Film: Die Another Day

The one with the invisible car.

Die Another Day is the 20th James Bond film and stars Pierce Brosnan in his last appearance as the character.

As per usual for 007, the film opens with a botched mission in which Bond is betrayed and beaten up. This time, the North Koreans get the honour. Freed via a prisoner exchange after 14 months of torture, Bond is aghast to learn his freedom was purchased at the cost of his adversary, a war criminal named Zao, walking scot free. Discharged by MI-6 and receiving a predictably chilly reception from M, Bond becomes a rogue agent and resumes hunting for his quarry.

Following Zao's trail leads him to Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), a wunderkind entrepreneur who's made a fortune in blood diamonds and is building some kind of space-based sunlight reflector which in no way resembles a death ray.

The film holds many vignettes to previous Bond outings, such as Brosnan playing the 'loose cannon' in the tropics (Licence to Kill), Halle Berry exiting the water in slow-mo (Dr. No), a diamond-encrusted sky laser (Diamonds Are Forever), and action scenes bordering on self-parody (Moonraker).

This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Elements of the film story were based upon Ian Fleming's original novel Moonraker. As confirmed by Rosamund Pike in her DVD commentary, Miranda Frost was originally named Gala Brand, which was the name of the Bond girl in the original book. Gustav Graves, meanwhile, is based upon the original novel's version of Sir Hugo Drax.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: Sort of. Graves' modified Antonov An-124 carries a helicopter aboard which Bond manages to launch out of it in mid-air.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The Ice Hotel.
  • Artistic Title: An extremely kinky version in the opening credits, where Bond is being tortured in the background while naked chicks made of ice, fire and electricity are writhing around in the foreground.
  • Beam Spam: Bond fights Mr Kil in a room full of out-of-control laser beams.
  • Beard of Sorrow: More a Beard of Imprisonment, but hey.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Subverted when Bond is released by the Koreans looking like he's just moments away from shouting "WILSON!". In truth, it is downplayed in that he's in remarkably good shape for someone who's endured 14 months of imprisonment and torture.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: After Mr Kil meets his end by way of laser, Bond tries to drag his corpse over to a hand scanner. Jinx decides to cut out the middle man and laser off his hand.
  • California Doubling
    • Loads, including Hawaii and England for North Korea, and Spain for Cuba. Justified Trope since those are still Communist nations.
    • Despite fears that the ice would melt and force filming to be moved out of Iceland, the film crew managed to avert this and stick around for those scenes.
  • Call Back: In honor of Die Another Day being released on the 40th anniversary of the Bond film franchise, the film contains references to all 19 of the previous 007 movies:
    • Jinx walks out of the ocean in a bikini, wearing a white belt and diving knife just like Honey Rider from Dr. No.
    • The shoe with the poison-tipped blade seen in From Russia with Love is seen in Q's laboratory. Also, the briefcase contains a hidden knife.
    • Bond drives a gadget-laden Aston Martin like he did in Goldfinger. Also, Jinx is nearly killed by a laser in Mr. Kil's laboratory.
    • The jetpack from Thunderball is seen in Q's laboratory. Bond also employs a small rebreather like he did in that film.
    • Bond fakes his own death so that enemy agents will not expect him just like he did in You Only Live Twice. Also, scenes of the Icarus unfolding in space are visible on screens in the ice palace.
    • Bond uses a huge avalanche to cover his escape just like he did in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Also, the acronym OHMSS is visible on a compact disc on Moneypenny's desk at the end of the film.
    • Graves remarks "Well, Diamonds are for everyone" while fencing with Bond. And in the High Life magazine article about Graves' company there is a caption that reads "Diamonds are forever, but life isn't."
    • At one point, Bond uses a revolver instead of his signature Walther just like he did in Live and Let Die.
    • The villain employs a solar-powered superweapon just like Scaramanga from The Man with the Golden Gun.
    • Graves deploys a Union Jack parachute just like Bond did in The Spy Who Loved Me.
    • There is a character named Chang just like in Moonraker. There is also a scene where Bond and a villain fight each other over a parachute.
    • The yellow diving helmet from For Your Eyes Only is visible in Q's lab.
