RELEASE DATE: 26/12/1995
RUN TIME: 2HR 10MIN
|MICHAEL G. WILSON|
In 'Goldeneye', Bond must face off against a former friend to recover the codes to Goldeneye, an orbiting EMP built by the Russians and now threatening Western civilisation with a technological meltdown. Put like that, there's not much in the plot, but hear me out - there was a smidge of depth here. Watch it again sometime, and you will notice that MGM put quite a lot of effort into distancing this Bond from those of the past. While there was still boys-own humour (thankfully not a lot) and a smattering of gadgets, this was a much more serious and emotional Bond. While he lacked the angst of Daniel Craig's character, Brosnan gave us the introduction to a 007 who had more to him than guns, gin and girls.
'Goldeneye' was also Judi Dench's first foray as M, a role she soon made hers more than any of her predecessors. Think of M now, and you think of Judi Dench. I had no idea who played M for Sean Connery or Roger Moore; I had to look it up. While Ralph Fiennes is an excellent replacement for Dench since 'Skyfall', no one will match the gravitas and sheer talent she brought to the character.
This Bond film had a great villain, and one of the very best evil henchmen/women ever. Famke Janssen made her break in Hollywood as Xenia Onatopp, the Russian pilot assassin whose MO involved squeezing her targets to death with her thighs during sex. Who comes up with this stuff? And ya got to hand it to Janssen – somehow she made that work.
Sean Bean is known for never making it to the end of a storyline as he is always killed off before the end. As the villain, Alec, in 'Goldeneye' he stuck close to type, dying a painful death inside the dish of a massive satellite receiver. His backstory was pretty painful too. Alec was a Kosak, an ethnic group betrayed by the Brits at the end of the war, and executed by the communists. He wants to take revenge for this people on the Poms, and does this by first working for them (for England, James) and then attempting to steal a buttload of cash and send them back to the Stone Age by blowing up all their tech with the EMP. He's meant to be James' mirror image: a spy who took his skills and training and said, "Bugger this patriotism stuff, I'mma make me rich."
Another interesting character who recurred in later films was Robbie Coltrane's Valentin, a former adversary of Bond's who becomes an ally, and later a friend. The contrast between Valentin and Alec is not accidental. CIA agent Jack Wade recurs later too. Actor Joe Don Baker played a villain in the 1987 Bond film 'The Living Daylights' opposite Timothy Dalton. Isn't it sad that I knew that? Also sad is that I know that Ian Fleming's property in Jamaica is named Goldeneye.
'Goldeneye' included some of the first properly strong females in a Bond film.
'Goldeneye' included some of the first properly strong females in a Bond film. Aside from M and Onatopp, there was Natalya, the Bond Girl. Sure, she falls for Bond by the middle of the film, but she doesn't take any crap from him either, and he couldn't have saved the day without her. She calls him on his bullshit, and has skills he can't touch. Unfortunately the actress who played her, Izabella Scorupco, has been in almost nothing since.
Pierce Brosnan, like most of the actors who count James Bond in their filmography, expresses frustration now and then at having been cast as the spy. Since leaving 007 behind, he's had a few roles which are very similar, but has tried hard to embrace other material. Some of his best stuff involves stretching his comedic muscles, and I sometimes think it's a shame there wasn't more humour in his Bond films. Another interesting fact – during his contracted term as Bond, Brosnan was not allowed to appear on screen in a tux, so in 'The Thomas Crown Affair', he had to wear a suit undone in a formal scene.
Some niggles – the computer/internet stuff is absolute bloody rubbish. "Spike them" - WTF? Bond's car was just all wrong. A Beemer? Please. At least he had his Aston DB5 for the fun little race near the beginning that introduced Onatopp as a match for 007. Some of the casting is questionable, and like many a spy movie there are lines that are just plain stupid, and plot holes all over the place. But I don't really care. They are, as I said, just niggles. I still really enjoy 'Goldeneye', and you will too when you celebrate its 20th Anniversary with a commemorative viewing. Go on, you know you want to.