Movie Reviews: Die Another Day




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(2002, MGM/UA, 132 mins, "PG-13," 2 disc, $19.47)
Release date: June 3, 2003
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     MGM (2 hr. 10 min.)
     James Bond teams up with a beautiful American agent to uncover a traitor in their midst.
     Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Judi Dench, John Cleese, Rosamund Pike
Bottom Line:


Even though James Bond turns 40 with the 20th installment of "Dr. No," dubbed "Die Another Day," the British Playboy spy still likes his martinis, girls and guns (not necessarily in that order) in this MTVish spy adventure.

With youth movies like "XXX" and "Austin Powers" looming in the wings, Bond director Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors) ups the ante with an edgier and more biting storyline than the usual Bond fare, and before the audience even has a chance to take their first munch of buttered popcorn, they're caught up in a thrilling roller coaster ride of explosions, car and hovercraft chases, laser beams and even a sword fight.

The super fast-paced "Die Another Day" opens with James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) surfing into North Korea only to be captured and tortured after blowing up half of the peninsula.

Not to give too much away, Bond is released 14 months later only to discover that his license to kill has been revoked. During his absence, the British Secret Service developed a fear that their top agent may have been broken and is, thus, a high risk.

All this is new territory for the Bond character and the audience. Even the opening credits, which for the first time advance the storyline, is new territory for Bond fans as well as a refurbished signature gun barrel sequence. But Tamahori manages to pull it all off and keep the Bond myth intact.

While being held by the British Secret Service for debriefing, Bond manages to escape before his less than sympathetic compatriates have the chance to grill or discredit him. His goal is to discover the truth behind who set him up in Korea and reclaim his status with the Service.

To this end, he makes his way to Hong Kong and then to Cuba in search of Zao (Rick Yune) who he believes was involved in setting him up in North Korea.

In Cuba Bond meets Jinx (Halle Berry) and the romantic and professional sparks just naturally begin to fly. Amid their bedroom interludes, Jinx and Bond find time to blow up a secret health clinic, where the bad guys (like Zao) have been changing their facial features.

Still chasing Zao, Bond and Jinx end up in London and finally in Iceland, where they discover Zao is working for a mysterious businessman named Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens). Among his many endeavors, Graves likes to build hotels made of ice and has also developed a laser firing satellite called Icarus.

"Die Another Day" is sexier, darker and grittier than pervious Bonds, and is probably the best film in the Brosnan series. But while this is definitely a Brosnon Bond film, it also manages to hint at Roger Moore style "cartoonish" special effects. Such as Bond outrunning the Icarus laser beam in a jet-powered ice racing car and then parachuting off a glacier to safety.

But the sultry Halle Berry definitely steals the show in this Bond outing. Her freshness and energy keeps the film going and elevates it from being just another standard Bond issue, despite some of its familiar aspects. As Bond's super-spy equal, Berry kicks butt so convincingly that MGM has already offered the actress her own Jinx film series.

Tamahori, who's not generally known as an action picture director, does a good job moving the film along, and if there is a downside to "Die Another Day" it's the fact that Bond and Jinx never really have a chance to develop a deeper relationship amid the overkill of computer generated effects, which are the real stars of the show. As a personal disappointment, I felt the picture should have had a dedication to the late Desmond Llewelyn who so brilliantly played "Q" in 17 of the Bond films.

While some may complain that the ending tends to drag on too long, it's been three long years since the last Bond film, so this bit of lingering can easily be forgiven by dedicated fans. After all, the baby shouldn't be thrown out with the bath water.

(2002, MGM/UA, 132 mins, "PG-13," 2 disc, $19.47)
Release date: June 3, 2003
Buy this video and Save money on it now!

The DVD includes:
o Color, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound
o Commentary by director Lee Tamahori and producer Michael G. Wilson
o Commentary by Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike
o Theatrical trailer(s), TV spot(s)
o Behind-the-scenes info and Bond trivia with text commentary and featurettes
o "Inside Die Another Day" documentary
o Storyboard-to-final-shot comparisons for key scenes
o Multi-angle explorations of incredible stunts and key action sequences
o An inside look at all the visual elements in the opening credits sequence
o Before-and-after comparisons of digitally altered footage
o Featurettes with original animation and in-depth descriptions of each gadget, including the Aston Martin Vanquish
o Comprehensive photo gallery, including cast portraits and behind-the-scenes photos
o Madonna's "Die Another Day" music video
o Making of Madonna's "Die Another Day" music video
o Making of "007 Nightfire"
o Exclusive DVD-ROM features
o Widescreen anamorphic format



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