The final film in Pierce Brosnan’s run as James Bond is Die Another Day, the twentieth film in the spy franchise, which also marked the series’ 40th anniversary. That should be something to be celebrated, but Die Another Day is such a terrible movie that it’s actually a shame that its part of the series.
The one and only redeeming thing about Die Another Day is the small tribute it pays to the rest of the series, in a great little sequence that takes place in Q’s lab (Q of course being played by John Cleese, who’s not quite as good as the late Desmond Llewelyn and who never got the chance to reprise the role again). The room, hidden away in an abandoned subway tunnel, is chalk full of gadgets from previous Bond movies – most notably the crocodile submarine from Octopussy, the jetpack from Thunderball, and the dress shoe with a hidden knife seen in From Russia With Love. It’s a very cool scene, and one that truly rewarded me for watching all of the previous films in a row.
The film itself is also full of other references to just about every previous Bond movies, from subliminal similarities (like the diamond-encrusted satellite taken right out of Diamonds Are Forever to lines taken straight from other films. But any reverence the film pays to the series as a whole is completely overshadowed by the fact that it’s the worst entry in the series, in every way imaginable. It has a terrible theme song, bad Bond girls (can you believe they wanted to give Halle Berry her own spinoff?), a stupid plot, a bad villain, stupid gadgets (an invisible car??), a nonsense plot that makes Moonraker sound sane, and some of the worst special effects ever put on film.
It’s not even in the “it’s so bad it’s good category” that movies like Tomorrow Never Dies fall into. It’s just terrible and only gets worse as the movie goes on. We’re lucky that the Bond franchise got rebooted after this film, despite the fact that it was – at the time – the most successful film in the franchise (grossing nearly half a billion dollars worldwide!)
Oh, Pierce Brosnan. You showed so much promise in GoldenEye, but fulfilled your destiny and went out like Roger Moore for Die Another Day. Such a shame. Good thing Daniel Craig came along and saved the franchise.