★★★ The twentieth James Bond movie produced by Eon Productions. US release date: November 22, 2002. Budget: $142 million. Worldwide box office gross: $431.9 million (US domestic gross: $160.9 million; international gross: $271.0 million). Running time: 133 minutes.
After an unsuccessful attempt to thwart an arms-for-conflict-diamonds deal by North Korean colonel Tan-Sun Moon (Will Yun Lee), James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is captured and tortured by the colonel’s father, General Moon (Kenneth Tsang). Fourteen months later, Bond is exchanged for Tan-Sun Moon’s assistant Zao (Rick Yune); however, he is informed by M (Dame Judi Dench) that his double-0 status is suspended under suspicion that he leaked information to the North Koreans. Bond later escapes from MI6 custody and tracks Zao to Cuba, where he meets NSA agent Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson (Halle Berry). He follows Jinx to a gene therapy clinic, where he nearly kills Zao but manages to retrieve a pendant that leads Bond to a cache of conflict diamonds—jewels that bear the crest of British billionaire businessman Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens).
Behind the Scenes
Perhaps to honor the Bond film franchise’s fortieth anniversary and the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the Ian Fleming 007 novels, the producers went all out. They reached deep into their pockets to cast a pedigreed leading lady, bringing no less than the 2001 Academy Award winner for Best Actress, Halle Berry, into the Bond fold. Not since actress Diana Rigg traded in her patented leather catsuit from The Avengers for marriage vows with Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service had a leading lady been so heralded. Pop superstar Madonna was hired to record the title tune and appear in a cameo role as a fencing instructor. Touché! And the filmmakers loaded the new film with what was formerly a taboo practice: references and homages to the last nineteen James Bond movies.
Die Another Day is one of those Bond films that is hard to pin down. It’s entertaining and at times boldly effective, especially the opening teaser inside North Korea, Bond’s torture scenes when he’s captured by the North Koreans, the dramatic sword fight in London between Bond and Graves, and the thrilling ending aboard a transport plane. At other times, it strays too far from the Bond formula, particularly when it introduces an invisible car—which, by the way, is barely used in the film. A true jump-the-shark moment. But Brosnan is great, as is the supporting cast—particularly Berry, Toby Stephens, and Rosamund Pike as Graves’s assistant, the icy Miranda Frost—and the film, though a bit of a bust for some fans, was a huge box office hit.
|James Bond||Pierce Brosnan|
|Jinx Johnson||Halle Berry|
|Gustav Graves||Toby Stephens|
|Miranda Frost||Rosamund Pike|
|Colonel Moon||Will Yun Lee|
|General Moon||Kenneth Tsang|
|Damian Falco||Michael Madsen|
|Miss Moneypenny||Samantha Bond|
|Charles Robinson||Colin Salmon|
|Screenplay by||Neil Purvis|
|Michael G. Wilson|
|Director of Photography||David Tattersall|
|Music by||David Arnold|
|Title song performed by||Madonna|
|Production Designer||Peter Lamont|
|Supervising Art Director||Simon Lamont|
|Costume Designer||Lindy Hemming|
|Second Unit Director||Vic Armstrong|
|Stunt Coordinator||George Aguilar|
|Surfing Coordinator||Laird Hamilton|
|Title Designer||Daniel Kleinman|