BOND 50 DIE ANOTHER DAY

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond on the big screen. To celebrate, SFX's Nick Setchfield revisits each and every 007 adventure in a week by week countdown to Skyfall ...

MISSION 20: DIE ANOTHER DAY (2002)

SURF’S UP! At first there’s an ominous thrum of water, the sound of a colossal wave with clear designs on the North Korean coast. And then three figures on surfboards emerge, keeping tight formation as they ride this towering surge of ocean. American surf king Laird Hamilton oversaw this spectacular opening sequence, finding a starring role for a fabled Hawaiian wave named – appropriately – Jaws. It’s a humbling piece of showmanship that launches the twentieth Bond film in fine style, true to the franchise’s tradition of flesh-scraping, bone-risking stuntcraft. But elsewhere Die Another Day sees this tradition sacrificed to Hollywood’s creeping reliance on CGI. An infamous scene finds a digital 007 parasailing between weightless glaciers, surfing a PlayStation sea. As phoney as a chocolate Oddjob, it feels like a betrayal of something fundamental to the Bond ethos.

SIGMUND FREUD, ANALYSE THIS For once the title sequence isn’t the usual self-contained glamour show. We’ve already seen movie narrative bleed into the main titles, of course – a wounded Bond limps into the opening credits of The World Is Not Enough while GoldenEye recaps the collapse of communism via the educational medium of supermodels. Die Another Day takes this still further, transforming Danny Kleinman’s titles into an indispensable chain-link in the film’s storyline. Captured by the North Koreans, Bond is subjected to 14 months of torture, a passage of time that’s sold to us in a parade of demonically hallucinatory images. Women form from ice, half angels of comfort, half figures of threat. Glistening, oil-black scorpions swarm across the screen. Molten succubi taunt our hero. Is this a glimpse into Bond’s fracturing mind as he fights to keep his psyche intact? Is every Bond title sequence simply a Freudian rummage in 007’s unconscious? Isn’t Madonna’s clattering title song torture enough?

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