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Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 14:52 GMT
Die Another Day
Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry
Newsnight Review discussed the new James Bond film.

Pierce Brosnan plays Bond for the fourth time in "Die Another Day" which marks Bond's fortieth anniversary.

(Edited highlights of the panel's review)


MARK LAWSON:
Twenty films in forty years. Does the formula still work?

MICHAEL GOVE:
I very much enjoyed it. If you expect to be engaged by something novel you will be disappointed, but if you treat it as Christmas entertainment - a pantomime on screen - you will enjoy it.

It has the familiar features - the cheap cod-satirical lines and marvellous spectacle and the characters fulfil your expectations as they would in pantomime.

GERMAINE GREER:
I spent my time roaring with laughter. In some ways it's like a commercial. There's so much product placement. It's all about conspicuous consumption. It's over the top from beginning to end. If you don't know it's over the top you miss out on something. The idea of a DNA transplant is hilarious! It's wonderful fun. I wasn't remotely bored.

MARK LAWSON:
Germaine says fun, but it was bleak at the end of the pre-credit sequence, where he parachutes out and is captured and put in cold water and tortured. Interesting tonal change I thought?

EKOW ESHUN:
Bond has been going forty years. This is a successful exercise in survival. This one especially is Pierce Brosnan's most successful Bond movie for some time.

It's up against a raft of movies, such as "xXx" and "Austin Powers". It has a weight of ludicrousness to take on, but instead of becoming more arch and camp as it did under Roger Moore, it has become a more credible spectacle.

Madonna has done the title song, they have brought back the Aston Martins and the direction of the film is more fluid with fast cuts and effects. They have tried to outdo the younger generation of post-Bond action movies.

MARK LAWSON:
Rupert Murdoch was a villain before and this is a dark version of twisted Richard Branson. I know it doesn't deserve a feminist critique, but Halle Berry is probably the most serious Bond girl. What do you think?

GERMAINE GREER:
Halle Berry is wonderfully beautiful. Her entrance out of the sea makes Ursula Andrews look like an android. She looks wonderful. She doesn't sound so good and her legs aren't long enough, to be crass, but she has a good curl of the lip and a quip.

MICHAEL GOVE:
There's a wonderful knife fight between her and the other key pieces of "totty" which I enjoyed.

GERMAINE GREER
I didn't understand the casting of that other piece of "totty" I have to say.

EKOW ESHUN:
It's difficult in modern Hollywood movies and in Bond movies to disentangle the movie from what happens behind the screen. Halle Berry is an Oscar winner and gets paid to be with Bond. She doesn't become a simpering Bond girl, she kicks ass all the way through the film. She can do that.

MICHAEL GOVE:
There is a sense in which the Americans act as the invaluable aides to Bond and the Brits can't manage on their own. Bond triumphs through the exercise of a particular English form of savoir-faire and self-deprecation and his quintessential characteristics carry him through. The interesting thing is that the villain appears to be a quintessential Englishman gone to the bad. It is nice to see the dark version of Bond. The interplay between them is wonderfully effective.

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