Good Bond Actor in a Bad Bond film (2002)
With Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, Rick Yune, Judi Dench, John Cleese, Colin Salmon, Samantha Bond
Directed by Lee Tamahori
Reviewed by JL and JB

    The most bloated and absurd of all James Bond films, in which the excesses of the Pierce Brosnan era are unleashed into full-blown CGI territory. After a unique and promising opening sequence, in which Bond suffers at the hands of his North Korean captors, the film then wanders off into la-la land and asks us to accept nonsense ranging from DNA alteration to invisible cars. Rule of thumb for the future of the series: if a computer, rather than a human being, is required for a stunt, it doesn't belong in a Bond film. As the 20th film in the official series, released in the series' 40th anniversary year, DIE ANOTHER DAY is loaded with visual and verbal references to past Bond films, so fans can at least play "Spot the Homage" while enduring the silliness. And there's always John Cleese and Judi Dench, who can't help but improve the quality of any scene in which they appear. Halle Berry, fresh from her Oscar win, was the biggest star to ever accept the role of a Bond girl, but she fizzles rather than sizzles in the role of Jinx. June Cleaver would have been more credible as a tough spy chick, and even Barbara Billingsley herself was better at speaking jive. 2½ - JL

    It's fitting that DIE ANOTHER DAY features the worst Bond theme ever - a techno piece of crapola by Madonna - because DIE ANOTHER DAY is the worst Bond film ever. Ironically, the first half ranks with the best and most intelligent Bond films. After the opening mini-movie, there is a solid 35 minute stretch without a major action sequence - just Bond jaunting around the world in search of the bad guy. Then, suddenly, R arrives and gives Bond... an invisible car? What??? It goes from being FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE to MOONRAKER in a single scene, and then goes beyond MOONRAKER by several light years.

     DIE ANOTHER DAY would be what I would show to film students in a lesson on why you should never use CGI in an action movie. A scene with Bond driving a snow flyer off an ice cliff displays everything I hate about the overuse of CGI. It looks completely unrealistic, and the following sequence where Bond "surfs" himself to safety looks like a George Pal Puppettoon intercut with shots of Pierce Brosnan gesticulating unconvincingly in front of a blue screen. I watched a little of the "making of" bits on the DVD and the creators were going on and on about how realistic the CGI effects were in this scene, and I couldn't help but think that I have seen more convincing sequences in movies where a guy in a rubber Godzilla suit crushes Tonka trucks under his feet while toy planes fly around his head.

     And I never thought I'd say this, but after seeing the usually fine Halle Berry stumbled her way through a Bond film, I actually miss Denise Richards. 1½- JB

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