Action is an integral part of the thrilling legacy that is the 007 franchise. When the team behind the James Bond movies enters into each new adventure, there’s an important question that is always asked: what sort of never before achieved thrills can be used to entertain Bond fans old and new?
Most of the time this process yields something as impressive as the last-minute addition of Skyfall’s big train crash, but in the wrong hands, even the most impressive feat of practical and physical know-how as the centerpiece can mutate into a moment of infamy. That’s exactly what happened with Die Another Day, and 20 years later, Bond franchise star Colin Salmon is still driven crazy by one CGI-heavy sequence in particular.
Yes my dear Bond Blend readers, it’s time to once again dig up the case of what is considered one of the low points of the Pierce Brosnan James Bond films: CGI surfing! Salmon isn’t alone in his criticisms, with fans still lamenting the fact that 007 para-surfing on a massive glacial tsunami was ever allowed to happen in the first place.
However, during Colin Salmon’s appearance on the Spyhards Podcast (opens in new tab), those frustrations kind of hit a new peak of anger. I say this, because as he reveals in the blurb below, there was already an impressive, practical surfing stunt that was already built into the film:
Repeating a stunt, no matter what franchise you’re talking about, is a risky move. However, it’s rather boneheaded to pull off actual, on-camera surfing, only to repeat that move in a vastly less consistent CGI product. The worst part about it all is that we’re supposed to believe that both of these instances have shown us the same 007 at work.
For comparison, take a look at this clip from the opening of Die Another Day. Here, James Bond and his team surf into position, kicking off the movie’s pre-credits sequence:
Once again, the tradition of practical approaches to big stunts pays off. However, the 20th James Bond movie gradually goes off the rails after its shocking pre-credits capture of Commander Bond. Getting campier and campier as time goes on, it’s entertaining to try and find the moment any viewer feels Die Another Day has jumped the shark.
This leads us to that CGI-surfing scene, in which Pierce Brosnan escapes death with a parachute and an impromptu surfboard. Keep in mind, the 007 you see here is supposed to have surfed with proficiency in that earlier sequence:
The cringe is real with the “Tsunami Surfing” clip from Die Another Day. Viewers who enjoy this film for its campier bits could agree that this is a glacier too far, and with good reason. Colin Salmon’s experience in the world of Bond has given him an appreciation for how the inner machinery truly worked, and it’s unfortunate that even with the best crew in play, a scene like this was allowed to happen.
Public and critical reaction to the movie would play a part in both dumping Pierce Brosnan and rebooting 007 with Casino Royale. One wouldn’t be surprised if it also led to the scrapping of Halle Berry’s proposed Jinx spinoff. Considering the run of movies we got from the Daniel Craig eras, some might even say this new direction was worth the risk.
After losing that spinoff, as well as skipping Colin Salmon’s potential candidacy as 007, it’s almost enough to stoke the fires against Die Another Day all over again. Twenty years on, we’ll just have to wait and see how fans reappraise the film, as many Bond adventures have seen fortunes shift in either direction over time. No matter what happens, that CGI scene is definitely an example of what happens when this saga gets it absolutely wrong, and should haunt us as such.