Directed by: Lee Tamahori
Written by:Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, Rick Yune, Judi Dench
Released: December 12, 2002
Grade: B-

When it comes to Bond, yes James Bond, I feel like using the same review over and over again. Unlike McDonalds, this franchise isn’t offering any “new taste menu”.  It has all the formulaic trademarks of a Bond film and therein lies the problem.

This time around, the film began promisingly. Mr Bond (once again played by Pierce Brosnan) is trying to infiltrate a weapons operation in North Korea.  After a daring getaway, he is captured at the final hurdle and imprisoned and tortured for 14 months.  His captors pressure him to reveal names of his associates by Bond refuses to give in.  With hope seeming lost, his life is suddenly spared.  The British are holding captive a North Korean terrorist and a trade is negotiated between the two parties.  At headquarters, M (Dench) is furious with Bond as it has been rumoured he folded under interrogation and gave names to the North Koreans.  Bond denies of course but M removes him from duty.

But that wouldn’t be much of an adventure, would it?  Bond continues anyway in his quest to seek revenge on the North Korean terrorist and to find out who set him up.  His investigations lead him to Gustav Graves (Stephens) – a wealthy diamond mine operator.  After an action packed introduction at a fencing club, Bond knows Graves to be involved in something sinister.  Soon after, M tracks Bond down to apologise and reinstate him – so now he’s got all the resources of the intelligence behind him (including fast cars and cool gizmos).  He’s going to be assisted by fellow agent Miranda Frost (Pike), who’s been tracking Graves for several months.  Yes, Bond sleeps with her along the way.

Throughout this adventure, Bond keeps running into a feisty woman known initially as Jinx (Berry).  Yep, he sleeps with her too.  She’s clearly out to get Graves also but who is she working for and what is her motive?  Are her and Bond on the same side?

This would be the part where I say the plot thickens but this is Bond film, remember?  The final 45 minutes is an insanely over-the-top, farcical array of action sequences which looks phoney and generates no excitement.  How about an example?  In one scene, James Bond is on an iceberg in a very fast car trying to outrun a giant laser beam that is being shot from the sky via satellite (don’t you hate that).  On reaching the edge, the laser breaks the tip of the iceberg and he plummets into the icy water below.  But wait!  Using the hood of the vehicle as a surfboard and a parachute from the boot, he rides the tidal wave back to safe ground.  Now don’t tell me that it’s just a bit of fun.  Thanks to cheap special effects, the word “plausible” has no meaning.

Oh, and there’s a scene in which instead of shooting Halle Berry, one of the henchman suggests they kill her with a laser beam.  So they leave her unattended while the laser beam moves slowly towards her.  I mean come on – haven’t the directors seen Austin Powers???

The dialogue has stinging wit but again, it’s too much.  The double meanings and sexual innuendoes have become a regular characteristic of a James Bond film but they’re being overused.  Of the cast, Halle Berry leads the pack with her spicy role.  It’s unusual to see Bond working with another female agent (who won’t betray him) and there’s even talk in Hollywood of Berry starting her own spin-off movies.  I pray that Halle turns down the offer because as her Oscar-winning turn in Monster’s Ball showed, she’s better than that.