The James Bond series was a monumental series for me growing up and, as I planned on featuring one of the 20+ films in the series as a Key Movie, I just couldn’t choose. Since I can’t choose a single one, I am reviewing each and every Bond film continuing with today’s entry, Goldeneye.
Welcome to Key Movies Of My Life James Bond Edition.
Today’s Key Movie:
Bond is back but this time he must face an enemy that knows all his tricks. Attempting to prevent the hijacking of a nuclear space weapon, 007 must face former Soviet soldiers and the Janus Crime syndicate or all may be lost.
Why this movie?
This film marks Pierce Brosnan’s first time in the shoes of the famous British Agent James Bond 007. My family had already come to enjoy the acting skills of Brosnan through his time in Remington Steele as the title character and also in his other film roles such as Lawnmower Man, and Mrs. Doubtfire.
I remember as we watched the former film, I turned to my dad and mentioned that Brosnan ‘would make a great Bond’. My dad agreed and we were both surprise when nearly a year later it was announced that Pierce Brosnan had been cast in the title role of one of our favorite film franchises. So, on November 17, 1995, my father and I went to see this very film. I remember being so excited as it was not often that we would be able to go to a film like this without the rest of the family and it was also the first Bond film we saw together in theaters with no one else in tow.
Okay, you like this film, but is it really a ‘good film’?
The movie opens in the traditional way with Bond in the middle of a mission. Teaming up with agent 006 (Sean Bean), the two attempt to destroy a soviet weapons facility which results in the death of Bond’s fellow agent. This scene marks the first time we see Bond work on a mission with a fellow 00 agent in the franchise, and one of the few cold openings that ties directly into the main story itself.
Goldeneye marks the first real soft reboot of the franchise with the story taking place after the fall of Soviet Russia and a slight shuffle of actors in key roles. One of the biggest changes in the casting is the Role of M played by Dame Judy Dench. Dench steps into the role with a gravitas that firmly establishes her in the role of the head of MI-6. She shows that she has no patience for Bond’s antics and firmly informs the agent that, unlike her predecessors, she will not allow him to act on his own. She is an analyst and number cruncher first, one that seems to believe solely in the data which causes a rift between her and her top agent. Although she understands the value of the Secret Agent, she sees Bond as a ‘sexist, misogynist relic of the cold war’ and makes this quite clear. In addition to M, the role of Moneypenny has once again been recast, this time with actress Samantha Bond. Samantha Bond proves herself to also be more than able to hold her own against the misogynist tendencies of our intrepid British agent.
Although much of Bond’s support group have been changed out, one constant remains and continues to prove himself to be an integral part of MI-6. Desmond Llewellyn returns to the role of Q providing our hero with some of the very gadgets that keeps him alive in his adventures. This time he even introduces Bond to his new car, the BMW Z3 a car that, to this day, remains my second favorite next to the classic Aston Martin DB5.
The villains in this film present a unique twist to the traditional fair. Initially Bond is after a Soviet officer General Ourumov (Gottfried John) and his henchman (henchwoman?) Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) as they have stolen a dangerous weapon known as Goldeneye that would allow them to launch weapons from space platforms anywhere around the globe. Soon, it becomes apparent that someone else is behind the scenes, someone known as Janus, someone that shares a past with our hero James Bond. Ourymov is your traditional military villian but Xenia proves to be more than just a henchman as she can hold her own using her sexual nature to literally squeeze the life out of her opponent. Janssen is by far one of Bond’s most formidable opponents setting her in line with the likes of Oddjob and Jaws from the classic films.
It is rare in the franchise to have a villain so interconnected with our hero, but the real nemesis of the film known as Janus turns out to be none other than 006, Alec Trevelyan himself. Alec, having faked his death, uses his talents and skills learned from MI-6 to start a crime syndicate of his own not unlike that of the former SPECTRE. He proves to be a perfect opponent for Bond and, with Sean Bean in the role, he is one of the most believable villains in the franchise placing him in line with some of Bonds finest foes.
Other key characters include the incredible Robbie Coltrane in the role of a Bond ally, Valentin Zukovsky, Joe Don Baker as CIA agent Jack Wade (sort of a replacement for Felix Leiter seeing what happened to him in the last film), and the amazing Alan Cumming in the role of hacker Boris Grishenko who proves himself to be truly invincible.
It wouldn’t be a Bond Film without a ‘Bond Girl’ and this one maintains that tradition with the talented and lovely Izabella Scorupco in the role of Russian programmer Natalya Simonova. Natalya is a strong willed character who also manages to play the role of the damsel in distress for Brosnan’s Bond. Although she does require saving from time to time, her own skills as a programmer, and her tough attitude, give her the chance to return the favor more than once. In many ways she shows herself to be mental balance to Bond’s blunt force nature. They make a fine pair and it is almost a shame we never see her again after this film.
At the time of Goldeneye’s release, It had been six years since the previous entry and many had begun to wonder if Bond would be back, and if he did return, who would play him? Luckily, Pierce Brosnan’s portrayal of Bond in this film is possibly one of the most definitive in the franchise. This is the culmination of every Bond that has come before refined into one single actor. He has the suave demeanor of Sean Connery, the humor of Roger Moore, the resolution of Timothy Dalton and even the heart of George Lazenby. While he does fall back slightly to his womanizing ways, he is quickly called out by not only M but Moneypenny as well, firmly establishing that this is a Bond of a new era, one that is expected to act appropriately but still allowed to be true to his character.
As is tradition, each Bond Film has a theme made specifically for the movie. This one is no different and this time we are graced with an incredible performance by the iconic Tina Turner. Written by Bono and The Edge, the title song proves itself to be one of the most impressive opening songs and opening segments in the franchise, hearkening back to the classic Goldfinger, this is one of the best.
This film has remained one of my favorite in the franchise. Director Martin Campbell (who would later return to reinvigorate the franchise once again in 2006 with Casino Royale) clearly understands who James Bond 007 is and what he stands for. Setting up the character for a new generation of fans while also honoring the legacy that has been established, this was the movie that essentially reinvigorated the franchise in the 90’s. Not only relaunching the film franchise but also helping bring about a passion for the character that inspired video games a new book series and more. It was Bond fever and it was good.
OK, where do I get this movie?
As with the rest of the series. This film is available in a great set with the rest of Brosnan’s Bond entries. You can get the set here for a pretty reasonable price.
As normal, here is the trailer.
Late To The Game 5/2/2019
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