Captured while on a mission in North Korea, James Bond is
eventually freed more than a year later. M thinks 007 may
have given away vital secrets under torture, but he insists
that he has not. The agent believes he has been set up, and
vows to find the person responsible. But first he must escape
from MI6 captivity...
I was a little disappointed by this film when I first saw
it at the cinema, but I am happy to report that I enjoyed
it more this time around.
Die Another Day remains a curious blend of innovation,
comforting familiarity and irritation. Nowhere is this more
evident than during the opening credits, which, in a novel
break from tradition, inter-cut the usual surreal and erotic
images with the ongoing events of the story. However, this
visual feast is let down by an entirely un-Bond-like title
song, sung by Madonna (who also plays a cameo role as the
fencing instructor, Verity).
Lee (Once Were Warriors, Along Came a Spider) Tamahori
provides us with some very exciting fight scenes, including
a visceral fencing match between Bond and the main villain
Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens). And, of course, there are the
usual outrageous stunt sequences, involving hovercrafts over
minefields and cars on ice, courtesy of Action Unit Director
Vic Armstrong. However, the notion of an invisible car seems
far-fetched even by Bond standards (though the special features
assure us that cloaking technology is not so far down the
line as you might think).
fact, this is the most fantastical Bond film in years. With
its themes of gene manipulation, cloaking devices and heat
rays, we haven't seen this many sci-fi elements in a 007 movie
since Moonraker. Coincidentally, scriptwriters Neal
Purvis and Robert Wade plunder Ian Fleming's original Moonraker
novel for previously unused story elements such as the transformed
villain and his apparently benign orbital weapon.
The writers and Pierce Brosnan continue to explore the humanity
and vulnerabilities of Bond's character. It is quite unnerving
to behold his condition after he has been imprisoned and tortured
for 14 whole months - who ever would have thought we'd see
007 as a shuffling wreck with an unkempt beard? This image
puts the injuries Bond sustained in Licence to Kill
and The World is Not Enough in the shade. (As it happens,
there are a few plot similarities to Timothy Dalton's controversial
second Bond movie, with 007 setting out on a private vendetta.)
But don't go thinking for one moment that the trademark comical
quips are absent, because they are in force in a big way.
They range from lines that really work ("So this is where
they keep the old relics") to the rather awful ("That's a
a rather stilted introductory scene, in which she has to deliver
the above dreadful line, Halle Berry makes a big impression
as the tough and resourceful Bond girl, Jinx. The elegant
Rosamund Pike does an equally splendid job as 007's other
love interest, the appropriately icy Miranda Frost.
main baddie is a sort of pastiche of Bond himself. With his
toothy upper-class sneer, Toby Stephens plays Graves like
a cross between Hugh Grant and the dapper Ace Rimmer from
Red Dwarf. Writers Purvis and Wade throw in a fair
few surprises in terms of certain characters' identities and
being the 20th official Bond film, which marked the franchise's
40th anniversary in 2002, the production team have also included
copious but unobtrusive references to the past, including
a range of vintage gadgets, which are seen around the workshop
of the new Q (the amusing John Cleese). Jinx rises from the
waves wearing - just about - a costume that echoes Ursula
Andress' famous bikini and belt combination in Dr. No.
Later on, Bond plucks a grape from a bowl in a hospital ward,
a la Thunderball, and reads a magazine article which
bears the pull quote: "Diamonds are forever". However, the
plot strays from homage to out-and-out repetition when Graves'
Icarus satellite plays a similar role to Blofeld's orbital
laser in Diamonds are Forever.
aficionados will appreciate the fact that James Bond borrows
a book on ornithology, just as Fleming "borrowed" the character's
name from the author of a bird-watching book. Another novel
name-check comes in the form of the Korean Colonel Moon (Will
Yun Lee), a character inspired by the villain of Kingsley
Amis' Bond book Colonel Sun. In addition, the frozen
Icelandic location and Bond's icy water torture are both reminiscent
of John Gardner's Icebreaker.
first disc in this two-DVD pack allows you to play the movie
with a choice of two audio commentaries or with an "MI6 Datastream".
The latter cues in 19 behind-the-scenes featurettes at appropriate
junctures, and displays on-screen information text (like the
production notes offered by the BBC's Doctor Who DVDs)
throughout. The featurettes manage not to be as intrusive
as those on certain other DVD releases, such as X-Men 1.5.
second disc contains more than two hours of documentary footage,
as well as Madonna's music video, numerous stills galleries,
storyboard to final shot comparisons and multi-angle views
of several scenes. I found the examination of the visual elements
used to create the innovative title sequence particularly
I was somewhat disappointed to find that there are no deleted
or extended scenes on either disc, despite the fact that we
are told footage was cut from the scene in which Graves makes
his speech about Icarus. I was also a little annoyed that
the special features use American spellings, even though this
is a Region 2 product. However, British viewers can take solace
in the fact that the Region 2 release contains an exclusive
documentary, the in-depth From Script to Screen.
who already own the previous special edition DVDs need not
be concerned by the cover design. The opposite side of the
reversible sleeve will match the rest of your Bond collection.
a few flaws in the extra features and in the movie itself,
I have no doubt that the 007 franchise will live to fight
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