Tamahori promised a harder, sexier Bond for Brosnan's fourth outing, and in the pre-credit sequence at least, his film looks as if it might deliver. Rumbled when an operation at the North Korean base of one Colonel Moon goes wrong, Bond is thrown in jail, beaten up and tortured for 14 months, the passing of time denoted by copious hair growth. Thereafter, 'Bond 20' softens into playful, self-consciously blatant pastiche, complete with a stream of gags at the expense of previous films. The plot is the usual post-Moore geo-political blather. But what makes this the best Bond in years is the surefootedness of Brosnan's performance, as well as Tamahori's fanboy insistence on covering all bases. Good things: spiky, resourceful Bond girls Jinx (Berry) and Miranda Frost (Pike); the icy lair of bad hat Gustav Graves (Stephens); the gratuitous exotic locations; and John Cleese, whose sharp-tongued Q makes the movie probably the funniest Bond since Moore hung up his eyebrows. Problems: uncertain pacing means it ends three-quarters through, with the last 20 minutes feeling like a postscript; Bond's invisible car (a gadget too far); dodgy CGI work on too many of the action sequences; and Madonna's remote-controlled cameo.