    • Several gadgets from Octopussy are seen in Q's lab: the AcroStar MiniJet, the crocodile submarine, the "magic rope", and the five-pointed knife.
    • The electronic snooper from A View to a Kill' is seen in Q's lab. Also, Bond a hatch from the back of a car as an improvised snowboard, much like he did with the snowmobile tread in A View to a Kill. Also, Bond is detected by the villains using facial-recognition software.
    • Bond goes rogue and M rescinds his licence to kill just like in Licence to Kill.
    • Bond's laser watch from GoldenEye returns in this film. Also, Jinx sets the bomb timer to three minutes just like Bond did in the chemical weapons stockpile in Goldeneye.
    • The artificial intelligence in Bond's car has the same voice as it did in Tomorrow Never Dies.
    • There's a geodesic dome like in The World Is Not Enough.
  • The Cameo: Madonna cameos as Verity, Miranda Frost and Gustav Graves's fencing instructor. Thus far she's the only theme song singer to make an appearance in the film, unless you count Sheena Easton singing the For Your Eyes Only theme on screen.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Suggested that Bond endured one of these in the very trippy opening sequence. His examination post-release supports this; scorpion poison was involved.
  • Collapsing Lair: More like melting lair.
  • Composite Character: Colonel Moon is a weird fusion of the literary version of Hugo Drax with Colonel Sun. In true Bond fashion, subtitles on the Region 2 DVD reveal his full name to be Tan-Sun Moon.
  • Continuity Nod
    • The gadgets in Q's lab.
    • Bond pretends to be an ornithologist, a nod to his origins as he was named after an ornithologist.
      • Fleming took the name off a book he had, rather than any particular shout-out. The book he picks up in the office of his Cuban contact may well be that book — if you freeze-frame you will notice the author's name has been defaced.
    • According to the movie's IMDb page, this film — in honour of the franchise's twentieth — references every single other Bond film at least once and several tips of the hat to the original novels.
  • Conspicuous CG: There's more of this here than perhaps in any other Bond entry. Particularly jarring examples of this include the firing of the Icarus laser upon the Ice Palace, the final confrontation on Graves' plane, the invisibility feature of Bond's Aston Martin, and the infamous wave-surfing scene as Bond tries to outrun a massive wave (The fact that live surfing was utilized in the film's opening scene without the use of any CG makes this even worse for some).
  • Cool Car: Two of them. They also fight.
  • Dead Artists Are Better: Discussed. Jinx is meeting with a surgeon on the Cuban island, discussing a drastic procedure to change her looks. He says that he considers himself an artist, and she remarks that most great artists aren't celebrated until after their deaths, upon which she shoots him.
  • Death by Irony: Graves' parachute is sucked into the turbine of his own plane. Though he manages to hold on, Bond electrocutes him with his own gauntlet, sending him into the rotary blades.
  • Death Ray
  • Defiant to the End: Noted of Bond when all he has to offer after months of brutal torture is a snarky one-liner.
  • Dirty Communists: North Korea's military eagerly supports the conquest of Japan and South Korea through Colonel Moon's plan. It's stated at least once that there was a coup by the hardliners before the invasion, presumably to avoid implicating the entire country as Card-Carrying Villains.
  • Dirty Cop: Miranda Frost
  • Disqualification-Induced Victory: Miranda Frost got an Olympic silver medal for fencing, but was upgraded to gold when her opponent failed a drug test. Graves, knowing Miranda hated the idea of being second best, rigged the drug test in exchange for Miranda becoming his Mole.
  • The Dragon: Zao, even though he kills a total amount of zero people.
    • Miranda Frost.
  • Dress Hits Floor: Miranda, as she prepares to sleep with Bond. Leading to a brief shot of Toplessness from the Back... and then followed by Modesty Bedsheet.
  • Evil Albino: Zao for most of the second act.
  • Evil Counterpart: Gustav Graves claims to be one.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: The film's second half is full of ice motifs, even taking place in Iceland in a literal ice palace. Incidentally, this is the first hint that Miranda Frost is going to be trouble.
