Die Another Day
Bond 20, Die Another Day (2002) was the 40th anniversary of the Bond franchise, and to celebrate the producers put a reference to all of the preceding 19 films.
The majority of the nods were visible as props located in Q’s lab, such as Rosa Klebb’s dagger shoe she wore in From Russia with Love (1963) and the jetpack from Thunderball (1965). And we see Bond Girl Jinx, played by Halle Berry emerge from the sea in similar fashion to the iconic Honey Ryder in Dr. No (1962).
Die Another Day was directed by Lee Tamahori and produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, and it saw Pierce Brosnan don the tuxedo for the fifth and final time. The film also marks the last appearance of Samantha Bond as Miss Moneypenny and the first and only appearance of John Cleese as Q, following the death of Desmond Llewelyn.
The plot follows 007’s mission to find a traitor within British intelligence who betrayed him during a mission in North Korea. The investigation leads Bond to a British businessman with connections to a North Korean soldier, whom Bond thought he’d killed. The story draws inspiration from Ian Fleming’s novels Moonraker (1955) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1965), and parts from Kingsley Amis’s novel Colonel Sun (1968).
In this blog post, we’ll look into Bond 20, and Pierce Brosnan’s last ever outing and rate his performance before he hands the Walther PPK over to Daniel Craig. We also look at the film’s cast, including Bond villain Gustav Graves, and his alter ego Colonel Tan-Sun Moon.
Of course, no Bond film is complete without its Bond girls, and Die Another Day features Halle Berry as NSA agent Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson, MI6 agent Miranda Frost, played by Rosamund Pike in her first ever film.
To round up this post, we’ll take a look at some of the best action, and Samantha Bond’s last ever scene playing Miss Moneypenny, which was a huge surprise for all Bond fans watching the film for the first time. Almost!
James Bond and two South Korean accomplices infiltrate a North Korean military base that’s controlled by Colonel Tan-Sun Moon, an army officer who’s unlawfully trading weapons for African conflict diamonds.
Bond assumes the guise of a weapons dealer called Van Bierk and booby-traps his diamond-filled briefcase with C4 explosives. Upon meeting Moon and his assistant, Zao, Bond hands over the diamonds.
However, Zao uncovers Bond’s true identity and alerts Colonel Moon. Despite this, Colonel Moon persists with his deception and invites Bond to witness a demonstration of his latest tank-busting weapon. He only drops his pretense when he deploys the tank-buster to obliterate the helicopter that Bond stole from Van Bierk.
Zao tips off Colonel Moon that his father, a General, is scheduled to arrive for an impromptu inspection in a matter of minutes. Fearing retribution from his father, Moon orders Bond to be executed before making a hasty escape on a sizable hovercraft.
Bond detonates the C4, causing several diamonds to become lodged in Zao’s face and eliminating some of Moon’s accomplices. In a bid to catch up with Moon, Bond commandeers another hovercraft and gives chase through a nearby minefield.
Following a tumultuous and brutal pursuit, Moon’s hovercraft plunges over a waterfall and seemingly to his death. Shortly after, North Korean soldiers apprehend Bond based on General Moon’s orders, and he is thrown into prison where he’s subjected to torture.
After fourteen months in captivity, Bond is traded for Zao at the North/South Korean border. Zao had been apprehended by the British after attempting to assault a Chinese/South Korean gathering.
Bond is drugged and taken to meet with M, who discloses that she has suspended his 00 Agent status due to the suspicion that he may have leaked information while under duress. However, Bond is convinced that he was framed by a double agent operating within MI6.
Bond dupes the medical personnel into liberating him and breaks out, finding himself at Hong Kong harbor. Despite his disheveled appearance, Bond is welcomed into a lavish hotel by Chang, an old acquaintance and Hong Kong Intelligence agent.
Bond goes to his room to clean himself up, when a masseuse then knocks on Bond’s to offer him a massage. Bond is suspicious and discovers she’s carrying a gun. Bond then realizes he’s being set up and throws an ashtray into a mirror, shattering it to expose Chang and his accomplices who were trying to record compromising footage of them.
Bond reminds Chang they both share a common adversary in Zao and requests his aid in infiltrating North Korea to take revenge for the Chinese agents murdered by Zao during his assault on the summit. Chang finds out that Zao has been seen in Cuba and arranges for Bond to fly there.
In Havana, Bond is informed by Raoul, a cigar factory owner who is a British sleeper agent, that Zao is on an island called Isla Los Organos. The island is notorious for an experimental clinic that offers gene therapy treatments that allow patients to alter their physical appearance.
