by D.W. Lundberg

Friday, November 6, 2015


One of the most derided entries in the James Bond canon, Die Another Day opened in November of 2002 to coincide with 007's 40-year cinematic anniversary. It was Pierce Brosnan's fourth and final outing as the inimitable superspy, and the first Bond film to embrace the use of CGI for its action scenes (which was a major source of said derision). Yet despite the misgivings of critics and Bond fans alike, Die Another Day managed to gross $432 million worldwide - the highest-grossing franchise entry up to that point (unadjusted for inflation). The plot, for the uninitiated, centers around a failed mission in North Korea during which Bond is captured and held prisoner for 14 months. Once released, Bond finds he's been disavowed by MI6 and that his 00 status has been rescinded... but never one to shrink from a challenge (ahem), decides to go "rogue" in order to clear his name and discover the identity of the agent who betrayed him. Along the way, Bond makes friends with a bikini-clad sidekick, engages his enemy in a “winner takes all” sporting match, drives around in his patented Aston Martin with built-in patented ejector seat, hangs off cliffs, has his cover blown by facial recognition software, and disarms a solar-powered superweapon (not in that order).

If any of that sounds at all familiar to you, congratulations: you've seen enough James Bond in your lifetime to know that Die Another Day cribs from the best (and some of the not-so-best) of them. (And those are: Bond going rogue = Licence To Kill; betrayed by fellow agent = GoldenEye; bikini sidekick = Dr. No; sporting match + ejector seat = Goldfinger; cliff-hanging = For Your Eyes Only; facial recognition = A View To A Kill; solar superweapon = The Man With The Golden Gun.) But is this a case of pure laziness on the filmmakers' part, or simply par for the course at this point? Like any good soup or stew, we expect our Bond films to be stuffed with all the familiar ingredients - a sprinkle of outlandish gadgetry here, a dollop of double entendres there, three cups of vehicular mayhem over there. And while I admit having a soft spot for the film itself (I like the devil-may-care, adrenaline-pumping pace of the thing, despite the ridiculousness of the plot), I'll also be the first to admit that Die Another Day, more than The World Is Not Enough before it, plays more like a Greatest Hits assemblage of previous Bond adventures than an actual movie.

The franchise's 40th Anniversary might have more to do with this than we initially suspected. The makers of Die Another Day had two simple requirements: one, make the movie accessible to The Fast And The Furious set, and two, include enough homages to Bond's cinema past while trying to appeal to the The Fast And The Furious set. As such, 007's 20th big-screen endeavor is not only loaded with crash-zooms and extreme sports sequences but also references to every (official) Bond film ever made. Some of these are subtle - others, not so much. Then again, James Bond has never been one for subtlety.

Dr. No (1960)
This one's a big bucket of double-oh-duh, but for strictly... um... professional reasons we'll kick off our list with DAD's most obvious homage. Here, Halle Berry (as Jinx) makes a perfectly suitable stand-in for Ursula Andress's Honey Ryder.

From Russia With Love (1963)
Bond's briefcase and Rosa Klebb's infamous shoe dagger make a memorable appearance in Q's work lab.

Goldfinger (1964)
Of DAD's many Goldfinger references, my favorite is Q's liberal pilfering of that film's (second) most quotable quote.

Thunderball (1965)
Another Q-lab cameo from Bond's gadget-laden repertoire. Glad to see that jetpack still fires up after all these years!

You Only Live Twice (1967)
Late in YOLT, ninjas rapel down ropes into Blofeld's super-secret volcano lair, a trick Jinx copies as she lowers herself into Gustav Graves's diamond mine.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
Bond's office in MI6 Headquarters is seen for the first time since OHMSS (where it was also littered with trinkets from previous films.)

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Another obvious homage, literally spelled out for eagle-eyed viewers.

Live And Let Die (1973)
Kananga's poppy fields in LALD are obliterated by row after row of timed landmines. The same blast pattern appears during the climax of DAD, thanks to Graves's Icarus space laser (you heard me).

The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)
Apparently, 007 has a serious belly-button fetish.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Graves uses a Union Jack parachute during his introductory scene in DAD. Clearly a man after Bond's own heart.

Moonraker (1979)
Rule #757 in a Bond film: bad guys and waterfalls don't mix.

For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Bond's yellow diving helmet also gets a cameo in Q's lab...

Octopussy (1983)
... as does his AcroStar mini-jet and crocodile submarine...

A View To A Kill (1985)
... and also his adorable electronic snooper. Seems Q's workspace is a veritable treasure trove of Bond-ian easter eggs!

The Living Daylights (1987)
Rule #294 in a Bond film: every MI6-issued Aston Martin must come equipped with retractable tire spikes for sub-zero action sequences.

Licence To Kill (1989)
This one's a bit more inside baseball. In LTK, Bond slips his airplane ticket into his right jacket pocket as he enters the airport, but later pulls the ticket from his left pocket as he approaches the desk. DAD repeats the same gaffe outside the Alvarez Clinic.

GoldenEye (1995)
During a brief bit of soul-searching before the climax of GoldenEye, Bond tells Natalya Simonova that being "cold" is what "keeps [him] alive." As if to underline the idea that Jinx is his female American counterpart in DAD, Bond tells Jinx that the "cold must have kept you alive" while trying to resuscitate her outside Graves's melting ice palace (you heard me).

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
We've spoken a bit about recycled footage in franchises before, but this one seems a little more deliberate. And no amount of fancy-shmancy CG recoloring of your rocket is gonna cover that up.

The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Ah, yes, 007's signature dive-and-roll-to-avoid-getting-chopped-in-half-by-his-enemy technique. Fools 'em every time.

Finally, some non-canonical fun tied specifically to the creation of the character himself. While trying to come up with a "dull, uninteresting" nom de plume for his literary super agent in Casino Royale (1952), Ian Fleming settled on the name James Bond, ornithologist and author of the 1936 field guide Birds of the West Indies, of which Fleming was a fan. In DAD, while working undercover in Havana, Bond poses as an ornithologist, using this same book as his inspiration:

Well played, Mr. Bond. Well played.

(For a complete list of references in Die Another Day, visit

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