After 40 years and in his 20th film, James Bond deserves a kick in the noughties. Kiwi helmer Lee Tamahori provides it.
The 90s saw the suave superspy become 007: licence to mildly entertain. In "Die Another Day", her majesty's finest regains his killer touch.
Sexy, funny and spectacular, Bond's first mission of the new millennium is one of the best of the series - not simply a great Bond movie, but a great Action movie, full stop. Yes, we were surprised too.
From the opening titles - the usual dancing girls, unusually intercut with the movie's action - Tamahori displays an admirable desire to get on with it.
In quick succession Bond is captured, tortured and sets out for revenge against North Korean renegade Zao (Rick Yune). He's soon facing off with Toby Stephens' sneering entrepreneur, foiling plans for world domination and getting jiggy with the mysterious Jinx (Berry) and Miranda Frost (Pike).
The script smartly pilfers ideas from the Bond back catalogue, mastering all the elements which make the old school outings great: sly in-jokes, preposterous action, clumsy innuendo and 'classic' (ie. very funny or outrageously cheesy) one-liners. It's a throwback which recalls the heights of both "Goldfinger" and "Live and Let Die", combining the cool of Connery with the frivolity of Moore, without ever descending into parody.
Plus, it reinstates the childish wow-factor at outrageous gadgets (an invisible car!) and terrific stunts (including an all-time great sword fight), blasting the veteran franchise into the 21st century.
If you want to pick nits, it's a set-piece too long, but let the sceptics be stilled: Bond is back and there's plenty of life in the old dog yet.