Die Another Day
A sincere apology from a repentant film critic.
Directed by Lee Tamahori
Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens
Dear Vin Diesel:
In my review of XXX in Pill #17, I called you a fuckwit. A couple
months later, I’m a little older, a little wiser, and I realize that I was too
harsh. It’s just that ... Well, I was aghast at the mind-boggling stupidity of
your movie. My pain started with the first idiotic action sequence and didn’t
stop until that last scene when you were balling Asia Argento down on that tropical
island. The whole thing was just horrible. It really did suck nuts.
But I just saw the new James Bond movie. And, Vin, dude, I want to apologize.
I realize now that you didn’t target man-boys who enjoy extreme sports. You targeted
man-boys who enjoy extreme sports video games. XXX was successful
because there’s a legion of action-thirsty guys grown fat and rendered moronic
by daily doses of Play-station. They fucking love you, man.
They’re also going to love Die Another Day.
When your character Xander Cage was called a new James Bond, that was totally
cool with me. I wasn’t defending Bond when I called you bad names. That wasn’t
my inner Bond fan lashing out. I don’t even have an inner Bond fan.
Sure, I watched Sunday marathons of Goldfinger and Thunderball and
Dr. No as a kid. Sean Connery was a great charismatic action hero. He was
fun to watch because his Bond did things that ordinary men couldn’t. His stunts
were unlikely and impressive, but not impossible – like watching an Olympic athlete.
The new James Bond, however, like your Xander, bends the laws of physics. He jumpstarts
a helicopter in freefall. He surfs a tsunami using a curved piece of sheet metal.
He’s even got an invisible car.
He’s like Wonder Woman! How cool is that?
Actually, it’s not very cool at all. It’s stupid.
Vin, I wasn’t picking on you or your genre. I’m not a highbrow guy. I nod off
during Bergman all the time. I can only name one or two Godard films. A night
of Italian neo-realism? I’d rather sniff your crack.
I love bad films, really. My all-time favorite movie is Mad Max. I loved
Resident Evil and Reign of Fire this year. I’m too stupid to follow
any plot involving more than three main characters, and even then they better
not talk too much.
Die Hard. That’s a good bad action movie. Predator is another. And
Predator 2. And Die Hard 2. (But not Die Hard 3.) The
Hunt for Red October. These are the godheads. They’re enter-taining and escapist.
For new movies, I’d allow that The Bourne Identity and even The Sum
of All Fears are good enough to watch with a Sunday afternoon hangover.
Die Another Day isn’t even in the same universe. It’s dopey. It’s silly. Worse,
And the plot! James Bond has been captured and tortured by those axis-of-evil
North Koreans. Fearing he’s been compromised, his bosses decommission him. But
Bond won’t take this laying down, oh no, he wants justice! He travels to Cuba,
has a mojito, balls Halle Berry and stumbles upon a black market medical center
that can transplant DNA (!) in order to transform, say, a North Korean bad-ass
into a British jerk-off. Soon, he’s battling the bad guy in an ice palace that
looks like the Sydney Opera House dome by way of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.
It’s that bad. If I was a James Bond defender, I’d be even more upset. You’re
allowed to be an idiot, Vin. You’re not crapping on a tradition – you’re extending
it. Watching the new James Bond movie is like inviting a dog to Christmas dinner
and watching it piss on the carp.
What I’m trying to say is that in a back-handed and accidental way, the reviewers
and catchphrasers were right. Xander Cage really is the new James Bond. If by
“new James Bond” they mean a charisma-free, arrogant dick chasing stupid villains
while performing ridiculous, implausible and unexciting stunts.
You should definitely feel better about yourself, Vin. Apparently you’re just
as good as James Bond after all.
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