Americans Hate Tingle: The film did poorly in South Korea; audiences there resented the film's portrayal of the South Korean military taking orders from Americans. There was also some outrage over the decision to have a sex scene in the vicinity of a statue of Buddha. As for North Korea, are you even surprised that it wasn't released there? Allegedly the late dictator Kim-Jong Il (who was a James Bond afficionado) did get a hold of a copy, but he was not a fan.
Angst? What Angst?: Although hellbent on revenge, Bond is otherwise of remarkably sound mind after fourteen months of nonstop torture in a North Korean prison. Most to endure such a hell and live to tell of it would undoubtedly have more physical and psychological scars to show for it. Especially remarkable seeing how Bond barely cheated death at the hands of scorpion venom, even though he received antidote between scorpion stings.
Audience-Alienating Premise: The story of Bond going after a North Korean colonel who resorts to genetic manipulation to turn himself into a Caucasian, with a much heavier focus on explosive CGI-heavy action over the subtle intrigue of Bond's usual spywork proved to be more than most Bond fans were willing to stomach.
Fans of the series' campier elements tend to like this film, while fans of the more serious films (and novels) tend to hate it.
The "Vanish", is it a Cool Car (It IS an Aston Martin, after all), or does being invisible make it one of the dumbest things ever to come out of Q Branch?
The title song by Madonna; some don't mind it, others despise it for its excessive autotune and its bizarre lyrics.
Critic-Proof: Despite generally mediocre reviews, it was a box-office success, something all the more impressive when you consider that 2002 had perhaps the most competitive holiday season of the modern era, with The Two Towers and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, among many others (as well as crushing the even worse received Star Trek: Nemesis). However, the producers realized that this was more in spite of the film than because of it, and they decided to shake things up big-time for the next entry.
The female Torture Technician became this behind the scenes, as Lee Tamahori said with chagrin in the commentary that his 14-year-old son was more interested in her than in meeting James Bond!
Miranda Frost is considered by many to be a better and more interesting Bond Girl than Jinx, who the studio was so sure would wow audiences instead that they had a spin-off series planned for her (which quickly died with a whimper after Jinx turned out to be The Scrappy). The film was also a Star-Making Role for Rosamund Pike.
Fashion-Victim Villain: Gustav Graves, with the outfit he spends the climax of the film in, some unholy mix of a Power Glove, Laser Tag armor, and a Virtual Boy headset, makes it impossible to take him seriously.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In a training simulation, Bond approaches a mook holding M hostage. To kill him, Bond shoots M first before doing so. Q then laments to Bond that what he did wasn't the right way to save before, causing Bond to reveal that he only inflicted a flesh wound on her. Cue Skyfall, where M ends up being shot in the ankle by a mook of a former MI-6 agent... and due to her age, passes away from blood loss.
Harsher in Hindsight: Kim Jong-Il, a huge James Bond fan, despised this film because of its treatment of North Korea in general and of the character Colonel Moon in particular, seen as a non-too-subtle Expy of Kim himself...and allegedly stabbed one of his ministers in the knee with a pen in a fit of rage because of it. James Bond - a fictional character- was even declared an enemy of North Korea as a result of this film!
In Madonna's "Beautiful Stranger" tie-in video for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Basil Exposition mentions that Madonna has already seduced 007 and 008. And now she gets to be the theme singer and have a cameo in an actual Bond film.
"Holy Shit!" Quotient: Bond is not only captured by North Korea, but forced to endure fourteen months of torture and interrogation before his allies make any effort to secure his freedom. The film's opening makes it seem as though we're in for a darker, grittier Bond film that could've easily superseded the Dalton era. As it turns out though, not even this proved enough to put down James Bond for very long afterward.
Moon and Zao. Zao was clearly... devoted to Moon. Their reunion after Moon became Gustav Graves really speaks volumes.
