Die Another Day

The release of Die Another Day commemorates forty years of the James Bond franchise. And from the looks of it, the Bond franchise is showing its age. Die Another Day is pretty similar to every other Bond movie out there, and in a marketplace where Austin Powers mercilessly spoofs the franchise and XXX shows where action movies of this ilk may be headed, consistency, especially when that consistency hasn't been that great in recent years, is not a great thing to strive for. Like most James Bond movies, there is a shell of a plot concerning some grand plan for evil. The plot is usually an excuse to parade around a bevy of beautiful women, impressive gadgets, and phenomenal stunts. It's all here, it's just getting old.

Pierce Brosnan (The Tailor of Panama, The World is Not Enough) is back for his fourth spin as the secret agent, and this time he is working outside MI5. Somebody betrayed him and left him in a Korean prison for over a year. M (Judi Dench, The Shipping News, Iris) and everybody else believes he turned. Bond is after Zao (Rick Yune, The Fast and the Furious, Snow Falling on Cedars), one of the few people that knows the identity of the traitor. Bond was looking into a suspicious bunch of diamonds from Iceland, purportedly discovered by magnate Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens, Possession, Onegin). Bond believes he is laundering the diamonds from Sierra Leone. This is just an excuse to move the action from Korea to Cuba and Iceland.

The biggest difference in Neal Purvis and Robert Wade's (The World is Not Enough, Plunkett & Macleane) script is the addition of Halle Berry (Monster's Ball, Swordfish). Berry is Jinx, a spy working for the NSA. Unlike most other Bond girls, she is Bond's counterpart in every way, enough so that she is getting her own spin-off movie. And like Bond, she doesn't have much of a personality. The dullest person is Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike, A Rather English Marriage), who doesn't really do much of anything. The double entendres now flow both ways, and most of them fall flat. They are just too stale.

The action sequences are thrilling, but a movie needs more than a bunch of explosions to keep it interesting. A car chase on ice, dueling hovercrafts, and the opening surfing sequence are decent, and interrupted by plot. With so many things contributing to near sensory overload, director Lee Tamahori (Along Came a Spider, The Edge) still manages to create a surprisingly dull movie. Since this is an anniversary of sorts, there are many veiled references to prior movies, particularly in the way that Berry emerges from the water. This does bring back memories, but also shows that if anything, the franchise is worse off then it was so long ago. Perhaps they should spend more time crafting a story instead of remembering older ones.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
2 hours, 10 minutes, Rated PG-13 for action violence and sexuality.

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