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Die Another Day

Starring Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry; Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, Rick Yune, John Cleese and Judi Dench
Screenplay by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade
Based on the 007 created by Ian Fleming
Directed by Lee Tamahori

IN SHORT: Best Bondflick since Connery wore the shorts. [Rated PG-13 for action violence and sexuality. 133 minutes]

Like most men, we make the same trek to the theater every couple of years for the "new" James Bond film, whatever it may be. For decades they've all been stamped from a cookie cutter formula and for decades we've always found ourselves whining on the way out of the theater. You know the shtick: lots of high-tech gadgets and the frustrated Quartermaster code named"Q" (John Cleese) who never gets to put any of 'em back on his shelves; a barely tolerant boss "M" (Judi Dench); lots of centerfold quality women to bed (at least one will moan "Oh, James!") or ogle, some with the incredibly awful double-entendre stuffed names; at least one the super-villainous bad guy with super-villainous weaponry and an evil henchman with some kind of gimmick; the usually awful title song and Our Hero strapped into his tux or his Aston Martin automobile, his ever loyal Walther PPK pistol at the ready -- all presented in a certain order and always in a certain way. Thus it has ever been. When Pierce Brosnan stepped into the ol' size double-oh sevens we hoped that maybe the franchise would do a reevaluation since they had signed a "perfect" Bond. Long time readers know how disappointed we were with the initial result.

Now we have Brosnan's fourth, Die Another Day. Believe in miracles for, with Brosnan's commitment to play Ian Fleming's James Bond 007 coming to an end -- he's since signed for one last go -- the family Broccoli kicks out the jams (though featuring music by The Clash) on Bond 20. The screenplay honors all that has come before and throws the cookie cutter construction far, far away and lets the franchise poke fun at itself. To put it simply, there was only one thing left that they could do to put some life back into this sock puppet . . . They make Bond the bad guy.

Really. No joke. No spoiler. Number One enemy of the British Empire as a mission in North Korea goes bad and Her Majesty's government faces the embarrassment of having to retrieve their "secret" agent. That's enough to jump start our fanboy hearts, kick the franchise right in the old pair of "uh oh's" and deliver the most enjoyable, let along flat out fun, Bond movie in, like, forever. Rather than the usual madman wants to take over the world, this edition's Snidely Whiplash is multi-billionaire Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) whose manipulation of the diamond markets could start World War III, if Bond could stop him.

Bond is busy trying to clear the mark on his name. He knows that his bad luck, so to speak, is due to a traitor in the MI-6 organization and the search for that traitor begins with the trail of a North Korean agent, Zao (Rick Yune) who has been sighted in Havana. The trail brings Bond into a side-by-side battle with an American agent code named Jinx (Halle Berry click for StarTalk) and, inevitably, into the bed of Graves' right hand gal, Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike). Frost, too, is a lot more than she appears to be.

Korea to Britain to Cuba to Iceland, Die Another Day only allows breathing room for its audience while Bond is having sex or when pop star Madonna inflicts herself on us in a bit part early in the film. On the flip side of that, Halle Berry's entrance, reminiscent of Ursula Andress way back when, got applause from our audience.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Die Another Day, he would have paid . . .


We walked in expecting the same old stuff. We walked out floored that "they" finally got it right. With a ton of reverential nods to classic moments of old matched by an equal number of those required double entendres, this Bond rocks!

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