‘Die Another Day’ Review: “Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast”

Posted in Screening Room by - January 23, 2016

I must admit, when I began this month, I was worried that the relative repetition of reviewing Bond flicks would get tiresome quickly. Luckily I was wrong, and the films held enough variety and entertainment value that I suggested watching the last three that I’ve reviewed. This week is different though, not because 2002’s Die Another Day was too much the same, but because it was just plain bad.

Pierce Brosnan’s Bond is introduced as he rides a surf board in to North Korea like he was in the upcoming Point Break reboot. He proceeds to charm his way in to a North Korean military base without so much as a skin tan for disguise, because for some reason North Korea is willing to trade their much needed guns, munitions, and top of the line military hardware, in exchange for conflict diamonds. Brosnan puts two blocks of C4 in a briefcase full of diamonds, which eventually explodes with so little force that Zao, the bad guy lieutenant standing frightfully close to two detonating blocks of explosive plastique and played by Rick Yune, gets some diamonds permanently lodged in one side of his face. Colonel Moon, the main villain, is introduced while torturing his anger management therapist for telling him how to manage his anger. In a misguided attempt at a surprise twist, the movie “kills” Moon by dropping him off of a waterfall and then bringing in a white businessman with little introduction. After Colonel Moon’s death and Zao’s permanent facial bedazzling, Bond is captured, at which point all the potential fun of the film stays locked in a North Korean death camp.

The plot of Die Another Day is that Colonel Moon, presumably dead, gets a complex surgery that completely alters his physiology and makes him in to a red headed, white skinned business man without a trace of regional accent. The procedure also makes him unable to sleep, and so he must spend four hours a day strapped in to a dream machine, which does not have any effect on the plot. He uses his North Korean conflict diamond trading connections to make a shit load of money, which he promptly spends on a orbital mirror satellite capable of focusing the sun’s energy in to a laser beam that he says he will use to improve crop growth rates. At the same time, he builds an ice castle in some northern reach of the world, which is composed entirely of solid glaciers. All of the villain’s actions are apparently performed in order to make his strict, North Korean father proud of him for taking over the planet.

At the same time, Hallie Barry is a C.I.A. Agent with the same expressive character emotions that she showcased in Catwoman. She’s been after the white version of Colonel Moon for a while at this point. There’s also Miranda Frost, played by Rosamund Pike, who hates Bond, but sleeps with him, and then tries to kill him, because in order to betray Bond, one must first put his dick in one’s self. Bond eventually gets on the large plane that Moon is using to show off for his daddy, and punches him out of the plane’s front window, despite the fact that Moon is wearing a strength enhancing, laser guiding, taser mech suit while Bond is just a British guy.

The biggest problem with the movie is it’s strange middle ground between the modern gritty realism of Daniel Craig and the over the top action fun of early Bond. While its combat scenes are well and truly action packed, with hover-car chases, sun lasers, invisible cars, and ice fortresses, it’s plot and characters trudge through its entirety with hardly a smirk, let alone a full smile, or God forbid, a chuckle. Even while Brosnan is using innuendo to charm the lovely Hallie Barry in to the sack he manages to look like he’s doing a particularly unenjoyable chore. Another dark realism aspect of the film is Bond’s character motivation. After being freed from prison in exchange for Zao, who somehow got captured by MI-6, MI-6 decides to hold Bond prisoner, worried that, after years of torture, he had turned on them. He escapes from them by mentally forcing himself to enter cardiac arrest somehow, and then gets reinstated as an agent for some reason. He spends some of the movie questioning why he should care after being left to rot in a prison camp for years. In a Craig film, such a story arc might have made for a compelling look at the cost of national security on the men and women who work for it. Instead Bond eventually just stops thinking about it and fist fights an Asian character in a white man’s body while riding in an air ship that controls a giant mirror in the sky.

A few minor positive points about the film are that it is the only Bond movie that I have seen, in which the villains realize that Bond is a threat before he flat out tells them so. It also has two women that manage to avoid being in the same room while Bond has sex with them, unlike in The Man with a Golden Gun. The downside is that Hallie Barry’s spy is relatively ineffective, and Rosamund Pike’s character is a snotty, rich white girl who betrays England because her Asian friend from prep school is a North Korean military officer. On the topic of women in bond movies, how does a bed made of ice make for a comfortable boning platform?

All in all, Die Another Day takes the fun, over the top action of classic Bond, gives it the nonexistent smiles and joy of modern Bond, and shove them together in to one thoroughly boring, unenjoyable, and sometimes painful entry in the franchise.

Final Say: Skip It

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Born in Arizona, he currently resides in Denton, Texas. When he isn't watching movies he's playing board games and drinking whatever he can get his hands on. John watches Djimon Honsou movies because he likes Spawn, which had Michael Jai White.
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