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