Reviewer: Daniel Dykes
Forty years, twenty films and Die Another Day is the James Bond film that proves James Bond has a place in the 21st Century.
There are so many things that one can really say about the film. The first that comes to mind is David Tattersall, the Director of Photography on Die Another Day. If only one person is asked to return for Bond 21 it deserves to be David Tattersall. It may seem strange to mention the Director of Photography before the Director or the actors, but that’s just how striking his work on the film is. The last Bond outing, The World Is Not Enough, sadly tended to lack fantastic cinematography and Tattersall has easily made up for it in this film. The pre-title sequence best highlights the success of his work; the surfing sequence is filmed across two countries and three locations and yet the final product if flawlessly seamed together.
It’s hard to critique Lee Tamahori’s work as it’s not always apparent what he’s directly responsible for, however, his enthusiasm for the film, and the James Bond series in general, really shows in the film. It is obvious that he’s cut down the complexities of dialogue but the final film does deliver plot, action and one hell of an adventure.
The films editing does move away from past films in several ways. Christian Wagner makes good use of either speeding up or slowing down the film for effect, and the only time it seems contrived is during Jinx’s emergence from the sea, a slow effect is used to create a romantic moment however it comes across as almost cliché. Danny Kleinman’s titles are extremely unique for any film. He successfully tells the story of Bond’s torture at the hands of the North Koreans, however, like his last title sequence, Die Another Day’s digitised women simply lack any ‘sexiness’, but in such a surrounding it is, perhaps, appropriate. His minor reworking of the gun-barrel has brought about some criticism; however, the change is minor and was appreciated by those in the audience and is definitely a minor change that should be kept for subsequent films.
A lot of criticism was directed to particular CGI sequences in the film. While films such as Moonraker provided poor back projection, Die Another Day does not. Some scenes clearly employ CGI, but such sequences can be found in any modern film. The controversial CGI use in Iceland is definitely not as disappointing as we have been led to believe. Personally expecting something horrible, I was pleasantly surprised. While what actually happens in the scene is not possible, nor are hollowed out volcanoes.
David Arnold’s score is really top rate in the film and overtones of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and You Only Live Twice are obviously apparent. Earlier comments that he wouldn’t be using the James Bond Theme are obviously false and there is definitely no perceptible use of the 007 Theme. With such a top rate score from Arnold it is disappointing that more of his score can’t be found on the films soundtrack.
The acting in Die Another Day is a marvel and it really seems that Samantha Bond ‘steals the show’ thanks to clever scripting by Neil Purvis and Robert Wade. In context, Moneypenny’s role in Die Another Day is extremely different to that of past films as Moneypenny has no direct contact with James Bond. Did the audience mind at all? Needless to say her short scene received the largest applause.
Pierce Brosnan definitely portrays Bond with the finesse of a professional and gives a performance that surpasses those of the previous three films. In particular fans should look out for his rescuing of a character from the Ice Palace.
Halle Berry and Rosamund Pike both give brilliant performances. Perhaps the only problem is the lack of use of Pike in the film. The character definitely had more potential which should have been explored.
Emilio Echevarría dialogue was seemingly hard to understand, however, this could be put down poor sound quality at the Royal Albert Hall. Madonna’s cameo in the film is hard to judge either way. She delivers some dialogue well, and some poorly, however, her role is far too short to make anything of. It is, perhaps, her black costume outfit on the equestrian floor that seems more out of place than Madonna herself.
Die Another Day successfully manages to push the envelope of Bond films. It’s fast and it’s gutsy. It’s raunchier and manages to be grittier at times. Understandably, it is not without faults but will definitely be appreciated by fans with an open-mind and a willing to accept that Bond movies before now are in the past, and always will be. Bond has to modernise and move with the times.
Welcome to the 21st Century Mr Bond.