By Clint Morris | November 19, 2002

Believe it or not, James Bond is on his 20th outing. Yep, there’s been a change of Windsor Smiths, a graying of the hair, a revision of the doohickeys and a change of sentry, but one thing remains the same – the vital fun that a Bond movie brings.
Unlike Bond himself, the producers of Ian Fleming’s commended series didn’t see their latest menace coming. Gushing in like a flurry of noxious air stream has been a posse of imitators determined to knock the balanced martini twirler off his roost. Luckily, the memo got to the EON productions stable in time – and they were given a nice heads up on proceedings. Now, instead of just classic Bond – gadgets, girls and gunfire – Bond’s got a few more exhilarating tricks up his sleeve and everything from the playful pop theme tune to the striking women, devilish villains, cars and cataclysm smells fresher than detergent sodden goblets.
Pierce Brosnan returns for the 5th time as Bond – and it’s a sure bet you’ll be claiming him one of the preeminent to don the tux after this latest episode. This time, he’s joined by the gorgeous Rosamund Pike and Halle Berry compelling as the indispensable Bond girls, and Rick Yune and Toby Stephens as two of the most ominous villains Bond has faced in quite some time.
In a sort of superior interweave of “License to Kill,” events in “Die Another Day” take a very un-Bond like coil, with our ostensible straight shooter having his license to bleed and bunk revoked. But typical of the urbane superman, he won’t be restrained and sets out after the twosome who made his new class so – evil megalomaniac Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) and his callous right-hand man, Zao (Rick Yune).
Assisted by outwardly casual super heroine Jinx (Halle Berry) – and in due course his dependable band of M-16 comrades – the renegade Bond sets out to unmask a traitor, and ultimately roll out the stop sign to their all-evil sketch of global domination.
The thing with the Bond films is that you always know what you’re going to get – plenty of action, plenty of sexual insinuation, plenty of searing women, a couple of rampant lunatics and some grand stunts. Once again, you’ve got all that, but the stimulation factor is turned up to 11. The villains are more credible than before, the women are many-sided, the stunts…better than ever. In some ways, opposing fare like “XXX” has made the series yank up the cool factor. It’s also nice to see the Bond films with a stronger narrative this time around, and in some respects, targeting more of a broader audience.
Bond’s have always been an event film. Now there’s even more reason to celebrate, especially with such a return to form…and possibly the best Bond yet for Brosnan.
Suffice to say, “Die Another Day” is the real-deal, packed with more excitement, vigor and fortitude than an unfaltering Magnum.

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