What The Film?! is a weekly column exclusive to Under The Gun Review that brings to light the plot holes Hollywood hoped you’d never notice. Written by comedy writer Dane Sager, this column shows no mercy to films that try and pull the proverbial wool over our eyes.
If you know a film with major plot holes that you feel needs to be exposed, tell us! Email email@example.com with the subject “What The Film” and we’ll try to get your suggestion featured on the site.
This is a movie I have received a lot of requests for. I have never hid my affection for spy movies, more particularly the James Bond series. I have seen all 22 official Eon James Bond movies more than once, owned almost every James Bond video game released in the past few gaming generations (Rogue Agent does not count), and I have never missed a theatrical release since Goldeneye (my parents said I was too young). In fact my prior James Bond What The Film?! was more fan service than anything else. Hell, on a personal note, out of my three tattoos, one of them is Bond related. I have the Foo Fighter’s One By One album cover on my left wrist, I have the Tim Burton Batman logo on my chest, and I have the James Bond opening gun barrel sequence on my butt.
2002′s Die Another Day is the twentieth official James Bond film, released 40 years after the first movie in the Eon franchise, 1962′s Dr. No. Die Another Day was to be a celebration of everything James Bond, referencing all 19 prior movies and even one scene recreating a level from the 2000 Nintendo 64 video game The World Is Not Enough (the level wasn’t in the 1999 movie of the same name). This is biggest issue with the movie. If you took the plot line at its core, take out all the horrible action sequences, the horrible CGI, and the references to every James Bond movie, this could have been Pierce Brosnan’s swan song. Saddly, this wasn’t the case.
The movie begins with Bond sneaking into a North Korean military base to assassinate Colonel Tan-Sun Moon (the name itself being a reference to the James Bond novel Colonel Sun, the first James Bond novel published after creator Ian Flemming’s death). The assassination is botched after James is outed as a spy by Zao, another Korean solider. James ends up stealing a hovercraft and starts a chase across a minefield separating North and South Korea. This whole pre-credits sequence is literally the best part of the movie. The scene ends with Tan-Sun’s hovercraft being thrown off a cliff, killing him. James survival after the chase results in Bond being captured and thrown into a North Korean prison.
After 14 months as a POW, the British government finally trades him for a Zao because POWs work like hockey teams apparently. They didn’t trade him because he has saved the world at least 19 times before this and they totally owed him, but because someone had been leaking secrets to Korea. The British and American governments assumed James had cracked under torture and was spilling secrets. Bond is promptly thrown in a holding tank, his licence to kill revoked.
James breaks out of his holding cell because of course he did, he’s James Bond. He must find who has been leaking the secrets with the British, American, and North Korean Governments hunting him down. Holy crap, that is a game changer. That’s like the best plot outline they could have possibly come up with. How on earth could they have screwed this up?
Bond ends up tracking Zao to Cuba where the movie really starts going down hill. He ends meets the most annoying female in the entire James Bond series, an NSA agent named Jinx. James, despite being tracked and hunted by the entire free world and North Korea, thinks it’s wise to introduce himself by full name to this NSA agent. They bang.
The next morning Bond follows Jinx, ultimately finding himself in a medical clinic that specializes in a new form of plastic surgery. He finds finds Zao at the clinic, undergoing this same treatment in a weird Tron-like face mask. It turns out that this place will make him look like an Anglo-Man. A generic western white guy. Not only that, but it will also change his DNA as well, completely erasing his history as a North Korean.
It turns out Zao’s very expensive and very stupid surgery is being funded by billionaire playboy Gustav Graves, who Bond meets up with at a London country club. They get into a little bit of a tiff and it eventually escalates into a sword fight, destroying almost half of the club. Not once during this escalation does anyone step in and try to relieve tension. The entire country club sees two grown adult men slowly work their way up to sword fighting with real swords, punching, kicking, and headbutting their way through walls, paintings, and statues. Everyone just lets this happen. “Yes” they think “This sure is an appropriate use of their time”.
Bond is contacted by MI6, who totally knew that he wasn’t letting off secrets and want him back. Totally. This is where he’s given the dumbest part of the movie: an invisible car. Yes. An invisible car. They explain the car as working by having tiny cameras on one side of the car that projects the image on the other side, causing the car to be invisible. Every single James Bond gadget has been based in reality, and sadly, this is no different. There was a prototype of a stealth plane that did this same thing. The key thing being that the plane is several miles into the sky, meaning anyone who looks at it sees it will see the same side from the same angle. This doesn’t work on three dimensional objects and it definitely doesn’t work in such close range.
I can’t even begin to accurately describe how bad the rest of the movie is. It’s like an endurance test, seeing how much absurdity you will take before leaving the theater. Each scene doesn’t naturally progress the story, because it becomes just a vague plot line connecting references to every prior movie in the franchise. It turns out Gustav Graves is really Colonel Tan-Sun Moon who survived and received the stupid Tron looking plastic surgery, there’s a laser firing satellite, a rocket car, a room filled with lasers, your mom jokes, bad puns, an ice castle, Jinx says “I got the thrust of it” in a conversation despite that not being a saying and a bad double entendre because of it, horrible CGI, James ends up surfing a tsunami wave away from the laser satellite’s beam, and The Clash plays for an inexplicable reason.
The finale is set in a massive plane flying over Korea that is also horribly CGI’d (I’m not exaggerating when I say that MGS4 looks better than the CGI in this and that is a four year old video game). In the plane Bond and Graves (who is in a weird Iron-Man suit for some stupid reason) fist fight as the plane slowly breaks apart. “You see Mr. Bond, you can’t kill my dreams, but my dreams can kill you!” Graves taunts Bond as he has the upper hand “It’s time to face destiny!”. Bond retorts with “Time to face gravity!” and throws him out of the plane. Yes, that’s seriously how the villain is defeated.
Am I being too harsh? No. How bad is it? Roger Moore, the James Bond who went into outer space in 1979′s Moonraker said it was too much. They rebooted the James Bond franchise after this. 2006′s Casino Royale was Batman Begins but for James Bond. The studios felt that twenty movies and forty years of continuity needed to be erased and forgotten because of this one movie. One movie literally destroyed 40 years of cinematic history. It was easier to reformat the hard drive than it was to fix it. That is how bad this movie is.