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:: Die Another Day

Forty years strong, James Bond, Agent 007, returns in Die Another Day. The name has been so recognisable throughout the years that it is almost impossible to make a bad Bond film. This is Pierce Brosnan’s fourth Bond film and he gives possibly his best performance to date. The spectacular actions scenes and killer touch is evident as director Lee Tamahori gets on with the business of maintaining plenty of life and zest in the Bond persona.

In the 20th adventure of Agent 007, things are more serious. The story begins in North Korea where Bond is undercover on a diamonds-for-arms deal that goes wrong. It leads to literally fourteen months of torture and Bond is shown as less than invincible. After being released to MI6’s custody, he is seemingly betrayed as M (Dame Judi Dench) thinks he spoke to his captors. Bond is no longer allowed to operate within MI6 and he then sets out on his own revenge mission for his torture. He travels to Havana, London, Iceland, and back to North Korea.

Along the way, Bond meets a host of colourful characters. He trades innuendo with the mysterious Jinx (Halle Berry), a sexy spy, and fellow agent Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike), each of who play pivotal roles in the adventure. All the while, Bond has his revengeful sights on Zao (Rick Yune), the disfigured Korean thug and billionaire madman Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens).

There are some scenes that are greatly entertaining. Bond and Graves engage in a friendly duel at a fencing club that escalates into a gigantic swordfight. Other moments revive memories of 60s and 70s Bond films; a healthy smattering of smirking silliness, including an invisible car, a number of clever gadgets from Q (John Cleese), and some sparkling stunts. The stimulation factor is turned up more. The villains are very credible, the women are sexy and many-sided, and this film has a stronger narrative, thereby targeting a broader audience.

Halle Berry was keen to participate in this Bond adventure and the film is better for it. She is lithe and lovely, even though you mightn’t imagine her firing a gun in anger. She is truly committed to the role. Toby Stephens does a fine job as the sneering villain. His flair comes from being a West End stage actor. Rick Yune, as the youngest ever Bond villain, undergoes a remarkable transformation to play Zao and gives a capable performance.

There is even more reason to celebrate this Bond film as Pierce Brosnan shows superb class and poise as 007. He is relishing the role and he recognises the genre limitations in giving a terrific action-packed display. Die Another Day is packed with vigour and excitement and is something for established and new Bond fans to savour.

Screening on general release.