The Day 007 Died

How a single film collapsed not only a franchise, but the tenure of an underutilized Bond actor

Thank M for the Daniel Craig years. The past few films, no matter how hit or miss, have restored a franchise to the glory after a few short movies ago, it had reached…well, maybe not its lowest low, but certainly its then-ruination.

The 007 series spans 23 movies, nearly 48 hours of screentime and presumably enough illegitimate love-children to field a baseball team. But like everything that runs for such a long time there’s bound to be the occasionally dip in quality (see: Diamonds Are Forever, Never Say Never Again and essentially everything Roger Moore ever did). Die Another Day was the absolute nadir of the modern Bond movies. The films had always been stupid and camp but this film caused the series” aggregated BS to reach critical mass and collapse in on itself, in a stinky implosion, essentially destroying the entire Bond universe and necessitating a reboot to the franchise. Die Another Day‘s invisible car is essentially the 007 version of the nipples from the Joel Shumacher Batman movies.

Before I start, I feel that I need to point out that the terribleness of this movie was in no way Pierce Brosnan’s fault. He did the best he could with what he was given, unfortunately he was given a turd.

Brosnan gets a bad rap because he was unlucky enough to come along at a stage in the series where producer Barbara Broccoli was just greenlighting whatever BS passed her desk (including possibly this terrible idea for 007: Never Say Rehab) but make no mistake, Brosnan is Bond and, more importantly, he is my generation’s Bond.

I love what Daniel Craig did with the character in Casino Royale, he’s a far more credible action star, but he can’t match Brosnan when it comes to the smirks, quips and heroic amounts of boning that make up the other part of the character. I firmly believe that, apart from his holiness Connery, there was no-one better at epitomising the idea of a super-spy who saves the world with his penis.

Unfortunately, he was saddled with this, a film that tries so hard to destroy James Bond that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it was written by S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

1. Bond meets Point Break

If the Bond series is any indication then the MI6 agent training is terrifyingly extensive. No matter what convoluted, ridiculous situation 007 has managed to sex his way into over the years it always turns out that he’s conveniently an expert in whatever he needs to do to escape. And I am totally fine with this.

I’ve had no problem with any of bizarre skill-sets that 007 has pulled out of his ass over the years. No matter what he did I’ve always found a way to rationalise it.

Skiing? Of course he’d be great at that!

Parkour? That’s probably the first thing they teach you in spy school.

Bobsledding? Eh…sure gravity is doing most of the work for him there.

Hell! Even when I saw Sean Connery’s jetpack scene in Thunderball for the first time I was totally on board with it. In fact, at ten years old, I’m pretty sure I would have been devastated to learn that secret agents didn’t have mandatory jetpack training. But when I watched the opening sequence of Die Another Day where Bond surfs into the enemy base a little voice in my head stood up and shouted “bulls&*t” as loud as it could. There is just no way that 007 surfs.

I took surfing lessons once, and it involved me spending four hours alternating between falling off my board, almost drowning and just generally cursing Poseidon. At no point in the whole experience did I think “Wow! I feel just like James Bond.”

It’s just not something that 007 would put up with, the only reason he goes to the beach is to drink cocktails and seduce the wives of international war criminals. It would have been more believable to have Judi Dench on that board than Brosnan.

I thoroughly believe that if M told Bond that he was to be surfing into his next mission he would have ignored her and just stolen the jetpack again. The only thing I can imagine him using a surfboard for is to beat a henchman to death with or possibly as a way to keep the sand off his ass during beach sex.

2. The invisible car

You knew this was coming.

Q has always been the wacky, irresponsible uncle of the Bond franchise. In that he shows up occasionally and gives James some new toys that are way too dangerous for him to be playing with.

Over the years I’ve watched Q hand over a laser-watch, an exploding pen, and a cigarette that could fire a goddamn rocket, but the only time I ever called bulls#!+ was when John Cleese unveiled the invisible Aston Martin.

And it’s not the absolute impossibility of the technology either. It’s that the invisible Aston Martin demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how James Bond operates. He uses his real name on every single mission, sauntering into enemy headquarters wearing a tuxedo and is pretty much constantly martini-drunk. He’s not about subtlety, if he was given the keys to an Aston Martin DB9, officially the sexiest car in the world, you can be sure that he wouldn’t hide the damn thing. He’d drive that sucker right up to the front door with the bad guy’s girlfriend in the passenger seat.

Any screenwriter whose first thought when shown the absolutely gorgeous DB9 is to make it so we can’t see it deserves to be dropped through a trapdoor into a shark tank.

3. “DNA restructuring”

So (spoiler for a movie that was released a decade ago) near the end of the movie it’s revealed that Gustav Graves, the scheming billionaire that Bond has been investigating, is actually North Korean General Moon: someone we thought had been killed in the opening sequence.

So how did Moon go from being Asian to looking like Guy Pearce’s dickish little brother? Extensive plastic surgery? A Cage/Travolta-esque face transplant? Magic?

If you suggested any of those then congratulations on having a better understanding of reality than the writers of this movie. The answer is, in fact, far more idiotic. Moon actually underwent something called DNA restructuring therapy in Havana, a treatment that altered his genes, which changed his features and ethnicity and gave him just the most punchable face in the history of douchebags.

Apparently all it takes to change the fundamental code that defines your entire physical being is to stick a glowing mask on for a couple of days.

Yes, in this movie’s universe science has unlocked an–evidently non-invasive–way to radically alter your genetic code…and they use it as a form of cosmetic surgery. Just think about that for a second. Think about all the genetic diseases and disorders that mankind currently suffers from. Using this machine to pull a Michael Jackson on a couple of dickish billionaires would be like if our ancestors discovered fire and then only used it to make scented candles.

I mean I’m sure that the whole “war-criminal-cosmetic-surgery” business is a lucrative one but you know what might bring in more money? Curing every goddamn genetic disease!

4. That #^(%ing Madonna song

Brosnan got kind of a raw deal when it came to theme music of his movies. While Connery and Moore got greats like Shirley Bassey and Paul McCartney on their films he was stuck with the likes of Sheryl Crow, Garbage and, worst of all, Madonna.

Now, I actually think that Madonna would have been a great choice to do the music for a Bond movie…back in the “80s, before she became the world’s embarrassing aunt who refuses to age gracefully.

I have many issues with this song, the awful autotune voice she sings in, the random electronic noises in the background throughout, the fact that whoever was in charge of writing the chorus just copied and pasted the movie title a dozen times and then called it a day but mostly I hate the fact that, when this movie came out, the video for this song was !*(%ing everywhere! You couldn’t turn on the T.V without accidentally catching a glimpse of the menopausal lunatic getting waterbaorded and fencing with herself.

The most inexplicable part of the whole sordid experience is the bit where she randomly says “Sigmund Freud…analyze this!” apropos of absolutely nothing. I’m no Sigmund Freud but in my novice opinion I’d guess that you’re terrified of getting old.

The producers of Die Another Day managed to do what Goldfinger, Scaramanga and Blofeld never could. They effectively killed James Bond.

Richy Craven is an international man of mystery. You can check out more of his stuff over at Cracked, A Series of Terrible Decisions or keep up with his ongoing quest to find gainful employment on Twitter.

Richy toasted a real-life hero who made 007 look like a pansy in Happy Birthday, Paddy Mayne: Sports Star, War Hero, 

We can only guess what happened to his nose, but the immediate suspicion is an extreme case of Paddy Mayne.

We can only guess what happened to his nose, but the immediate suspicion is an extreme case of Paddy Mayne.

More from Richy Craven

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