19 April 2019

"What the hell is this all about?" — looking back on the debacle that is Die Another Day

19 April 2019

"What the hell is this all about?" — looking back on the debacle that is Die Another Day

Smuggy McSmuggleson: Pierce Brosnan squints, frowns, pouts and smarms his way through another Bond film — thankfully, his last

Pierce Brosnan fans, look away now.

I'm not saying this debacle is his fault. He was undoubtedly dealt a lousy hand with scripts, directors, and Denise Richards during his tenure as Bond. But he must shoulder some of the blame.

You must ask yourself: How did the producers let the series come to this?

Roger Moore's films were tailored for him, as were Timothy Dalton's and Daniel Craig's. Brosnan's films were adapted for him too. 

He pushed the films in this direction with his portrayal of 007. Brosnan always lacked substance but had hammy impersonations of Roger Moore in abundance.

Watching Brosnan is like watching someone doing an impression of James Bond. Russ Abbott as Basildon Bond, if you will. Had he grabbed the role by the balls from the offset, we might not have been subject to three poor films post-GoldenEye.

The pre-titles sequence sets the tone for the rest of the film. Bond can do many things, but surfing gigantic waves like a world champion seems a step too far, even if Sir Roge did show glimpses of it in A View to a Kill

Bond removes his mask, and Pierce Brosnan looks considerably older, greyer and heavier than last time. Plus, too old for this game. After all, this is an actor on the cusp of 50.

Keeping with Brosnan film tradition, we see a lot of explosions and Pierce firing a machine gun willy-nilly while squinting, frowning and pouting. 

David Arnold's policy of cramming every instrument into a track until it's just noise is thrown into the mix, too. His 'techno' didn't sound the best in 2002, and time has not been kind to it. He also had a terrible habit of overusing the Bond theme. 

Bond getting tortured was innovative, but not while listening to Madonna's theme song. That's torture in itself. Old Madge had gone to seed a good four years before this film. 

Anything she's released post-1998 has been garbage. Oh, what could have been: an insight into the broken mind of Bond, abandoned by his country and wrecked with PTSD. 

I'm unsure what they were feeding Bond while he was held captive in North Korea. Hearty three-course meals by the looks of it. Out waddles a tubby, middle-aged Brosnan, supposedly 14 months later.

Bond meets with M, and once again, Brosnan's acting (and I use that term loosely) is brutally exposed:

"What da hell is dis hall abauuhht?"

I was asking the same thing, Pierce. We see the usual over-the-top facial expressions, smarminess, hamminess, and trying too hard to be as suave as Sean and Roger. Nuanced acting was never Brosnan's strong point.

Bond manages to stop his heart from beating, sending himself into cardiac arrest. Another moment of sheer lunacy from the writers. Now I'm not one for slander, but it looks like Brozza is sucking his gut in, too.

Halle Berry's coming out of the sea is one of countless over-the-top, in-your-face "nods" to previous Bond films for the 40th anniversary. Except this banal sequence is more of an insult to the brilliance of Dr. No than a homage.

The corny dialogue when Jinx and Bond meet is cringe-inducing. Brosnan blows out smoke after every sex gag. Halle Berry pokes her tongue around her mouth, which she seems to do throughout the film to look alluring. 

The double entendres in Roger Moore's time were funny. The ones in Die Another Day are not. Cut to Bond and Jinx making love, and we see our first-ever sex scene in an Eon Bond film. 

Brosnan's much-maligned pain face is terrible enough. Did we really need to be subjected to his ejaculation face, too?

It's ironic: most Bond girl actresses haven't been great, yet their performances have held water. What do we get when an Oscar-winning actress lands a Bond girl role? The worst Bond girl performance in the entire series.

After Madonna's ghastly song, we must watch her and Brosnan engage in more lousy sex quips. I don't think her acting is that bad. It's Purvis's and Wade's attempts at humour I can't stomach.

There is nothing positive about Lee Tamahori's directing. Slow-mo, fast-mo, unnecessary close-ups and woeful CGI looks more at home in an early-90s Sonic the Hedgehog game. 

We're supposed to believe North Korean military officer Sangjwa Tan-Sun Moon morphs into a sneering public schoolboy toff through gene-replacement therapy.

Brosnan is back at it — surfing — or a computer-generated figure of him is. This time, he's surfing a makeshift sheet of metal in what is hands-down the most embarrassing moment in the series.

It's like a competition on who could be the most irritating. Michael Madsen, Halle Berry, John Cleese, Rick Yune and Toby Stephens battle it out for that prize. Even the extras and minor characters are poorly directed and painful to watch.

Colin Salmon turns out his usual dull performance. God knows why anyone wanted him as Bond. The less said about John Cleese, the better. Cleese should not have been allowed anywhere near a Bond film. 

It's difficult to believe a 60-something buffoon, dressed like a country bumpkin with a 1970s moustache to boot, is MI6's "new" gadgetry mastermind.

Just when you think you've seen and heard the last of Madonna, she pops up again with a hideous remix of her title song over the end credits.

By this point, the franchise had lost all credibility. I haven't even mentioned the invisible car. I'm eternally grateful to Die Another Day for one thing: it spelt Pierce Brosnan's end.

Copyright © 2019 J W Emery Ltd. All rights reserved.

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