Die Another Day
Brosnan’s last Bond film, sadly. Also features Halle Berry (Storm in the early 2000’s X-Men) as Jinx, Toby Stephens (Prince John in BBC’s Robin Hood…oh, and I found out…he’s Dame Maggie Smith’s son!) as Gustav Graves, Rosamund Pike (very odd to watch her in this role after getting accustomed to the serene Jane in Pride and Prejudice, but she is a marvelous actress and this was her feature film debut) as Miranda Frost. And if the one henchman, Kill looks familiar, he’s a Kiwi and did several bit parts in Lord of the Rings and Hobbit. Young Colonel Moon is played by Wil Yun Lee who occasionally showed up in the rebooted Hawaii Five-0 as Sang Min. Madonna performed the opening song (in good company with Sir Paul McCartney who did Only the Good Die Young), and made a cameo in the film as Verity, the fencing instructor.
We begin in North Korea, still a hotspot, though Bond oddly surfs in (because you don’t really think of Bond surfing) and takes over a meeting with two young Koreans; a general’s son, Colonel Moon and his bodyguard, Zao, over diamonds. But he’s found out and tries to escape. The C-4 he planted into the briefcase explodes, shooting diamonds into Zao. Bond then chases Colonel Moon over a minefield in a hovercraft (Mythbusters did prove that this was plausible). Moon goes over a waterfall and Bond escapes, only to be captured by General Moon then tortured for fourteen months during the opening credits (the scorpions are creepy).
The general returns, hoping one last time to turn Bond on his former employers, who left him to rot and denied his existence. General Moon also knows that there is a Western agent who flipped his son; he had hoped that Western education would have been a bridge for his country, but he betrayed his country. The general wants to know who; they most likely betrayed Bond as well. But Bond doesn’t know and won’t tell. He figures he will face a firing squad, but is instead part of a prisoner exchange with Zao. He’s taken to medical before he can ask any questions. M finally shows up and discusses the situation with him. If she had had her way, Bond would still be a captive; his freedom came at too high a price – Zao. The Americans fear that Bond was a leak in the prison, giving up secrets and they had to get him out. But Bond had not broken. He understood the danger every agent faces; they get caught, they’re on their own, there is no rescue. But M can’t be entirely sure; with the drugs in his system, Bond may not have known if he was giving up information. Bond insists someone else betrayed him. “You’re no use to anyone now,” M remarks as she leaves. Which simply encourages Bond to escape by lowering his heart rate, then springing into action. He jumps ship and walks into the Hong Kong Yacht Club.
The manager knows him, even with the beard, and sets him up with a suite, food, and clothes. Then sends a masseuse. Bond knows it’s a trap and reveals that the manager works for Chinese Intelligence, but won’t rat him out, if he continues to help him. Zao is a threat to them as well. He’s pointed to Cuba, specifically a gene therapy clinic. In Cuba, Bond meets a young woman as she emerges from the water (a throwback to the first Bond girl in Dr. No), Jinx. The two flirt then hop in bed with one another (because it’s Bond). Jinx is gone come morning, already heading into the clinic. Bond sneaks in and discovers Zao. They get in a fight and Jinx kills the head doctor and uses his computer to look up Zao. A fire breaks out and then the building blows up, courtesy of Jinx. Both Bond and Jinx chase Zao, but he gets away in a helicopter. Bond did get a necklace he was wearing and discovers diamonds in it. His contact informs him they are laser-etched in the signature of Gustav Graves, yet they have the chemical makeup of African conflict diamonds; just like the ones that Bond blew up at the beginning of the film [note, it is not that easy to simply tell where a diamond is from, and they do not travel in briefcases like in the beginning].
Bond knows he must return to Britain and meet this Gustav Graves (he parachutes into media meetings). Graves is due to unveil his latest project, the Icarus Space Program. Bond meets the man face-to-face at a fencing club and the two men try to one-up each other in sword fighting, under the guise of playing for a diamond, starting with foils and moving up to broadswords (it’s not great sword work, but still a bit flashy and makes you wonder who will bleed first). Bond wins, but Graves’ assistant, Miranda Frost has to break them apart. Graves invites Bond to his gala in Iceland. Bond receives a key as he leaves and uses it in a backdoor. He trades information with M, though he’s not officially reinstated. Q goes over his new gadgets, including virtual reality simulation glasses, a car that uses mirrors to appear invisible, a ring to break glass, and his twentieth watch (a nod to this being the twentieth Bond film). We see M briefly speak to Miranda Frost; apparently an MI6 agent whose three month assignment has been to get close to Graves. Frost determines he is clean and reports she is wise enough to not get involved with Bond.
An Ice Palace has been created for Graves’ event in Iceland. He continues to get his thrills by driving a high-speed ice car. We also note that Jinx has arrived for the gala and Bond tries to flirt with Frost (not knowing she is MI6) and gets nowhere. Zao also happily greets Graves. Graves introduces his Icarus Project as a seeming “second sun,” with use to grow crops year-round and bring light to darkness. Later, it seems that Icarus has been modified for Graves’ use, and Jinx has wandered off. Frost gives herself away as MI6 to Bond by kissing him as a distraction and telling him she told M she didn’t want him there. They bed each other to continue the charade as lovers, but Bond leaves to take care of the situation. Jinx in the meantime has snuck into Graves’ lab and is captured by his henchman. His henchman wants to use the lasers to kill Jinx, but Bond stumbles upon her and rescues her.
Bond then confronts Graves, who has lived to die another day – Graves used gene therapy to change his face from Colonel Moon. Miranda arrives, and betrays Bond…again. She was the agent who sided with Moon and got Bond captured. Bond uses his ring to break glass to escape, then drives away in Graves’ ice car. Graves uses Icarus as a laser to chase Bond, but Bond skis out of trouble (with noticeable CGI). Then Zao drives his own car after Bond in his gadget car. Bond crashes into the Ice Palace to rescue Jinx, who will soon drown in a melting Palace that Graves hit with his laser. Zao is also killed in a crash in the Palace.
Jinx and Bond head to South Korea; Jinx is an American NSA agent and they are formally teaming up to take down Graves. The two agents manage to get on Graves’ plane as the Americans attempt to blow up Icarus, which does not work out. Graves/Moon reveals himself to his father, expecting him to be proud, but General Moon is not (seems he has more honor than his son). He’s killed and a hole is blown into the airplane, causing massive suction. Frost (in a ridiculous skimpy outfit for no good reason) takes on Jinx with a sword. Jinx has set the plane to fly into Icarus. Bond takes on Graves; Graves electrocutes Bond, then takes the last parachute, but Bond opens it early, dragging the man into the engine. The plane is falling apart, Jinx manages to stab Frost, and the good guys have to use Graves’ fancy helicopter to escape (which luckily has the diamonds inside). They put those diamonds to “good” use when they snuggle up with each other in a remote cottage.
I’m not thrilled with Jinx as a Bond girl; I will admit, they at least give her some action and motivation, but barely and she gets captured and stuck twice, to be rescued by Bond. Frost, meanwhile, is far more intriguing. Jinx was too easy. It’s a bit of a trend with some of the Bond films I’ve just watched. Christmas Jones was practically useless in the last movie and Elektra had far more development. Natalya in GoldenEye was more compelling and Bond did not instantly fall into bed with Onatop. Wai Lin struck a happy medium and got a better fight scene, though she too fell easily into Bond’ arms.
Up Next: Casino Royale