We Defend the Indefensible
007, one character at the centre of a franchise spanning over 60 years. Yet throughout all the rich tapestry that is the James Bond universe, Die Another Day is the one film constantly regarded as the worst. Join me on this review of espionage, witty one-liners and parasailing as I explain why Die Another Day is, in fact, the best James bond movie ever made.
Die Another Day set a franchise record by grossing $431 million worldwide. Combine Pierce Brosnan’s other grossing’s as the character and he became the first Billion Dollar Bond’. Whilst the numbers don’t lie, the reviews have sometimes been slightly less than complimentary. James Berardinelli of Reelviews.net said, “Die Another Day is an exercise in loud explosions and excruciatingly bad special effects.” Whilst Larry Carroll of CountingDown.com praised it for having “magnificently balanced the film so that it keeps true to the Bond legend’.
The film has a 6.1/10 rating on IMDB and 57% on Rotten Tomatoes. This suggests that whilst, this is the lowest ranking Bond film, the majority are still in favour of this cheesy slice of Spy cinema.
The Last Great Bond Film
Die Another Day is a homage to You Only Live Twice, Ian Fleming’s eleventh James Bond novel. Yet almost two decades after Brosnan’s final venture as 007, his tenure as the character is often criticised for having not aged well. This is in part to the juxtaposing revamp of the franchise with Casino Royale in 2006. Rebranded as a more realistic, gritty Bond. This reimagining abandoned all the pomp and theatrics that Bond had built up over 40 years at that point.
Gone were the bombastic Bond-isms that were rife in Die Another Day. No invisible car, no sun laser, no Madonna… well it wasn’t all bad. Whilst a reintroduction to a modern Bond was necessary for the new millennium, it has immortalised Die Another Day as the last great Bond film. A tonged in cheek, wink and a nod to the characters iconic past, with a modern touch.
No Time to Sigh…
If your main issue with Die Another Day is its plot holes or overall ridiculousness, you’re trying too hard. To give credit director Lee Tamahori, this film gives you no time to question anything.
From Bond escaping exile. Then travelling to a luxury hotel. Escaping a murderous masseuse and uncovering Chinese Spies with an ashtray… all this action takes around five minutes.
The frantic nature of Die Another Day doesn’t give you time to stew in the insanity. It’s a steady diet of bizarre characters and a handful of narrative twists. All before throwing it all in the trash and moving on to something else equally exciting. Boredom is not an option here.
Jinx, the Ultimate Bond Girl?
Whether its Barbara Bach in The Spy Who Loved Me or Michelle Yeoh in Tomorrow Never Dies, the bond girl is a staple of the Bond canon. Each character was redefined, but perhaps never quite as much as Halle Berry’s Jinx.
The first heroic African-American Bond girl, and possibly the first that could ever be considered a genuine equal to Bond. So much so that there were genuine plans for a Jinx spin-off movie, however, plans for Daniel Craig’s reboot soon put the nail in that coffin.
Even the obligatory James Bond sex scene takes a different tone. Out is the problematic cohesion where the international man of mystery strings some lies together. With some martini-fueled double-entendres of course. In, is the strong Jinx. Taking charge and established as the new breed of female Spy with enormous sexual prowess.
Is her dialogue corny? Yes. Are there some undeniable iconic moments? Yes. For every yo momma’ line, the is a moment of badassery to compensate. Whether Berry was drawing us into moments of suspense by drowning in the ice place. Or established herself in the zeitgeist in her iconic knife-carrying bikini. Jinx was a huge step forward for a franchise with deep roots in misogyny.
Is the Plot Actually Great?
You might be thinking, this is an easy “ha, no”. But think about it for a second. James Bond has always been a British, post-colonial fever dream. Where this white man can go to these far, exotic lands and do as he pleases with whom he pleases. All with a seance of national pride as he does whatever he does, on behalf of the Queen … to save the world.
Whilst that is obviously no different here, we do have a deeper narrative at play with the villain of Tan-Sun Moon. He states “I studied at Oxford and Harvard. Majored in Western Hypocrisy.” Whilst we could just chalk this up as another cheap Bond line. The theme of Westernization plays not only on the surface of Die Another Day but within James Bond.
Tan-Sun Moon literally becomes a white British man and whilst this is an absurd narrative device, the thematic point is the same. Tan-Sun Moon’s objective is to conquer the western world, yet he must assimilate and become what he hates in order to try and take Bond down. There is a poetic irony at play here not to mention the god-like Gustav Graves who utilizes the power of the sun to try to kill his enemies.
