Running Time: 123 mins
Much has been made of the fact that Dr No was released in 1962, 40 years
ago, and that this is the 20th James Bond film, making it the most profitable 'franchise' in movie history.
Die Another Day follows the usual patterns of a James Bond blockbuster.
The pre-credit sequences have become some of the most celebrated for their spectacular stunts. It is the same here with surfers riding gigantic waves in North Korea (though filmed in Maui) and military hovercraft skimming
over minefields before they all blow up. Pierce Brosnan is Bond for the fourth time and is obviously at home in the role, and more like Sean Connery than the succeeding Bonds (although he is now nearing 50). He is suave in his manner, rispostes, action sequences and with the Bond women.
This time, however, he has an almost equal partner in Halle Berry's Jinx, a
skilful American agent - but convention means that, ultimately, he has to rescue her and not vice versa. Toby Stephens snarls as the arch-villain, though how he created his empire and the means of mass destruction for the world in Iceland in fourteen months tips the credibility scales. Rick Yune is his offsider villain with a diamond-studded face after one of the initial explosions.
Judi Dench is back as M with a few more scenes than usual as is John Cleese as Q. Bond is wearing them down with his individualistic exploits but they have some satisfaction in his being imprisoned by the North Koreans for
fourteen months, emerging as a lookalike for the count of Monte Cristo.
The producers said that they were looking for an unknown country which
audiences would find exotic so they chose North Korea (thankfully not
Iraq). But reality has caught up with the movies as North Korea recently
confessed to having nuclear weapons.
On a personal note: when Once Were Warriors was released, I had the
opportunity for a long conversation with director Lee Tamahori. One of his
chief ambitions was to go to Hollywood and make big movies. After Mulholland Falls, The Edge and Along Came a Spider as well as some episodes of The Sopranos, he has topped his ambitions by directing Die Another Day.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is the International President of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators.