Die another day at 20: Is the reviled Bond movie worth watching? | die another day

By | November 22, 2022

Jhere is a scene from the twentieth Bond movie, Die One other Day, when Pierce Brosnan’s 007 strolls by means of the black marble foyer of a chic Hong Kong lodge, having – in 27 quick minutes – already surfed in Korea Nord, hijacked arms vendor’s helicopter, blasted by means of DMZ on hovercraft, captured and tortured for 14 months, returned to MI6 in prisoner swap, confronted disaster coronary heart assault and jumped from a ship within the South China Sea.

The often groomed undercover agent is raveled, with lengthy hair and a beard, his luxuriously furry chest uncovered by the open shirt of his soaking blue pajamas. He asks for his normal suite and a bottle of ’61 Bollinger. The membership supervisor asks if he has been busy. “Survive”, replies Bond, “simply survive”.

This arching juxtaposition of rags and riches exemplifies the broader tonal inconsistency of a movie that, for all of Bond’s speak of survival, almost killed the franchise. Typically derided as one of many collection’ worst, leading to a Daniel Craig revamp with 2006’s On line casino Royale, Die One other Day has loads to reply for: the invisible automotive, gliding like clear jelly by means of a misty ice palace ; Madonna’s horribly jerky theme music; Madonna, once more, as a corseted fencing teacher; a race-changing villain; one other whose face is speckled with diamonds; round $70m (£59m) spent on product placement; John Cleese.

And but, because the much-maligned first Bond movie of this century turns 20, its deranged atonality deserves a re-assessment. It was not badly obtained upon launch, grossing $430m (£365m) worldwide, making it the highest-grossing Bond movie on the time. Opinions had been lukewarm, though Michael Gove approvingly known as Rosamund Pike a “tangy citrus sorbet”. Die One other Day was launched simply over a yr after 9/11 and sits uncomfortably between two eras of motion films: the suave glamor and sensible heroism of earlier Bonds and the gritty seriousness and complicated geopolitics of the subsequent era. He is essentially the most anxious of all of the Bonds, and for that, I am keen on him.

On September 11, 2001, the Die One other Day artistic workforce was in a script assembly at 138 Piccadilly once they heard in regards to the terrorist assaults on the Twin Towers, director Lee Tamahori remembers. The movie’s New York finale was rapidly canceled and the explosive ending was moved to Korea’s DMZ. The movie’s solely veiled reference to 9/11 is M’s charged remark to Bond after his 14-month absence: “Whilst you had been away, the world modified.”

Die One other Day is each new world and outdated. In post-9/11 motion films, the heroes had been cynical and fallible. They bore emotional and bodily scars, typically explored in origin tales (Batman Begins and, in fact, On line casino Royale). Authorities companies weren’t at all times the nice guys (the Bourne films). There are components of this ambivalence in Die One other Day – within the movie’s surprisingly darkish opening, the villain, Colonel Moon, drawls that he “specialised in Western hypocrisy” to Oxford and Harvard. Bond is an “murderer”, whereas a North Korean common is portrayed as a loving, wronged father with a powerful ethical compass. Bond is betrayed, imprisoned and tortured – scenes horribly marrying the writhing ladies of fireplace and ice from the opening credit – earlier than a darkish, Dostoevskian second when a sorry Bond thinks he’ll be executed. His American savior scoffs, “You’d suppose he was some sort of hero.”

To this point, so intricate, however then the movie goes backwards – across the time Bond walks into this lodge. Minutes later, after disarming the masseuse, Peaceable Fountains of Need, discovering his Brioni and Bollinger shirts, Bond leaves for Cuba, the place he meets Jinx in a Halle Berry bikini, who emerges in a tribute to Ursula Andress from Dr. No du sea, squirming with pleasure in sluggish movement. It is considered one of many self-referential nods, starting from cheeky throwbacks, like Rosa Klebb’s shoe in Q’s lab, to a metatextual commentary on the growing obsolescence of the Bond universe with a villain who fashions the sneering pomposity of his white alter ego on 007 himself.

The twentieth Bond film jokes about being irrelevant, nevertheless it’s additionally very, very nervous about being irrelevant. Die One other Day doubles down on the Bond formulation — lasers, diamonds, an improbably located last bonk — whereas lassoing within the incongruous traits of the movie’s perceived competitors. In an effort to cope with the twin risk of The Matrix and video video games, Tamahori insisted, in an early Bond movie, on the usage of CGI – leading to a really dismal kitesurfing sequence broadly criticized by The critics. Weirder is the movie’s humor – like Jinx’s embarrassing “Your momma” crack (written by Berry herself) – whose awkwardness is extra Austin Powers than James Bond, maybe resulting from fears that the parody of Bond would not steal Bond’s viewers.

Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike.
Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike in a nonetheless picture. Pictures: Keith Hamshere/Mgm/Eon/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

After which there’s extra intriguing local weather nervousness. It is a gag: “International warming is a horrible factor,” sneers Colonel Moon (Toby Stephens), as he blasts Iceland’s frozen panorama with an area laser, inflicting the collapse of an ice cap into the ocean. The laser is called Icarus, a sly reference to the tragic penalties of man’s try to overcome nature. In Die One other Day – and in earlier Bond movies – elemental destruction is collateral injury in man’s bigger scheme for cash and energy.

The factor about Bond is that occasions change, however Bond, by design, ought to keep the identical. So, on his twentieth birthday, in such anxious occasions, spare a thought for this hopeless case of a Bond movie: within the face of cultural, social and geopolitical modifications, 007 has gotten a bit misplaced. Unable to decide to recreating Roger Moorean’s excessive camp of movies of yore or paving the way in which for the salty darkness of the long run, Die One other Day tried a model of each, its insecurities all too obvious – regardless of the automotive invisible.