  • Evil Red Head: Graves.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Bond in the North Korean prison grows a beard, and then promptly shaves it off when he gets out.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Bond and Frost.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: Zao is impaled beneath a stupidly-large chandelier made of diamonds and icicles.
  • Faux Action Girl: Jinx talks a good game but only manages to defeat a secretary in hand-to-hand combat. The kind of fencing done in the Olympics is more akin to waving a car antenna around than any sort of combative fighting, so beating an Olympic fencer with real weapons is hardly the pinnacle of achievement. Murdering an unarmed doctor also hardly placed her in much jeopardy.
  • Five-Bad Band:
  • Foreshadowing: The body-altering technology in Cuba, and the savage ferocity with which Gustav Graves attacks Bond in their duel.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Bond fights Mr Kil in a room full of out-of-control lasers slicing everything up. It's pretty insane and even if impractical, it's a pretty good visual.
  • Gatling Good: Zao's Jaguar has a Minigun mounted on top, complete with the usual inaccurate firing rate. Zao must have Steel Eardrums as it's firing from right behind (and just over) his head.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: Like most Bond films, Die Another Day ends with one of these.
  • Growing the Beard: strictly literally.
  • High Dive Escape: Jinx is cornered by the police at a cliff. She first strips to her bikini, stunning them, then jumps into the water near a waiting motorboat.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: At the end of the film, Graves' electric suit only works against him, as Bond uses a button on the suit to somehow electrocute him, causing him to lose his grip on the door frame and fly into the engine.
  • Hollywood Healing: During the film's climax, Jinx is slashed across the stomach by a sword. Soon after, she and Bond celebrate their victory by having sex, and not a single scar is visible on Jinx's naked body.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The amount of innuendo between Bond and Jinx may drive your head into the screen. Even for a Bond movie, it's a lot.
  • Hypocrite: North Korean Colonel Moon, having Majored in Western Hypocrisy, fits this rather well. He sees Western culture as being beneath him. He also loves Western sports cars, his chief ally is his British girlfriend, and he changed his whole appearance to a Caucasian magnate to further his plot..
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Zao is impaled by an ice chandelier about twice his size.
  • Implausible Boarding Skills: In one of the most derided scenes in the moves, Bond uses an improvised surfboard made from the hull of a wrecked ice yacht to para-surf an unconvincing CGI tsunami.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Yes, he's James Bond. No, it's unlikely that either his military or his MI6 training including anything on using several different types of longswords. The same can be said for Gustav Graves, who, despite having a fencing instructor around, would not have learned anything useful about heavy sabres, katanas, hand-and-a-halfs, etc. As above, what Miranda Frost would actually be good at, Olympic fencing, has very little inherently to do with battle-grade weapons.
  • Informed Ability: Miranda Frost. Said to be a gold medal standard fencer, in her one battle she swings wildly with minimal effect and is killed for her trouble.
  • Innocent Innuendo (Somewhat): Though what they're doing is hardly innocent, the end sequence of Bond and Jinx playing with diamonds is made to sound like something else from outside.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Bond's Aston Martin "Vanish", which even he can't help but compliment without a hint of snark.
    Bond: Oh that's very good.
  • Irony: One of the soldiers torturing Bond is a fairly attractive Korean female officer. Take that you decadent Western womanizer!
  • It's Personal: Bond desires very strongly to avenge himself on Zao.
  • Jerkass: Mr Krug, the obnoxious man in Cuba who unintentionally provides Bond with a way into the gene therapy clinic. He's a womanizer, loud and boorish, and threatens to shoot a poor waiter's testicles off if he doesn't do exactly what he says.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: In the epic sword-fight between Bond and Gustav Graves, at one point Graves gets hold of a katana and promptly chops Bond's sabre in half with a single blow. Curiously, they both pass up katanas in favour of longswords for the final duel.
  • Kill Sat: The Icarus (Tempting Fate with that name much?)
  • Kingpin in His Gym:
    • Colonel Moon, whom we meet using Tae Kwan Do to take out his frustrations on the punching bag he's sewn his anger management therapist in.
    • Gustav Graves also has some fun at a fencing club. We later find that they're the same person.
