Why is that every James Bond actor's final film is such a letdown? Call it the Blofeld Curse, but so far, everyone's had a license to stink.
Connery's "Never Say Never Again" saw a paunchy, toupee wearing Bond shuffling through a rote mission.
Moore's "A View To A Kill" felt like an AARP commercial wrapped in silly stunts.
Craig's "No Time To Die" was a half of a great film destroyed by a horrific last hour.
So I guess it's no surprise that 2002's DIE ANOTHER DAY is Pierce Brosnan's worst, and that's saying something.
Wait a minute, Timothy Dalton is the outlier, his second film "Licensed to Kill" has only gotten better with age, it's a very good film. (I'm not mentioning George Lazenby here, as he only made one film, "OHMSS" and it's excellent.
Brosnan's OO7 tenure was an odd period in the Bond legacy for me. I really enjoyed most of the films when they came out. Hyped up on the excitement of a new JB adventure, I would have given them all high marks in some areas. Since then, everything Brosnan did in the tux after "Goldeneye" is pretty much unwatchable for me.
You can't blame Brosnan, he looks the part, he's suave, clever and always seems to have the same ease in the role that Moore did, with occasional flashes of danger.
DIE ANOTHER DAY seems to have existed as the landmark 20th film in the series with one purpose: to load the movie with as many Easter Eggs to past films as possible. They should have spent more time actually writing an interesting movie.
The film opens well after a goofy surfing scene, with Bond sneaking into North Korea to trade diamonds for arms. Rick Yune (Olympus Has Fallen) is the best villain in the movie. He's cool, lethal and has great screen presence. He's underutilized for the rest of the film. Bond doesn't quite manage to escape and ends up being tortured in North Korea for the entire duration of the credits.
Unfortunately, we are tortured too, as Madonna's dated title song blasts repetitively in our ears. Bond's getting bitten by scorpions and waterboarded while we listen to the song. I'm not sure who's got it worse. I'm a Madge fan, but not of her work in this movie. Elton John called her song "the worst Bond theme ever" but I don't think he'd heard that Quantum of Solace mess yet.
Bond is eventually traded and released but almost everything that follows that event is nonsensical. M (Judi Dench) treats him like dirt, which seems very odd when you think back to Bond saving her in the last film "The World Is Not Enough". The only reason she's acting like this is to serve the story.
Bond starts chasing after the rogue general from North Korea and the people in his web, which leads to a spa in Cuba. Halle Berry is a welcome addition to the movie as Jinx Johnson, an American agent (CIA? Rogue?) who's after the same people as Bond.
Berry is excellent in the action scenes but is saddled with a lot of groan-inducing, sexually tinged one-liners. Her acting seems flat and monotone, but honestly, she was probably just embarrassed saying some of this dialogue. It's teenage humor level bad.
We meet another wealthy villain who "never sleeps" and parachutes in to be knighted by the Queen. (YES! That is the same Union Jack parachute we saw Bond use in the pre-title cliff jump in "The Spy Who Loved Me"! Aren't all these Easter Eggs fun? No. For me they just served as constant reminders of better Bond movies.)
He's Gustav Graves, played with cocky enthusiasm by Toby Stephens (13 Hours). Graves is a wacky Elon Musk type, building massive hotels out of ice, rocket cars and powerful satellites that shoot lasers. Hey, didn't the villain shoot lasers out of a satellite in "Diamonds Are Forever"?
Rosamund Pike made her film debut as Graves right hand woman Miranda Frost (oooh Frost how clever!!). She's insufferable, but would go on to be a great actress in films like "Gone Girl" and the exceptional "A Private War" in 2018. Like Jessica Lange and her debut in Dino's "King Kong" I'm betting Miranda prefers you don't remember her role here.
By the time Madonna showed up as a fencing instructor and Bond & Graves have a fencing duel that destroys half a club and several great works of art, I was really losing interest.
When John Cleese (who I love in many films and of course, "Fawlty Towers" but never thought he was a good fit as Q) shows up and gives OO7 an invisible car, I knew this was going to be Brosnan's "Moonraker".
Poor Moneypenny even gets embarrassed making out with a virtual Bond.
Dumb, saddled with some of the worst special effects in the series and going through the motions of much better Bond films, DIE ANOTHER DAY gets a D-.
Brosnan later said this was his least favorite OO7 film that he made. Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli and screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have admitted that they completely misjudged what the fans wanted from the franchise, and accept the blame for the outlandish tone of this movie.
Hindsight is 20/20 and this thing is a turd.