Die another Day was in many ways the final Bond film in the original continuing story of 007. The last outing for Brosnan who decided to hang up the Walther PPK, it’s sequel would controversially “reboot” the franchise, starting from a time before Bond earned his 007 status. As a send off therefore to one of the most popular heroes of our time, it had a lot to live up to and was released on the 40th anniversary of “Dr No”.
It begins with bite, Bond is attempting to assassinate a Korean arms dealer, Colonel Moon but after what seems to be a successful mission is captured in North Korea and held prisoner, repeatedly tortured in a disturbing montage that for the first time, we are shown as the title sequence. Months later, he is exchanged for Zao, a Korean prisoner who Bond disfigured in his initial attack.
His relief is short lived however as M informs him that his release has come about because he is suspected of giving sensitive information to his captors. Bond is able to escape from British custody in Hong Kong and teams up with Jinx, an American agent, tracking down Zao to a gene therapy clinic where patients can have their appearance altered. Both travel to Iceland at the request of Gustav Graves, a laser tycoon who demonstrates the Icarus satellite which can harness and focus solar energy. Grave’s assistant, Miranda Frost is revealed to be the traitor that was supplying information to the North Koreans and Graves is revealed to be Colonel Moon, his appearance altered. Jinx kills Frost and Bond defeats Moon by flinging him into the engine of his own plane.
Directed by Lee Tamahori with an eye for action and style, Halle Berry took on the role of Jinx with a sexual appetite to rival that of Bond himself and, in a nod to the franchise’s anniversary is first seen emerging from the sea in an identical manner to the initial appearance of Honey Ryder from “Dr No”. Jinx was an instant hit with audiences and for a short while was actually rumoured to be given her own spin off series of films. Cleese took over from Desmond Llewellyn as Q and Toby Stephens provided an urbane and overconfident villain in the shape of Col Moon/Gustav Graves. As Miranda Frost was Rosamund Pike who managed to hold her own against Halle Berry’s smouldering agent and there was a surprising appearance from Madonna as fencing instructor Verity. Madonna also provided the theme song and David Arnold returned once more to create the soundtrack. This was the first Bond movie to make really extensive use of CGI which caused criticism from some quarters.
Released in 2002 it again received mixed reviews though Halle Berry was universally praised and Brosnan received his usual plaudits. A great deal of criticism was levelled at the films use of product placement and indeed it does sometimes seem like one very expensive fast moving advert. However, once again it out grossed it’s predecessor at the box office and set a new record for the franchise.