Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bond-arama: No. 0023 Die Another Day (2002)

We begin our countdown at the bottom... the very bottom. Die Another Day is a repeat of Diamonds Are Forever and it jumps so many sharks they should have called this film James Bond: Shark Jumper. It’s just awful and that’s why it sits at the bottom of our list at No. 0023 of 0023.

Plot Quality: The plot to this one is simple. A villain gets gene therapy to turn himself from a Korean into a British person because he has daddy issues. Said villain buys “conflict diamonds.” Boo hoo. He uses those diamonds to create a satellite which somehow converts sunlight into energy to be used on Earth. He and Bond fence. Bond escapes an ice palace in his invisible car. This now Caucasian villain orders the North Korea military to invade South Korea. The satellite turns out to be a weapon that puts the Death Star to shame, but can’t blow up a plane it hits with a direct shot. The film ends. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? (if you’re an idiot)
Where to begin? James Bond does not get captured and held prisoner for 14 months only to be retrieved in a prisoner exchange. And what prisoner exchange? Why would North Korea spy on Britain? Why would anyone? Koreans cannot turn themselves British/Caucasian with gene therapy. And even if they could, no one goes to Cuba for gene therapy. An ice palace? An invisible car? John Cleese as Q? WTF? Let me repeat. . . an invisible f*cking car designed by Monty Python. Also, James Bond does not surf. North Korea is not an imposing military power that deserves to be on film. Someone who turned himself into a honkey cannot start giving orders to the North Korean military after killing his father the general. A satellite sending out a flame-like beam that could consume miles of the Earth at a time is beyond ridiculous. That such a weapon could hit an airplane and not cause it to disintegrate immediately is ridiculous. That you can sword fight on a transport plane for twenty minutes as it burns to pieces all around you is ridiculous. You cannot drop a helicopter out the back of a transport plane and start it in mid-free fall.

And that’s just for starters.

This film was a joke. It was ridiculous. It was clearly an attempt to piggyback on the success of XXX and to dumb that film down, and everyone associated with this film should be ashamed. . . and shot.

Bond Quality: This was Brosnan’s final film and I don’t think that was a coincidence. The film made a ton of money, but after turning Bond into a cartoon, Brosnan had no credibility to move back to a more serious Bond. Thus, they needed to start over. Hence the reboot of Casino Royale.
Even setting aside the ridiculousness of the film, this was a difficult Bond to like. He was angry and depressed throughout. He’d lost the suaveness, the inner calm and the sense of humor he had finally developed in Tomorrow Never Dies. Indeed, Brosnan is so indifferently angry in this one that he comes across like a man making the film under protest.

The Bond Girl(s): As usual, there were two Bond girls. The main Bond girl is Halle Berry, who plays NSA agent Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson. She’s investigating a North Korean terrorist with links to Gustav Graves, the villain. Beyond that, it’s not really clear why she’s in this film except to have sex with Bond. She is attractive and has decent chemistry with Bond, but she’s ultimately just a forgettable extra.

The other Bond girl is Miranda Frost, played by Rosamund Pike. She’s an undercover MI6 agent who also happens to be a traitor. She has infiltrated Graves’ organization and works as his assistant, but in reality she’s working for Graves. She doesn’t move the plot either and, like Jinx, she lacks motivation and pretty much could have been deleted from the film.

Villain Quality: Imagine your daddy is a general in the most repressive, backwards insane dictatorship in the world. Imagine you are a colonel in his army. Imagine you are trading “conflict diamonds” for weaponry. But daddy doesn’t understand you. He doesn’t like that you’re a nutjob. What do you do? What do you do?
Apparently, you move to Britain, turn yourself into a honkey using gene therapy, and become a billionaire industrialist named Gustav Graves. You build an ice palace and invent a death ray that can destroy the planet in mile-wide increments of walls of fire. Why do you do this? So you can wipe out American landmines so the North Korean military can invade South Korean. And while you do this, you somehow take control over the North Korean military without daddy the top General finding out and with no one questioning why the British honkey is issuing orders.

Did an idiot write this?

