Die Another Day
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     The world has been through a lot lately but it's nice to know that some things never change. James Bond is alive and well and still drinks his martinis shaken not stirred.  There is some continuity in the world.  Die Another Day is the 20th movie in the Bond series stretching back to 1962.  And Pierce Brosnan returns as Bond for the 4th time (GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough).  In the 40 years since the first Bond film (Dr. No, starring Sean Connery), Bond may not have changed but everything else has.  The Cold War is over. Smersh and SPECTRE are no more and Bond has moved on to other enemies.

     The plot of Die Another Day has been ripped from today's headlines. Agents from North Korea are helping to launder blood diamonds from Africa by pretending to have discovered a big diamond mine in Iceland. Things start out pretty tough for Bond (Brosnan). As he is trying to break up a diamonds-for-Arms deal in North Korea, his cover is blown.  He is captured and tortured. He is released 14 months later in a prisoner exchange.  But he's a bit cranky.  Everyone thinks he cracked under interrogation.  Bond sets out to clear his name and break up the diamond gang, first by himself, and later with the help of MI-6.  He is helped by an American agent (Halle Berry) as he tries to get rid of the latest supervillain (Toby Stephens) and his henchman, Mr. Kil (Lawrence Makoare).  I won't give anything away but there are plenty of explosions, sex, gunfights, car chases, an Ice Palace and a killer satellite.

     Die Another Day doesn't stray far from the Bond playbook but it does celebrate the 20th Bond film by paying homage to previous films.  Berry first appears from the ocean a la Ursula Andress complete with bikini and knife.  Q's (John Cleese) lab contains Rosa Klebb's knife shoe from From Russia With Love and the jet backpack from ThunderballDie Another Day does starts out a bit slow but it makes up for it by the end of the film.   The supporting cast are pretty good, particularly Berry whose character is basically a female James Bond.  And, of course, Berry is the first Bond girl to have won an Oscar.  John Cleese is a more than adequate replacement for Desmond Llewelyn who played Q in 18 Bond films but sadly died before the new one was shot.  Judi Dench is good again as M.  Unfortunately, we are given another bland supervillain in Toby Stephens (Possession). He is supposed to be suave and evil but he's pretty boring. The chief henchman complete with diamonds lodged in his face is similarly bland.  But, Bond has a cool new car. Thank God, he has given up the Beemer and has gone back to an Aston Martin complete with Romulan technology. And MI-6 now has a holodeck or should I say a holosuite.

      This movie is everything you have come to expect through the last 40 years of Bond films. It is really dumb yet very entertaining. The repartee is full of double entendres as usual.  I can suspend my disbelief for almost any plot device but I couldn't accept the scene where Bond didn't know that his gun was unloaded.  But maybe Bond is getting old. Pierce Brosnan is beginning to look his age and is a wee bit paunchy.  While he is no Sean Connery, he is definitely the best James Bond since Connery.  And Die Another Day even has a discussion of Astronomy!  As Berry says, when she encounters Bond chatting up a sweet young thing, ``I suppose he's been telling you about his Big Bang theory."