Back in the day (you may decide whenever "back in the day" was), kids always wanted to be James Bond. He was the MAN, he could do the coolest things, like rescue sexy women from underwater cities or foil the most ridiculous attempts to take over the world (which included things like putting a laser made out of diamonds on a satellite). But in recent years, secret agent 007 has become just another generic action hero, dancing around stopping incredibly lame bad guys doing incredibly (ghasp!) normal evil deeds. But now, with "Die Another Day", the James Bond, the Bond girls and the bad guys of old have returned, and damned if we're not glad to have them back.
The film begins with James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) doing what he does best (escaping out of un-escapable situations) in North Korea, foiling a weapons plan and killing a colonel (Will Yun Lee) by way of hovercraft chase. Unfortunately, one general, the father of the colonel, finds Bond when the chase is over and imprisons him. A few years and one annoying Madonna song later, Bond is taken out of prison and granted his freedom, in exchange for another prisoner, Zao (Rick Yune), who was involved in the plot that Bond ended. Unfortunately, Zao plows his way out of prison, going on a rampage and making it out of North Korea. It is (a newly recovered) Bond's job to track him down.
Sources tell Bond's superior, M (Judi Dench) that Zao might be hiding on an island just off of Cuba. After a trip to the old gizmos and gadget shop led by Q (John Cleese stepping in for the late Desmond Llewelyn), Bond heads for Cuba. There, he meets a CIA agent who is also on Zao's trail, who likes to call herself Jinx (Halle Berry). They find Zao with diamonds embedded in his face (from an explosion caused by Bond way back in North Korea), trying out a new operation that involves some sort of DNA replacement to make one look like someone else. During another escape by Zao, Bond finds diamonds at the scene of the crime. He has them examined, and sees that they were cut by Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), a diamonds expert who may be in cahoots with Zao.
"Die Another Day" returns, spectacularly, to the days when Bond films were gloriously implausible, yet at their absolute best. This is the kind of film that embraces its own lack of believability, where one sentence is enough to explain how people can stay in a hotel made out of ice. In a film such as "Die Another Day", people can talk as stupidly as they want; an evil henchman can proudly announce himself as "Mr. Kill" and suggest that someone use an incredibly slow-moving laser instead of a gun to execute an enemy. But the bottom line in films featuring secret agent 007 is really the action.
And what terrific action there is. The reason one can so easily accept the silly plot is that it makes all of the action sequences bring us to new places and show us things we've never seen before. Granted, the special effects are increased here, and that hurts many of the scenes. It doesn't exactly help the fact that the special effects are flimsy and for the most part unbelievable. But when computers leave action sequences alone, "Die Another Day" is as exciting as any of the best Bond films.
But above all, what really sparks the fuse of "Die Another Day" is Halle Berry's Jinx. She gives the film sass and spunk, both strangers to the strictly classy Bond movies. Most of the time she is on the screen, she is much more compelling and fun to watch then Bond himself. Rumor has it that Jinx is getting her own spin-off series, and that will certainly be most welcome when it comes. For now, there is "Die Another Day", a silly, fun extravaganza that's perfect for a quick adrenaline fix.