Believe the hype – DAD is the tops!!!
By Rory Couper.
As the gun barrel rolled to launch me into James Bond’s 20th cinematic adventure Die Another Day I felt that immense adrenalin rush that we all, as Bond fans get, when we see a new picture for the first time. It was heaven.
As we kick of with the surfing sequence, which brought about the first ever shot of Die Another Day back in December 2001, we see from the outset this film is different. The sombre mood tattersall creates with the scene is superb and the effect of a transformation from Maui Hawaii to the Korean coastline is pulled off with consummate ease. This sombre tone is consistent throughout the opening sequence and adds a certain grittiness to the following scenes which involve a brief but humorous identity swapping moment with Mr.Van Beere and the meeting with Colonel. Moon whose role, however small, was brilliantly executed by Will Yun Lee. Cue the much talked about torture scene, and what a scene, never have we seen a Bond so vulnerable, a Bond so beaten tortured and degraded. Anyone who’s complained in the past about Bond’s invulnerability can eat his or her words, the scene is fantastic and beautifully leads into what must be in my opinion Danny Kleinmann’s best title sequence thus far. It is simpler in terms of CGI possibly second to GoldenEye but still remaining completely ‘Bond’ and providing a perfect accompaniment to the narrative.
When we launch back into the film, and see Bond’s return in exchange for Zao there is a brilliant little moment where Bond acknowledges Robinson only to be knocked out and wheeled away. The interchange that follows between M and Bond was fantastically necessary, Bond is made to feel small, very small, when M claims ‘your freedom came at too high a price, Bond can only agree but we see that he is hurting, and this is what drives his escape. I believe this is quite a defining scene in the film, compared with the scene in Licence To Kill where Bond has his 00 status revoked Brosnan shows Dalton how such a scene should be played.
The brief scene at the Peninsula is classic Bond, where Rachel Grant provides great eye candy if only for a short time. The scene is not massively necessary and I can imagine why the ‘animal scene’ was not kept in, Hong Kong only acts as a go-between and so I am happy they kept Bond’s stay short and sweet.
Onto Cuba (or Cadiz if you want to be picky) and Bond’s arrival is met by those wonderful Cuban rhythms that add such an alternative to the bleak feel of the opening sequence. I particularly enjoyed the scenes in Cuba; again Tatersall displays his unique talent creating such an exotic yet realistic feel to the location. Raul is a great character, if only they had kept the bulk of his scenes he may have rivalled Kerim Bey as one of Bond’s most legendary allies. It’s also great to see the steamy sex scene thrown in for good measure, and the fact Jinx leaves him alone in the morning in search of Zao leaves you feeling she may just be one step ahead on the game, and Bond. This brings me to the Clinic, and art direction. Superb, is the word. The shot where Bond walks along the corridor of mirrors that contains the model DNA strand is just so brilliant, its little touches like this that can make or break a scene. The clinic itself was also brilliantly designed and shot, the orange light above the ceiling gave it an eccentric feel that I particularly loved. All in all at this point in the film – this wall to wall action I’d been hearing about was not so apparent as one may be lead to believe, the film I felt was perfectly controlled and I felt at this point, knowing of Bond’s imminent journey to Iceland that all was well balanced.
On Bond’s return to London we hear what was initially quoted as being the end credits song, ‘London Calling’ by The Clash. This works surprisingly well and I really felt it added an uplifiting feel as if Bond was onto something, and he meant business. The magazine shot of Graves was another fine touch that made me smile.
Back in London we have the customary meeting between Bond and M, followed by the standard meeting with Q. Again the scene between Bond and M is well scripted and performed, Brosnan’s Bond shows a stubbornness and a slight selfishness but at the same time you know inside he knows M trusts his instincts, and that his will to be less forthcoming is a direct result of the Korean incident. The new Q’s inaugural scene seems to be going down a treat with audiences, I think it is hard for cleese to put a foot wrong as Bond’s quartermaster and I can see we’ll grow to love him as we did, and still do the late Desmond Llewelyn.
Cue my star of the show, bad boy Gustav Graves played intoxicatingly by Toby Stephens. This is a villain. From the moment we first see Graves at Blades and experience the ensuing swordfight it is clear Graves is a player, he’s a fantastically written character considering his alter ego and he provides a brilliantly suave, psychotic, adrenaline junkie, a villain you truly believe could kill Bond. Matched with Alec Trevelyan, Graves has the edge, he is truly more hateful, he is villainous, he epitomises the evil we expect from a classic villain, he’s is intellectually more profound than elliot carver and as a psychotic opponent for Renard he has that youthful edge, and the quirkiness of his character, coupled with a jack Nicholson-esque smile that oozes evil.
REVIEW CONTINUES TOMORROW…