Starring-Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco
Scott’s Review #717
Reviewed January 19, 2018
By 1995, after a record six years between films, the James Bond franchise re-emerged in an energetic manner with Pierce Brosnan assuming the role of the MI6 agent-, and breathing some fresh life into the character. The charming and suave Irish actor gave a new direction to the role last played by Timothy Dalton-an actor who gave Bond more of a brooding quality. The resulting GoldenEye offers mixed results, though the casting is a vast improvement over its predecessor.
In fact, GoldenEye sees other monumental roles recast- that of Judi Dench as M, and Samantha Bond as Miss Moneypenney. The film has a slick look, a compelling story, but at times is tough to follow, and overall- despite containing all the elements- something seems missing. Or maybe I just prefer the other Bonds more? Still, the offering is far from a bad watch.
GoldenEye kicks off with, in hindsight, a major clue to the story as Bond (Brosnan) and fellow 00 agent, Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean), infiltrate a Soviet facility in northern Russia during 1986, searching for chemical weapons. Alec is tragically killed by sinister Soviet General Ourumov and Bond mourns the loss of his friend.
The action resumes in present times (1995) as , now in gorgeous Monte Carlo, Bond follows the beautiful and sadistic Xenia Onatopp, a crime syndicate member known for crushing men with her thighs. Xenia and Ourumov travel to Siberia where they destroy a bunker holding GoldenEye satellites and kill everyone except computer programmer, Boris (Alan Cumming), and lone survivor, Natalya (Izabella Scorupco). In a clever twist, it is revealed that Alec has betrayed the British Intelligence and is, in fact, himself leading the crime syndicate.
In one of the quietest, and best scenes, Bond and M have an interesting exchange in her office as M (a woman) calls Bond out on his arrogance and chauvinism, and states that it is a new day. Dench adds a ton of female modernism into the role (about time in 1995) as Bond now reports to a woman. The scene is important as it leads the two characters to achieve a mutual respect and arguably parlays the franchise into a new, more female-empowering direction.
A great positive to GoldenEye is the setting, which I think does wonders for the film as a whole- the bitter, blustery, Siberian set gives a soothing feeling, especially while watching the film during the ravages of winter, snug with a warm blanket and heaters. Regardless, the sets are realistic, never cheesy, and loaded with atmosphere- so the film itself looks wonderful.
Issues abound with the frenetic pacing of the film- at times I found myself losing track of the action or the sequence of events. Understandably, as in many Bond films, events circle the globe and, surely London, Russia, and Monte Carlo are great locations, but especially within the film’s final climax, I suffered from sensory overload.
Furthermore, Brosnan is not one of my favorite Bonds. Sure, he has the charisma, the looks, and the charm to pull off the role, but something about him does not measure up to Sean Connery, Roger Moore, George Lazanby, or Daniel Craig- certainly he supersedes Timothy Dalton. Don’t get me wrong- I do not despise him as Bond, but nothing stands him out against the others either.
The villains in GoldenEye are perfectly adequate if not spectacular. Sean Bean gives Alec a sly, aww shucks appeal and defines good-looking, but his motivations for switching sides is not very exciting- something about Nazis in World War II, the Cossacks, and revenge are quickly mentioned, but it doesn’t much matter. General Ourumov is effective- with his sinister look he is the perfect Bond villain. Xenia is little more than a cartoon character 9with the name to boot) and her gimmick quickly wears thin. Finally, Cummings as the programmer is played only for laughs and his final chant of “I am invincible!” as he freezes into solid ice is mildly humorous.
The title theme song, “GoldenEye”, performed by Tina Turner is forgettable at best and one of the most lackluster in the illustrious musical catalog.
GoldenEye has many of the standard Bond elements within its frames and is a decent entry in the franchise. With the debut of a new Bond, the film has a fresh and very modern and technical feel to it that, along with a fantastic setting, overlooks some flaws in the storytelling. Filled with bombast and a crowd-pleasing method, GoldenEye is hardly the best Bond film, but certainly not the worst.