Dead Again

An invisible car. This is the best gadget the new Bond movie can give us. This would probably be a tired gimmick 20 years ago. Just to make sure it’s boring today, though, the car is also equipped with the standby missiles and ejector seat. To say this franchise is in the middle of an identity crisis would be kind. It is pathetically old. This is made especially clear during the title sequence, when the only thing more ridiculous than a geriatric Pierce Brosnan being agonized in a scorpion torture prison is that it’s being done to the pulsating techno-bleats of a Madonna song (she’s old too). What is actually more ridiculous than both is that the only detrimental effect after 14 months of water torture, starvation, daily poisonings, and Madonna’s music is that James Bond has long, ratty hair.

There are so many criticisms to be made about this movie; it’s quite hard to be precise. From the opening moments of the film, for instance, it was obvious I would have to keep a tally of shoddy dialogue if I wanted to remember how much there was. So, I began to count lame lines, but early on when Bond jumped from an out-of-control hovercraft onto a bell just before the vehicle shot off a cliff and he announced he was, “Saved by the bell!” my pencil shattered from the pressure of my clenched fist. What was worse, the wisecrack or the action that preceded it?

The writers, apparently full of energy from the lack of effort put into the film’s dialogue, did actually work a bit of foreshadowing and parallel structure into that “hovercraft scene”. The main villain was on that hovercraft and Bond thinks he is dead (he’s not). Later, Bond flies over a snow cliff and the villain thinks Bond is dead. But Bond, of course, hangs off the ocean-side of the mountain fashioning a parachute and surf board from pieces of a car. When the avalanche hits, he surfs his way out of danger before launching himself off a wave and floating onto safe ground. As far as avalanche-themed stunts go, this makes Vin Diesel’s snowboard race in xXx downright likely.

That bit of foreshadowing, if it was even intended, is the best thing to be said about the storyline. 007’s chief enemies in Die Another Die are the North Koreans. The producers probably thought this would be a prescient move to reflect America’s next political boogeyman. I guess they didn’t count on us crippling a Middle Eastern state with sanctions and bombings to the point of almost complete exposure before invading them on the nightly news. It is hard to believe they didn’t foresee this, as the path to box office success for this movie must have been similarly predicated on a weak, hampered field of films that the majority of the public didn’t really care about. How else could they expect us to sit through a scene of Halle Berry strapped to a table, about to be diced by a laser beam? This was much more suspenseful when Hank Scorpio did it on the fourth season of the Simpsons. This says nothing of when the arch-villain puts on something that looks like a Nintendo Power Glove to transmit lightning bolts through people.

The actors don’t fare any better. Halle Berry seems to be as untalented as many have suspected, delivering her lines with all the flat-footed grace of a syndicated starlet. A graying Brosnan, as mentioned, looks aged and uninterested.

If you see this in the video store, my recommendation is for you to pick it up unprompted and shout “Die another day? I think I’ll watch it some other day! ” and throw it down. The iota of amusement this may arouse within anybody who notices you will surely surpass the cumulative enjoyment of everyone who’s actually seen the movie.

On an inverse scale of the worst movies ever made, where Crocodile 2: Death Swamp rates a 1 (still kind of campy), and Patch Adams rates a 10 (worst ever), Die Another Day actually replaces Josie and the Pussycats, the numerical equivalent of a 9.1.