Die Another Day is the 20th official James Bond movie. Bond finds himself captured and tortured at the hands of North Koreans. After escaping, he teams up with both a CIA and MI6 agent to bring down a devious billionaire who is developing a powerful weapon.
Bond plays with Rosa Klebb's dagger boot from 'From Russia With Love' in Q's lab.
Surfering onto the coast of North Korea James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) hijacks the delivery of conflict diamonds to Colonel Moon (Will Yun Lee). Taking the guise of the deliverer Bond infiltrates Moon’s secret base where he is housing hovercraft that can float over the minefields into South Korea. Moon’s right hand man Zao (Rick Yune) takes Bond’s picture and is informed over his phone that Bond is actually an MI6 agent. Upset by this news Moon threatens to kill Bond but loses the chance when his father General Moon (Kenneth Tsang) arrives at the base. Moon scrambles to get the illegal hovercrafts out of the base and is chased by Bond. During the battle the Bond’s briefcase bomb explodes and the diamonds embed themselves in Zao’s face. Still chasing Moon Bond is captured by his father after throwing Colonel Moon over a waterfall to his death.
Bond and Zao being traded
For months Bond is tortured in a North Korean prison. They would have scorpions sting him and then administer anti venom to keep him alive. After nearly a year General Moon takes Bond to an prisoner exchange at the border. While crossing the bridge Bond meets the person he is being exchanged for, Zao. Once in safety Bond is put under and taken to a medical facility.
Bond and M
When Bond wakes up M (Judi Dench) briefs him. She tells him that Zao destroyed a Chinese summit and had been caught but when an undercover American agent in North Korea was killed a week earlier they feared that Bond had broken and was leaking information. So they traded Zao for Bond in order to stop any other leaks. Bond denies the accusations and says that he was set up by someone that new he would be at Colonel Moon’s base. Bond believes that it was the same person that is framing him for leaking the information about the American agent.
With his status revoked and M keeping him locked down Bond escapes and finds himself off the coast of Hong Kong. Entering a hotel he used to frequent Bond gets cleaned up and strikes a deal with the Chinese government through Mr. Chang (Ho Yi)who works for the Chinese police. They weren’t happy about Zao getting free so they have decided to help Bond hunt him down in Havana.
Zao's new look
In Havana Bond meets up with Raoul (Emilio Echevarria) who tells him that Zao can be located on a small island that has an illegal clinic on it. While observing the port to the island Bond encounters Jinx Johnson (Halle Berry). After sleeping together Bond awakens alone and witnesses her boarding a ferry to the clinic island. On the next ferry Bond travels to the clinic himself and finds a secret door within the clinic. Inside he finds Zao undergoing a new face changing process. After stealing some of the conflict diamonds off of Zao Bond awakens him. Meanwhile Jinx assassinates the doctor conducting illegal procedures and begins hunting Zao down who is being chased by Bond. Zao escapes as well as Jinx. Bond inspects the diamonds with Raoul and notices a marking on them which identifies the diamonds as property of Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens).
Madonna as Verity
Back in MI6 Damian Falco (Michael Madsen), of the CIA, complains to M about Bond’s escape threatening to hunt him down themselves. Bond lands in London and witness Gustav Graves and his assistant Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) arrive for Graves knighting. Following Graves to his fencing school Bond is introduced to Graves through Verity (Madonna). Bond bets Graves in a sword match over the conflict diamonds that he retrieved off of Zao. After trashing the school Bond wins the fight and Graves invites him to his Ice Palace for a demonstration of his mysterious Icarus Project. At the club Bond receives a key.
John Cleese as the new Q
Using the key Bond enters an abondoned subway station for abandoned agents. There M tells him that they need Bond to investigate Graves since he could be possibly be smuggling conflict diamonds. At the station Bond is given his Aston Martin Vanquish and Sonic Ring by Q (John Cleese). That night M has a briefing with Miranda Frost who is a MI6 agent who has been sent to investigate Graves but has not come up with anything.
Graves Ice Palace
Once in Iceland Bond arrives at Graves Ice Palace who is testing out his rocket sled. While Frost shows Bond around Jinx arrives at the palace. That night while Bond reunites with Jinx Zao visits Graves who reveals himself to be the late Colonel Moon who underwent gene therapy to have a different face. Later Graves demostrates his Icarus Project which is a satillate that can reflect light from the sun to any where in the world. After the demo Bond follows the control device for the Icarus into Graves personal home and diamond mine. Nearly caught by Graves men Miranda saves Bond and goes with him to his room. While Bond and Miranda spend the night together Jinx sneaks into Graves home but is caught.
