Die Another Day (2002), Runtime 132 mins, Cert 12A.

Director - Lee Tamahori.

Writer - Neal Purvis.

Starring - Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, Rick Yune, Judi Dench, John Cleese, Will Yun Kee & Michael Madsen.


Whilst infiltrating a weapons deal in North Korea James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is captured and tortured for 14 months. His freedom comes at the price of a North Korean prisoner exchange and his 00 status. Bond however feels he was set up and takes it upon himself to track down the culprit. The trail leads him to diamond entrepreneur, Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens). Just how does Graves figure into the North Korean weapons exchange?

Die Another Day is the 20th Bond film in a series that has now been going for 40 years. How does this franchise keep going after all these years? Simple, by adapting and staying as fresh as it was the day Sean Connery lit a cigarette in a casino and uttered the line, ‘Bond, James Bond’. This time around Bond has to take on more than world power seeking megalomaniacs. He has to take on an increasingly apathetic audience who seek more than dodgy blue screen action, pithy one liners and bedding a series of beautiful women.

So, does Die Another Day raise the bar? Indeed, and then some. Sure, you still get the pithy one liners, the string of gorgeous women, although the shoddy blue screen action has now been replaced by some pretty shoddy CGI action. This is Bond for the 21st century though and director Lee (Once Were Warriors) Tamahori has obviously taken a long hard look at the Austin Powers films. So, he has dragged the franchise kicking and screaming into the new Millennium.

For a start Tamahori has upped the action quota, this film is pretty much non-stop action for the whole 132 minute running time. The action has been given a twist as modern editing techniques have been employed to give the action a bit more juice. Things like wire work, slow motion and bullet time are things that we pretty much take for granted in your standard action film, but are new territory for a Bond film. These techniques combined with your standard over the top Bond style action serve to freshen up the film no end and make it a genuinely fun movie watching experience.

Another step in the direction progress is the character Jinx, played by Oscar winner Halle Berry (another first for a Bond film, an Oscar winning Bond Girl. Kim Bassigner doesn’t count). Jinx isn’t your typical Bond girl; she starts where Michelle Yeoh left off. An NSA agent, Jinx is more than capable of taking care of herself and at times even gets Bond out of trouble. Die Another Day is actually more like a buddy film because Jinx is portrayed in such a strong manner. You can see why there was talk of having a spin off film starring Jinx as she is basically a female Bond, even down to the casual sex! Halle Berry is obviously a fine actress and she never treats the material like it’s below her. Rather she seems to be having a blast with it all.

Halle Berry joins quite an impressive cast for this latest Bond offering. Obviously you have the usual crew. There’s Pierce Brosnan as Bond, who seems to inhabit the role more and more with each outing. We also get to see Bond get quite a beating during his Korean captivity, a nice change to see the darker side of espionage. There’s Judi Dench as M, she is as tough as ever, John Cleese as Q, taking over full time from the late Desmond Llewellen and Samantha Bond as Monnypenny. The latter doesn’t really have much to do, but has a wonderful scene in the final few minutes that more than makes up for her absence.

One thing that Die Another Day has gotten right that recent Bond films have floundered over is with the villains. You have quite a rogue’s gallery of evil on offer in this film. Rick Yune plays Zao, the man that Bond is chasing around the world. Thanks to an earlier encounter with Bond, Zao’s face is encrusted with diamonds. He makes for an imposing figure thanks to his bald head and, as jinx calls it ‘expensive acne’. He is also handy with the martial arts so he makes for a tough adversary for Bond.

The main bad guy though is Gustav Graves played by Toby Stephens. Graves is an upper class British snob, complete with the foppish look that you would expect from such a character. If he sounds a little boring then you will be surprised, as this character has more to him than meets the eye.

Filling out the standard Bond girl role is Rosamund Pike as Miranda Frost, an MI6 agent that is deep undercover in Graves operation. She is a hot tamale and it was always a pleasure when she was on screen. Like Graves, Frost has something secret up her sleeve, although it doesn’t take a nuclear scientist to figure out her motivations. Madonna pops up as Frost’s fencing instructor. The less said about her ‘acting’ the better, I didn’t mind her theme song though.

Die Another Day is an excellent Bond film that keeps the traditional elements that we all know and love about the franchise, but adds just enough new elements to keep the Austin Powers fans baying at the door. For what it’s worth Die Another Day is my favourite Brosnan Bond film and slipped nicely into my top 5 favourite all time Bond films. The top 5 looks like this -

1. You Only Live Twice (Connery)

2. Goldfinger (Connery)

3. License to Kill (Dalton)

4. Die Another Day (Brosnan)

5. For Your Eye’s Only (Moore)


If you’re a fan of the franchise you won’t be disappointed. If you’re not a fan, give it a shot, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.



See Die Another Day if you enjoyed - Licence to Kill, xXx.

Poster Quote - Bond will never die.