  • Kiss Me, I'm Virtual: At the end of the movie, Moneypenny is caught experimenting with a pair of VR goggles...
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "New watch — this'll be your twentieth, I believe?" This joke works on two levels, as Bond is glib about returning all of Q's hardware in pieces.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: So magical it even allows you to switch racial groups. Also apparently involves LEGO Genetics as it's mentioned to be some form of "gene therapy".
  • Majored in Western Hypocrisy: Colonel Moon, the Trope Namer.
  • Meaningful Name
  • Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow: Subverted. After Bond arrives in Hong Kong and has had a proper shave and some new clothes, it seems like he tries to seduce the Asian masseuse who was sent to his room. Then he takes her gun and reveals her as a Chinese operative.
  • The Mole: Miranda
  • The Mothership: Played with hovercrafts.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Twice, with it actually working once.
  • Mythology Gag: It being the 40th anniversary of the franchise, the film includes references to every previous Bond film. Some are more subtle than others.
    • The book James carries around to maintain his cover as an ornithologist is written by a real-life person named James Bond. That book's author's name is how Ian Fleming came up with the fictional character's name.
  • New Era Speech: Graves gives one when he presents the power of Icarus to General Moon.
  • No Brows: Zao. It underpins his Red Right Hand status.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The diamond lasers at the ice fortress apparently have some sort of Party Mode, where pressing a button will cause them all to turn on and start spinning around wildly.
  • Not So Different: Gustav Graves states that his persona is based on James Bond. Ironically, it's made him the toast of England.
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: For once, Bond ends up on the receiving end of this.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The epic theme for Icarus.
  • Patricide: Graves/Colonel Moon shoots dead his own father after the man dreads what his son has become and tries to stop his plan that will plunge the world into war.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Colonel Moon's plot would never have got off the ground had the NSA not withheld vital information about his time outside North Korea. The NSA knew of Miranda Frost's association with Moon / Graves through the Harvard fencing team, but kept it from MI6 because they feared there was a mole in their organisation, thereby preventing them from fingering her as the very mole the NSA feared.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: In addition to being a celebration of the series' fortieth anniversary, the producers wanted Die Another Day to set up a new series starring Jinx. As it turned out though, the mixed reception of this film combined with the catastrophic reaction to Catwoman killed off any chance of the Jinx series taking off.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Moneypenny uses the Virtual Reality Glasses for a little recreation.
  • Pretty in Mink: The ice palace patrons, and a white fur wrap Miranda wears (the furs were fake, but still counts more as this). The film's costumer said she liked combining the slinky dresses with fur because of the effect it gave.
  • Product Placement: It isn't new territory for a Bond film, certainly, but it was so glaringly obvious in this one that many critics nicknamed it "Buy Another Day."
  • Proscenium Reveal: At one point, Bond is seen engaging in a shootout with intruders in MI6 headquarters. Then he finds someone hold M hostage in her office. He shoots the attacker through M's shoulder, and suddenly everything freezes in time and Q appears, scolding Bond for shooting his own boss, as it turns out Bond is in a virtual simulation in Q Branch's offices.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Time to face destiny!" "Time to face gravity!"
  • Professional Killer: Based on the "cold-blooded" criteria of the trope, Jinx actually outstrips Bond on this score, at least in this film, deciding to crack jokes when offing the likes of the scientist and Miranda.
  • Pun: "Aston Martin calls it the "Vanquish"we call it the "Vanish".
  • Punch Clock Villain: Vlad Popov, Graves' tech expert. He cheerfully announces that Bond managed to break Graves' own land speed record.
  • Read the Freaking Manual: When Q gives Bond the doorstopper manual for his latest gadget car, Bond tosses it in front of the vehicle's automatic shotguns which promptly blast the manual to shreds.
    Q: Here's the manual, should be able to shoot through that in a couple of hours.
    [Bond tosses the book into the air. The targeting shotguns blast it to pieces]
    Bond: Just took a few seconds, Q.
    Q: Wish I could make you vanish.
  • Reality Ensues: For all the outlandish things that happen in the movie, it shows us exactly what happens to a spy who gets captured in a hostile territory.
  • Recycled Premise: The Kill Sat is remarkably similar to the one in Diamonds Are Forever.