Really, the only good thing about this villain is a fencing scene between Graves and Bond, which is pretty well done. But that’s also before we realize just how retarded a villain this guy is.
Beyond that, there is literally nothing I can praise. His backstory is impossible. His satellite is impossible. Turning himself white is impossible. His controlling the North Korean military is impossible. His plan is impossible. Indeed, his plan is retarded. If they want to clear the area of mines, just drive a bunch of peasants across the area or shell it. And if you have such an amazing deathray, hold the world hostage like Blofeld did in Diamonds Are Forever. Destroy some mines? Give me a break.

Even the choice of making him North Korean is suspect. North Korea and Britain have no connection whatsoever. So using North Korea is difficult to begin with. Secondly, North Korea is not intimidating to the world. They are a forgotten menace, a third rate joke at best. Third, this film crawls with a politicized agenda – opposition to landmines, conflict diamonds, green energy and making Cuban medicine look advanced? Really? The Bonds films have historically avoided politics entirely, so throwing this in is downright offensive.

Conclusion

This film is a disgrace to the series. That’s why it’s No. 0023 of 0023, and it’s a distant No. 0023 at that.

45 comments:

PikeBishop said...

Ignored this when it came out. Had zero interest in seeing it. About three weeks ago I had insomnia, flipped on Showtime and there were the last 25 minutes.

James Bond parasailing on a tidal wave. I shook my head in disbelief. Reminded me of Frankie Avalon surfing against a blue screen in "Back to the Beach."

And it just got worse from there.

Yuck!

BIG MO said...

Yeah! Another Bond fan who seriously dislikes Die Another Day.

I knew this film would be trouble when some film critic (I no longer remember who) declared that this was the first Bond that had "believability." Uh-huh. Even the worst of the Roger Moore Bonds were more believable than this turkey.

Maybe this is why Die Another Day was the last Bond I saw in the theaters.

I'm interested to see where you'll put my favorite "modern" Bond -- Goldeneye, of course -- on your list.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, This one was horrid. Nothing worked in this film and most of it was downright offensive to fans. This felt like a writer who didn't have a clue who Bond was when he started writing and a director who was desperate to make the character hip.

There are couple other bad ones, but nothing comes close to this one.

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, This one was a turd all around. I can't believe anyone thought this film was believable. Nothing in this film makes the slightest sense.

I suspect your critic friend probably liked the fact this was the first James Bond film I can think of that tried to hide leftist messages into the film.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. You'll have to wait to see where Goldeneye appears... I'm not giving anything away in advance.

Backthrow said...

I liked:

1.) The fencing sequence in London.

2.) Rosamund Pike as Miranda Frost (but not much was done with her... so, as you say, she could've been deleted from the film with little impact); too bad she wasn't put in a different, better 007 adventure.

3.) Bond's capture/escape in the opening title credits (after a fairly dumb, noisy pre-credits action sequence with hovercrafts), which almost promised an interesting movie, but then the dumb came back, with a vengeance.

4.) Halle Berry looks good in a bikini.

--and that's it.

Pretty poor, though I still think A VIEW TO A KILL is even worse... the absolute nadir.

PikeBishop said...

Back:

Worse than Moonraker? Let's cash in on the Star Wars craze and put Bond and US Space Marines in orbit!

Ugh. I cringe just remembering that one. Makes "A View to a Kill" look like King Lear.

shawn said...

Well, I'm pretty much on the same page as Backthrow. Even Christopher Walken couldn't save the turkey that was A View to a Kill. But nothing to argue with in your revies Andrew.

I will reiterate what I said yesterday, Brosnan was better than the scripts he had to work with.

shawn said...

That should read "review" and not revies.

ScottDS said...

I agree with shawn - Brosnan was better than most of his movies. He got better as the films got worse - I think he started off on a high-note.

As for... this movie...

I haven't seen it in years and that's probably because I have no interest in doing so (even though I own it!). I remember cringing at the parasailing sequence in the theater* as well as the Madonna theme song, which is a shame since the title sequence itself is pretty damn cool, and the only time a Bond title sequence advances the narrative.

Rosamund Pike was good (and a pleasure to look at) but her character didn't leave much of a lasting impression. Halle Berry did NOTHING for me in this film. Believe it or not, the studio wanted to make a Jinx spinoff but it obviously never happened. They even got as far as a finished script.