Also, Madonna's character has a clear Les Yay attraction towards Frost. Off-screen commentary indicated that she was actually a lesbian.
At one point, Miranda is eyeballing Jinx in a manner some have interpreted as a Death Glare (as Pike does on the DVD commentary), while others see it as a Longing Look.
Idiot Plot: Colonel Moon's guise as Gustav Graves becomes this when you realize that apparently nobody stopped to realize that this diamond magnate hadn't even been on the radar prior to the mere fourteen months in which he had somehow successfully changed his physical appearance and founded the diamond corporation that has made him the public's new shining star. Even with Bond lampshading the absurd time in which Graves accomplished all this, the revelation of his true identity is where all remaining logic is quickly thrown out the window.
Like You Would Really Do It: Zig-zagged trope. It's a surprise that Bond gets captured and horrifically tortured instead of making a daring escape, but nobody believed for a minute Bond was being sent in front of a firing squad. Or, that Moneypenny would get killed.
Mis-blamed: While director Lee Tamahori tends to get all the blame for the film's various faults, the only things he was really responsible for were the needless use of CGI and generally over-the-top editing. Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli and screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have admitted that they're really the ones at fault for the film's tone and storyline, and that they completely misjudged what the fans wanted from the series. It hasn't really helped that those four went on to preside over the far better-received Daniel Craig Bond era, whereas Tamahori's career completely crashed and burned after this film, making it easier for fans to turn him into a Scapegoat Creator.
Every single line out of Jinx's mouth. Between the hurricanes of double entendres, pointless references to her nickname, whining about Bond not saving her quickly enough, and awkward blaxploitation one-liners, the character simply doesn't have well-written dialogue.
The completely serious use of laser beams to threaten Bond with, five years after Austin Powers made this impossible to take seriously.
Madonna's title song, which is autotuned within an inch of its life and goes to some pretty bizarre places (Sigmund Freud? Really?). At times it seems rather apt that it plays over scenes of Bond being tortured.
The entire story of Frost and Moon's collaboration going all the way back to their time in the Sydney Olympics. It is as absurd and convoluted as it is entirely out of place in the context of the story.
Zao's diamonds, which many will point out should've been easy to remove from his face.
The outfit Graves spends the climax of the film in, some unholy mix of a Power Glove, Laser Tag armor, and a Virtual Boy headset.
More a result of tv edits, but if the film is shown before the watershed, Jinx calling Miranda "Bitch!" after killing her is cut. The insult was already pretty ridiculous on its own, but apparently while kids can watch Jinx quite clearly stabbing Miranda between the breasts, calling her a bitch is beyond the pale.
Narm Charm: The sword fight between Bond and Graves is completely over the top, but also genuinely thrilling; special mention must be given to Brosnan for performing much of the fight scene himself instead of a double.
Never Live It Down: As noted all throughout, the excessive use of CGI effects over practical stuntwork, the invisible car, the theme by Madonna, the characterization of the main Bond girl and the bewildering plot all cemented this film as the low point of the Brosnan era and one that would force the minds behind it to take the franchise in a radically different direction to bring it back to its roots.
The notorious tidal wave sequence when Bond employs a parachute to surf a very obviously CGI wave is a top contender for one of the most hated moments in the entire franchise; subsequent Bond films would make it a point to keep the use of CGI effects to a minimum in part because of this scene.
Though Toby Stephens was a successful actor before this, he's best-known nowadays for playing Mr. Rochester in the 2006 BBC remake of Jane Eyre. Interestingly, the 1983 version had previous James Bond actor Timothy Dalton in that role.
This was the feature film debut of Rosamund Pike, a good decade before she consolidated her fame with Gone Girl. Many articles about her certainly remembered her from this film after the latter came out, using some combination of the phrase "From Bond Girl to Gone Girl."
