Top critical review
Don't Be Absurd, Mr. Bond
Reviewed in the United States on November 15, 2021
Pierce Brosnan's James Bond 007 films come to a merciful close with the worst entry in this strange stretch between the fun Connery/Moore films and the brooding Daniel Craig era.
As if trying a mini-reboot to see what would happen, Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is captured and tortured by the North Koreans after killing one of their officers (Will Yun Lee). He is later traded back to the West in a prisoner exchange, and escapes to investigate who betrayed him while he was in captivity, and to do battle against billionaire Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), who has yet another satellite orbiting the planet that turns out to be a giant weapon that can kill millions. Bond meets up with Jinx (Halle Berry), an American NSA agent, and much shenanigans begin.
It's universally acknowledged that "Die Another Day" is not a great film. Even the cast and crew were weary of it, maybe franchise exhaustion had set in with this being the fourth film in seven years. There is some decent stuff here, but also a ridiculous plot, some terrible special effects that would make The Asylum or "Sharknado" proud, and Madonna delivers not only a cringeworthy cameo but the absolute worst song of the entire franchise (and I am a big electronic/dance music fan). M (Judi Dench) thinking that Bond gave the North Koreans information during his torture is a great plot point. Bond slowing down his heart rate and going into cardiac arrest to escape and investigate on his own is silly. Bond trying to escape a giant laser by tooling around the Icelandic tundra in a stolen land rocket is an action set-piece for the ages. Bond's escape using parts of the wrecked land rocket is infamous today for it's awful visual effects. The subplot involving gene therapy is terrible, and another special effects-laden finale is embarrassing. There was talk of giving Berry's Jinx character her own standalone franchise, but there was nothing to her character that would warrant that.
In conclusion, after binge watching all four Brosnan films, I think he made a very strong James Bond. Bringing Judi Dench in as M was a brilliant casting move, evident in her involvement in Craig's arc, too. However, Brosnan got stuck with some very subpar material in a franchise that had lost itself and couldn't take that one great step into reboot territory until "Casino Royale" four years after this was released. His best entry, "The World Is Not Enough," was merely good, not great. Sean Connery and Roger Moore may have had some off entries in their respective runs, but they also had some fantastic adventures that helped define the series. Brosnan gets stuck in the mediocre, and can't get out.
MPAA Rated (PG13), contains physical violence, gun violence, mild gore, some profanity, sexual content, sexual references, adult situations, alcohol use