Actors and Allies
As silly as Die Another Day gets, Brosnan is still taking Bond seriously. He never wavers from this in his four movies. Things can be going completely nuts around him, but he continues to play this fascinating version of Fleming's troubled character who masks his pain with jokes and hedonism. It's not one of my favorite versions of Bond, but it's a great experiment and I'm glad they tried it. One of my favorite examples from Die Another Day is when he walks into a Hong Kong hotel sopping wet in his pajamas. It's ridiculous, but he's just as confident and in control as he always is.
Bond's relationship with M continues to be complicated. She discusses his value with Miranda Frost later on, but claims not to have any use for him early in the movie. I don't think she's being completely honest there though. Bond's embarrassed her by getting captured and raising questions about whether he's the one who's been leaking information to the North Koreans. She isn't happy about having to give up Zao, so she takes it out on him.
But I don't believe she really wishes that Bond would have used his cyanide capsule. I'll explain why in a minute, but first, I'm not sure how I feel about Bond's admission that he threw the cyanide away "years ago." Paula Caplan bravely gave up her life in Thunderball when she was captured, but Bond won't make the same sacrifice? Is that hubris, cowardice, or something else? He seems proud of it.
At any rate, M tells him that he's useless and rescinds his Double-O status, but I don't think she means it. It's been established in the previous Brosnan films that she considers Bond to be her best agent. If we're going to take that continuity seriously, her dismissing him in Die Another Day sounds more like the fake "personal leave" that M used to grant Bond in the Lazenby and Moore films. I believe she cuts him loose because she knows that's the best way for him to get answers without the oversight of Damian Falco and the NSA.
Speaking of Falco, we're not supposed to like him, but Michael Madsen is working overtime to make sure that happens. He's smarmy and a bully and I don't understand why the NSA has to be here at all. Jinx works for them, but she could have as easily been a CIA agent. And if she had, maybe she wouldn't have been as immature and immoral as she turned out. Bond hasn't always liked his CIA contacts, but at least they seem to be good guys. It's hard to say that about Jinx and Falco.
Finally, a word about Moneypenny. Apparently, all her teasing and judging of Bond has been an act. Q has a Danger Room/Holodeck now and Moneypenny has no problem using it to fantasize about making out with Bond. I get it and it's fine that she's attracted to him without being able to reveal it; I just wish that my last impression of her wasn't that she's a jealous hypocrite for giving Bond a rough time when she clearly wants to do with him what he's been doing with all those other women.
"Saved by the bell," after using a bell to swing off a doomed hovercraft. It's not a great quip, but it says something about Die Another Day that this is the best of the bunch.
"I've been known to keep my tip up," concerning fencing, but not really. Brosnan's Bond is way more fond of erection jokes than I am.
I like that he uses the laser watch and rebreather from previous movies. That's fun.
He also has a couple of other nifty, personal items: a ring that shatters even bulletproof glass and a C4 detonator disguised as the winding pin on his watch.
For vehicles, the NSA's Switchblade flyers are really cool and actually work, but they're overshadowed by Q's invisible car. It's great they Q's gone back to an Aston Martin after using BMWs for Brosnan's other films - and I like the tracking machineguns - but that's all that's cool about the new ride. The invisibility cloak is ridiculous, the thermal imaging is dull, and most of the rest of the car's gadgets are homages to previous films, so they're not original or exciting. It has an ejector seat and rockets like Goldfinger, remote control like the last two movies, and spiked wheels like The Living Daylights.
Top Ten Gadgets
1. Lotus Esprit (The Spy Who Loved Me)
2. Aston Martin DB V (Goldfinger and Thunderball)
3. Jet pack (Thunderball)
4. Iceberg boat (A View to a Kill)
5. The Q Boat (The World Is Not Enough)
6. Aston Martin V8 Vantage (The Living Daylights)
7. Glastron CV23HT speed boat (Moonraker)
8. Acrostar Mini Jet (Octopussy)
9. Crocodile submarine (Octopussy)
10. X-Ray Specs (The World Is Not Enough)