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James Bond Retrospective: Die Another Day (2002)

The twentieth James Bond film Die Another Day would prove to be Pierce Brosnan’s last and with its uncharacteristic over reliance on CGI almost spelled the end for the franchise.

To mark the 50th Anniversary of one of the most successful movie franchises of all time and with James Bond€™s 23rd official outing in Skyfall due for release next month, I have been tasked with taking a retrospective look at the films that turned author Ian Fleming€™s creation into one of the most recognised and iconic characters in film history. With 2002 marking the 40th Anniversary of the James Bond film series and Die Another Day, the twentieth film in the franchise, returning screenwriters Neil Purvis and Robert Wade seized upon the opportunity to pay homage to the nineteen preceding films. The resulting film is packed with iconography, gadgets and dialogue that offer a wink to the past however Die Another Day also marks a change of style for the character and suffers from the excesses that nearly destroyed the series in the seventies. For the first time since Licence To Kill, the writers returned to Fleming€™s original novels for inspiration. The film version of Moonraker had been a largely original work so the novel was used to provide several key scenes and plot points for Die Another Day; the idea of the villain having plastic surgery to conceal his real identity and the duel in the Blades Club being the two main similarities. The film€™s title was lifted from a line in the poem €œA Shropshire Lad€ by A.E. Houseman, €œBut since the man that runs away, lives to die another day.€ With many Bond crew regulars including Vic Armstrong, Peter Lamont and Chris Corbould returning for the film, the producers had to search for their fifth director in as many films. Award winning New Zealand director Lee Tamahori whose debut feature Once Were Warriors in 1994 had brought him to the attention of the world, was chosen to helm the film. His earlier Hollywood efforts The Edge and Along Came A Spider had proven he could successfully handle drama and action in equal measures making him a sound choice in the director€™s chair. James Bond With Pierce Brosnan starring in the lead role for this his fourth time he continues in much the same manner as his previous films. He remains undeniably confident and if he had been able to continue in the role for several more films he would have cemented his position as one of the best Bonds there has ever been. Sadly, however Die Another Day does for Brosnan what Moonraker did for Roger Moore but offering him no chance of redemption in a follow-up movie. Brosnan falls victim to some ludicrous decisions that force a retrogressive turn for the series. He still looks the part and remains comfortable in the required dramatic scenes as well as being more than competent during the action sequences but the screenplay veers off into the realms of science fiction too many times. For a franchise that built its reputation on being grounded in reality, it stretches believability to its limits in this instalment. In 2002, there was no indication that this would be Brosnan€™s final Bond film even though he had only been contracted to a four picture deal beginning with GoldenEye in 1995. Unlike Sean Connery and Roger Moore who both had the luxury of deciding when the time had come to step down from the role, Brosnan, who turned fifty in 2003, was under the impression that he would star in at least one more future Bond film. After the release of Die Another Day there was an overall feeling from the producers that the series needed a reboot and despite initial plans to move forward with Brosnan, he was unceremoniously replaced in 2005 during pre-production for the twenty-first Bond film. In just four films, Brosnan had made the character his own proving to be the perfect fit for the post modern Bond of the nineties and early 2000s. With the unenviable task of revitalising the character after a major popularity slump, Brosnan brought together elements from all previous Bond actors to make his seven years in the role the most profitable of the whole series and for many fans of the character, he had become the definitive Bond and would be a hard act to follow.
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Chris Wright hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.