Die Another Day
I've been dreading rewatching this one since the start of watching the films consecutively due to complete dislike of it when I first viewed it in the theatre. It's not as bad as I thought it was, BUT there are way too many cringe-worthy moments and the entire 3rd act is extremely poor. In short, I was extremely disappointed because I went in with a cute chick hoping to make a convert to JB (like I had with 2 friends who I saw Goldeneye with) and ended up with a Triple-X influenced no-brainer that overstayed it's welcome.
At first, I thought Pierce Brosnan was on crack when he said that the movie goes back to the roots of Bond. With this 2nd viewing (yes, I've been avoiding it) I understand where he was coming from. There are a number of scenes that have the flavour and essence of earlier Bonds (HK, Cuba, England), and there's the Q-Branch storeroom scene FULL of props from the earlier movies (almost worthy of a freeze-frame. The cheesy crocodile from Octopussy brought a smile to my face).
The highlights of the film are the first and second acts (post opening credits), and they positively breeze by. They are a whirlwind of energy and fun, and I wished that energy wasn't completely obliterated by the 3rd act.
Anyhow, what I didn't and still don't like: the pre-credits sequence.
THAT'S NOT KOREA. Period. End of story. Full stop.
I've lived there. For a year. Travelled around. There are no big-Hawai'ian surf waves. The countryside doesn't look like the USA's mid-west.
The whole subplot about a spoiled North Korean general trading weapons for blood-diamonds is just wrong, wrong, wrong on so many levels that I'm not going to go into it. Same for the general's son with import sports cars on display. You need hard currency to get those. Something North Korea has only in very short supplies.
The entire third act. Yes, there are some good points, but it just drags on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on. The ice-hotel sequence should've been half as long, and Bond should've not only rescued Jinx before she drowned, but also have been able to outsmart the bad guys (he IS Bond after all). Oh, and if you want to see how a real movie deals with someone being brought back to life after drowning, go see "The Abyss".
The laser beam... at first I shook my head as it was one-too many giant laser guns in space for me at the time (let's see, Gall Force Earth War, check. Final Fantasy the Spirits Within, check...) Now, I can see the allusion to the space laser in Diamonds are Forever, BUT, in this day and age, the way the thing fired should've been a lot more punchier (able to make big booms). In the end, the effects are laughable - as a few nights after seeing the movie, I was watching a show on the Discovery Channel that had a bunch of mirrors focusing the suns rays, and able to melt through heavy duty steel like... well, FASTER, and more efficiently than a hot knife through butter. And utterly quietly too. (That was my mind-blowning video of the year).
Anyhow, cringe-worthy moments:
- a number of completely unnecessary helicopter establishing shots during the car chase. Yeah, they look great, but not only do they bloat the sequence, they're distracting.
- Toby Stephens butchering the Korean language. No excuses. Your costar is a Korean! Get him to coach you!
- a power suit that just looks silly...
- ... with tazors for hands. Uhm, no. You're opponent would be KOed with just a touch...
- a bunch more that I can't be bothered to type up
... and the invisible car. Uhm, no. There's no basis for the technology in the JB universe (and if there were, wouldn't there be other stepping-stone applications?)
So... in conclusion, nit-picking aside, the fatal flaw of the movie is the poor editing and directing in the third act. Cut half of it, inject some IQ points of intelligence, leave out about half the gadgets, change the weapons used in the fights to something else, and I swear, you'll have a great movie.
I can't recommend the movie, though, the movie is good for something: two really awesome sword fights. Heck, they are the only times in the movie where I felt that the heroes could get seriously mangled.