Die Another Day

James Bond must be feeling old – it’s now been 40 years since the first movie, Dr. No, came out. And thankfully, all of the characterizations of Bond as a womanizing cad who escapes great peril through use of his wits and a Walther PPK gun (not to mention a few nifty cars), are intact.

Sure, Bond’s a fossil. Do you think that a Bond franchise would fly if it were begun today? Probably not. Activists would picket the theaters, claiming Bond is demeaning to women, animals, and children. But he’s been here for four decades, and we’re all used to him. Kind of like an old sweater that has a few holes in it but still fits okay.

Speaking of holes, a James Bond plot is never something that should be examined too closely. One might then discover unfathomable peculiarities; it’s best to sit back and enjoy the ride, as they say in my favorite theme parks.

Die Another Day begins very well – Bond is captured during an operation in Korea. He’s been set up, you see. Okay, so that kind of thing happens a lot to these superspies, but this time he’s set up and captured and… and tortured! Yes, Bond! No, you don’t get loving, lingering looks at Bond being tortured, so it’s a quick 14 months in captivity.

It’s not giving away much at all to let you know that he does escape. This is Bond, after all. It’s not likely he’d be kept for the duration of a film.

Bond’s stripped of his 007 title, and he sets off to avenge his wrong. His travels take him to Iceland, where he runs into a sinister mastermind who’s doing something nefarious that will likely bother the heck out of a lot of people. Bond manages to pick up enough of the baddie’s plans to thwart them.

But all of that is just an excuse to see the other two big draws in Bond movies: the girls and the gadgets. Halle Berry appears as Jinx/Miss Swift, who may or may not be on Bond’s side. Seems she shows up at the same places he does. Oh, and it’s lust at first sight. Bond also much somehow seduce the public-relations director for the bad guy. Do you think he’s up to the challenge? She’s a bit of an ice queen, too – her name is Miss Frost.

There’s a lot of snarkiness and sly putdowns, and sometimes these get a little tired. Sometimes we get beat over the head with crappy puns. But if you put that aside and instead concentrate on being entertained, you’ll be fine. Pierce Brosnan’s growing into the role rather well – after all, while he’s not Connery, he’s also not Dalton. And he’s better than Roger Moore and that other guy, the one who played Bond one time only. I’m speaking of George Lazenby, who starred in perhaps the worst Bond film of them all, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Is this a bad movie? Nope. Is it a Bond movie? Yep. Is it a good Bond movie? Sort of. Let’s compare this not with other action movies but with other Bond movies. It’s better than A View to a Kill and Moonraker, but not as good as From Russia with Love or Goldfinger. It’s serviceable Bond, par for the course Brosnan has set for us.

**1/2

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