose as a British playboy (thanks to the wonders of gene therapy) with a dangerous gadget: a satellite rocket of sorts which can generate a rain of fire on any part of the globe. Huh? Exactly.
But, in the end, who really cares what James is after-the whole point is the chase. This time around 007 gets help in the form of Berry's American counterpart, Jinx. And while Berry injects some much-needed life into the stale spy gaming, it isn't enough to keep this wincingly idiotic affair afloat. From Havana to London to Iceland, Die Another Day bites off entirely more than it can chew, assuming that the path to success is the one of greatest excess. If you can endure the melting ice palace, the endless phallic jokes, and Madonna's cameo, you'll surely hit rock bottom when you witness James use his invisible car to dupe the enemies.
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