Countdown to ‘Skyfall’: Day 0020 – ‘Die Another Day’

‘Die Another Day’ was released in 2002 as the 20th James Bond film, and was supposed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the franchise.

Instead, it essentially killed 40 years of cinematic history and ended the path the film series had been on for the better part of half a century.

The film actually started off with promise, as 007 was sent to North Korea to disrupt an arms deal in which a North Korean colonel was trading African conflict diamonds for weapons. Bond is betrayed by someone, captured by the Koreans, and tortured in captivity for 14 months.

Bond is granted release via prisoner exchange, and goes on to pursue a terrorist named Zao – the prisoner whose release bought Bond his freedom. He also sets out to find the party responsible for his betrayal in North Korea.

The first third of the movie is actually pretty entertaining, as the pre-title hovercraft chase, Bond’s visit to Cuba and a tense sword fight in London prove to be exciting and well-crafted.

Things fall apart when the movie switches locations to Iceland, where implausibility and heavy doses of computer-generated imagery take over. An invisible car, space laser weapon and CGI 007 surfing a tsunami send the movie (and the franchise) to rock bottom.

Acting pedigree seemed to be in place, as Pierce Brosnan returned to the role of James Bond. He was aided in the film by an NSA agent played by Oscar winner Halle Berry. Brosnan turned in a solid performance, but Berry felt out of place and was never convincing in her role. A planned spin-off series featuring her character, Jinx, never got off the ground due to the negative reactions to her performance.

It’s pretty clear that I harbor some ill feeling toward ‘DAD’. The Bond franchise, for so many years, took pride in the use of actual stunt work in its films. To see such extensive, shoddy CGI in a Bond film was almost sacrilegious.

Most Bond fans felt similar to the way I did, and the producers behind the films took note as well. Following ‘DAD’, Brosnan quit the role of James Bond in 2004. Daniel Craig was hired to take over as 007 and the direction of Bond films switched to a more gritty, realistic approach, showing Bond as a young, inexperienced agent.

In a way, ‘DAD’ led to the birth of the “new” James Bond series. However, it was also responsible for ending the direction 19 other movies had taken the series over the course of 40 years.

Thankfully, the new direction Bond films took was met with overwhelming approval, as seen with tomorrow’s film.

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