The prologue of Die Another Day delivers. There's an explosive chase sequence, the climax of which sees the hovercraft Bond has been driving plunging over the edge of a waterfall. There's a huge clanging sound, and as the camera pans out we realise that Bond is swinging from a massive Buddhist prayer gong. "Saved by the bell," he quips with just about enough knowing panache to make the abysmal joke fly.
Thereafter, it's swiftly downhill. His assassination target, North Korean Colonel Moon (Will Yun Lee) has disappeared in the hovercraft chase, but Bond himself is captured by the North Korean army, and finally released in exchange for Moon's favourite henchman, Zao (Yune), who Bond failed to kill, despite filling his face with diamonds from an exploding suitcase. M (Dench), is decidedly annoyed and strips him of his '00' status. Bond is convinced he was betrayed by a double agent and sets out to find out why, and to finish the job on Zao on the way.
Pierce Brosnan, who has always looked the part, combines Sean Connery's hard edge with Roger Moore's facility for delivering lines like "I'm just here for the birds". He's let down by the silliest car yet (it's invisible) and some duff CGI: there's one particularly bad sequence towards the end where Bond ends up surfing on a wave that wouldn't look out of place in a Sinclair Spectrum game.
There are various annoying directorial quirks - particularly the seemingly random insertion of a few Matrix bullet time moments - and, inevitably, dozens of improbable moments, but by the time things go sci-fi, with a crazy sun-powered ice-melting weapon, all credibilityhas run screaming and dived headfirst out of a window.
Read more reviews of Bond movies