In a beach bar, Bond sees NSA agent Giacinta ‘Jinx’ Johnson walking out of the sea and into the bar where Bond is. They get chatting and quickly end up in bed for the night. When Bond awakens, he sees Jinx has gone and notices her boarding a boat.
Bond then heads to the gene therapy clinic and uncover Zao’s quarters there. He sees that DNA has been erased, resulting in an albino-like complexion. Bond subjects Zao to brief torture.
In retaliation, Zao instigates several fires, causing pandemonium at the clinic. During their altercation, Bond takes possession of Zao’s pendant before he escapes on a helicopter. Upon opening the pendant, Bond discovers a hoard of diamonds, which Raoul confirms to be African conflict diamonds marked with the emblem of British billionaire Gustav Graves’ company.
Bond jets back to London and tracks down Graves at Blades, a fencing club. The two engage in a heated sword fight, which escalates when they raise the stakes, injuring each other and causing harm to the club. Eventually, Bond prevails.
Graves invites Bond to a gathering in Iceland to showcase his scientific prowess, and he introduces Bond to his fencing partner, Miranda Frost, a retired Olympic athlete.
In a decommissioned London Underground station, M reestablishes Bond’s O0 status and extends assistance with the inquiry. She cautions him to be wary of Graves’ substantial political ties.
Bond meets with Q, who provides him with a new watch, a glass-shattering ring, and a state-of-the-art Aston-Martin Vanquish equipped with an ejector seat, automatic shotguns, and adaptive camouflage that renders the car almost invisible.
Bond accepts Graves’ earlier invitation and heads to his ice castle in Iceland, where he reunites with Jinx. Graves subsequently unveils his new orbital mirror satellite, named ‘Icarus’, which can concentrate solar energy on a small area to provide year-round sunshine for crop growth.
Bond disrupts the plant and causes concern in the camp before Frost pulls him away from seeming danger and kisses him, telling him she’s an undercover MI6 operative. The two spend the night in bed.
Meanwhile, Jinx infiltrates Graves’ command center within the castle but is captured by Zao and is locked away. Later. Bond deduces that Graves is actually Moon, operating under a new identity after undergoing the same gene therapy treatment as Zao.
Bond confronts Graves, but Frost emerges and unveils herself as the double agent who deceived him in North Korea. Bond narrowly escapes from Graves’ facility in his Aston Martin while being pursued by Zao in his Jaguar XKR.
Both cars cross a nearby frozen lake and engage in a heated battle with their vehicles’ defense mechanisms before entering the ice palace, which is quickly melting due to Graves using the solar powered beam from Icarus. Bond traps Zao under a collapsing chandelier and then saves Jinx from drowning.
Bond and Jinx then head to the South Korean border after hearing Graves is back in North Korea. They’re commissioned by the NSA and MI6 to utilize stealth sleds and parachutes to infiltrate North Korea.
They track Graves to his aircraft, which is also transporting General Moon, who’s unaware of his son’s new persona, his associates, and Frost.
Graves then reveals the real purpose of Icarus by employing its solar beam to carve a path through the minefield in the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Once the minefield is removed, North Korea can invade South Korea, Japan, and other countries with ease. And that Icarus could destabilize western nations by destroying any weapons of mass destruction fired at North Korea.
Graves is wearing sophisticated armor with an integrated remote control that operates the satellite. In a bid to sustain peace, General Moon holds his son at gunpoint. However, Graves incapacitates him using the suit and then shoots his father dead.
Bond attempts to eliminate Graves but is obstructed when one of his troops intervenes, deflecting Bond’s shot which shatters the window, causing the airplane to depressurize. Jinx manages to take control of the aircraft, but Frost assaults her with a sword, compelling her to switch the plane to auto-pilot.
Jinx discreetly alters the plane’s course so that it is heading directly towards the Icarus beam, and she and Frost get involved in a sword duel, with Jinx ultimately killing Frost with a knife.
With the plane heading to a crash landing, Graves gains the upper hand over Bond in the plane’s nose and puts on a parachute. However, Bond tugs on Graves’ ripcord, triggering the parachute to open too soon and dragging Graves out of the plane and into one of its turbines.
The suit is ruined, resulting in Icarus shutting down immediately. Bond and Jinx flee the plane in a helicopter it had been carrying, just managing to survive. They then enjoy a romantic moment in a secluded cabin, examining the diamonds they found from Graves’ plane.
Pierce Brosnan as 007 in Die Another Day
Pierce Brosnan’s performance in Die Another Day was a shining example of his skills as an actor. Despite the negative critical reception of the film, Brosnan’s portrayal of James Bond was captivating, engaging, and everything that fans had come to expect from him.