The invisible car was... fun. I can excuse it because at least it's based on a real scientific concept. The idea of going under the knife to change your ethnicity... uh, not so much.

And since this was the 20th film, there were plenty of references to the previous films, some more subtle than others, but more or less appreciated with a smile.

*Brosnan was interviewed for the recent Everything or Nothing documentary and when asked about the parasailing scene, all he can do is laugh. I think he gets how ridiculous it was. :-)

Backthrow said...

Pike,

Yeah, I'd say MOONRAKER, as stupid/awful as I think most of it it is (though I enjoyed it in '79, as an 11-year-old... my first theatrical Bond experience), is still marginally more tolerable than A VIEW TO A KILL. Stupid/goofy trumps stupid/boring, in this case. I actually fell asleep, in the theater (during the fire engine chase scene), when I saw A VIEW TO A KILL as a high-schooler (!) in its original run.

Both films, though, are at the bottom of my list of 007 films, along with THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (which had some really good elements in it that were wasted and/or sabotaged) and DIE ANOTHER DAY.

rlaWTX said...

I have actually seen the last chunk of this one. I was even more confused than normal (when entering late into a film that is usually as complicated as Bond). And pretty much all of Andrews criticisms were what I was trying to figure out...

tryanmax said...

Madonna was in this installment. Ye-e-a-ars past her prime. 'Nuff said.

AndrewPrice said...

I'll be back soon. Work calls.

K said...

PikeBishop: Worse than Moonraker?

Moonraker: The scene where the 6 shuttles move through space in formation to a rendezvous with the space station was enough to raise it slightly above the default James Bond drek level for me.

Naturally, any so called James Bond movie with the ridiculous "Jaws" character in it qualifies as "drek". Moonraker was slightly better drek.

Anthony said...

My pick for crappiest Bond movie is The World is Not Enough. Everything about that was forgettable aside from the laughably stupid casting of Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist.

Die Another Day is really crap but there are a couple other Bond movies at roughly the same level of crappiness (On Her Majesty's Secret Service and The Man with the Golden Gun spring to mind).

Also, ridiculous is a fair way to characterize even many of the better Bond movies. They are just usually cooler sorts of ridiculous (whoever thought an invisible car was a cool idea should be thrown into a sack, beaten and then tossed into the deepest part of the ocean).

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, I agree with most of your list. I like Pike a lot, but she was misused. I also liked the fencing sequence. I didn't like his being captured. That's not James Bond to me.

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, PikeBishop and Shawn, I'm seeing a lot of not-love for View to a Kill and Moonraker. I take you didn't enjoy those? ;P

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I think that Bronsan had a lot of potential, but he was handicapped by bad scripts - which seems to often be the case in these films. But in this one, I actually think that his acting didn't help. It really felt like he was doing this movie under protest and he came across as someone who just didn't want to be in this film.

And I can't blame him for that.

Nothing in this film works in my opinion.

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, I skipped school to see View to a Kill. The say the least, I was disappointed.

I'm glad that everyone is offering their own picks. I think this list will be more interesting if people offer their own thoughts a well. :)

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Thanks! Yeah, this film stunk. It was confused and bizarre and just not credible over and over and over. This film really stands and head and shoulders below the others.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That was definitely a bad choice. This was one of the worst theme songs they ever made.

AndrewPrice said...

K, I hate Jaws. What a ridiculous character. It shocks me that so many people love the character.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, whoever thought an invisible car was a cool idea should be thrown into a sack, beaten and then tossed into the deepest part of the ocean

Agreed!! :)

I know what you mean about these films being ridiculous, but the ridiculousness usually being more cool. This film lacked that entirely.

Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist is indeed a shark jumping moment. It would have been more believable to cast a Smurf.

K said...

Anthony: Everything about that was forgettable aside from the laughably stupid casting of Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist.

YES!! There's nothing that says "farce" more than casting someone like Denise Richards (or Shia Lebeef for that matter) as some kind of professional scientist.

Smurfette said...

Watch who you are libeling there! We may be only 3 apples high, but we are smurfing great actors!

5minutes said...

Finding Bond fans who dislike Die Another Day is like trying to find grains of sand on the beach.

