|Rosamund Pike and Halle Berry|
James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is captured during a mission and spends over a year in a prison in North Korea. General Moon (Kenneth Tsang) blames Bond for the death of his corrupt son, Colonel Moon (Will Yun Lee), but is the colonel really dead? After Bond affects his escape, "M" (Judi Dench) sees him as a useless non-agent, but 007 goes rogue (as he did in Licence to Kill) and takes off to capture the dangerous spy and terrorist, Zao (Rick Yune). Along the way he encounters American operative Jinx (Halle Berry), who also uncovers a clinic in Cuba where criminals can have their appearances altered via DNA manipulation. Bond learns that Gustave Graves (Toby Stephens), a man without a past and who has made a fortune in diamonds, may have made an alliance with Zao. Bond has both Jinx and undercover agent Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) helping -- or hindering -- him as he investigates Graves' operation in Iceland, and has a final encounter with Graves on a plane carrying a devastating weapon. I must say that I loved Die Another Day, which is one of the most exciting Bond movies in years. Brosnan is perfect as a more human Bond; Berry [Catwoman] and Pike [Gone Girl] are fine; Dench is on the money; and Stephens makes a sensational Bond adversary. Rick Yune, Yun Lee, and Tsang also offer superlative performances. There's a superbly-handled sword duel between Bond and Graves at the latter's club; a frenetic business with lasers running amok as Jinx tries to escape captivity; a laser beam pursuing Bond from on high as he races across the ice in his "invisible" car; and an outstanding climax with multiple battles on a plane that is breaking into pieces all around the participants. The only negatives are the over-abundance of high school-type double entendres that really make anyone over the age of eight groan. [For example: Miranda: "Has Mr. Bond been exploring his big bang theory for you? Jinx: "Oh, I think I get the thrust of it."]. Not to mention Madonna's dreadful title tune. Madonna [Shadows and Fog] herself, without her mole, shows up briefly as someone or other ("Verity"), and isn't bad. Die Another Day is full of entertaining absurdities. This is Brosnan's last appearance as Bond and his best 007 outing.
Verdict: Breathless, fast-paced fun. ***1/2.