Die Another Day (2002)

(In theaters, November 2002) Forty years after Doctor No, James Bond is back with his twentieth movie, and this one is kind of a half-hearted renewal. In the first hour, we actually see something new: James Bond failing and being captured. Shocking! you say as the suave British spy does things never seen before. He is tortured (with a Madonna song, appropriately enough), exchanged for another prisoner and has to fight his way back in the service. Tons of winks to previous Bond adventures are there for the sharp-eyed viewer, including a further nod to “the original James Bond” for those hardcore Bond fans. The only sour notes come from Halle Berry, whose Jinx has to be one of the worst Bond Girl ever: her line delivery is flat and perfunctory, with the added disadvantage of a crass attitude that make Bond look downright humble. Yikes! The second half of the film isn’t as appealing, given that it simply delivers Yet Another Bond Adventure with the usual trappings, boring action sequences and overlong finale. Jinx is scarcely worth rescuing, the villains are flat, the directing/editing gets more and more incoherent as the film goes along and some truly hideous CGI shots (Bond surfing amongst the icebergs) contaminate the otherwise good visuals. I did like parts of the end sequence, but the rest is just dull, dull, dull… Still, it’s hard not to like Rosamund Pike and the sword-fighting sequence. Add those to the good first hour, and we’ve got a better-than average Bond. Which is all you need, really.

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