I’m not sure if I’ve ever discussed this on this page, but for the last 15 years, I have been a big fan of the James Bond series. I started watching them as a nine year old and even though some aren’t so great, they are usually at least pretty entertaining. I remember how proud I was of myself when I memorized each of the movies in chronological order… again, I’m a dork. So with the arrival of Bond’s next outing, No Time to Die, finally hitting theatres next month (as a Bond-aholic, November is a more fitting month, but it’s whatever), it seemed like an ample time to stroll down memory lane.
After years of remaining in development hell, the Bond franchise was in limbo, and eventually Timothy Dalton decided to bow out. Part of it was because of the time, another part of it was because he didn’t want to play Bond the rest of his life. After years of legal battling and such, the Bond series was brought back in 1995, and now with Pierce Brosnan. Pierce Brosnan honestly fits this role like a glove. He’s not my favorite Bond, but he also happens to have the perfect look and feel. It actually brought a new crew entirely, most notably of course is Judi Dench as M.
Brosnan’s first Bond outing, Goldeneye, was somewhat more serious in tone, but certainly turned down a notch from Dalton’s License to Kill. Goldeneye was the first Bond film that didn’t have any connection to any of Ian Fleming’s stories. It was also Brosnan’s best, and I’ll even go as far as to say that it’s somewhere among my favorites. Goldeneye isn’t a great film, but it’s pretty great entertainment, in that for a little over two hours, we’re given a traditional Bond story with characters and action sequences that burn in the memory long after you see it.
The film marked Martin Campbell’s first Bond film, and it would be followed 11 years later with Daniel Craig’s first outing, Casino Royale. What a pity that they haven’t brought him back since, seeing as he’s almost like a Bond whisperer. Yet how interesting is it that he was hired to revive the series twice, and succeeded beautifully? Not that the series had run out of gas by 1995, but after six years without a Bond movie, the world needed something really good, and Campbell was the man to give it to us.
The film opens with Bond and a fellow comrade, Alec, or, 006 (Sean Bean) as they are infiltrating a Russian base. They are caught, Bond sets a timer on a bomb, Alec is killed, and Bond skydives the hell out of there. One thing I love about the previous movies is that every stunt looked practical and real. The stunts in Goldeneye look real enough, even if their green screen is showing. But eh, small potatoes. Anyways, we then get to the title song, this time sang by Tina Turner. Before revisiting this, this was always a sequence I’d skip. I could barely place the song, except for the way that Tina Turner says “goldeneye.” Upon a rewatch though, the song is a decent enough tune, and the sequence itself is kind of weird but memorable.
Early into Goldeneye, Bond finds himself having a flirtation with a mysterious woman named (wait for it) Xenia Onatopp (a pre X-Men Famke Janssen, having the time of her life). Yet also pretty early on, Bond discovers that she’s a total nutbag who is able to kill people by squeezing them with her legs. Thick thighs take lives. Ms. Onatopp (God, I love that) is a part of a task force, headed by a secret fella named Janus, that is after a secret space based weapon known as “goldeneye.” In order to get to it, her and her team murder a bunch of innocent satellite workers. Almost all of them are killed, with the exception of one named Boris (Alan Cumming, as over the top as his death scene) and Natalya (Izabella Scorupco). Natalya escapes thinking she’s the lone survivor, and she sets out to find the SOB’s who killed her friends. Bond is out to do the same, and eventually, the two find themselves teaming up.
I have seen every Bond film, which means I have seen every Brosnan Bond film. Due to time constraints though, I will not be able to get to his other three outings, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, and Die Another Day. I would like to catch up with them down the road though, since I have probably seen each of them once, and they didn’t really burn in the memory. I knew I wasn’t going to miss Goldeneye though, because it’s a blast.
So many of these Bond villains run together, but not the ones present in Goldeneye. First we have Madame Onatopp (gets better every time), who is sexy and terrifying. She takes so much pleasure in crushing people’s windpipes (sometimes in bed) that it’s genuinely unsettling. Yet she’s also, again, totally sexy- some might even say the sexiest. Then there’s (spoiler alert, if you haven’t seen it still) Alec, and I don’t know if it’s because Bean sells it so well, but he’s a darn good villain with a solid motive and all. This also must’ve started Bean’s “character death craze.”
Brosnan is smooth and suave, as you’d expect Bond to be. The movie is too. The action sequences are dynamite, too. I love a sequence in which Bond takes control of a tank. I also love the entire final act, set in a satellite dome thingy in the middle of the jungle. Every time I watch The Cable Guy and Jim Carrey says, “this is just like that scene in Goldeneye!” I know exactly what he means. Scorupco is a decent Bond girl too, and her and Brosnan make for a sexy duo.
Goldeneye isn’t quite great Bond, but it is close. It’s among the most entertaining, the most memorable, the most rewatchable, the sexiest. Some of these movies, while enjoyable, can be remembered for their action sequences, and that just might be it (the women too, probably). Goldeneye is memorable in just about every department.
James Bond, and I, will return with Casino Royale.