Die Another Day is consistent with its insanity. It harnesses its plot to let you know that these aren’t just villains… it’s Graves the sinister solar-powered demi-god. It’s not just one South Korean murder after Bond, its Tan-Sun Moon the race-shifting reminder of Britain’s colonial history.
Bonds Hidden History
Die Another Day marked the 40th anniversary of the franchise. To mark the occasion there are scatted references throughout as only this cheeky, self-aware film could. The iconic shot of Jinx walking out of the sea in a bikini with the white belt and a diving knife is a. reference to Dr No (1962).
Graves’ engineer holds the Icarus control and petting it like a cat, another iconic image in tribute to From Russia with Love (1963). While Bond fences in a duel with Graves, the villain says, “Well, diamonds are for everyone.” A nod to Diamonds Are Forever (1971).
Madonna’s character is introduced as a few bars of “Nobody Does it Better” is played. The official song of The is “A Field Guide to Birds of the West Indies”, written by James Bond. Ian Fleming, the creator of Bond, famously named Bond after the author as he believed it was the dullest name possible.
Even Q glances at the fourth wall when he hands Bond his new watch. “This is your twentieth, I believe” a direct remark to note that Die Another Day is the twentieth official James Bond film.
Yes, Madonna Is In it
People like to compare Madonna’s musical efforts to the iconic theme song of Paul McCartney & Wings – Live and Let Die or Shirly Bassey’s Goldfinger. But, you could argue that Madonna’s synthesised electro-pop theme song for Die Another Day was the perfect fit.
An artist famous for reinvention, with a new take on the orchestral Bond sound, seems fitting for a film where the main character is regenerated too. Plus, even if you hated the song at least the video was impressive. Shot as almost its own mini-film to accompany the Bond film. Madonna’s character Verity is seen held captive, duelling with herself and fighting her way free with yet more nods to Bonds rich history.
Her cameo was everything it needed to be, brief. A quick one-liner about “cockfights” and done. She slides through her scene as any celebrity cameo should and reaffirms the film’s sense of post – Cool Britannia’ self-awareness.
Die Another Day isn’t Madonna’s only track associated with an International Man of Mystery. She also went on to give us Beautiful Stranger. An awesome tune for the second Austin Powers movie.
The Final Act of Fantasy Before the Era of Realism
Die Another Day was released months after The Borne Identity (2002) began ushering in a new wave of Spy cinema. Much like Casino Royal (2006) the appetite for darker, slightly more believable heroes and situations was needed for a post 9/11 audience.
This is the first film of the franchise released after 11 September 2001. Die Another Day is a film with its head in the sand, looking for one last-ditch effort to give you escapism instead of another grim look into the mirror.
This is clear throughout the film. The longer you watch Die Another Day, the longer you fall down the rabbit hole of Bond. A Bond film tries to adapt with the time, yet pay respect to its history and it all becomes one fantastical implosion. Consider this film as a reflection of its time, like Moonraker.
Whether its overly ambitious CGI or the confident female heroine of Jinx, this Bond represents a changing of the guard. It’s impossible to tell if Die Another Day is a meta take on Bond or if it’s just one big blowout playing all the hits and then some.
That’s why I’m claiming that this is the ultimate Bond film. It encapsulates the whole franchise in 133 minutes and remains a cult classic. Bond is always ridiculous… but it’s far from boring.
And that’s why Die Another Day is the best James Bond movie. Is there anything we missed out that you think could’ve been on this list? Or are we way out of our depth with this argument? If so, leave us a comment below.
We defend more of the indefensible HERE.
Read IMDB information about Die Another Day HERE.
Hogwarts Houses For MCU Characters
Since its conception, Hogwarts houses have been a deciding factor in getting to know people. How someone answers “what Hogwarts house are you in?” can tell you a lot about a person. But where do some of our favourite MCU characters shape up when faced with the sorting hat?
Tony Stark/Iron Man- Ravenclaw
While Tony could be argued for almost any of the houses, Ravenclaw suits him best. Most of his development comes from the pursuit of knowledge. Aside from being one of the smartest characters in the MCU, he is constantly learning and improving upon his technology. He tends to approach large problems from a strategic and pragmatic standpoint, especially in his later films. Admittedly he can be brave and somewhat self-servingly ambitious. But who he is at the end of his arc and the way that he solves problems points to Iron Man being in Ravenclaw.
