Notice how up to this point, every Bond film has been rated reasonably well? I mean I think the lowest score I’ve given has been either 6 or 4, from memory don’t quote me on this. Well here’s the first Bond film that I actually hate. I mean really hate. This is Die another Day… Be afraid people, be very afraid…
The plot needs a good bit of explaining. Bond goes to Korea to rig a diamond trade. He is captured by North Korean Colonel Moon (Jr?) (Played by Will Yun Lee) and his…friend? Zao (played by Rick Yune) and put in a prisoner of war camp where he is tortured regularly. Bond is traded with Zao and then held captive by his own government because they believed he sold them out, in actuality it was Miranda Frost (played by Rosmund Pike). Bond then escapes and sets out to clear his name by hunting down Moon, who now goes by Gustav Graves (played by Toby Stephan’s). Graves/Moon (henceforth to be known as Maves because it sounds like Mavis and I don’t like the character) plans to rip off Diamonds are forever and destroy minefields preventing him from invading South Korea…Oh also he has to woo Jinx (played by Halle ‘Sexiest woman alive my ass’ Berry).
Reading that plot description back I realise something. The first half of this movie looks pretty good on paper. The plot seems to be more serious and to be fair it could have been a good movie. Problems arise later on. Firstly we have Jinx who isn’t attractive at all. I mean she’s not ugly but I have no idea what everybody sees in Halle Berry. Secondly the villains. Zao is excluded from this because frankly I liked him and the whole brotherly love thing between him and Maves is actually quite sweet, I actually recall Maves mourning Zao a little, although this may be me trying to develop the characters. Miranda is really Bland, I mean she has good lines and great moments, including a knife fight aboard a freaking plane for God’s sake, and yet she remains pretty bland throughout. I mean maybe the idea is that she’s cold hearted and emotionless and if so it’s done brilliantly but even so it’s difficult to tell. Maves isn’t a good Bond villain, point in fact he’s a total douche. An arrogant douchebag who just annoys me. He’s not cunning or charming in any way. He comes up with the idea of Icarus, the sun satellite, but he relies on other people to develop it and he’s rude and dismissive towards them. The acting from Stephens is good though, it’s just the character that annoys me. The action is alright, if a little badly done on the hovercraft scene. The film makes up for it in the finale and this marks the introduction of my three favourite things from the film (favourite means little here). Firstly the plane scene is pretty cool, something of a homage to Goldfinger (we’ll get to that). Secondly the ice palace is stupid but nice to look at. Thirdly the swordfight is stupid but still pretty awesome. Those are the only good things about this film. Let me expand on the whole homage idea. To acknowledge that Die another Day marked the 40th anniversary of the James Bond film series and was the 20th entry in the official series, references to every one of the preceding nineteen films were incorporated. The smuggling of diamonds and the use of a satellite with a powerful laser, and the villain surviving the pre-title sequence and returning with a new identity were the themes lifted from Diamonds Are Forever. When Bond flies back to Britain he is reading a magazine article about Graves with a highlighted quote starting “Diamonds Are Forever”. Bond is then approached by an air stewardess played by previous Bond Roger Moore’s daughter Deborah Moore. There is also Gustav Graves’ comment that “diamonds are for everyone” and the clear, ovate, cross-hatched floor in his office, which was last seen in Willard Whyte’s penthouse lair. The Venice fight scene in Moonraker wherein display cases and other valuable artefacts are destroyed was also remade as the fencing match. The exterior of Graves’ command centre is a tropical forest, also akin to Moonraker. The revocation of Bond’s licence to kill and his loss of double-0 status traced its origin to Licence to Kill. Graves’ starting a man-made ice mountain avalanche to kill Bond is from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service; the uniforms worn by the guards at Graves’ ice palace also resemble the ones worn by Blofeld’s men at Piz Gloria in that film. There are several gadgets that appear in Q’s laboratory, such as the shoe blade and trick attaché case that appeared in From Russia with Love, the jet-pack and the underwater rebreather from Thunderball, the ‘Snooper’ device from A View to a Kill, and the Acro-jet and the alligator submarine from Octopussy. Also, the scene in the Hong Kong hotel room where Bond catches Chang trying to film him making love is a reference to Grant and Klebb filming the same scene in From Russia with Love. Like Honey Rider in Dr. No, Jinx is first seen rising out of the sea, wearing a bikini, knife, and belt. The gun barrel sound from Dr. No can be heard in the background as Bond climbs up the side of a dock after escaping a hospital ship. Jinx is strapped to a table and threatened with a laser in a reference to Goldfinger. The Union Flag parachute that Graves uses echoes Bond’s parachute in The Spy Who Loved Me. Bond going through a room filled with mirrors while chasing Zao in the gene clinic, and M meeting Bond inside a wrecked ship are both from The Man With The Golden Gun. Bond eating some grapes after a kill inside the clinic is similar to a scene in the health clinic in Thunderball. Q’s line from Goldfinger, “I never joke about my work,” is also reprised. The Aston Martin car chase on the ice and the climax inside a cargo jet plane are reminiscent of similar sequences in The Living Daylights, while a shot-by-shot reference to the ending of Goldfinger (someone shoots a bullet through a plane window, causing cabin depressurisation and eventually Graves’ death through the open window) is used. The ice chase takes place on the same glacial lagoon location (Jökulsárlón) used in the pre-credits sequence of A View to a Kill. Zao’s death by impalement and the exploding screens in the command bunker are reminiscent of Goldeneye, also, both Janus (Goldeneye) and Zao have scars on the right cheek, caused by Bond, while Bond’s sleeping with a gun under his pillow is a reference to Paris Carver’s comment in Tomorrow Never Dies. When in Cuba, Bond borrows a 1957 Ford Fairlane, the same year Fairlane as driven by Count Lippe in Thunderball while Jinx drives a Ford Thunderbird just as Felix Leiter did in Goldfinger. This may well have been good but the writers tried to balance the two which shouldn’t have been done. They should have focused on one or the other, either make a decent Bond film or make good homage, don’t try both because you’ll screw it up.
I hate the CGI with the surfing tsunami thing (STUPID!!!) I hate the invisible car (WORST GADGET EVER!!!) Most importantly though, I hate the song. Now don’t get me wrong I like the opening credits and the background to it, which shows Bond being tortured. The song on the other hand…Is crap…I mean shouldn’t Madonna be dead now already? I mean, she’s older than time itself; she was having her midlife crisis during the Crusades. On the other hand Madonna can sing and she’s a big name so it’s natural for her to have been called in to do this. Therefore the writing is to blame.
This is a bad Bond film. I like the references but it could have been handled far better. Maves is crap, Halle Berry isn’t pretty, there’s so much wrong with that film it is difficult not to rate it badly…