Die Another Day (2002) (part 3 of 6)
After successfully foiling an apparent plot by the staff (one of whom, Mr. Chang, is with Chinese Intelligence) to make him look bad, he manages to track down Zao in Havana. It’s pretty well done, and it also features my favorite line from the film, right as Bond foils the frame-up.
Bond: Yeah, well, don’t worry about it. I’m not here to take it back.
It’s the casual way he delivers the line. Just priceless.
Bond heads to Havana and meets with a sleeper agent named Raoul (Emilio Echevarria), who directs him to a remote island clinic that’s into high-end gene therapy sessions.
Bond drives out to a hotel where, after we meet a rather unpleasant man named Mr. Krug, also on his way to the clinic, we meet our Bond Girl for the day as she emerges from the water in an homage to Ursula Andress in Dr. No.
Halle Berry plays Jinx and… Well, she’s better than she was in Catwoman, but that’s not saying much. She has fun in the role and is likable, but to be honest, she’s basically Bond if he was a smoking hot 5’7” African American woman. As opposed to Michelle Yeoh in Tomorrow Never Dies, who was Bond if he was a fairly hot Asian martial artist.
She gets me laughing right off the bat, though, with the way she walks out of the beach towards Bond. It’s a wonder Halle didn’t blow both her hips out with the rather over the top sashaying she does.
Chiropractic matters aside, she engages Bond in some rather over the top sexually charged banter, and before you know it, they’re knocking boots in a hotel room. We’re not talking bathing in the afterglow like usual here, folks. Bond actually gets laid on screen this time.
The next morning, Bond wakes up alone and sees Jinx getting on a boat headed for the island. He knocks out Krug, stuffs him in a wheelchair, and uses him to get onto the boat. On the island, he uses Krug once more, shoving him unconscious into a wall by some guards in order to sneak in unobserved.
Ah, another thing about the series I’ve always loved. Random abuse of assholes. Of course, that may just be because I have experience in customer service.
Bond finds a secret passage… Well, not really that secret, since the triggering device may as well have a large neon sign flashing next to it. Bond heads down a rather elaborate hallway lined with DNA models and mirrors.
We cut away to Jinx meeting with Dr. Alvarez, the man who runs the clinic. Alvarez gives off a fairly sleazy vibe while describing his treatment process, and to the shock of no one who’s ever seen a movie before, Jinx turns out to be armed.
She shoots him dead, and we cut back to Bond as he comes across an unconscious Zao, now bald and pale with the diamonds still embedded in his face, on an odd looking bed, hooked up to an IV drip. During this, we see Jinx accessing Alvarez’s computer, where we see Zao is getting a DNA transplant.
Bond wakes Zao up by squeezing his IV bag (ouch!), but before he can get any information, a really nice fight breaks out between the two men. During the course of the fight (in which Bond rips a bullet attached to a chain from Zao’s neck), a fire breaks out, and Zao runs off. Bond pursues, and spies Jinx, who he tells to get clear. He also finds Alvarez dead, barely escaping a bomb Jinx has planted in the room.
Zao escapes and runs for a helicopter, with Jinx firing at him, as Bond escapes himself. There’s another rather amusing bit of unintentional humor when Jinx exits the clinic and sees Zao. She almost has a Terminator-esque stride upon exiting the building. I don’t know; it makes me chuckle, at least.
It’s almost like Halle Berry studied how to be an action hero by renting a bunch of old ‘80s flicks, ordering a pizza, and kicking back with a few brews. Can’t say I disapprove of that acting technique, actually.
The helicopter flies off, and Jinx escapes from the guards by doing a high dive off a cliff and swimming to a waiting boat. Well, to be fair, there’s a rather dodgy CGI double that does the stunt. Much as I dig this film, using CGI wasn’t the best move they could have made, and it shows here, as well as a few other places.
Bond watches her ride off, and checks out the bullet he took from Zao. It turns out to contain diamonds, which he later has Raoul look at. Turns out they’re conflict diamonds from Sierra Leone, and they come from a man named Gustav Graves.
After a brief scene with M and Falco, “London Calling” by The Clash starts up as Bond flies back into England, and we meet Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) as he parachutes into a news conference. Seems he’s just been knighted, and given what we’ve seen so far, you really should be able to guess the twist that will come up soon.
The fact that music from the pre-title scene plays as he touches down is also a bit of a dead giveaway.
We also meet his publicist Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike), who turns out to be a world class fencer, as we will shortly learn. Graves casually weaves his way through the press, and of course, it turns out Bond is tailing him. They end up at a fencing club called, fittingly enough, Blades. Has a familiar ring, actually.
Speaking of familiar rings, it’s here we get a cameo from Madonna as a fencing instructor who introduces Bond to Graves. Evidently, even after all these years, we have yet to learn that Madonna is, when it comes to movies at least, better heard than seen.
Did we really learn nothing from Shanghai Surprise, people? Come on! Evita was a fucking fluke! …Not that I’ve ever seen it.
To be fair, it’s not an awful cameo, but seriously, with the amount of time she’s spent in front of a camera, one would think she would at least be able to show a little bit of personality!
Just for the record, one would be very, very wrong. She’s one of the few actresses who, if you’re a fairly horny guy watching one of her movies, you’ll be getting wood in more ways than one.
Lord, I apologize for that one.