Review: Die Another Day (2002)

Director: Lee Tamahori

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Rosamund Pike, Halle Berry

Release Date: November 20th 2002 (UK)

Ok, before we start I have a challenge for you: do you think you can find a massive Bond fan who can actually render an impartial verdict regarding this film? Let me save you time and answer that: no. No you can’t. Nothing against the skills of anyone reading this but most fans do not regard this mess very highly. Trouble is that as a reviewer, I am obligated to be as impartial as possible. I’m not sure I will be, but I will try as hard as I can.

Pierce here is still giving us one of the best performances in his tank as James Bond. What is unfortunate however is that its apparent from this that he is in the role more for the pay than at any point before. He seems bored with the role to a great extent just as Sean was in You Only Live Twice thirty five years prior. But with a script that fairly much turns it from a movie into a video game with less than a thimble full worth of character expansion, he can’t be entirely blamed for this. Scriptwriters Purvis and Wade were a welcome addition to the fray, bringing much more character back to 007 but in this, being that it came out on the 40th Anniversary celebrations of Bond, they were demanded to just shoe horn in as many references to the nineteen previous films as possible, regardless of what it cost the script.

The director Lee Tamahori also deserves A LOT of the blame for this film resulting in such a bad waste of celluloid. He just forced scenes in such as Bond windsurfing away from a breaking glacier with seemingly no thought for how to make it believable. I also want his arrest for the fact he cares nothing for the character and yet for this anniversary film, he was given near Executive Authority. For this I cite his original plan to have Brosnan’s Bond trained by a returning Sean Connery.

Yes, Sean Connery was planned by Tamahori to return to the series he helped found. I think there was major intervention to stop this, probably Brosnan or maybe even Connery because of how stupid this idea was. You see, Lee Tamahori has said in an interview he sees Bond as 5 different characters to account for at the time the fact he had five different faces. A bit like Doctor Who. This is known as the ‘James Bond is a codename theory’ and I’ll refer you to the YouTube video by fellow mega fan Calvin Dyson on why this is nothing but grade A rubbish (to be very polite). Suffice it to say, Tamahori has never been invited back to reprise his directing role, and has probably been black listed from ever contributing to anything other than Jonny Multiplex style brainless movies.

A final thing against Die Another Day is that like The Living Daylights (1987) before, this is a movie cleaved neatly in two, where the content in the first half is better than the content of the second half and you might just want to re watch that part instead of the whole thing. Trouble is, the first half is not significantly better. It is just that the second is so awful that it artificially makes one prefer the first of them.

Die Another Day is a bloated mess which attempts to shoe horn in as many not subtle references to the past of Bond as it can. It was helmed by a man with little or no idea what he was doing or if he did, no idea what the consequences of those would be. Pierce Brosnan sadly gives a by the numbers performance and the result was at best, an incoherent mess. Brosnan does not get the swansong he frankly deserved for his part as one of what I would call the major James Bonds (Connery, Moore, Brosnan and Craig) and it only adds to how badly this film comes across.

This perhaps did contribute to Bond taking 4 years away from our screens and thankfully when he did return, it was not just with a new actor in the lead role, but with a huge tonal shift that arguably would beggar belief that this film is the direct predecessor to it.


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