The brand name's Bond, James Bond, so we shouldn't expect Die Another Day ' the 20th installment in cinema's longest-running series ' to surprise us in any surprising ways. But would it be too much to ask that the directors turn down the volume, slow down the pace and return to the shaken-not-stirred tone that caused us to fall in love with James Bond in the first place? For those who are keeping score, Die Another Day features 1) Halle Berry in an Ursula Andress bikini, 2) an invisible car, 3) a guy with diamond shrapnel embedded in his face and 4) a giant, solar-powered laser that will allow Diamond-Face to take over the world. The "exotic" locales include North Korea and Cuba, which suggests a longing on the part of the producers for the good ol' days of the international commie menace.
There are enough explosions to make al-Qaeda cringe with envy, and yet the movie's best scenes are the ones where Pierce Brosnan's Bond (who's starting to get a little too old for this kind of thing) exchanges a few words with Judi Dench's M and John Cleese's Q. Words ' what a concept.