Bond leaves Miranda and goes back to Graves home where Mr. Kil (Lawrence Makoare) and Zao interrogate Jinx. Before Jinx is cut in half by the lasers Bond kills Mr. Kil and rescues her after she reveals that she is a NSA agent. While Jinx goes back to the hotel Bond realizes that Graves is Moon and meets him in his office. While they talk Miranda arrives to back up Bond but when Graves asks Bond who betrayed him Miranda reveals herself as the traitor.
With Jinx is locked in the Ice Palace Bond escapes Miranda and Graves using his Sonic Ring. Outside Bond steals Graves rocket sled. Bringing in several North Korean generals Grave’s demostrates that Icarus is actually a super laser. With Bond still driving the rocket sled Grave’s attempts to kill Bond with the laser. Narrowly escaping Bond he returns to the Ice Palace that Graves has his laser set to melt with Jinx the only one left inside. With Bond in his Vanquish Zao discovers that Bond is still alive and car fights Bond with his Jaguar.At the last second Bond kills Zao and saves Jinx from the palace.
Graves power suit
Believing that Graves is going to use the laser to take over South Korea M and Falco send Bond and Jinx to assassinate Graves. With the assassination failed Bond and Jinx board Graves jet. Ready to use the Icarus to destroy the minefields between North and South Korea Graves puts on a suit to control the Icarus directly and has his father brought in. Graves attempts to convince his father that what he is doing is right but when his father rejects Graves he kills his father.
Jinx and Bond celebrating a job well done
As Jinx takes over the cockpit Bond ruptures the hull of Graves control center. After leveling out the plane Jinx kills Miranda and Bond throws Graves out of the plane into the engine destroying the control device and shutting of the Icarus. With the plane still crashing Bond and Jinx take the helicopter out of the back of the plane which was loaded with the conflict diamonds.
The new Q
John Cleese working with Pierce Brosnan
Back on Pinewood studio’s John Cleese was brought on to play the new Q. With it also being the twentith Bond film and the fortyieth anniversary of the franchise the team decided to put as many referances to previous Bond films. With Desmond Llewelyn passing away in 1999 the producers and director felt that they had to make the new Q different from the iconic film role that Llewelyn had pioneered.
Writers Robert Wade and Neal Purvis decided to create a scene that would actually pass the spirit of Q onto John Cleese by having Bond not initially calling him Q but Quartermaster. With their interactions over in the scene Bond would then accept the new Q and return to calling him by his letter. John Cleese also went a much more grumpy version of Q who hates Bond more than the original ever had. Cleese also had a lot of trouble with the dialogue just as his predecessor had.
Shooting on the Jaws shoreline
For the surfering sequence at the beginning of the film a surfing team was hired to shoot the sequence in Hawaii off an infamous coast named “Jaws” on December 27 2001. Laird Hamilton over saw the film team and the stunt surfers. Hamilton helped revolutionize big wave surfing by figuring out how to have a boat tow them up to speed so that the surfers could handle the speed of the wave.
For the sequence special gear was made for all the surfers, especially a set of goggles that looked like the goggles seen in the film but if they filled with water they would drain so that the surfers could still see.
Camera rigs on the boat
In order to get the shots that they needed there were several different camera’s used. One camera on a jet ski another on a jet boat and a third mounted on a helicopter. This allowed the crew to get significantly different shots so that the scene could be cut together in a more dynamic way without the team to continue shooting over and over again. The jet boat was heavily modified so that it could properly maneuver amongst the massive waves. The tri pod was also modified with gyro’s so that smooths shots were possible without the constant interruption of the surf.
With only less then a minute between waves several teams of jet skiiers were used to ensure the saftey of the stuntmen. After a wave the surfers could spend up to fifteen seconds underwater with even less time between waves to catch their breath. Therefore the teams had to quickly come in and get the surfers out in time.
Shooting the hovercrafts
Shooting continued on January 24 2002 on Pinewood studio’s with the rest of the pre titles sequence and the hovercraft chase. Even though there was a huge stunt team for the sequence Pierce Brosnan did many of his own stunts. Unfortunately one day in February still shooting the sequence Brosnan did a hundred yard dash and forgot to harm up. The result was a blown knee that requiered immediate surgery. Brosnan felt incredible guilty about the situation and made a quick recovery.
With the help of second unit director Vic Armstrong the hovercraft sequence continued shooting in England. A team of hovercraft drivers were hired to shoot the scene. Even though the hovercrafts weren’t able to move quickly enough to satisfy the director Lee Tamahori so the film was speed up to create the effect of speed.
The Ice Lake Battle
The frozen lake in Iceland
While scouting locations for the Ice Palace exterior shots director Tamahori found a massive ice lake in Hofn, Iceland. After asking what would happen if the lake completely froze over the guide said that all the ice chunks would be locked in place. With that Tamahori decided shoot the car chase on the lake.
