Monday, October 22, 2012

50th Anniversary Bond Rewatch "Die Another Day" (2002)

As a fan of the popcorn, guilty pleasure, mindless entertainment aspect of the Bond series of films, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the films with the company of my brain. Maybe there is more to be found than escapism. Maybe some of the culture and thinking of the past 50 years has left its imprint…

“Die Another Day” was the 20th Bond film, released 40 years after the first one. Less of a story in its own right, it is more of an (over) elaborate homage and collection of references to the previous films. It certainly benefits from such an approach. If one were simply to review this film on its own merits it would not come out well. Even so, it is not one of the better efforts. If Bond is all about exotic locations and spectacular stunts, this film is an artificial effort on both accounts. The filming locations are all stand-ins for the places they are supposed to be going (but don’t) and the action set pieces were all very noticeably animated in a computer.

Perhaps this is the best time to look back on the series as a whole, since the following film will effectively begin again.

Connery’s Bond can be viewed as the Knight, fighting for his monarch with exciting action, exotic locals, but chauvinism instead of chivalry. During this period his attitudes and approaches had already started to feel dated and even wrong. During this era, Lazenby served as the Stand In for one film.

As a result, Moore’s Bond is the Jester. The filmmakers play everything for laughs and as farce. As if that somehow makes it alright that their hero is a scoundrel engaged in an ultimately dishonorable profession like espionage and assassination.

After a long dose of Moore, things became so silly (and aged) that the filmmakers tried to return to reality. They simplified the action and storylines a bit, and mad Bond serious and deadly. Dalton’s Bond is the Rogue, doing things his own way regardless of what authority wants.

Finally, in the nineties, Brosnan came along and played the Cipher. In some ways he is the best Bond because he doesn’t really have a take on the character. He is the ideal of Bond combining characteristics of all that came before: Connery’s presence, Moore’s one liners and Dalton’s rebellious streak. This in itself is an accurate reflection of his era. The nineties were all about opinions and ideas but not so much about doing anything about them. It was the time when we debated the meaning of the word “is” and everyone basked in the economic results of the eighties with no thought for tomorrow.

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