Steve Rogers/Captain America- Gryffindor
Is it even a question? Steve Rogers is definitely a Gryffindor. From day one, he has always strived to do what’s right. And he subtly wants a bit of glory for it too. He’s a natural leader and has always rushed into danger without a thought. He is undoubtedly driven by bravery and righteousness and is through and through a Gryffindor.
Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow- Hufflepuff
Natasha is tricky. She could truthfully swing in any direction. It may seem strange to put a spy in Hufflepuff, but if nothing else, Natasha is loyal. She cares deeply for those close to her and has shown that she’s willing to die for them. Her characterization throughout the MCU has been lacking, but her solo film has shown her to be fiercely loyal.
Bruce Banner/The Hulk- Ravenclaw
Another Ravenclaw. Similar to Tony, Bruce is very intelligent. While he seems to be less inclined to want to fight battles than Tony is, he is constantly learning. His relationship with the Hulk can even be characterized this way. By a desire to learn how to control him, then to understand him, then to become him. His arc is one that is driven by knowledge.
Thor is always looking to prove himself. Even though he can lift the hammer, he is constantly looking for validation that he is worthy. He’s not usually afraid of much, and when he is, he faces it anyway. What makes Thor a Gryffindor though is his desire to be the hero. He’s not in Slytherin because he doesn’t desire to rule. He’s not ambitious, he just wants validation.
Peter Parker/Spiderman- Gryffindor
Peter is another hard one. He’s intelligent like Bruce and Tony, which could throw him into Ravenclaw. He’s loyal to his friends, which could put him into Hufflepuff. But at his core, Peter is in Gryffindor. The proof is in one of his first lines in the MCU. In Civil War, he tells Tony, “if you can do the things I do, and you don’t, then bad things happen because of you. (paraphrased)” He feels that because he’s special, he has to act. And unlike Steve and Thor, Peter is almost always afraid. He faces his challenges in spite of that. And while he wants to have a normal life, and a typical High School experience, he selflessly puts himself on the line. Once again, Peter is not looking for recognition, he’s just trying to do the right thing.
Dr Strange- Ravenclaw
Lots of Ravenclaws in the MCU. For Dr Strange, there really isn’t any other option. He is completely driven by the pursuit of knowledge. And while recognition came with that, we see with his journey into the mystic arts that his true motivation comes from learning. He’s a very similar character to Tony Stark, and both of them are textbook Ravenclaws.
Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch- Hufflepuff
Like Natasha, Wanda is driven by her relationships. She is faithfully loyal to her brother, then Vision, then her family. She is definitely motivated to protect and care for those she loves. Including creating an entire alternate reality to be with them! Wanda is brave and intelligent, but at her core, she is loyal.
Finally, a Slytherin. Once again, was there any other option? Loki is characterized by his cunning and ambition. He wants to rule. And he doesn’t get there by rushing into battle. He gets there by being sneaky and clever. Loki is a Slytherin through and through.
Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel- Slytherin
This may not feel like the obvious choice for Carol, but she definitely portrays characteristics of a Slytherin. She’s the best, and she wants people to know it. She’s confident and clever, and she likes attention. We don’t know her very well yet, but from what we’ve seen, she seems to relish in the attention her efforts provide. She is good, helpful, and ambitious.
T’Challa/Black Panther- Hufflepuff
T’Challa is also driven by loyalty. But while he is protective of those he loves, his true loyalty is to Wakanda. He’s not king because of ambition, he’s king out of duty. Everything he does is through the lens of “what is best for Wakanda?” While it’s a bit unconventional, his loyalty to Wakanda characterizes him as a Hufflepuff.
Scott Lang/Ant-Man- Gryffindor
At first, it appears that Scott would be in Hufflepuff. After all, he is very motivated by his relationship with his daughter. But if he were truly 100% driven by that, he would have made different choices. He would not have betrayed Hope and Hank and teamed up with Captain America without their permission. He also would not have stolen from his company and landed in jail in the first place. But both of those above decisions do characterize him as a Gryffindor. He wants to be in the action, and he doesn’t always consider the consequences. Scott isn’t really looking for recognition and is not that ambitious, but he does want to be involved in the big events. He wants to help people, and he bravely faces battles. Sometimes without discretion.
Do you agree with our picks for these MCU characters in Hogwarts Houses? If not or if we’ve missed any out, leave us a comment below.
Check out our review of Black Widow HERE.
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