Let’s be honest, it was far from Pierce Brosnan’s best Bond film, but that’s hardly his fault. Brosnan played the role with all the suave charm, wit, and action-packed flair, albeit it a few too many corny Mooreisms.
That said, it wasn’t his fault the prodcuers chose that route for this film. It was clear that Brosnan had developed a deep connection with the character over his four films, and his passion for the role was evident in every scene.
Fans were hoping to see more of Brosnan in the role, and he was reportedly eager to continue playing Bond. However, the producers made the decision to move on, leaving Brosnan’s tenure as the secret agent abruptly cut short.
And so we only got four Pierce Brosnan films, but he left his own legacy and a high standard for any future Bond.
Gustav Graves (Colonel Tan-Sun Moon)
Played by Toby Stephens and Will Yun Lee, Gustav Graves (Tan-Sun Moon, Colonel Moon), is the main Bond villain in Die Another Day. He is the son of General Moon and a high-ranking member of the North Korean People’s Army. Colonel Moon is involved in illegal weapons trading and meets Bond under the guise of a diamond smuggler.
When Colonel Moon discovers that Bond is actually a British spy sent to kill him, he attempts to use his high-tech weapon, Tankbuster, to destroy the helicopter Bond arrived in. Before he can kill Bond too, Moon is informed that his father is arriving at the base. He and his men quickly flee with hovercrafts and weapons so that his father doesn’t find out about his weapon dealing.
He leaves Bond to be shot by his men, but Bond escapes and goes after Moon. Bond eventually jumps onto Moon’s hovercraft and fights him, dodging bullets from Moon’s Tankbuster and flamethrower. They fight until the hovercraft reaches a cliff, and Moon is thrown into the river and presumed dead.
It’s later revealed that Moon survived the incident and fled to Cuba, where he underwent DNA replacement therapy to alter his appearance to make him appear European. He emerges from the therapy as Gustav Graves, a wealthy businessman with a sophisticated British, demeanor and a love for adrenaline-fueled activities.
Graves presents himself as an ecologist and fencing champion, but his true goal is to use his Icarus satellite, which harnesses solar energy, as a super-weapon to blast through the heavily fortified demilitarized zone and invade South Korea.
Bond travels to London to trace Graves, who he believes is involved in diamond smuggling, and goes to a fencing academy where Graves is training and persuades the fight trainer to arrange a match with Graves. Their fight is furious, with both men cutting each other multiple times, and ends with Bond cutting Graves in the stomach and throwing him into a fountain.
Graves admits defeat and invites Bond to his Icarus demonstration in Iceland. Graves presents his Icarus satellite as a solution to world hunger, claiming it can bring light to dark places and warm the coldest places to grow crops.
During his demonstration at his ice palace, NSA agent Jinx attempts to kill Graves but is attacked by him wearing a prototype of the Icarus suit. Bond confronts Graves in his office, where he reveals his true identity and that Miranda Frost is the traitor who betrayed him in North Korea.
Graves entrusts Zao with overseeing the final preparations at the palace as he, Miranda, and most of his men depart. Fleeing to a North Korean airbase, Graves aims to use Icarus to destroy the demilitarized zone’s minefield, enabling North Korean forces to attack the South.
However, his father General Moon opposes the war and is arrested in a coup. Bond and Jinx are dispatched to stop Graves, and the US launches a missile at Icarus, but Graves utilizes the satellite’s power to disintegrate it mid-flight.
Graves is unmasked as General Moon’s son, who he disarms and overpowers. Graves uses the Icarus Controller to activate Icarus and destroy the minefield, but General Moon is disgusted and sees the beam leading to war, including American nuclear weapons.
Moon holds a gun to Graves’ head, who asks whether he would kill his own son, but his dad claims his son died a long time ago. Graves disarms him with the ExoSkeleton’s electricity glove and shoots him dead. Bond moves in for the kill, but a henchman intervenes, and the shot shatters the plane’s window, sucking out everyone except for Bond and Graves.
Graves and Bond fight amid the plane’s wreckage, and Graves gains the upper hand with his ExoSkeleton. He grabs two parachutes, tosses one out of the plane, and plans to leave Bond to crash.
But as Graves kneels down to gloat, Bond yanks the parachute release cord, causing Graves to fly out of the fuselage and plummet into the jet engine and his death.
Played by Rick Yune, Zao is a suspicious and skilled villain who discovers James Bond’s true identity during a mission. Despite his efforts to kill Bond, he ends up disfigured by diamonds embedded in his face.
Bond later tracks Zao down to a private clinic where he’s undergoing a procedure to alter his appearance and assume a new identity. After a brief fight, Zao manages to escape with the help of a helicopter. Bond investigates further and discovers Zao’s connection to diamond trader Gustav Graves.
