Die Another Day is the 20th installment of the Bond franchise, and it seems pretty clear that the demands of coming up with a bigger, better opening sequence have taken their toll. Bond has by now crashed, killed, chased, blown up, jumped out of and kissed everything that can be crashed, killed, chased, blown up, jumped out of or forced to kiss him. The only thing left in that box of ideas once the Die Another Day screenwriters turned it upside-down and shook it, apparently, were nighttime surfing, an exploding briefcase full of diamonds and a high-speed hovercraft chase. And into the pre-credit sequence they went.
The plot: Bond and a pair of nameless Asian associates make a clandestine nighttime assault on the North Korean shoreline, riding some seriously gnarly waves. Up the beach they creep with their surfboards, like a trio of special-ops Gidgets, to intercept a British smuggler delivering a briefcase full of diamonds to the fanatical North Korean Colonel Tan-sun Moon. Unbelievably, this complicated plan somehow goes awry, and Bond is forced to fight his way out of Moon’s fortified lair on a hovercraft.
But the main problem with the Die Another Day intro is simply overkill: like many postmillennial action films, it labors under the misconception that more of everything — more explosions, more bullets, more bodies — necessarily means better. (Meanwhile, the sequence tries to shoehorn in a ton of exposition about Moon, his North Korean general father, his associate Zao and a mysterious Western informant; good luck getting the rest of the film to make sense without it.) Bond is ultimately captured and — during an arresting credit sequence set to Madonna’s theme song — tortured. It may be the only example of a Bond movie where the credits make more sense than the intro.