This movie was terrible, insulting, and a complete mess from beginning to end. The only - ONLY - redeeming thing about it was the potential to explore the thought of "what happens if James Bond is caught by someone who realizes the value of who they've captured and has the time to really put him to the screws?" It's a great concept for exploration and this movie... utterly wastes the opportunity for a cheesy escape followed by a swim to shore and a stay at a lovely hotel.

Well, and the fencing sequence (given to us by the late, great Bob Anderson - the sword master who played the lightsaber dueling Darth Vader in Empire and Jedi) was excellent - and a good example of how he was able to tell a story about 2 characters with a sword fight rather than just making sword fights look "cool".

Everything else was absolute garbage - especially that terrible Madonna song.

tryanmax said...

I've always wondered why Pierce Brosnan didn't bring more of "Remington Steele" to his portrayal of Bond...a question I know I'm not alone in having. I've contended myself by thinking that he simply wanted to differentiate the roles, but I am open to other insights. ???

AndrewPrice said...

K, It absolutely kills the credibility of a film. I don't know why Hollywood doesn't get that?

AndrewPrice said...

Sorry Smurfette.

AndrewPrice said...

5minutes, Agreed. This was an easy choice for the bottom of the list.

And agreed on the sword fight too, that was an excellent use of action to tell the story.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, My guess is that he saw Remington Steele as comedy, but James Bond as drama, so he tried to bring a different sense to the role.

I actually think he best moments are things like the remote control car chase in the parking garage because it gave him a chance to show a more humorous side that was more like Remington Steele - he seemed to enjoy that.

rlaWTX said...

mmmmm Remington Steele... my preteen-early teen self thought he was rather dreamy...

PikeBishop said...

Andrew: Thank you so much, I have much affection for you as......ooops......Never Mind!

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Remington Steele was indeed quite popular. LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Uh, thanks Pikebishop. LOL!

ScottDS said...

I honestly have nothing to add!

I do wish some folks wouldn't give up on the franchise so easily - every long-running series will have bombs. It's inevitable, but one film doesn't = a trend. And the Bond producers seem to be better than most when it comes to learning from past mistakes (until they forget everything they learned!).

What's ironic is, while no one's asking for another movie like THIS one, after the three "gritty" Daniel Craig movies, I find people are clamoring for larger-than-life supervillains and volcano lairs again. Escapism... it's a powerful thing.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, As for clamoring, I think the truth is that there are two ways to view this series. Some people want a more intense story, others want a wilder story. You can't really please both, but the series does enough of both to keep both groups happy.

Anonymous said...

Usually if the TV is on and a Bond movie is playing I'll watch it if I have nothing else to do. But when this movie comes on I change the channel or pick up a book.

So I've only seen this movie once and I was disappointing from start to finish. The song, the script, the acting, by the end of the movie I was only half paying attention. There was plenty of eye rolling, groans and head shakes during this one.

I would have only been a bad movie if they didn't make it a Bond movie, but by putting that name on it it increased the expectations and thus increased my disappointment. I can safely say that I have no wish to ever see it again.

Scott.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I'm the same way, if there's a Bond film on, I will watch it... except this one. This one is just so bad that I can't watch it. It loses me at so many points that I can't stay with it.

df5bace4-9d4f-11e0-aaf3-000bcdcb5194 said...

What a coincidence, DAD is on Showtime (West) right now. The opening ("Saved by the bell"... worst! Bond! Joke! Ever!) is as loud and stupid as I remember. Thank God for mute, so I don't have to listen to that awful Madonna song.

Wait, that doesn't narrow it down. I mean the awful song by Madonna they used as a theme.

AndrewPrice said...

df, If that is your real name :P... yeah, it's been on Showtime lately for some reason. I can't bring myself to watch. If it were any other JB film, I would watch it, but not this one.

Dave Olson said...

OK, now that we can post as just ourselves again, that was me. I made it as far as Bond's trip to the cigar factory last night, then watched something else. Anything else (that didn't feature a Kardashian) would have been better.

John Jameson said...

This movie is summed up by: an invisible car... that you can hide behind!

AndrewPrice said...

John, LOL! Yep.

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