Ranking the Films of the James Bond Series: #25 – Die Another Day

Die Another Day (2002)

Directed by: Lee Tamahori

Written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade

The 20th Bond film in EON Productions official franchise, intended to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the series, Die Another Day drew the short straw in earning the distinction of the worst one of the lot. As cringeworthy as some of the other installments have been, this is the only one with absolutely no redeeming qualities, save for the times in which you watch it, as I had mentioned in a previous post, as something other than a Bond movie but a fever dream in the mind of a dying man.

Die Another Day Cold Open
Die Another Day Cold Open

The Cold Open:

Bond surfs some waves into North Korea where he poses as a diamond smuggler to disrupt a Jr. Dictator’s arms dealing organization.

This was definitely a ‘throw it all at the wall’ opening that laid the groundwork for what would be a tonally insane film. It might have overestimated an audience’s excitement for hovercrafts and Brosnan’s wit.

This wasn’t the worst opening in the series, but it didn’t do much to move the needle either. It was pretty mediocre, and at this point in the franchise, it felt redundant. (Shocking, I know.)

Die Another Day Credit Sequence
Die Another Day Credit Sequence

The Credit Sequence:

The James Bond franchise is famous for a few things, and an elaborate opening credit sequence is one of them. This, unfortunately is the worst one they’ve ever made. The Madonna song is just awful. No debate. No hesitation. This is the worst song ever. While you can give a little credit for doing them doing something different and taking this opportunity to actually show scenes that advance the plot during the title sequence, the song is so bad, anything on the screen while it’s playing is sabotaged.

Die Another Day Going Rogue
Going Rogue

Plot:

Burned in North Korea, and feeling betrayed by MI6, Bond goes rogue to find the person who sold him out. After a bit of globetrotting, and the introduction of our Bond girl, NSA agent Jinx (Halle Berry), Bond is off to investigate the mysterious and flamboyant billionaire, Gustav Graves, who has constructed a reflective sun umbrella in space using diamonds.

The plot isn’t the problem here. Map out most Bond movies and you’ll find them to be totally convoluted head-scratchers designed only as an excuse to stage scenes all over the world, which is fine because it’s the execution that counts. That’s where this one fails. They seriously just miss every beat along the way.

Die Another Day Aston Martin Vanquish
Aston Martin Vanquish

The Gadgets:

I think The Price is Right is the only corner of pop culture that has used a new car to drum up excitement as often as the Bond series. With this one you might want to hold off for prize package number 2.

I don’t like nitpicking the practical issues with Bond gadgets, they are mostly fantasy gizmos, but the invisible BMW just didn’t seem practical for a snow mission where it would leave tracks…not to mention the engine sounds.

Like everything else in this movie, it leaned more towards lame.

Die Another Day Graves
Die Another Day Villain

The Villains:

Graves/Moon is another Bond villain in the mold of the Max Zorin, the psycho-billionaire, world domination oriented madman type. Characters like this can be fun, but they can also go horribly sideways. Here they went sideways at lightspeed with a blood from the torso swordfight.

Die Another Day Henchman
Diamond Face

Diamond Face was a strange henchman. I can appreciate the physically unbeatable tough guy in this series, but why not get the diamonds removed? If he was going to get reconstructive surgery to alter his appearance in Cuba, why would he leave the diamonds in his face? It looks cool, but it just doesn’t make any sense.

Die Another Day Jinx
Jinx

The Bond Girl:

Jinx is hands down the worst Bond girl in the series. She labors over every line and butchers every pun. It’s a real horror show.

They were planning on branching her out into a spinoff series, hence the Michael Madsen casting, but nothing went well with this, so that idea thankfully died.

Overall Score: 1/5

Tune in next month for #24 on the list as we countdown the James Bond films leading up to the release of EON Productions JAMES BOND 25.

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