die_another_day_ver9Die Another Day

  • Year:  2002
  • Director:  Lee Tamahori
  • Series Rank:  #20
  • Year Rank:  #137
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  none
  • Bond Girl:  Halle Berry  (Jinx)
  • Bond Villain:  Toby Stephens  (Gustav Graves), Rosamund Pike (Miranda Frost), Rick Yune  (Zao)
  • Bond Support:  Judi Dench  (M), Samantha Bond  (Moneypenny), John Cleese  (Q)

The World is Not Enough was a decent action film that was almost sunk by the worthlessness of the Bond girls, both in terms of ability in the film (not much) and ability on screen (completely absent).  Yet, it’s a better film than Die Another Day, which is saved from almost Roger Moore levels by how good the Bond girls are, both in terms of their ability in the film (considerable) and ability on screen (both more than solid for Bond girl performances).  By a generous count, there have been over 75 actresses who have played Bond girls and only three of them have ever been nominated for an Oscar in their careers and two of them are right here (Kim Basinger is the other).

rosamundThey represent two polar opposites of sexuality – hot and wet, with Halle Berry emerging out of the surf in a deliberate homage to Ursulla Andress, except that Berry, first, can act, second, is more useful in the film, and third, is much, much hotter – and cold and forbidden, with Rosamund Pike as the perfectly named Miranda Frost.  In The World is Not Enough, the 28 year old Denise Richards didn’t seem old enough to have a PhD, but here, the 23 year old Pike fully inhabits her role and we never know what will come next – she is equally surprising as an MI-6 agent (well done, as we first learn that when we see her sitting opposite M) and as the traitor (revealed at a moment when she seems to be aiding Bond).

It’s a good thing that the Bond girls are so good because there isn’t a whole lot other than the Bond girls to really recommend the film outside of them, other than a few really good scenes with M, especially one where she meets with Bond in an abandoned tube station.  “The world changed while you were away” she tells him.  “Not for me,” he replies.  While that’s meant to be a personal statement (he wants to finish his job), the problem is that the world has changed, because of 9-11.  The Bond who comes in with a bad pun no longer works, even when he’s a colder Bond, like Brosnan is.  These plots no longer work.  This one is convoluted again, and involves a corrupt North Korean colonel, a super-weapon that harnesses the sun, African conflict diamonds (“Didn’t we already have diamonds in space” Veronica asked) and a whole lot of mess if you look too closely.

tobydie-another-day-diamond-faceLike Zhao, for instance, the villain who’s played in a really uninspiring performance by Rick Yune.  He’s a traitor to his own government, but they give up Bond to get him back, then let him roam free to Cuba and Iceland as if he’s not a soldier anymore, yet he’s involved in getting the North Koreans involved in the plot.  There’s also gene therapy where a North Korean somehow ends up looking like Rupert Graves.  And then there’s the women.  Yes, the Bond girls are good, but there’s no reason for their actions.

gal-bikini-halleberry-jpgAs Veronica pointed out, Brosnan is very handsome.  But he’s also almost 50 at this point and after a few quips with Halle Berry, she’s in bed with him.  It makes no sense.  She, at this point, is one of the hottest people on the planet (I have never seen anyone look better while winning an Oscar) and is 20 years younger and doesn’t seem to know who Bond is, so why does she jump into bed with him?  And then there’s Pike – she kisses Bond because of an awkward situation, but she’s made it clear she disapproves of him, then she follows his (non-sensical) suggestion they sleep in the same hotel room.  But, even if she buys that suggestion, why does she suddenly take off her clothes and sleep with him?  It makes sense (a little) once she betrays him, but shouldn’t Bond be at least a little wary of her?  Does he believe in his own charms that much?  It’s like the filmmakers decided, well, we know Bond will sleep with the girls, you know Bond will sleep with the girls, so why should we go through any effort to give you any justification?  Just accept it.  It’s lazy screenwriting, and they easily could have cut one of the two surfing scenes (yes, there are two surfing scenes) to provide another minute or two of actual dialogue to make this work rather than being lazy about it.

There is also a big chase scene involving two cars sliding around on the ice.  One of them is really cool – Bond’s fully equipped Aston-Martin, complete with camouflage.  But the other is an almost-as-equipped Jaguar driven by a North Korean and why would he have access to this?  Does his boss shop at the same dealer as MI-6?  “Why is he driving a convertible in Iceland?” Veronica asked.  “Why is he driving a convertible into combat?” I replied.  The film answers none of these questions.

Brosnan had pretty much run the course.  The world had changed and they needed a new Bond to cope with it.  He was a very good Bond, but the filmmakers never really gave him the tools he needed to make very good Bond films.  If they got the girls right, they botched the villains and plot.  If the plot worked, the girls tanked the film.  Goldeneye was the only film that really fired on all cylinders and it was time, not just for a new Bond, but for a completely new direction.  They needed to get the plot right, they needed to get the girl right, they needed to get the villains right.  They even needed a new Bond.  And man, oh man, did they get everything they needed.