I just saw Die Another Day. What can I say about this movie? This is peak silly for the James Bond series. The sheer amount of over the top action, setpieces, dialogue and plot points combined makes this probably the most childish, overdone and bombastic movie in all of the series.
And I freaking love it.
This was my favourite Bond movie when it came out, and still holds up to that title. Seriously, there is not a single moment in the film I'm not having fun, either by the sheer over the top of everyone or by its many legitimately good elements in this. But first, let us start with the beginning. Bond movies have two opposite extremes, the camp and the serious, the ying and the yang. They need each other to be a Bond movie, but directors always have to combine them to make the films. And yet, I am of the opinion that Bond movies are much stronger when they side to camp more than serious. And if the fact that the movie starts with Bond surfing in North Korea while wearing a spy suit doesn't immediately tell you what this movie is going for, you really should consider the series you're watching. And not only that, but we then have a hovercraft chase scene in North Korea (which were there to go over the landmines, when that's not how landmines work) and get a fake death that was so obviously a fakeout the first time I watched it I thought it was going to be a "this was planned all along" moment, but apparently not. Then we have a torture scene mixed with a techno music video, because it sounded modern at the time. Then Bond is traded after more than a year of torture, and put into lockdown until propper supervision because they suspect treason. Of course he immediately escapes, and swims to Hong Kong. Yep, for some reason they decided to keep Bond in a boat near Hong Kong instead of immediately moving him anywhere else. And he just goes to an hotel to ask for a room. A luxury hotel, all while Bond looks like an escaped patient at a hospital. And people don't seem to react! Well, that's not true, we hear someone say "no tie? Such poor standards". How can't you laugh at this? We later see Bond getting help from a chinese agent to go to Cuba, where he follows the clues to the one north korean agent he was traded for, and find a secret DNA replacement clinic. Yes, you read that right, a DNA replacement clinic. A child must have written this. You'd think this crime against science would actually be the bigger concern. Yeah, someone somewhere has developed a technology to replace the DNA of someone for anyone else in the world, this could be the ultimate spy tool, this could cause chaos if it fell in the wrong hands, this could change medical science and biology in general as we know it... But nah, let's just ignore all of this, we have more important shit to do. In Cuba we also meet Halle Berry's character, which also infiltrates the clinic. Bond then finds Zao there, but he escapes, and the clinic is destroyed in the process because chase scene. Bond then finds some diamonds that point out to the villain of the movie, Gustav Graves. Bond goes to confront him in a brittish castle, where he's practising fencing, and the two of them end up having a fight. And, no joke, this fight is the best action duel in the series, period. No special effect, no contrived situations, no fancy weaponry, it's just two men swordfighting. And it gets very brutal, Graves becomes unhinged and just lashes out against Bond. They keep hurting each other, they break their swords, they go for other swords, they jump and dodge each others, they brawl... The choreography is excellent, the buildup to the fight is superb, and the fact they are surrounded by a lot of people who have absolutely no idea what is happening while this two men are wrecking the place adds to their reactions to the mix. Sometimes the simplest things are the most effective, and this fight is proof of that. After that bit of awesome, Graves invites Bond to his ice palace, because of course he has an ice palace. It is from this point on that thre big things happen: first, Bond reconciles with M and begins working for the NI6 again, we realise that Graves' secretary is actually an undercover NI6 agent (and, by default the traitor, since we already know the Bond girl of the week is Hale Berry) and we finally get the invisible car! They pulled no punches when it comes to silly sci-fi spy tech, and the invisible car is probably the most overpowered tool Bond ever gets. It's a shame there were no more Brosnan movies after this, since how do you top this? Oh, I know, Virtual Reality! We have a completely pointless action scene revolving around a VR pair of glasses, and it never goes