Well, it’s about that time. Just as I was getting into the swing of Timothy Dalton and his take on the part time spy, full time vagina enthusiast, they go and change actor again. Pierce Brosnan is the first Bond where I was old enough to remember the big announcement of him taking over the role. He even holds the honor of being the only Bond who’s movie I saw in the cinema. I don’t remember anything about Golden Eye, but I mustn’t have thought much of it, since it’s taken me 17 years to feel compelled to tackle this recent binge of Bond.
I think Brosnan might be seen as a good Bond by fans of the character, but I don’t think the movies he made in the role are all too popular. And I made a bit of a point of trying to make sure I watched a shitty one, hoping it at least might be a bit funny. Which is why I watched Die Another Day.
Pre credits, James Bond (Brosnan) stops some North Koreans from selling blood diamonds to fund some arms deals, but he’s taken prisoner in the process and spends the next year and a bit in a cell, growing a beard. Released in a prisoner exchange, M (Judie Dench) immediately suspends him from MI6 (l’m staring to think Bond spends more time on the bench than he does as an active agent). Back on the trail of the North Koreans and their diamonds, he meets Jinx (Halle Berry), and American agent to team up with, and bone down with.
He also meets fellow MI6 agent, Toby Stephens as Gustav Graves. It’s soon revealed the Graves isn’t quite on the up and up. This is also when I realised that a Pearce Brosnan James Bond movie isn’t concerned with the gritty realism of a Dalton joint. Brosnan is in the Roger Moore mold. More suave than tough. His enemy is also in the mold of a Moore enemy. No small time drug running like Dalton’s nemeses. Shit no! Graves is here to conquer the world, and he’s gonna do it with a space laser! Classic Bond villain stuff.
Die Another Day is when Bond movies met CGI. The only problem is, it was a little too early for both. One thing I’ve noticed across the series, is that the people behind the Bond franchise aren’t the quickest at adapting to current styles of film making. I’m not saying they should abandon their legacy and try to ape whatever’s popular at the time, but they could try a little harder to stay current. The Timothy Dalton movies are seen as a bit more serious and gritty, but in a world where Die Hard and Lethal Weapon had reset the action movie agenda, the Dalton movies come off as a little old fashioned and tame. Even the Daniel Craig movies, which have a pretty solid reputation, took a few years to catch up the post-Jason Bourne audience.
So, in typical Bond tradition, Die Another Day is a little behind the 2002 times in its approach to film making and incorporating pop culture. Exhibit A, the movie opens with Bond surfing into a war zone. Because, as we all know, cool kids love the surfing. And of course, there’s a chase involving the hottest mode of transport of the new millennium, the hovercraft. Combine that out of touch old man approach with the hinky computer generated effects of 2002, and you have a movie built on a pretty shaky foundation.