A Russian satellite codenamed Goldeneye (actually a nuclear device capable of detonation in the Earth’s atmosphere and causing a massive EMP) has its targeting equipment stolen and all those involved in protecting it are supposedly killed. James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) believes this theft has ties to the criminal organisation Janus he has been tracking down and is sent into Russia in an attempt to locate the goldeneye system and stop whatever plans the Janus organisation have in store.
With Dalton out, a new Bond was looked for but eventually Pierce Brosnan, now free of any other commitments, was taken on as the 5th 007. To me, Brosnan is the 2nd best Bond there has been. He exemplifies all the best attributes of his predecessors while not falling into the same problems they had. He has the coolness of Connery, the humour of Moore and when required can be as serious as Dalton. Nobody cares if he imitated Lazenby (hey, it’s my review :P) He’s a little too liberal with the quips but it’s erring more towards Connery was with them than Moore was. He has the charm and humour Dalton lacked but he’s just as strong as any of his predecessors in terms of action.
I should also point out there might now be a slight shift in how these films will be have been initially viewed. Dr No to LTK was my childhood. Goldeneye forward was my teenage years. I can’t specifically remember if I saw Goldeneye in theatres but I know I’ve seen every other Bond since it on the big screen. All this means is my initial interpretation will have been slightly better than ‘Oh my God, Bond has a submarine car!!!!!’ and more ‘Really? Bond’s got at an invisible car?’. Obviously my reviews are from this point in my life but I’ll have less nostalgia vision with each subsequent film.
That being said Goldeneye, in my opinion, is one of the best Bond films in the series. The pretitle sequence of this film is just great at setting up the feel of this film. We are given a bungee jump off a giant dam before we are introduced to our new Bond and 006 Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) then treated to a giant action packed battle. The rest of the film doesn’t disappoint either with a tank chase through the streets of Moscow, a drag race in Monte Carlo, and a crazy final confrontation atop a giant satellite dish in Cuba. Everything about this film just screams Bond.
Our 2 Bond girls this time around are our leading lady Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco), the soul survivor of the theft of Goldeneye, and our crazed bad girl, Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), a Russian fighter pilot that likes to kill her victims by crushing them between her thighs. Natalya is a little different from our other Bond girls in that she and Bond don’t interact until half way through the film but until then we follow her storyline as well. Normally we are introduced to the leading lady when Bond is so it’s interesting to follow her progress as well. She’s confident and a useful ally but we also get to see her being emotional and scared, making for probably one of the most human of all the Bond girls. Onnatopp, on the other hand, is just a crazy henchman and a treat to watch. She and Bond have a fight scene in a Turkish bathhouse at one point and it’s fantastic to watch. She’s definitely the best henchperson from the Brosnan films and possibly top 5 from the entire series.
Speaking of villains, having Trevelyn be the villain was a great reveal at the time as well. This again was something new. Bond hadn’t had to fight a former friend before so we got to see a little bit of what makes Bond tick and see how he would fight against someone who already knew all his tricks. Bean has always been good at playing the villain and that’s no different here.
There had been concerns after the 6 year gap that Bond might be better left in the Cold War as a relic of the time but this film put all those fears to rest revitalising the series. 4.5/5