The fourth and final film of the Brosnan era saw James Bond pitted against billionaire industrialist Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens). The face-changing fiend has hatched nefarious plans to rule the world from his ice palace in the frozen north and it's up to 007 to put the heat on him. Halle Berry joined the ranks of Bond girls as the supple Jinx while Rick Yune played Zao, the North Korean assassin with a diamond-encrusted skull.
Will Yun Lee
Seven years after Pierce Brosnan lugged the sagging Bond franchise back onto track with GoldenEye it was again threatening to go off the rails.
It didn't help that Jason Bourne was waiting In the wings and Brosnan himself was drifting from a steely arrogance to a wearisome cockiness with every Bond movie he made.
OK, it never got quite as daft as Moonraker or as creaking as A View To A Kill...but the series had long departed company with reality as illustrated this time round by the invisible Aston Martin.
An invisible Aston Martin? It had come to this. Even with Cleese's Basil Fawlty in charge of Q Branch, the very idea would never have made it off the original Q's drawing board.
Significantly, the risibly ill-thought out gimmick was symptomatic of director Lee Tamohori's dumbing down of the brand. Bond had retraced his steps on the well-worn trail from fantasy to farce.
Yet it started off promisingly enough with a suffocatingly brutal pre-credit sequence showing 007 being water tortured by Communist goons in some North Korean hell-hole.
Released as part of a prisoner-swap, the action then switches to Cuba - where Bond hooks up with Berry's Jinx stepping out of the sea a la Ursula Andress in Dr No - and on to London where 007 first confronts billionaire Gustav Graves (Stephens) in a fencing contest (Madonna pops up as an instructor).
Next up an invitation is forthcoming from Graves to entertain Bond at his Icelandic cool box and present some mysterious scientific experiment. Then it all kicks off.
It soon became apparent that Tamahori wasn't the right man (or woman - he allegedly got nicked cross-dressing in LA) for the job, despite his early success with the Kiwi classic Once Were Warriors.
The plot is a knotted tangle of secret identities, double-crossing Olympic fencers (Rosamund Pike), barking plans for world domination by sparking off war between the Koreas and ice palaces on defrost.
The film also boasted Bagpuss levels of CGI when Bond - fresh from an impressive car chase across the tundra - ludicrously harnesses the wash from a falling ice cliff to surf to safety.
For some bizarre reason, it had also been decided to reference all of the preceding 007 films so we get a brief glimpse of the alligator submarine from Octopussy. Like we needed reminding.
Peeved by perceived slights to their country, an official of the South Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism said that it was "the wrong film at the wrong time."
What more is there to say?