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Die Another Day | review | dvd | Lollipop
Die Another Day
by Chad Van Wagner
Thank God Eon Productions (the production company run by the Broccolis and their kin) realized Bond needed a makeover. With the introduction of Pierce Brosnan as the inimitable Mr. Bond, the sagging 007 series received a much-needed kick in the ass. Goldeneye, the first film with the second-best ever Bond (no one will ever top Connery, of course) was every bit as energetic and charged as the previous decade or so's worth of Bond films was flabby and self-parodying. But the follow ups, Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough, showed the franchise slipping into uncertainty and imitation, all action and no suave.
To say Die Another Day puts the series back where it belongs is a huge understatement. As I said in an Ain't It Cool review during its theatrical release, Die Another Day is the best Bond film since Goldfinger, and arguably the first Bond film in decades that re-create the legend from the ground up, rather than relying on past glories to carry the audience through the complex bits. It's also the closest any Bond film has gotten to the novels. All of this translates into an example of the increasingly rare species known as the worthwhile Hollywood movie.
Brosnan, of course, is Bond, but in the first reel, both he and screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade show us what the series has never dared: A tortured, ruffled, and possibly beaten 007. This makes his inevitable ascendancy back to superhero status that much more believable, and even though the following plot is quite literally cobbled together from past Bond films, it hardly matters. We've seen Bond scared, and that makes all the difference.
The DVD is a typical orgy of extra features overkill. The "Special Edition" (are there plain editions?) is a two-disc monstrosity, featuring no fewer that three "making of" documentaries, among other (by now compulsory) odds and ends, including the music video for the cowflop of a title song Madonna concocted. There's also a Pop Up Video style extra that allows you to watch the film while bits of relevant information zip by. There's probably more info on this one movie than on the past twenty Takeishi Miike films combined, but at least you can skip what you don't want to watch.
Usually. For if there's one serious criticism to be leveled at this package, it's the fact that after you put the disc in the player, your machine is effectively hijacked for two or three minutes while MGM tries to sell you more DVDs. Nothing short of manually powering off the unit will make it stop. Nothing like paying to have more stuff sold to you. Great movie, but let's hope the forced advertisements are a short-lived quirk from a hard-up studio.