In Iceland, Bond encounters Zao again, now working closely with Graves. Zao tortures Jinx, an NSA agent, with an electricity-generating suit, but she refuses to reveal any information. Eventually, Bond uncovers Graves’ true identity as Tan-Sun Moon, Zao’s former master.
As Bond tries to save Jinx from the collapsing ice palace, Zao pursues him in a high-speed car chase across a frozen lake. Despite his efforts to kill Bond, Zao crashes through the ice and becomes trapped underwater. In a final confrontation, Bond kills Zao by shooting an ice chandelier, which falls and impales him.
Giacinta ‘Jinx’ Johnson
Jinx is a skilled NSA Agent born on Friday the 13th, which inspired her nickname. She’s assigned to kill rogue North Korean agent Zao, who’s undergoing gene-replacement therapy at the Alvarez clinic in Cuba.
Played by Halle Berry, Jinx meets James Bond in a bar, and the two share a romantic evening together before pursuing their common target. She leaves Bond in bed the next morning as she heads to the clinic to kill Zao, but he gets away in a helicopter.
Tracking Zao to Iceland, Jinx meets up with Bond again at Gustav Graves’ diamond mine. She infiltrates Graves’ office, only to be captured and interrogated by Zao. Narrowly escaping death with Bond’s help, the pair team up and uncover Graves’ true identity as Colonel Tan-Sun Moon. As they split up to confront their enemies, Jinx is deceived and nearly killed by double-agent Miranda Frost.
Surviving the ordeal, Jinx and Bond infiltrate a North Korean airbase to stop Graves. While Jinx takes over the controls of Graves’ private airliner, she’s attacked by Frost. Engaging in a fierce sword fight, Jinx ultimately prevails, killing Frost.
After everyone has been killed, Jinx and Bond escape the burning plane in a helicopter and rekindle their romance.
Played by Rosamund Pike, Miranda Frost is a Harvard-educated MI6 agent, and former gold medal-winning Olympic fencer trained by Verity. She earns her gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics by default after Graves orchestrates the real gold medalist’s death, securing her loyalty.
Miranda secretly betrays James Bond by revealing his identity to North Korean Colonel Tan-Sun Moon, leading to Bond’s imprisonment and torture.
Assigned by M to work alongside Bond, Miranda disapproves of Bond’s methods but helps maintain his cover when necessary. They share a night together in Iceland to keep up the pretence of being lovers. Later, when Bond confronts Graves, Miranda reveals her true allegiance and attempts to kill him, but he escapes.
After attempting to murder Bond with the Icarus satellite weapon, Miranda and Graves flee to North Korea aboard an Antonov An-124 aircraft. Bond and NSA agent Jinx Johnson catch up to them, and the two women engage in a climactic sword fight aboard the descending plane.
Although Miranda initially gains the upper hand, Jinx impales her with a dagger from a copy of “The Art of War,” killing her.
Bond Kisses Moneypenny
In the penultimate scene of Die Another Day, Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond pays a surprise visit to Samantha Bond’s Miss Moneypenny in her office, where she is wrapping up for the night after the case has been closed.
Initially, the flirtatious banter between them turns into a magnetic chemistry, and they share a passionate kiss while the romantic soundtrack plays in the background. Bond then clears Moneypenny’s desk by pushing the office printer onto the floor to make space and lays Moneypenny down on.
As their passion intensifies, the scene is cut short when Q, played by John Cleese, enters the room, looking perplexed. Moneypenny quickly sits up and takes off the virtual reality glasses and explains to Q that she was testing them out while embarrassedly buttoning up her blouse.
Watch the scene
This scene marks a long-awaited moment for Bond fans as the flirtation between Bond and Moneypenny is finally consummated, but of course it’s all in her head as she enjoys the virtual reality moment.
Die Another Day – The End of Brosnan
Die Another Day delivered an action-packed experience and boasts a unique homage to all 20 Bond movies that preceded it and itself. Despite these strengths, the film does not quite stand out as the best in the James Bond franchise.
While the film boasts thrilling action sequences and nods to the series’ rich history, it sometimes falls short when compared to other iconic entries. Nevertheless, Die Another Day remains an entertaining watch, with some good performances from the actors.
Additionally, Die Another Day marks the final chapter of the Pierce Brosnan Bond movies, which was an unexpected turn of events for the actor himself. Brosnan’s tenure as 007 is often remembered fondly, and this film serves as a fitting swan song for his portrayal of the iconic character.
Although the film may not be universally hailed as a standout entry in the franchise, it is still a solid and entertaining watch. If you haven’t revisited Die Another Day in a while, it’s worth giving it another chance.