After Bond (Pierce Brosnan) gets caught by the enemy in an Axis of Evil hot zone, M (Judi Dench) and the rest of her alphabet spy squad secure his release by giving the Koreans a blue-eyed Asian man with a very expensive face. “One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter,” says the great Emilio Echevarría’s Cubano. That’s as deep as Die Another Day is willing to get—then again, Bond has never been known to mix politics with pleasure. This 20th Bond flick features the usual country-hopping (represented here: North Korea, South Korea, a dance-happy Cuba, Great Britain and Iceland), assortment of gadgets and skimpy outfits for the ladies. Everything has a detonation switch, and as such something is exploding on the screen at any given movement. For the Bond aficionado, the fireworks may not be enough to hide the fact that the film’s toys look awfully familiar—that so many of the film’s sights and sounds (satellites, laser beams, etc.) bring to mind Dr. No may mean that it’s time to put 007 to rest. On the Bond Girl Richter scale, Halle Berry must fall somewhere near the bottom. She’s good with a gun and knows how to emerge from the ocean but in allowing her to kick ass on equal ground with Bronson, director Lee Tamahori may empower Berry physically but he still manages to give her all the degrading dialogue. (After her gratuitous Swordfish and Monster’s Ball stripteases, Berry has curiously decided to keep her clothes on.) As Verity, a British fencing instructor, Madonna seems to be in her own element here. Her exit line (“I don’t like cockfights”) not only suggests that she may have been unavailable for a second day of shooting but that the entire film’s dialogue could have been coined from pieces left over from her Erotica album. Fast cars, loose women and double entendres have kept James Bond in the public eye for nearly 40 years. Nineteen films after he first made his appearance in Dr. No, 007 is still a walking cliché. The collection of clever quips on parade here are both tiresome and predictable (big points, though, for the Asian masseuse who calls herself Peaceful Fountains of Desire). And with there being no end in sight to Mike Myers’s Austin Powers franchise, how will James Bond now reconcile that he’s become a parody of a parody of a parody?
- Lee Tamahori
- Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
- Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, Rick Yune, John Cleese, Judi Dench, Michael Madsen, Will Yun Lee, Samantha Bond, Colin Salmon, Lawrence Makoare, Emilio Echevarría, Madonna
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