Published on October 27th, 2015 | by Duke Of Havoc0
Die Another Day: WORST. BOND. EVER
As Owner/Founder/Editor In Chief or whatever other pretentious title I could assign to myself, you have to take a bullet for the team from time to time. Reviewing Die Another Day is a fucking mortar shell and I hope the rest of Need To Consume appreciate this sacrifice.
It all kicks off with James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) along with two minions, surfing down some massive waves to infiltrate the Pukch’ong coast in North Korea. This is so they can incept a guy who is looking to exchange “conflict diamonds” for weapons with Colonel Moon (Will Yun Lee) who is the son of a North Korean General (Kenneth Tsang). Bond et al hijack the helicopter on which the guy with the diamonds was hitching a lift and miraculously, Bond has the EXACT same clothing on underneath his surf gear as his target. That is some amazing intelligence off the bat.
Bond jumps in the chopper to head to General Moon’s base (which happens to be Manston Airport in Thanet, Kent) to complete the deal and reveal the true nature of the Colonel. Sadly for Bond, Colonel Moon has a hard as nails sidekick called Zao (Ruck Yune) who runs some facial recognition software on their arriving customer. The aforementioned weapons which were going to be bought with the “conflict diamonds” are heavily armed hovercrafts with tankbuster guns that frankly looking fucking absurd. They would have looked more at place in Aliens. The internet says these were based on weapons that were really in development but regardless, they look utterly stupid.
With Bond’s true identity revealed, Moon shows what the tankbuster gun can do and destroys his helicopter, along with Bond’s two minions. It all goes to shit and Bond starts blowing things up, embedding a handful of diamonds in Zao’s face via one of the explosions and then gives chase to Moon on the hovercraft across open Jungle. Why the hovercraft? Well, this is the Korean DMZ (Demilitarised Zone) separating North and South. Ironically, this is anything but “demilitarised” and is littered with approximately a million frigging mines. The hovercrafts give the North the edge over the South so they can apparently start their invasion and eventual world domination plans.
Bond chases down Moon, offing the odd henchman on the way and it ends with Moon going over a waterfall to his watery grave whilst 007 hangs from a bell, ringing it for all to hear. Luckily, it is loud enough to save anyone bar the viewer from hearing Bond’s awful pun. Don’t worry, I will spare you. The bell ringing draws the General’s attention who is rather pissed that a Civil Servant from Blighty has offed his son and decided to submit Bond to fourteen months of torture (more of that in the next section).
A beardy, long-haired Bond is freed in exchange for Zao. Remember him? Well it turns out in the fourteen months since Bond’s antics gave him a more shiny appearance, he has been causing a bit of ruckus around the world. The NSA and in particular, Damian Falco (Michael Masden) aren’t exactly impressed with Bond who is rushed off to Hong Kong for tests. Apparently there are complete body scanners now which render things in CGI to show what is up with our bodies. Perhaps our NHS just isn’t up to scratch with what our spies receive as private healthcare. This just looks incredibly dated with them trying very hard to imagine what futuristic medical tech would look like.
M (Dame Judy Dench) pops up to tell Bond he has had the old “double oh” status revoked for betraying his country. Bond goes on about being set up by someone (this surely won’t come back to be part of the plot later, will it?). She leaves him to think on what happened and we then get a true WTF moment. Bond wants to break out of his glass cell and decides to think back to his torture. The camera cuts to his heart rate monitor and…wait, is…is he lowering his fucking heartbeat?! He is! He bloody is you know! Bond is actually slowing his heart down so it sets off the cardiac-arrest alarms. Staff come rushing in to save him, complete with defibrillator paddles (“CLEAR!”) and being the nice chap that James is, he turns the paddles on them so he can escape. I hope whomever wrote that scene ended up in movie jail for a very long time.
Being Bond, he buggers off to some fancy hotel still wearing his hospital PJs and gets given his usual room, the presidential suite, courtesy of the hotel manager, Mr Chang (played by Ho Yi). We cut to Bond now in a room with all the hallmarks of privilege that we have come to expect of a character like Bond who is a hangover of the British Empire. There are tailored suits, shirts and ridiculously expensive bottles of champagne strewn across the room as we now see Bond looking more like himself sans beard and long straggly hair. A knock at his hotel room door reveals Peaceful Fountains of Desire who is a masseuse. Read that name one more time. It isn’t wrong. I checked. Seriously, look it up. That was her fucking name. Maybe I am actually being culturally insensitive to how children are named in Hong Kong or China but that just reeks of the undercurrent of sexual objectification that is a mainstay of most James Bond films.
