Friday 14 October 2011

Die Another Day

Pierce Brosnan always wanted us to believe that he was the heir to Sean Connery’s Bond. But after Die Another Day we discovered he was a lot closer to Roger Moore than he may ever have cared to admit. 

Like one of Roge’s latter appearances in the role, the film is full of implausible gadgets and a relentless stream of sexual innuendo, that made the ageing Brosnan resemble an inappropriately flirtatious uncle at a wedding. 

The other major problem with Die Another Day is the action set pieces. They’re as grand we’ve come to expect from the series, however, there’s never a sense of jeopardy. Whenever Brosnan’s in trouble there always a clever gadget to hand (invisible car? Puh lease!) and he can sail suavely on his way. It all feels a little too easy.  

This issue was brought into sharper focus by the release of another espionage-flavoured action film a few months earlier. The Bourne Identity offered a darker, more serious hero, who was reliant only on himself.  

Brosnan and the Bond producers had discussed doing a further film after Die Another Day. But the disappointing box office and critical reception nixed that, and the franchise went into mothballs. Bond, it seemed, had lost his licence to thrill. 

Exploding helicopter action

Still, the film isn’t without any merit, especially if you’re into exploding helicopters. Bond impersonates a arms dealer in order to assassinate a North Korean Colonel. However, after 007’s true identity is discovered, the Colonel decides to reveal his hand in flamboyant fashion.  

Taking a tank buster gun, supposedly to demonstrate it to Bond’s, he fires a depleted uranium shell at Bond’s helicopter blowing it to smithereens. Bond it seems, will need to walk home. 

Artistic merit 

Director Lee Tamahori earns points for showing the helicopter explode from a number of different angles. However, irritatingly the viewer is deprived of the full exploding helicopter experience by cutting to reaction shots from Bond and the Colonel's staff. 

Exploding helicopter innovation 

Whilst we’ve seen helicopters taken out by grenade launchers before, but this is the first known destruction of a helicopter with a depleted uranium shell. 


There is other pleasing helicopter sequences in the film. During the film’s finale Bond and Jinx (Halle Berry) escape the fatally damaged transport plane they’re aboard. 

They fall out the back of the airplane in a helicopter which Bond desperately tries to start whilst plummeting to the ground. In classic nick-of-time style, Bond is able to start the rotor blades and prevent the chopper becoming a helicopter pancake. 


Little demonstrates better that the fact the Bond franchise had lost its way than the scene where Bond’s return to the UK is soundtracked by London Calling by The Clash. 

This clunking lack of imagination is evident throughout the film. Did any thought go into naming one of the henchmen “Mr Kill”? 

Interesting fact 

Even Roger Moore, a man who made no apology for Moonraker, thought Die Another Day was rubbish.  


  1. Alright, alright. No more Mr. Know It All About Bond after this, I promise. As much as I loathe Die Another Day, I have to defend it just a smidgen and say that this movie did not have a poor showing at the box office. It earned something well over $400 million internationally, which made it the highest grossing Bond until Casino Royale came out.

    There's no accounting for taste when it comes to the movie-going public.

  2. True it was the highest grossing, but it only made 3 times it's cost back. Previous Bond films had apparently made at least 5 times - if not more - back on their cost. I remember reading that this 'declining' box office return was one of the reasons the franchise went on hold for a bit after this film.

  3. Absolute dreck. Not cheesy enough to be old school not intelligent enough to be New Bond.

    Thank god the producers were greedy enough to think 3 times their outgoing was insufficient recompense.

    Lets hope we have exhausted all the exploding helicopter possibilities of the Bond franchise so we are not forced to watch any more.

  4. Did you ever hear the story that Tarentino went to the Bond people to make Casino Royale, well before they were considering the David Craig version, and the Bond people told him no, because they were afraid if Tarentino directed it, it would be a film of a quality that the later Bond films couldn't measure up to. They probably had this movie on their mind when they told him that.

  5. I don't think that's the official reason they pooh-poohed the idea. I believe EON was concerned Tarantino would cost too much and that he'd insert too many 'Tarantino-isms' into the movie. In essence, he would make a Tarantino flick instead of a Bond flick. He also wanted Brosnan and nobody else as 007. I believe they may have been neighbors at one point (well, 'neighbor' is stretching it a bit when you live in mansions with acres of property, but I digress) and became buddies. Tarantino thought he could get the 'ultimate' Bond flick out of Brosnan and I could see why he would think that. If the scripts and direction were up to par in his era, I think Broz would be regarded as a great Bond. He's a pretty good actor when he's got some decent material to work with (the Thomas Crown remake or The Matador for instance).

    QT still has his heart set on doing a spy film at some point in the future though. Latest scuttlebutt says he was interested in obtaining the film rights to 'A Spy by Nature' by Charles Cumming.

  6. Well, what do you expect from a Bond movie that has Madonna in the cas

  7. I just re-read your great review again. Regarding the invisible car scenes, I read somewhere that Roger Moore said it was the silliest thing he'd ever seen, and added, "and I should know because I was the Bond who went to a space station on a space shuttle!"

    BTW, have you seen Kong: Skull Island yet? I believe that there are at least 2 helicopter explosions.

    1. Indeed, and Roge also piloted a gondola-hovercraft, so if he thinks it's the silliest thing then we definitely have to trust. Yes, I've seen the new Kong. I think there might actually be three, but I'll need a rewatch. That scene was helicopter carnage so it was tough to keep track. Hopefully, we'll have a review in the next few months too.