Saturday, November 23, 2002

Die Another Day (IMDB) (Netflix)
The latest in a 40-year string of Bond flicks, with Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry, who's recovered from her Oscar meltdown and plays an American agent from the National Security Agency (not that the NSA does this kind of wetwork, but no matter). This time the writers are picking on the non-Islamic leg of the Axis of Evil, the North Koreans, and gene therapy makeovers and death rays from space are the plot-enabling technologies. Refreshingly, the fate of the world doesn't even hang in the balance, just a critical piece of it.

As with most action films, this one starts out better than it finishes and progressively gets more conventional. The opening sequence is a doozy that Navy SEALs should check out, and not a throwaway one; it has consequences for Bond that set up the rest of film. All the trademark scenes with Q, Moneypenny and M are there, but they're fresher and even inventive at times. The action is mostly stunt-a-licious, with a couple chases across the Icelandic, um, ice, the plot more inventive, and the dialogue far less smarmy than the Roger Moore days. Also, the women have decent spy chops, reminiscent of Michele Yeoh in Tomorrow Never Dies (Berry's character will be getting her own movie). The final scene doesn't live up to the first 3/4 of the movie, but on whole, a very above-average Bond flick that won't convert the anti-Bond populace one whit but will more than satisfy fans of this venerable genre.