Pierce Brosnan may have wanted us to believe that he was the heir to Sean Connery’s Bond. However, Die Another Day showed us he was in fact much closer to Roger Moore’s portrayal than he may care to admit.
Die Another Day is like one of the latter Moore Bond entries, full of implausible gadgets and a relentless stream of sexual innuendo.
Brosnan was 49 when this film came out. And whilst he was undoubtedly wearing the years well his behaviour was beginning to resemble that of an inappropriately flirtatious uncle at a wedding.
The other major problem with Die Another Day are the action set pieces. They’re as good as what you’ve come to expect from a Bond, however, Brosnan sails suavely them all. And when he’s in trouble there’s always a handy gadget [invisible car? Puh-lease!] to come to his aid. It all feels just a little bit too easy.
These points were brought into sharper focus by the release of The Bourne Identity a few months before Die Another Day. Bourne offered a darker, more serious hero, who was reliant on improvisation and 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.
These criticism aside the opening sequence of Die Another Day is of significant interest to exploding helicopter fans. Bond impersonates a arms dealer in order to assassinate a North Korean Colonel.
Bond flies into the Colonel’s base in a transport helicopter planning to blow the Colonel up with a bomb hidden in the briefcase of diamonds he’s trading for the weapons.
However, Bond’s true identity is discovered before he can leave. The Colonel decides to show Bond that’s he rumbled his assassination attempt. He takes a tank buster gun from one of his men supposedly to demonstrate it for Bond’s benefit. Instead he uses it to fire some depleted uranium shells at Bond’s helicopter blowing it to smithereens. Bond it seems it going to need to walk home.
The opening sequences to Bond films are always spectacular affairs and it’s good to see an exploding helicopter feature prominently in one.
The fireball is a nice dirty, dark red, orange and shot from a number of different angles. However, director Lee Tamahori irritatingly deprives us of the full exploding helicopter experience by cutting to reaction shots from Bond and the Colonel's staff.
Exploding helicopter innovation
The explosion takes place just five minutes into the film. I’m struggling at the moment to think of a helicopter explosion which happens earlier.
Whilst we’ve seen helicopters taken out by grenade launchers before, this is possibly the first known destruction of a helicopter with a depleted uranium shell.
There’s 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 in time, and prevent the chopper becoming a helicopter pancake.
It’s utterly preposterous but guiltily enjoyable.
Little demonstrates better that the fact the Bond franchise had lost its way than the scene where Bond’s return to the UK is sound tracked by London Calling by The Clash.
This dunderheaded lack of imagination is evident throughout. Did any thought whatsoever go into naming one of the henchmen “Mr Kill”?
No lesser figure than Roger Moore thought Die Another Day was rubbish, citing the CGI and the invisible car as lows for the series.