PFoD comes in and naturally Bond goes all predator. To be fair to him, this is mainly to get his hand on the gun she is hiding on the inside of her thigh, with which he then shoots the bloody great mirror in his room. This reveals the hotel manager who just happens to be Chinese Intelligence, something that 007 has always known. Bond and Mr Chang decide to unite to find a common enemy: Zao. It was actually quite nice to see the British and Chinese working together on a mission. I highly doubt that would happen in the current climate! Chang gives Bond a tip that Zao was last spotted in Cuba.
James in Havana finds the British sleeper agent via “Universal Exports” (a fake company that has been used down the years in Bond films). They have a chit-chat about where Bond could find Zao and it is at this point that things get a bit meta. 007 picks up a book. A very famous book for those who are die-hard fans. The book is called Birds Of The West Indies by….yes, James Bond. This was the very book that Fleming used to name his world famous secret agent and in Die Another Die art imitates life with James Bond, secret agent becoming James Bond, ornithologist.
Bond buggers off the beach with binoculars in hand and we are introduced to Jinx (Halle Berry) who’s bikini is a nice reference to Dr. No. We get the usual conversational foreplay before we are treated (read as: forced to endure) a rather tedious sex scene between the pair. Turns out that Jinx is NSA and they are both there to find Zao who happens to be in a secret gene clinic. Bond finds him, a fight breaks out and Zao gets away but not before Jinx escapes from the hospital guards by diving off the top of the cliff, complete with god awful CGI. Stupidly, Zao let Bond snatch something from around his neck which happens to contact diamonds belonging to Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), a billionaire playboy living in London.
Back in the UK, Bond calls in at Blades, a fencing club where Graves is practising for the 2008 Olympics. He is under the guidance of his Personal Assistant and former Olympic gold medalist Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike). At this point, everyone ever who has seen this film is looking at the screen asking “is that fucking Madonna in a black dominatrix type outfit?”. Yes. Not content with fucking up the theme tune, Madge insisted on a cameo and plays Verity. It would appear that everyone at the club wearing white, but oh-no, not Madge. She has to be EDGY! She has to be different! She has to fucking stand out. As if her wooden acting isn’t enough to make her stand out and remove the last premise of any engagement we had in the film. She eventually leaves with a cock pun – oh, Madge, you really are so progressive.
Bond being Bond manages to get under Graves skin and gets him to agree to a fencing duel. They fight with Graves winning which seems to be a ruse by Bond to up the stakes. He taunts Graves with one of his own diamonds and Graves agrees. Things take a turn for the ludicrous at this point as the fight turns into a full on murder attempt with samurai and broadswords used which ends in Graves defeat. Being the classy gent that he is, he pays in full and offers Bond a chance to visit him in Iceland at his new hotel.
M meets up with Bond in a secret underground station and suddenly he is back in her good books and is back to being 007. We next see Bond in his office when there is suddenly a terrorist attack, accept it isn’t. Nope. Its actual-reality. Bond is using a pair of sunglasses which apparently can recreate a fully tangible world in front of you in which you can do literally anything. Christ, if you thought Back To Future II got it wrong about what technology would be like, you ain’t seen anything yet. Failing the mission, Bond takes the glasses off to reveal Q (John Cleese). What happens next is something very special.
Bond goes through Q’s office and we are treated to a host of props from previous Bond films. There is a link in the gadgets section below which will take you threw all of them. We also get to see Bond’s new car. I can’t begin to describe how much I wanted to throw my remote through the TV at this scene. When Roger Moore is saying this was a ludicrous idea and he went to fucking space, you know it is a bad idea. Anyway, I talk about that in more depth later so lets just get through the rest of this shall we?
We find out that Frost is actually an undercover agent working for MI6 and she, along with Bond head to the ice hotel in Iceland to see the unveiling of Icarus. Jinx just happens to be there too, which Bond just seems to accept and not worry too much about. The demonstration of Icarus reveals it to be a bloody great big mirror in the sky which can direct sunlight to anywhere on Earth, purely for good reasons though right? That’s what Graves tells everyone at least. Nothing could go wrong. Jinx decides to go snooping and ends up being caught by Zao who obviously has seen Goldfinger and tries to offer her with the slowest moving laser ever. Bond saves her after she helps him execute a henchman with a laser through the back of the head and they go off together, with Bond now knowing she is NSA. Somehow Bond figures out that Graves is in fact Colonel Moon. The man he thought saw plummet to death in the pre-credit sequence. It baffles me how the hell he came to this conclusion. Just because Zao is there and has undergone some gene therapy to turn himself white, doesn’t mean one could conclude that Graves is Moon. Writers, you got fucking lazy at this point. Lazier than me trying to rush though this because I realise I have been bleating on and this is my longest every article for a film I fucking detest. Shall we just skip to the real key points? If you have stuck with the article thus far, I commend you.
Bond and Zao end up in a car chase across the ice with Aston Martin/Inviso-Car facing off against a Jaguar. All rather boring but it ends in Zao’s death.