However the scouting took place before Christmas of that year and when the team had to actually start shooting the lake began to thaw out. Quickly the producers began looking for some alternative locations but were incapable of finding anything that fit the bill. At the last second the lake created enough ice to safely shoot on it and the crew moved out to Iceland immediately, however the threat of it thawing was always a possibility.
Getting rid of the water
With the crew only having two weeks to prepare the stuntmen and film crew scambled to get the shooting ready. During the process a truck with all the wardrobe in it was completely blown off the road and destroyed much of the clothes. Safety for the crew was also very hazardous especially with two hundred people on the ice and tons of equipment and vechicles. Throughout shooting much care was taken to not have to much equipment or crew on one spot of the ice at a time. The cars were also equipped with flotation devices that the driver could activate if it were to sink into the ice.
Specially made spiked tires were made by Yokohama for both the Jaguar and Aston Martin. They worked great in the Jaguar and too well in the Aston Martin. The stunt drivers were unable to get the sliding effect that they needed in the Aston Martin so they had to reduce the length of the spikes on the tires.
After a couple of days of shooting an inch of water was found on top of the ice and warm weather began to move in literally scarring the crew working on the ice. Thankfully shooting was able to continue and the scenes were all finished on the lake.
The Clinic Sequence
Shooting in Spain
Moving to Spain in April the team began shooting the clinic sequence and the Cuba scenes in which Bond is chasing down Zao and meets Jinx. During the shoot the cast and crew had to deal with constant rain and forty degree weather. With the storms not letting up the producers decided that shooting had to continue for the clinic scenes. Halle Berry had to run bare foot and in a sun dress for much of the shooting as well as Rick Yune who was completely shirtless.
Rick Yune running in forty degree weather
Under the threat of more bad weather the team feared having to recreate the set of Jinx’s entrence into the film on the Pinewood lot. When approached Berry agreed to do the scene rain or shine. Thankfully the next day was great and they carried through the scene with no problem even though the water was still very cold.
The Ice Palace
Building the Ice Palace
Returning to Pinewood studio’s 007 Stage Grave’s Ice Palace was built in it’s entirety. The idea came from daughter and current Bond producer Barbara Broccoli. While reading a magazine she discovered that in Jakkasjarvi, Sweden an ice hotel is constructed every single year. Excited about the new idea they called long time art designer Peter Lamont about the idea. For research Lamont actually stayed at the hotel and generated ideas for what the film version would be.
The original script had the ice palace in it but only a few dialogue scenes took place inside. The car chase that was to take place was actually suppose to be amongst a volcano. Director Lee Tomahori suggest that the car chase actually take place inside the ice palace so that they can get more use out of the set.
Building the model
Do to the size that the producers wanted it wasn’t possible to build an actual ice palace so Lamont created a set on the Pinewood studio and made it all look like ice. It was not an easy process however and many attempts were made to get the icey look of the palace. Using a combination of melted plastic and candle wax the final effect was accomplished.
Planning the chase in palace
Director Lee Tamahori suggest that the car chase actually take place inside the ice palace so that they can get more use out of the set. Unfortunately much of the set was already built. With the car chase now in mind Lamont how to quickly redesign it to accommodate the cars and much of the structurally supports of the set had to be ripped out and replaced with supports that could handle the greater weight.
For the melting effect water pipes were built to flood the set with 20,000 gallons of water a minutes on cue. Since the set was not initially designed to handle all this water the crew had to cut canals into the floor so that the access water could be routed to proper drains.
CGI James Bond
Believing that CGI was the future of the Bond franchise director Tamahori pushed for having half the stunts in the film to be computer generated. Computer graphics had been used in previous Bond films but not to the degree as seen in Die Another Day.
The biggest challenge was the ice wave effect seen in the film. At the time water effects were still very difficult to pull off. Thankfully it was the same set of artists that had previously worked on A Perfect Storm and started very early on creating the water effects seen in the final film. Over a year and shooting real life elements for both references and what would actually go in the film Cinesite was able to finish the sequence.
Even though the Icarus satellite was a model they mostly replaced it with CGI effects. For the airplane sequence a model was also built and used even though it was put in an entirely CGI reality and created the fire effects digitally.
Die Another Day was released in both England and the States on November 20, 2002 and was the second premiere ever attended by the Queen (the first was You Only Live Twice). In South Korea protesters boycotted the film in 145 theatre’s protesting the actions taken in the film an the love scene in which a Buddha statue can be seen.
The critical response of Die Another Day is about half and half. Many love the first half of the film since it hearkened back to the days of classic Bond however with the introduction of the Ice Palace things began to fall apart. Another point of contention was the over saturation of marketing in the film. For Bond fans Die Another Day is one of the lesser Bond films with some saying that it perhaps the worst of them all.