  • Red Right Hand: Zao has diamonds embedded in his face from the explosion in the beginning. Meanwhile, Graves suffers chronic insomnia due to the gene therapy and must spend an hour each day in an REM device to avoid going mad.
  • Rogue Agent: Bond becomes one, at least in the first part of the movie, due to 14 months in captivity at General Moon's hands.
  • Sex Face Turn: Inverted — Frost enjoys her night with Bond, but she's still prepared to shoot him dead the next day.
  • Shoot the Hostage: Done by Bond in a virtual training scenario to save M, justifying it as being Only a Flesh Wound.
    Bond: Check the replay. You'll find he's dead and she's only got a flesh wound.
  • Shout-Out: When John Cleese walks behind the invisible car, the light refraction makes him appear for a quick second like he's attempting a Silly Walk.
    • And another for Cleese is the just-mentioned "only a flesh wound."
    • During the climax on the plane when Graves throws out one of the parachutes is very similar to the climax in Air Force One when Egor Korshunov throws out the last parachute out the plane before fighting Marshall. Had Bond said, "Get off this plane," it would be cooler.
    • Bond's Virtual Reality mission is based on the stage "King's Ransom" in the Nintendo64 game The World Is Not Enough.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Bond's opinion of the new Q. "Hmm. Still, better than looking cleverer than you are."
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Bond and the new Q still don't get along.
    Bond: Give me the old firing range any day, Quartermaster.
    Q: Yes well they call it the Future, so get used to it. (takes Bond into a museum of Continuity Nods)
    Bond: This where they keep the old relics, is it?
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Said by Jinx to Miranda during their fight.
  • Title Drop: "So you live to die another day... Colonel."
  • Uncanny Valley: In-Universe, Gustav Graves couldn't avoid it, the first clue of his identity. Zao may qualify too.
  • Unconventional Vehicle Chase: In the pre-credits sequence, Bond and the North Korean arms dealers engage in a hovercraft chase.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation: The Virtual Reality Glasses.
  • Verb This!: "Read this, bitch!"
  • Villainous Breakdown: Gustav Graves goes absolutely CRAZY during his fight with 007. Possibly justified due to the fact he's in a fight with the man who secretly ruined his life.
    • It's also Foreshadowing the reveal. Colonel Moon's introduction in the teaser had him beating up his anger management therapist.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Gustav Graves is beloved by England, and he knows how to schmooze with the tabloid press.
    • Though oddly enough, this causes a plot hole. How did no one notice this man never existed until a few months ago? And how did he accomplish enough to warrant a knighthood in that period? One possibility is that he'd had the resources for the transformation in storage for a long time
  • Villainous Demotivator: Our introduction to Col. Moon is a scene with him kicking the living crap out of a subordinate... who is hogtied inside a punching bag.
  • Visible Invisibility: Bond's Aston Martin emits a distortion effect.
  • Watch the Paint Job: Colonel Moon's entire rare car collection rains out of the sky onto the rice paddies of North Korea.
  • Weaponized Car: Bond's Aston Martin Vanquish and Zao's Jaguar XKR duel.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Colonel Moon wants this from his father.
  • Wham Line: For Bond, Colonel Moon suddenly blowing up the helicopter, then asking, "How do you propose to kill me now, Mr. Bond?"
  • Whole Plot Reference: While Graves's motivations are different, the scheme itself is taken wholesale from Diamonds Are Forever: From using diamonds to build a giant space laser Kill Sat for neutralising ground-based military defences to the villain impersonating a respected industrialist.
  • X Meets Y: More than a few critics described the film as being essentially the first half of Licence to Kill combined with the second half of Diamonds Are Forever.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Bond's reaction when he finds out his latest car has a cloaking device.
    Q: As I learned from my predecessor, Bond, I never joke about my work.
  • Your Mom:
    Zao: Who sent you?
    Jinx: Your momma. She wanted me to tell you that she's real disappointed in you.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Said almost verbatim by Bond's Cuban contact, but promptly defied by Bond: "Zao has no interest in other people's freedom".
  • Zip Me Up: Happens with Madonna.