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Die Another Day

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Genre: Bond. James Bond

The Pitch: Ian Fleming's superspy (Pierce Brosnan) blows his cover, spends a year under torture in North Korea, then vengefully pursues a terrorist named Zao (Rick Yune) across Cuba, London, Iceland and back to Korea. Imagine the frequent-flyer miles.

Fashion statements: Evil zillionaire Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) electrocutes people with a metal glove. Head henchman Zao has a diamond-studded face. Alluring U.S. assassin Jinx (Halle Berry) dons the bikini knife-belt combo of Dr. No's Ursula Andress.

More references: If the film were a Bond Girl, it'd be Homage Galore. Not only does Graves borrow the death ray satellite of Diamonds Are Forever and remarks, "Diamonds are for everyone." Q's gadget workshop includes Thunderball's jet-pack and From Russia With Love's deadly shoe. Jinx faces death by laser a la Goldfinger.

Money shots: The explosive hovercraft chase in a minefield that precedes the credits. Bond and Graves' out-of-hand fencing match. A car chase through a melting ice palace. Bond narrowly escapes a collapsing glacier and surfs from the ensuing tidal wave, via special effects as fakey as Spider-Man's.

Flesh factor: Berry's Jinx and Rosamund Pike's Miranda Frost provide the series' requisite bedroom and beach sports. For the climactic girl fight, shirts are shed.

Hit Single: Madonna sings the title tune and has a cameo as a fencing coach who quips, "I don't like cockfights."

Worst Line: "As they say in fencing, what's the point?"

Product placement: Bond shaves his prison beard with a Norelco after drinking a bottle of Bollinger champagne.

Body count: Dozens, including the faceless minions. The most inventive killings include death by chandelier and jet engine.

Tweaking the formula: The introductory down-the-gunsight logo now features a bullet aimed at the audience. John Cleese is officially the new gadget-guru Q.

The Bottom Line: Renewing the series' license to kill, Die Another Day isn't the best Bond by a long shot, but it may be the fastest.



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