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Die Another Day (PG-13)
Official Site
Director: Lee Tamahori
Producers: Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson
Written by: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Richard Yune, Judi Dench, John Cleese, Michael Madsen

Rating: out of 5

So Bond is back, yet again, and this time ďheís never been cooler,Ē or at least so goes the tagline.

Well sorry, but thatís nonsense. Bond hasnít really been cool since the heyday of the Cold War, back when a virile young Scotsman chased skirts, dodged bullets, and killed commies with a style and aplomb that really hadnít been seen before. Back then 007 wasnít your conventional white hat; he was different, and he really was cool. Now, his dry sense of humor is standard issue for all action heroes, his womanizing ways have been curbed for our politically correct times (only two women!), and his gadgets and cars have become commercial fodder for cross promotion. Bond is now just another action franchise.

That said, this is actually one of the better recent installments in the series. It starts off in North Korea, where Bond engages in one of his trademark chase sequences, this time on a hoverboat over a mine field, and itís surprisingly good. From there heís taken prisoner and tortured, while at the same time the audience is similarly tortured with a lame Madonna theme song. After a year or so heís traded for a North Korean agent, Zao (Yune), who has been scarred from a previous encounter with Bond and is left with diamonds embedded in his face (ďexpensive acneĒ). Upon returning Bond learns that heís been suspected of cracking under pressure so he is forced to find the real culprit and clear his name. His quest takes him to Cuba and Iceland and of course along the way he runs into a few beautiful women and a wealthy young diamond merchant who isnít what he seems. The first half hour is surprisingly dark, shades of the Dalton era, but after that it turns into the kind of fast-paced comic book style that has characterized the Brosnan Bonds.

Generally, I havenít been a fan of the Brosnan Bonds, partly because I never liked Brosnan. Heís too foppish to be an action hero, too stiff to be a ladiesí man, but at least in this one he seems more comfortable with the role, or maybe Iíve just come to terms with his flaws and no longer dwell on them any more. As the sexy female agent Jinx Johnson, Berry is a real disappointment though. Itís hard to believe she won an Oscar when the decorative demands of Bond girl seem completely beyond her. Her flirtatious bantering with Brosnan falls flat because she canít deliver her lines with the right kind of comic zest. It also seems the writers have gone for more puns and innuendo than theyíve ever done before in the series. Itís almost as if theyíre trying to keep pace with the Austin Powers series.

On the whole itís a decent Bond, thereís some nice stuff with an ice palace and a giant space laser, and Zao makes for a memorable baddie, but thereís really no denying the rust at this point. What the Bond series needs is a new Bond and a new vision, or maybe just a retirement, but so long as itís the only cash cow for the beleaguered MGM/UA, Bond will likely live to see another day.

óEdward Rholes


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

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