8 May 2004 | cariart
Fourth Brosnan 'Bond' Starts Promisingly, but Falters...
Creating new, exciting adventures for 007 after 20 feature films in forty years is a difficult task at best, particularly as public tastes change, and the character of James Bond has to maintain at least a degree of the 'persona' created by Ian Fleming. While the heirs of Albert Broccoli, his daughter Barbara and son-in-law Michael G. Wilson, have done a remarkable job in keeping the series 'fresh', if DIE ANOTHER DAY is any indication, the creative forces surrounding them seem to be losing 'touch' with James Bond, and his world.
After an astonishing pre-title sequence, climaxing with Bond being captured by the North Koreans, the film offers a horrendous montage of torture, with Bond only surviving due to a timely prisoner exchange (with an unsympathetic M remarking, "If it had been up to me, you'd have stayed in North Korea...", obviously forgetting that 007 had saved her life in THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH). Pierce Brosnan, at fifty, is superb in this sequence, vulnerable yet defiant, and to this point, DIE ANOTHER DAY has all the makings of a first-class Bond entry.
Then Bond jaunts off to find the agent who betrayed him, becoming involved in an investigation involving diamonds, solar power, and a 'too-good-to-be-true' industrialist (smarmy Toby Stephens), and all of the creativity of the opening is lost, with the film becoming an uneasy mix of references to past films and silly, unbelievable situations, sets and gadgets (culminating with an 'Ice Palace' and an 'invisible' Aston Martin).
As she had won an Oscar prior to filming DIE ANOTHER DAY, sexy Halle Berry, 36, was publicized extensively as Bond's latest leading lady, CIA agent 'Jinx'. Unfortunately, after a spectacular 'rising from the waves' introduction (borrowed from Ursula Andress, in DR. NO), and a few nicely choreographed fights, she spoke...and lost all of her credibility in the role. While much of the problem was certainly in the script, she was never believable as Bond's 'counterpart' in the American intelligence community. On the other hand, Rosamund Pike, 23, was both sexy and duplicitous as British double agent Miranda Frost, as chilly as her name, but capable of igniting under 007's gaze. In a part equally poorly written, she made far more of her scenes than the writers gave her.
The most interesting character in the film was certainly Rick Yune, as Graves' 'enforcer', Zao. Charismatic, ruthless, and nearly unstoppable, Zao was nearly a primal force, far more menacing than Graves at his worst.
While a sword-fight sequence between Bond and Graves provided a rare film highlight, and certainly ranks as one of the film series' more memorable sequences, much of the rest of the production was silly, with the story set at a break-neck pace to 'hide' the absurdities. The climax, as a solar 'ray' destroyed the minefield between North and South Korea, allowing an 'invasion' to occur, as 007 and Jinx attempted to commandeer the aircraft controlling the 'ray', stands as one of the most ludicrous finales to a Bond film since MOONRAKER.
Although DIE ANOTHER DAY would become Pierce Brosnan's highest-grossing Bond, to date, the film, despite heavily promoting Halle Berry's presence, failed to crack the 'Top Ten' box office attractions in the U.S., and disappointed many fans, worldwide.
With the purchase of MGM by Sony, which has wanted to produce a Bond film for years (the studios were entangled in a legal suit that ended just as DIE began production), surprising changes were in store...CASINO ROYALE, the only Fleming title NOT owned by Eon Productions was named as the next 007 adventure...and Pierce Brosnan was FIRED (a sad finish for an actor who'd worked so hard to make 007 viable in the new millennium!) While Broccoli and Wilson are still 'in charge' of Bond productions, they have to answer to new bosses, with definite opinions of their own on where the franchise should go...Can 007 survive THIS?
We can only wait and see!