The four-film run of Pierce Brosnan's James Bond contained some of the best 007 films in the history of the franchise and revitalized Bond for a 90s action audience. But the momentum derailed somewhat in 2002's over-the-top CGI-laden Brosnan swansong, Die Another Day. The film began with some promising drama and character development, but then quickly turned into an outlandish bid to sate audiences with the most unfeasible action settings the writers could think of.
But what if this high-tech mess was actually the cleverest movie to date? What if Brosnan's final performance as the MI6 superhero was, in fact, the poignant depiction of a man departing life and entering the hazy dreamworld of death?
How about we read in between the lines, and create a whole new, albeit poignant, Bond experience? The emotionally driven escapades seen in Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, and The World is Not Enough could never have possibly turned shallow in the last hurdle of Die Another Day, could they?
Of course they couldn't. If anything they became even more profound, and here are the clues you need to prove it.
5. The Opening Credits
Die Another Day begins with a botched diamond deal that results in our suave British hero becoming captive in a North Korean military base. During what would normally be the stylishly indulgent opening credits, we instead watch our increasingly beardy and broken Bond become subject to the horrific dealings of fire, ice-water, scorpions, hints of electrocution, relentless beatings and presumably starvation, all over a 14 month period.
Surely this is more brutality than even Bond could withstand… So are these credits actually marking the road to 007's death in captivity? In the overlaying Die Another Day theme song of the same name, singer and cameo guest Madonnna even says, 'Sigmund Freud... Analyse this!' So, lets!
At the end of this ordeal, our remarkably still-buff Bond is offloaded at a suspiciously ominous foggy bridge that leads to nowhere, and his captor states 'We reached the end, Mr Bond' before giving him a decidedly hard-nosed eulogy. Bond is then goaded by a foreign firing squad to cross the bridge, with one final verbal exchange between Zao, a diamond-faced bad man, along the way.
Zao responds to Bond's statement of 'Your time will come' with 'Not as soon as yours,' and we are led to believe that this is a prisoner-for-prisoner trade-off. But is any of this really happening, or is our now vegetated Bond actually reaching for said light at the end of the tunnel?
In reality, the North Korean soldiers are actually delivering British Intelligence a dead body, with an unsympathetic American Michael Madsen looking across from a safe position and stating 'You'd think he was some kind of a hero.' And sure, Bond's following comatose hospital state looks all cool and hi-tech, but let's propose that he is actually on a slab in a morgue, with a mortician somewhat jovially reading out his multiple causes of death in the periphery of Bond's faded brain activity.