Die Another Day (2002) (part 5 of 6)
Moving on, Bond gets in the car (I cannot in good conscience call it Mega Car. Apart from the usual Bond stuff, it’s still an overpriced British sports car), and follows Vlad and Kil as they head to the mine with the suitcase carrying the Icarus controls.
He watches them enter a secure area by way of a handprint scanner and sneaks around a little, taking note of the secure area which seems to be the only place with any heat for miles around.
While Bond is sneaking around, Graves meets with Vlad to talk about modifications he’s made to… something. At the moment, it looks like he’s supercharged one of those old Nintendo Power Gloves with the ability to give a 100,000 volt shock. To be fair, this is the best use of that particular gadget in the history of creation, as anyone who’s ever used the old one will tell you.
Bond is confronted by a guard, which ends how it normally does (guard with a freshly kicked ass), which gets Kil’s attention as he passes the window. He gets away from more guards by opening up a pressure valve that knocks them out with a blast.
Bond casually strolls away through the parking lot, when he’s pulled behind a car by Miranda, who proceeds to make out with him. They banter a bit, and naturally, end up going back to his room.
While Bond is fulfilling his mandatory “middle of the film nookie” obligations, Jinx is infiltrating Graves’ secure area herself. She makes her way to the office, where she finds Zao, but is ambushed by Graves and his Power Glove. And yes, she’s supposed to be Bond’s “equal”, a term that really, really wore out its welcome quickly during Brosnan’s tenure. Four movies and the closest we came to just an ordinary (in a smoking hot in a bikini sort of way) average woman was in Goldeneye.
Not helping matters is that while Halle Berry is reasonably talented and quite sexy, she doesn’t quite give off the “kickass spy” vibe. Just because you can sort of talk tough and sneer doesn’t make you action hero material.
This is also why Ben Affleck bombed as an action guy. Yes, he’s over six feet tall and built like a brick shithouse, but you know what? So is Hulk Hogan, and look at his career in action films!
Back to this movie, we cut to later. Bond is getting dressed, ready to get back to where he left off before being “distracted”. Miranda hands Bond his gun, and we cut back to Jinx, who’s strapped to a table, being menaced by Zao and Kil. We also get more slow motion, which is quickly becoming a true annoyance here.
After some cheesy back and forth, plus the setting up of a laser gun, Jinx is left to be slowly lasered to death by Kil. We cut between this and Bond infiltrating the area by way of swimming under the ice (yes, James Bond has just told hypothermia to kiss his ass!), until Bond comes to the rescue, only to be ambushed by Kil.
A pretty neat fight ensues, with the men having to dodge lasers, that ends when Jinx manages to get the control to the laser and waste Kil with it.
Bond and Jinx team up, with Bond guessing correctly that Graves is Moon, and he sends Jinx to find Miranda while he goes after Graves. They use Kil’s hand (freshly removed from his corpse) to get access and split up.
Graves enters his office, only to be confronted by Bond. Bond lets him know that he knows he’s really Moon, and Graves is subtly thrilled by the revelation. As Graves goes into the standard bout of villainous speechifying we generally get at this point in every film in the series, Miranda is seen lurking around.
She gets the drop on Graves, but it turns out she’s the one who exposed Bond at the start of the movie, a twist that anyone with half a brain could have seen coming a mile away. The name, the demeanor… she might as well have a neon sign over her head that says, “Trust me and you’re a bloody fool!”
If I may digress once again: this twist is about as clear a representation of what’s wrong with the second half of the movie than anything else. Personally, I think it might have been interesting to keep Miranda on Bond’s side for the duration of the movie, and have him end up with both girls at the end. Hell, you’ve already established this film is going to be over the top to the point of madness. Have Bond end the movie with two women, and find some way for Michael Madsen to have something to do in the movie by making him the other bad guy!
At least it would be something different, and not just the same old crap! It would be somewhat newer crap!
Regardless, Bond brings his gun up to shoot Miranda, but naturally, she took the bullets out of it. Given the weight difference, I’m not sure how a seasoned pro like Bond missed it, but there you go.
Zao enters, and after a quick cut to Jinx getting trapped in Miranda’s room, we go back to Bond as he’s told by Miranda to “hand over the toys”.
Bond gives his watch to Zao, remarking, “I’ve missed your sparkling personality,” which earns him a vicious punch to the gut, with accompanying pun from Zao. This gives Bond time to activate his sonic ring and escape by destroying the glass floor.
Bond runs off as bullets fly around him, and Zao is ordered to kill him “quietly”. Just a thought, and maybe I’m just a wiseass, but are automatic weapons really the best way to kill someone quietly? Granted, they’re a bit more sedate than firing the guns of an aircraft carrier at a guy, but really, that’s just semantics.
Regardless, Bond makes it outside and heads right for the rocket sled we saw earlier. He speeds off, and while Zao and a few guys miss him, Graves has a backup plan.
He has the Korean men seen earlier who happen to be generals brought in, and proceeds to give them a “demonstration” of Icarus’ true power. Yes, Icarus is actually an orbiting death ray, which Graves uses to chase Bond as he speeds across the ice. It’s not a half bad sequence, really… for the most part.
The sled ends up going over the edge of a glacier, but Bond uses a grappling hook to stop his descent. He manages to put together a makeshift parasail, as Graves adjusts the Icarus beam so it slices the glacier lengthwise, and in a rather dodgy bit of effects work, Bond barely escapes a huge wave created by the sliced section of glacier falling into the water.
It’s hardly the worst CGI I’ve ever seen in my life*, but for a franchise that prides itself on doing everything in-camera, it’s rather off-putting to see special effects misfiring like this.
*Bear in mind that I’ve seen acres of crappy monster movies on cable.
The water and ice is serviceable (though still kind of fake-looking), but the CGI Bond is what really kills it. I can handle some cheese in my Bond epic, but it needs to be good cheese, not Limburger!
After Jinx is taunted by Miranda, we cut to somewhere outside the Ice Palace, as Bond ambushes a guard on a snowmobile and speeds off to rescue Jinx… again. Funny how that tends to happen, even when the character is supposed to be his equal.