It's common for people who dislike the film to cite Jinx as a major reason why, particularly the film's tendency to push her as Bond's equal without really showing it, and prefer that Miranda Frost, who was based on a character from the books, had been the love interest instead. It doesn't help that they were planning on giving Jinx her own spin-off film series, which was thankfully axed when her reception made it clear it wouldn't make much money.
Among James's plethora of weaponized cars and gadgets throughout all the films, the Aston Martin "Vanish" is one of the most hated. While Bond's cars are typically the most extreme and elaborate item in his arsenal, a car that can turn invisible was where fans wound up drawing the line. It was so cartoonishly advanced it felt like something out of Star Trek, not James Bond. The fact that the way the invisibility worked wildly fluctuated through the film (varying between "fully invisible but distorts close objects", "fully invisible and capable of making Bond invisible when he hides behind it" to "Predator-esque shimmering outline") didn't help either. This sentiment helped lead to Q Branch not being mentioned at all in the first two Craig films, and be more grounded in reality for Skyfall., which also had a Take That! to the exploding pen (one of the symbols of frivolous Bond gadgets) from GoldenEye.
Madonna's Verity isn't too well-liked either, being unnecessarily shoe-horned into the film and not having much chemistry with the majority of the cast. Her theme song for the film also tends to appear on lists for "Worst Bond themes".
Sequelitis: Generally regarded as Brosnan's worst Bond film, and among the worst overall in the official canon. What's worse, it was his last one on screen. (His true final role was the video game, Everything or Nothing.)
Don't ruin your awesome hovercraft chase with blatantly obvious green screen, including the shot of one of the hovercraft exploding next to a random bunker, which somehow causes it to explode.
Never have a screamingly obvious CGI tidal wave and surfer in a movie that's already featured actual surfing earlier.
Another example comes right before the CGI surfing: when Bond's sled falls of the ice cliff, it's very obvious that it's a scale model.
In fact, just don't put poorly animated stunts in a series of films that is known for their completely real and awesome stuntwork. It just makes the failure of these effects so much more obvious.
To a lesser extent, Jinx's backward dive off the cliff.
And the clearly-CGI cars sticking out of the ground in one piece after falling from a plane. In real life, they would have been reduced to millions of tiny pieces.
The frequent and randomly placed slow motion moments in the film, which really don't serve to add anything to the action onscreen.
The disintegrating plane during the final showdown.
The screamingly superimposed laser effects used against Mr. Kil, where the laser clearly isn't holding place and worse, is causing no physical harm to his head.
The pool of blood emerging in front of Zao when he's impaled by the chandelier.
Took the Bad Film Seriously: Critic consensus seems to be that Rosamund Pike made an effort to make Miranda Frost a better and more interesting Bond Girl than Jinx, which was all the more impressive considering that this was her feature film debut.
Bond has been tortured for the past year and a half, and rather becoming the dangerous man he was in Licence to Kill, he quickly readjusts back into his normal personality (earns him inummerable badass points, though).
The Bond producers were clearly trying to use Moonraker's original plot (that is, the plot from the novel) but Die Another Day never ends up being as interesting as the novel.
The idea of a James Bond film full of Call Backs and Continuity Nods to all of the earlier films had a lot of potential, especially given that it was the 40th anniversary of the series and a lot of media was being produced at the time that celebrated the franchise's long history. However, given that most of the "references" in the film were just brief visual cues (Graves' mooks in Iceland having orange outfits is apparently a sufficient enough allusion to Blofeld's mooks in Piz Gloria also having orange outfits in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, for example), the move came off as more distracting and unnecessary than clever.
We're Still Relevant, Dammit!: The many effects-heavy action typical of the action genre in the turn of the century and the implausibly outlandish plot could certainly be interpreted by some as this.
What an Idiot!: Miranda demonstrates to Bond why it is never a good idea to bring a loaded gun to bed with you when you're a former fugitive still tracking down his betrayer. The fact that Bond didn't stop to think that his gun was curiously lighter before his confrontation with Frost and Graves is perhaps even more baffling.