Digging Double Oh Seven: Die Another Day (2002)

die another day

As I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve been thinking about James Bond a lot and going back through the movies again. I’ve watched from Dr. No through Diamonds Are Forever, skipping Goldfinger in the process because I’ve seen in so many times. I was still jonesing for more Bond, though and asked my wife which one she wanted to see. I tried pushing for some Daniel Craig action, but instead she wanted to go with Pierce Brosnan’s final entry in the franchise, Die Another Day.

This was an interesting choice not just because it’s the last pre-Craig film I haven’t reviewed on the blog yet, but also because I had recently listened to the episode of James Bonding where they savaged this film. So, I was already kind of primed to dislike this movie, or at least look at it with a more comedic take, but I’ve got to say, once I just let all of that go, I was actually able to enjoy myself. Well, most of the time. Halle Berry is terrible here. It boggles the mind that she has an Oscar.

The basic story this time around is that, after getting marked while undercover and imprisoned, Bond wants revenge on his captors so he goes rogue to track them down. Along the way he meets a US NSA agent named Jinx (Berry) and discovers that some kind of gene replacement therapy is being used to change peoples’ identities on a fundamental level. There’s also an invisible car and an ice hotel which are both silly and kind of awesome when you just let yourself sit back and enjoy the film (which can be really difficult when you’re dealing with invisible cars and diamond faced bad guys, just saying).

While watching the movie, I made the claim that Berry is probably the worst Bond Girl around. My wife laughed and pointed out Denise Richards’ Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough. To that I say, you basically know what you’re getting when you see Richards on screen (or were getting back when that was a thing that happened). But with Berry, you’re talking about an Oscar winner! She can barely deliver her lines in a way that tells me she’s a human being and not a robot trying to decode what feelings are. At the end of the day, I can buy into the invisible car and even the ridiculous gene therapy, but I can’t abide such a bad Bond actress. Honestly, Madonna’s better actress in this than Berry.

Anyway, this wound up being Brosnan’s last outing as 007. I liked what he did with the character and while he wasn’t my favorite he was the version that gave me my first Bond experiences in the movie theater which is a nice memory. I don’t know if he’ll be considered a classic Bond, but it was certainly a memorable time for me heading to the movies with my high school and college friends to check out 007’s latest exploits.

Robo Rampage: Runaway (1984) & Surrogates (2009)

If you’re like me, then you’re a big fan of NBC’s Community (on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m.). As a big movie and TV fan I’ve come to love Abed and his string of pop culture references, most of which I’m proud to say I bet. In last week’s episode called “Romantic Expressionism” Abed and some of the gang got together to watch a crazy sci-fi action movie called Kick Puncher. Up next on their list was going to be Runaway, which I looked up immediately and realized I already had in my instant queue. So, of course, I bumped it up to the top and gave it a watch. The surprising thing is that it’s actually pretty good. Michael Crichton wrote and directed the movie starring Tom Selleck as a cop whose beat involves putting down/turning off rogue robots dubbed runaways and Gene Simmons who plays the villain. Kirstie Alley’s also in it, but doesn’t have a huge part (man, she used to be hot, even in that up tight bitchy sort of way).

The story takes place in the future and instead of having robots shaped like people, they’re boxier and just do regular household and other other duties to make life easier for humans. Until they go crazy. Sometimes its Westworld-style and sometimes it’s just a tractor-bot running its own course. Soon, a number of bots who shouldn’t be running away becme runaways and all signs point back to Simmons who is amazing at playing a villains (just think of that stare and give him a gun that can shoot around corners).

I don’t want to get too much into the details of the ending, but I liked it a lot because, not only does the hero face some potential physical scarring in the facial region (stars usually like to stay pretty), but the villain’s plan has a huge loophole that I picked up on right when I heard it and then turned out to be right. They also do a great job of making what could have been some silly robots look pretty creepy. I’m mainly thinking of those spider-looking ones and even the ones that can move as fast as cars and keep up with them. Overall, I’d give this one the thumbs up and recommend it to anyone. There’s enough to laugh at if that’s what you’re going for, but if not, it’s a pretty solid film all around. That Crichton guy sure knew how to tell a story.

First off, I have to say that I have not read the comics this movie is based on, so my opinion of it will be solely based on the film itself and not it compared to the source material. It is kind of cool to be in this position as I’ve either read most of the comics the comic-based movies I’ve seen are based on or I haven’t (like V For Vendetta which I recently got from Swap but haven’t started reading yet).

Anyway, I liked Surrogates. It had a somewhat similar to that of Gamer which I watched recently and loved in which real people were being controlled by other people for selfish purposes. Instead of real people though, Surrogates has people piloting life-like robots that they control from the safety of their own homes. Not everyone has one, of course, and some people are diametrically opposed to them. Bruce Willis plays a cop (hey, there’s another similarity between this one and Runaway) who’s using his surrogate to figure out who killed the son of the guy who created the surrogates in the first place. As you might expect the plot gets more complicated from there (though never too terribly hard to understand), with Willis abandoning his surrogate and getting out in to the real world on his own, which he hasn’t done in years.

Since this is a newer movie that I did like and do recommend, I don’t want to get too far into the details, but there are a few elements that I really liked and wanted to mention. The movie got me thinking a lot about the practicality of how this kind of society would work. It would be interesting because, at first, as people started using surrogate, the pilots would drive their surrogates in the same way they themselves would navigate their normal day. But, if you’re just using robots, wouldn’t you be able to start making smaller rooms for them to do their operations in? Also, wouldn’t it be possible to make some worker bots that would just follow commands to do shitty jobs? Or go to war (they show real people piloting G.I. Robots, these ones don’t have life-like faces because, what’s the point?). I’m not sure which aspects came from the comic or the film’s writers/director, but really liked how the surrogates moved. There’s a human/surrogate footchase which looks really cool because the human looks very normal and lifelike and Willis looks more stiff, but also way more powerful. There’s even a scene where actual Willis is walking down the street and all the surrogates are bumping into him or just barely missing him. At first they just seemed like jerks, but I realized it’s because they probably have some kind of sensors that keep them from hitting each other. It’s the little details like that that make this more than just your run of the mill, cop trying to figure out something bigger story.

Anyone read the comic and watch the movie? How did it stack up?