After a mission In North Korea ends in disaster, Bond is captured and held by the Koreans for fourteen months. He is eventually freed in a prisoner exchange but is suspected of compromising American agents. He must prove his innocence.
The bullet coming down the gun barrel at the very start of the film heralds that this will be something different. Too true. This has to be one of the worst Bond movies, if not the worst. More than that, it’s one of the worst movies ever made.
It’s difficult to know where to start. There is no one real source for why this is such an unmitigated disaster. You have a facile, flat and uninteresting script by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. Lee Tamahori’s direction is all over the place with occasional visual flourishes that add nothing. Danny Kleinman’s opening sequence includes scenes of Bond being tortured- with the garish graphics and Madonna’s dreadful theme, I can sympathise.
Of the main performances, it’s only really Pierce Brosnan and Judi Dench who come out of it looking good. Halle Berry does the best with what she has but the character- despite being an NSA agent- is bland. Toby Stephens is slimy and obnoxious as billionaire Gustav Graves, an irritating posh boy who you just want to slap. The fencing scene between Bond and Graves comes off as a macho pissing contest which is incredibly tedious. Rosamund Pike is fairly dull as double-agent Miranda Frost and I’ve seen better chemistry between garden gnomes than between her and Bond.
So many visual effects fall flat, especially the Aston Martin Vanquish (a.k.a. the invisible car). The scene where Bond rescues Jinx from the lasers is just completely ludicrous and the whole sorry affair reaches its nadir with the CGI wave-surfing
As this was released in the fortieth anniversary year, there are a lot of nods to previous Bond adventures. Some are subtle (such as the birdwatchers guide which Ian Fleming took the name of his secret agent from) and others not (Halle Berry coming out of the sea in an orange bikini, an obvious homage to Ursula Andress). There is some entertainment value had in noticing all these but it’s scant consolation for a film that makes even Thunderball look good.
Rating: 1 out of 5