In a twist that everyone saw coming, it turns out Icarus is a weapon, Frost is a traitor, and we get to see Jinx fight Frost and Bond kill Graves, all on a plane. But not before Graves kills his own father and turn the case which was carrying the controls for Icarus into some low-level Iron Man suit. If anything dates this film, it is that suit. The day is saved and Bond & Jinx manage to tumble out of the back of the crashing plane in a helicopter which he somehow manages to start as it is falling towards earth and they go off to shack up somewhere.
Title Sequence And Bond Theme
In a change of pace from the other Bond opening sequences, we get to see James’ long and horrid torture and the hand of his captors. We see scorpions, fire, water and ice. Naturally these are all brought to life with the addition of women who even seem to be part of the actual scenes, sort of spectres (see what I did there?) who help get Bond back on his feet. I can’t help but think that the change of formula for the opening sequence, which in itself is a massive part of Bond lore, was due to the frankly terrible theme song.
Just awful isn’t it? You didn’t watch it? Nope. Go back. Listen to it. As I said above, the actual sequence isn’t bad and is a refreshing change from the previous nineteen films. Madonna’s song is awful. Not awful for a Bond theme, just horrid. Judging it solely as a Bond theme it lacks everything that a good Bond (traditional or not) has. I think the less said about it, the better.
The Villain And Their Plan
So a first for Bond films is having two actors play the same person. Colonel Moon/Gustav Graves is a very paint by the numbers villain who wants to help a non-western country take control or seize power. There is little to judge of him when he is played by Will Yun Lee but as Graves, he is an utter shit. He is the ultimate Tory poster boy. Smug, confident, rich and everything else that makes you want to reach into the TV and punch that shit-eating smirk off his face. Toby Stephens was the youngest actor to play a Bond villain and I think it shows. He never feels like a real threat to Bond but maybe that is because we are too busy trying to figure out why the fuck a Korean guy thinks he should really be a posh, English twat. He was apparently modelled on Sir Richard Branson which I think personally is a bit of a disservice to him. I guess they like to do over the top PR stunts but other than that, there is little to link them.
So what is his plan? Amassing a huge fortune with conflict diamonds and under the false premise of offering to bring sunlight to anywhere on Earth, he comes out with Icarus. This huge satellite can reflect the sun as a concentrated beam and scorch the Earth. It can be directly by a control panel and the overall aim of Moon/Graves is torch the DMZ between North and South Korea, set off all the mines and then led North Korea into South before moving onto Japan and beyond. Very simple. Very boring. Very passé.
We do a fair bit of jet-setting in Die Another Day. We start in North Korea; head off to Hong Kong for a wee bit; then onto Cuba; London to visit Q; Iceland for…well, some ice and then back to the DMZ between North and South Korea.
The film is littered with references to previous gadgets from the previous nineteen Bond films That has been covered to death on the net so you can read about that and the other Bond references here. The main gadgets used in Die Another Day include: a watch that double as a remote control for a detonator; stupidly advanced medical equipment that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Star Wars; Jinx’s remote control phone detonator; Bond’s ring which can shatter glass and….sigh…..the Vanish. The Aston Martin Vanquish aka INVSIO-CAR. Below is my genuine reaction on Facebook when talking about reviewing this film with Dapper, host of the 3 Bods 1 Pod show.
The 3D sunglasses which create “actual-reality” are bloody horrendous and feel very much like a nineties hangover of the obsession with cyber-tech and where we would be going with video-games and the internet. Thirteen years on and we are no where near that level yet. Ooculus Rift might be good, but it ain’t that bloody good.
The switchblades that Jinx and Bond use to get into North Korea at the end are pretty cool. They are usually unmanned drones but they decide to piggy bag on them to avoid detection which is something that Falco claims is impossible.
Most Inappropriate/Politically Incorrect Moment
Bond, standing on a Havana beach, pretending to be a bit of bird watcher scans the horizon and then locks eyes on an emerging Jinx, complete with tiny bikini and knife. The camera lingers on her for way too long and frankly, it is creepy as hell to think a guy would happily sit on a beach and spy on women from a distance.
Has to be Madonna’s cameo. I don’t think there has ever been anything like it in Bond. If you were one of the few actually enjoying the film at this point, her cameo completely takes you out of it. As mentioned above, it doesn’t help that a) you are still getting over the awful theme b) she just has to stand out and not wear white and c) she never could and never will be able to deliver a line of dialogue convincing.
Best One Liner
After Bond sees Zao again, complete with his diamond encrusted face, he can’t help but get a dig in, which for once doesn’t go Bond’s way.
Bond: You know, I’ve missed your sparkling personality.
[Zao punches him in the stomach. Bond winded, drops to his knees]
Zao: How’s that for a punchline?
How Good Is It Really?
It is absolutely fucking awful. I can’t believe Casino Royale was only 4 years after this. It felt like a life time. I am NEVER watching this film ever again.