Die Another Day (2002) (PG-13)

By this time, I think I've had it with Pierce Brosnan and the incessant, increasing stupidity of these last few Bond movies. Because the films are so determined on being so deadly serious while trying to lay humor into the films, everything just plays out as a completely catastrophe.
At least we're not back in Russia anymore.
"Die Another Day" opens in North Korea, where Bond and other agents are surfing to shore undetected by the beach patrol. Sneaking inland they trick a helicopter into landing and then Bond jumps in and kicks one guy out. The man who is ejected from the vehicle had a briefcase filled with diamonds, which were being used to trade for weapons. Bond shows up in the de-militarized zone with the briefcase, now laced with C-4. Here is where we see the first among hundreds of problems with this film: these people are expecting the man with the briefcase, but they've never seen him before or even have a picture of him on record? Really?
Still, Bond convinces them for a few minutes, until they use a program to identify him as 007—a British assassin, as they see it. So there are explosions and chase scenes and eventually Bond is captured by a General, the father to the mentally-unstable son that Bond just happened to drop off a waterfall.
Fourteen months of torture occur amidst the main titles, which are accompanied with a song by Madonna. I'm not a Madonna fan to begin with, so the electronica inspired music was not welcome and it really didn't fit.
Bond is traded by to MI6 in exchange for a North Korean agent/mercenary named Zao. Bond does not welcome the trade because Zao is a feared and deadly man who should not be set free...yet he is...bummer for 007.
Placed on suspension pending everything, Bond manages to escape MI6 and he starts his own rogue mission to track down Zao and find out who double-crossed all of them.
Like "License to Kill", "Die Another Day" plays out like a revenge piece. Bond is on the outside looking in, he's got to complete his unofficial mission and then he'll be respected once more. It's a nice thought, but it's treated horribly wrong.
The director Lee Tamahori treats his character development very seriously, and that's nice to see. But those intimate scenes when we actually feel something for Bond and M are drowned out with the slow-motion shots of Halle Berry walking around and cheap CGI.
Zao was next to Bond's diamond/dynamite briefcase and it literally blew up in his face. Now he's trying to get a complete genetic make-over, but he gets interrupted half-way through, leaving him looking like Blofeld from the SPECTRE days. The way a character later describes him—that he has a case of very expensive acne. Yes, the diamonds are still in his face, because apparently these people have the technology to make you into a completely different person, but they can't pick a few jewels from your face even though they're clearly visible.
Still the Bond movies never were grounded in realism.
James tracks Zao into Cuba were he meets the mysterious and voluptuous Jinx Johnson (Halle Berry). This woman is very capable, very self-reliant, and full of many double entendres. Halle Berry is likable but pretty much a terrible actress in this, which is probably why the camera ogles her so much and rarely lets her speak.
"Die Another Day" deals with issues like strained father-son relationships, honor, revenge, and a slew of others. It can't make up its mind on exactly what it wants to be, so we have Bond gumbo.
The plot has twists, Madonna makes a cameo, and it all seems very forgettable...which is precisely what it is....what am I even writing about?
I forget.

Score: ★½

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