anywhere! This is a completely pointless tech show that's there only for an action scene, and it's a sad bump in the otherwise excellent pacing this movie has. Anyways, we get to the ice palace, and everything suddenly looks like it's made of plastic, glorious. And even then, there are candles, people are smoking, dozens of people are there in regular suits... Anyway, we find Berry's character again, and after a painful innuendo exchange, we are presented to the main mcguffin of the film: Icarus. Someone must've taken notes from Diamonds Are Forever, since this is practically the exact same thing: A laser satellite powered up by diamonds used to destroy enemy assets from orbit. Only this one is more akin to a weapon of mass destruction. It kinda sounds less impressive than the DNA reconstruction clinic, but regardless. Later we see Bond and Jinx infiltrating the lair of the villain, which is a full-on terrarium, and then they have to fight a henchmen using lasers (the amount of nods to previous Bond movies is great). After that, we have the necessary scene next day, the MI6 agent betrays Bond, Gustave reveals himself as... the villain! *gasp*, but then he escapes. The chase scene that follows is excellent, and goes over the top in all the right ways. Bond steals Gustave's super fast vehicle, he then uses Icarus to unleash a fuckhuge laser against Bond, which he manages to just in time avoid it by throwing himself from an iceberg. The iceberg then breaks and Bond needs to SURF FOR HIS LIFE! Yeah, that's the power of foreshadowing, baby! The magic of cinema does it again! Also, that horrible greenscreen. Bond then goes back to the ice palace to rescue Jinx, but he's discovered and ANOTHER CHASE STARTS, NOT EVEN FIVE MINUTES AFTER THE LAST ONE! And not just that, but a car vs car fight, because Zao's car is pretty much identical to Bond's for some reason. So we have not only a chase scene racing against time, but we also have a car-o a car-o, with each one countering the other's moves! After Bond manages to beat Zao by tricking him into falling into a water pool from the melting palace (yes, the palace is melting after getting shot by Icarus, instead of getting instantly evaporated) and shooting a candelabra at him, Bond rescues Jynx from almost drowning. I do now realize a bit of a foreshadowing from Goldeneye, when Trevellian complains to him that Bond never can save the women he loves. Considering he loses Paris in Tomorrow Never Dies and has to kill Elektra in The World is Not Enough, it's nice to see a bit of an arc from Bond, becoming more emotional and vulnerable in this particular regard. After she's saved, they link up with HQ, and they are sent to stop Gustave once and for all. Gustave's plan is to destroy the minefield dividing North from South Korea, so he can... wait, what can he do? I mean, he can destroy the border and the US and SK bases, but that's kind of it. They only have one superweapon, but that wouldn't be enough to win the war, or even make threats. And even if noone can shoot down Icarus, wouldn't there be a way to hack it? Or to shoot down the plane where Gustave is and neutralize it? I mean, that's what ends up happening anyway. What was his plan? No wonder his father turns on him, that plan is suicidal. Anyways, Bond and Jynx end up in the plane with Gustave, who is wearing the power glove now, and they eventually start fighting. Meanwhile, Jynx takes control of the plane, but she's discovered by the MI6 traitor and... WAIT A MINUTE!! WHAT ARE YOU WEARING?? You're in a military flight, lady! There is no reason for her to be dress like that, other than fanservice, and thus we get the catfight. It is a pretty good fight scene all things consider, but the dialogue is awful! Seriously, in general the character of Jynx is the worst written Bond girl since the Connery days. You have to laugh just at the sheer stupidity of it (but seriously, a Bond movie should never have a "yo mama" joke). Anyways, Bond and Gustave fight and it looks like Gustave is going to win, but Bond manages to turn the tides of the fight by activating his parachute. Also, probably the worst Bond one liner in the series, what does it have to do with what they are doing? Anyways, Gustave is killed by motor engine (again, a sad lost opportunity, hew should have been killed by Icarus), Bond and Jynx manage to get out of the plane in time, and the movie ends. What a ride.
If I had to point out a complain about this, it would be the very 2000s editing, that much slow-down and speed-up with the footage gets annoying fast. But overall, why even complain? This movie is a masterpiece.
10/10, they just don't make movies like this anymore.