For those who haven't seen it yet, ***SPOILERS*** follow.
For me, and for many others, James Bond is a unique character who was established for decades by Sean Connery and Roger Moore. The producers quickly learned with the first few movies starring Sean Connery that the hard core Bond of the Flemming novels needed some adaptation to survive and they did a superlative job of doing so for quite some time.
As such, there is, (or I should say, WAS), a certain surrealistic magic about the James Bond character which allowed us movie goers to transcend reality and truly escape the headlines we all read daily regarding the heroes who die too young. During this period, if you wanted all out action and violence in a movie, you went to a Schwartznegger, Stalone, etc flick.
Certain rules, which have applied to James Bond for a long time, have been stripped away by most of the so called "Bond" films since Roger Moore's era and were ably and completely done away with in this film, such as:
1) Bond NEVER gets caught. Well, OK. He can get caught by the bad guy, threatened, bragged at by the Bad guy, then escape in just the nick of time and foil his plan. Truth be known, he could have escaped whenever he wanted to, but allowed himself to be held for a day or two just to learn more from the "inside."
2) Bond NEVER gets tortured endlessly. Maybe roughed up, but not tortured for over a year. His quick wit and matchless skills simply won't allow it.
3) Bond is NEVER in a situation from which his unmatched genius, talent, and cool can't save him.
4) Bond NEVER gets abandoned by his country or told by his superior that if it were up to her, he would still be rotting in prison. He might get a disapproving sneer from a stuffed shirt government rep, but deep down he's appreciated and respected for his talents and bravery.
Yet in "Die Another Day", we are presented with a James Bond who gets captured for 14 months, ruthlessly tortured by near drowning and scorpion stings, with anti venom used to bring him back from the brink of death time and time again. There was no doubt that he was captured, was to remain so, was completely at his captors mercy, and there was no way he could figure a way to escape.
At the end of the 14 months, when Bond thought he was going to be executed, he started walking that "last mile" out of the prison camp clearly in a hopeless situation in which he was going to be unceremoniously shot in the back with no way out. You could even see the look of broken despair and hopelessness on Brosnan's face as he walked bravely forward. One is reminded of Roger Moore in "Live and Let Die", when he is being quite literally walked out to a back alley by multiple thugs, spots an opportunity and takes out the gun men handily. A good job of acting out the role of helplessness, exhaustion, and nearly mental collapse by Brosnan, but simply not a fit for James Bond.
Last, but not least, when he realizes he is being traded and gets met by the "good guys", he is injected with a sedative and wakes up in a high tech "prison" of sorts where M tells him that if it were up to her, he would still be rotting in prison, that his freedom was bought at too high a price, that they suspect he was broken and gave away priceless secrets, and that he was to remain in their custody until she deemed it fit to release him.
I could go on, but the movie does so, (unfortunately), illustrating my point, so why bother?
In the real world, an agent with a license to kill and put on assignments like James Bond would probably not last very long. There are undoubtedly such heroes giving their lives daily in the protection of freedom and human rights which we will never hear about, as well as others who we do hear about. But the true Bond character is not real world. Rather, he stands unique. He allows us to escaped the carnage of real life and believe for a few fleeting moments, that the good guy really can survive AND save the day, and do it with suave and cool. What a shame they have ruined the franchise that was so ably established for decades.
Perhaps M's words to Bond summarized things best: Bond is not England's celebrated, priceless treasure anymore, not the man who stands head and shoulders above the rest. He does not walk coolly and calmly down the path to certain death, only to cheat death yet again simply because he is, well, "BOND, JAMES BOND!" In fact, at this point, he can be captured without displaying the wits necessary to escape, tortured endlessly, and taken out to the back ally and shot, in just the same manner as with any other John Doe in the real world. In fact, he is not even to be trusted and has been locked away indefinitely.
For my part, I've given the industry moguls many years to clean up the mess they've made of this franchise, and they will not get another dime of mine to see this (not even) poor excuse for James Bond they have been portraying recently in any future movies.