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Die Another Day

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Jan
Die Another Day

from Film Forum, 11/27/02

For those seeking action instead of academics, James Bond is back to save the world once again. Die Another Day is being celebrated by mainstream critics as the best Bond film in many years, high praise for director Lee Tamahori. But religious press critics are as dismayed as always by Bond's womanizing and violent measures.

This time, Bond is betrayed and abandoned by his colleagues and left to fend for himself as a conflict rises between North and South Korea. He is helped by a mysterious woman called Jinx (Halle Berry, in a role that may inspire the first Bond spin-off franchise). The usual players return, including Judi Dench and John Cleese.

Gerri Pare (Catholic News) says, "With Tamahori at the helm, the action and intrigue unreel at a furious pace, with death-defying stunts so preposterous one can only laugh and go with the flow. It's unquestionably mindless escapist entertainment, but entertain it does. It is of concern that all the mayhem and explosions are made to look exciting but, since it appears much more fantastic than realistic, it isn't as objectionable as gritty, in-your-face violence."

Bob Smithouser (Focus on the Family) says, "The movie may be a rush, but at what cost to fans who continue to have Bond's warped values (namely that promiscuity is cool and merciless bloodshed heroic) pounded into their psyches?"

Holly McClure (Crosswalk) tells parents, "This is an adult movie with mature sex scenes and themes, so don't go thinking it's kid friendly. Overall, Die Another Day is an entertaining, action-packed 'popcorn' movie. This may not be the best Bond film ever made, but it definitely feels like the longest and most exhausting one with a complicated plot, plenty of incredible special effects, non-stop action and amazing stunts—and of course, the very cool Brosnan in a role he was apparently born for."

Michael Medved says, "Tahamori brings a refreshing approach to this venerable series by offering action scenes that emphasize character along with eye-popping stunts. This James Bond flick could never (and should never) qualify as gritty realism, but for all its adventurous and exotic elements it never tilts over into outlandish self-parody.

Movieguide's critic is impressed by "great direction by Lee Tamahori, fantastic stunts and wonderful-looking special effects." But he adds, "This movie is not a film for impressionable youngsters, or teenagers, however! Like all Bond films, it tells young boys, "If you are smart, strong, handsome or pretty, resourceful, and willing to take huge risks, then you will be rewarded with the three G's – Girls, Gold and Glory.""

Mainstream critics hailed this as a step-up from the franchise norm. Owen Gleiberman (Entertainment Weekly) calls it "the savviest and most exciting Bond adventure in years, and that's because there's actually something at stake in it. No, I don't mean the fate of the world (as if there were doubt about the outcome of that), but the fate of James Bond himself."