Die One other Day at 20: is the reviled Bond film value a re-examination?

There is a scene within the twentieth Bond movie, Die One other Day, when Pierce Brosnan’s 007 saunters into the black marbled foyer of a fancy Hong Kong resort, having – in 27 brief minutes – already surfed into North Korea, hijacked an arms seller’s helicopter, blasted by the DMZ on a hovercraft, captured and tortured for 14 months, returned to MI6 in a prisoner trade, suffered a coronary heart assault and jumped off a ship within the South China Sea.

The often soigné undercover agent is tousled, with lengthy hair and a beard, his luxuriously bushy chest uncovered by the open shirt of his moist blue pyjamas. He requests his typical suite and a bottle of ’61 Bollinger. The membership supervisor asks if he has been busy. “Surviving,” Bond replies, “simply surviving.”

This rags-to-riches vault juxtaposition exemplifies the broader tonal inconsistency of a movie that, for all Bond’s speak of survival, almost killed the franchise. Typically derided as one of many sequence’ worst, leading to a Daniel Craig-fronted overhaul with On line casino Royale in 2006, Die One other Day has loads to reply for: the invisible automobile, gliding like clear jelly by a misty ice palace; Madonna’s jarringly terrible theme music; Madonna, once more, performs a corseted fencing teacher; a race-changing villain; one other whose face is flecked with diamonds; an estimated US$70m (£59m) spent on product placement; John Cleese.

And but, because the much-maligned first Bond movie of this century turns 20, its confused atonality deserves a re-examination. It was not badly acquired when it got here out, incomes $430 million (£365 million) worldwide, making it the highest-grossing Bond movie on the time. Critics had been lukewarm, though Michael Gove approvingly referred to as Rosamund Pike a “delicate citrus sorbet”. Launched simply over a 12 months after 9/11, Die One other Day sits uneasily between two motion film eras: the suave glamor and shiny heroism of the earlier Bonds and the gritty seriousness and complicated geopolitics of the subsequent era. It is essentially the most troubled of all of the Bonds, and for that I like it.

On September 11, 2001, the artistic workforce on Die One other Day was in a script assembly at 138 Piccadilly after they heard in regards to the terrorist assaults on the Twin Towers, recalled director Lee Tamahori. The movie’s New York finale was rapidly shelved and the explosive ending moved to Korea’s Demilitarized Zone. The movie’s solely veiled reference to 9/11 is M’s loaded remark to Bond after his 14-month absence: “Whilst you had been gone, the world modified.”

Die One other Day is each of the brand new world and the previous. In post-9/11 motion films, heroes had been cynical and fallible. They bore emotional and bodily scars, usually explored in origin tales (Batman Begins and, in fact, On line casino Royale). Authorities companies weren’t at all times the nice guys (Bourne films). There are components of this ambivalence in Die One other Day – within the movie’s surprisingly darkish opening, the villain, Colonel Moon, reveals that he “indulged in Western hypocrisy” at Oxford and Harvard. Bond is a “killer”, whereas a North Korean normal is portrayed as a loving, offended father with a robust ethical compass. Bond is betrayed, imprisoned and tortured – scenes which can be horribly spliced ​​with the writhing hearth and ice maidens from the opening credit – earlier than a bleak, Dostoyevsky-esque second when a desolate Bond believes he is about to be executed. His American rescuers scoff: “You’d suppose he was some form of hero.”

Thus far so difficult, however then the movie shifts into reverse – in regards to the time Bond enters the resort. Minutes later, after disarming the masseuse, Peaceable Fountains of Need, reunited together with his Brioni shirts and Bollinger, Bond goes to Cuba, the place he meets Halle Berry’s bikini-clad Jinx, who seems in a tribute to Dr No’s Ursula Andress from the ocean, writhing in slow-motion pleasure. It is considered one of various self-referential winks, starting from cheeky flashbacks, like Rosa Klebb’s shoe in Q’s lab, to a metatextual commentary on the growing obsolescence of the Bond universe with a villain who fashions the sneering pomposity of his white alter ego 007 himself.

The twentieth Bond movie pokes enjoyable at its irrelevance, but it surely’s additionally very, very anxious about being irrelevant. Die One other Day doubles down on the Bond components – lasers, diamonds, an improbably positioned last bonk – whereas lassoing in incongruous options of the movie’s perceived competitors. Attempting to maintain up with the twin threats of The Matrix and video video games, Tamahori, in a Bond movie first, insisted on utilizing CGI – leading to a very bleak tidal wave kie browsing sequence that was extensively panned by critics. More strange is the movie’s humor – like Jinx’s embarrassing “Your momma” crack (written by Berry himself) – whose clumsiness is extra Austin Powers than James Bond, maybe stemming from a worry that the Bond parody would possibly steal Bond’s viewers.

Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike.
Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike in a nonetheless. Picture: Keith Hamshere/Mgm/Eon/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

After which there’s a extra thrilling local weather nervousness. It is available in one mouth: “world warming, it is a horrible factor,” taunts Colonel Moon (Toby Stephens), as he blasts Iceland’s frozen panorama with an area laser, inflicting an ice cap to crumble into the ocean. The laser known as Icarus, a sly reference to the tragic penalties of man’s try to overcome nature. In Die One other Day – and former Bond movies – elemental destruction is bilateral injury in man’s bigger scheme of cash and energy.

The factor about Bond is that occasions change, however Bond should, by design, stay the identical. So, on his twentieth birthday, in occasions so troubled, spare a thought for this basket case of a Bond movie: within the face of cultural, social and geopolitical change, 007 received a bit of misplaced. Unable to decide to recreating Roger Moore’s excessive camp of previous films or paving the best way for the salty darkness of the longer term, Die One other Day tried a model of each, its insecurities all too obvious – ​​regardless of the invisible automobile.

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