Pierce Brosnan was going to be Bond way back in 1986 right around the time The Living Daylights was ready to start filming, but due to conflicts with NBC and his commitments to Remington Steele. Brosnan was the man everyone felt could step into the role of Bond like nothing as was perfect for the job. Fans had to wait until 1994 for MGM and UA to finally announce that Brosnan was going to finally be James Bond after Timothy Dalton officially bowed out of the franchise. This is casting that everyone and their mothers loved and GoldenEye was officially in production to bring Bond back for the 90’s…and boy, was that a fantastic decision. I’m just going to say it now before we go further, I love GoldenEye.
The film starts off in 1986 (about a year before the events of The Living Daylights) agent 007 James Bond and agent 006 Alec Trevelyn (Sean Bean) infiltaring a Soviet chemical facility, where Trevelyn is captured and shot at the hands of Colonel Arkady Ourumov. Bond escapes the facility via pane as the facility blows to smithereens in the background. Cut to nine years later in 1995, Bond is getting evaluated in to see if he can come back after going rogue after the events of Licence to Kill (Who said the plotline from other films didn’t carry over?). Bond sees another woman speeding next to him and decided to pursue her, but fails in catching her. Bond heads to Monte Carlo only to see her again and learns she is Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), a member of the Janus crime sydicate who is currently seeing a Royal Canadian Navy admiral. She murders the admiral during sex by crushing him with her thighs to allow Ourumov to steal his identity. The next day during a presentation of the Eurocopter Tiger helicopter, both of them steal the prototype as it can withstand electromagnetic pulse. The two take it to a bunker in Severnaya to massacre the staff and steal the dual GoldenEye satellite weapons control disk to destroy the complex with electromagnetic pulses (essentially a shockwave from space even Thor would envy). The two take the programmer Boris Grishenko (Alan Cumming) seeing that he can be of use, leaving Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco) to fend for herself. She heads to St. Petersburg to arrange a meeting with Boris, only to be betrayed by Boris to Janus.
Meanwhile at MI6, M (Judi Dench) assigns Bond to investigate the attack they have witnessed, but before that, Q (Desmond Llewelyn still in his signature role) provides our main man some gadgets and Moneypenny (Samantha Bond) a farewell before he heads out. Bond heads to St. Petersburg with assistance by CIA agent Jack Wade (Joe Don Baker, wait, aren’t you supposed to be evil…and dead?) to meet up with Russian Mafia head Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane), a rival of Janus. Bond learns a tip about a heist coming up soon from Zukovsky, who quickly arranges a meeting between Bond and Janus. Onatopp is sent to Bond’s hotel to kill him, but Bond uses his sexual powers (because Bond does indeed have some) to smack her into walls and convinces her to take him to Janus. Bond is taken to meet Janus, where he discovers that it is Alec Trevelyn, agent 006 behind the entire scheme for vengence on the British for killing his family back in World War II (He should be older, but the Bond series timeline is already so out of wack, I can’t even explain it). Bond is at the ready to kill him, but Alec has the upper hand by knowing him too well and takes him out with a tranquilizer dart. Bond wakes later in the Tiger helicopter programmed to self-destruct with a screaming Natalya kicking him allowing Bond to eject the seats before self-destruction. The two are arrested and interrogated at the milatary archives by Russian Minister of Defence Dimitri Mirshkin (Tcheky Karyo) where Natayla reveals that there is a second GoldenEye satelitte. Ourumov enters the room and kills the minister, causing Bond and Natalya to escape into the archives and starting a fire fight with this men. Natalya is taken by Ouromov in his car with Bond pursuing in the most badass way possible…via tank (it took seventeen film to finally get Bond in a frickin’ tank) engaging in one of the finest chase sequences in the entire series. They find Alec’s armored train, where Ourumov is shot to death with Alec trapping Bond and Natalya in the train ready to self-destruct. Bond uses his deus ex machina laser watch to help escape, all while Natalya find the location of Boris’ satellite. They escapes with Natalya discovering it is located in Cuba and begin to head over.
In Cuba, they meet up with Jack Wade where Bond trades his gadget laden BMW (You didn’t use the missiles!) for a plane to locate the base. They pass over a lake said to be the location, until they are shot down by a missile into the jungle. Onatopp heads to the wreckage to eliminate them both via helicopter. Bond latches her back on the rope for her to be crushed to death by shooting down the helicopter, thus pulling her into a tree. They enter the control station after seeing the lake be drained revealing the satellite dish. Bond is captured (you seriously think he would have learned how not to get captured by now) by Alec who reveals his plans to rob the Bank of England and use the GoldenEye to destroy all the record’s to destroy Britain’ economy. As this goes on, Natalya rearrange the GoldenEye to destroy itself as Alec captures her and orders Boris to save the satellite. Bond notices Boris’ habit of playing with a pen, so he gives him his explosive pen to make Boris click the fuse on it, which explodes the base. Bond heads to the antenna cradle sabotaging it to prevent control of it again with Alec ready to fight Bond. Bond and Alec start to fight five hundred feet above the dish with Bond kicking him off, only to pick him up to deliver a final exchange. After this, Bond tosses Alec into the dish, killing him (Alec was played by Sean Bean, so he was bound to die in this movie). As the dish and cradle explode, Bond and Natalya escape ready to make love as JAck Wade and the marines arrive to save them.
GoldenEye is just plain fun and exciting, bringing back what made the franchise great. The action is perfect from the tank chase to the opener and the dramatic climatic destruction of the Severnaya base is just stellar. The acting is superb with Brosnan playing to his strength as Bond and feeling right at home. Sean Bean is spectacular as a villain, even if him pointing out every damn cliche of Bond gets annoying really fast. I had the same problem with Susan Sarandon in enchanted pointing out all the cliches to the point where even I wanted her dead, so same here with Alec Trevelyn. Famke Janssen and Izabella Scuropco are great in their Bond Girl roles with Famke’s over the top nature with constant orgasms and Izabella’s matching both beauty and smarts. Judi Dench as M is thrilling and single handily delivers Bond’s ass on a silver platter to the point I nearly clapped. The character actors ranging from Joe Don Baker to Robbie Coltrane also fit very well in the Bond universe and don’t feel wasted. Hell, even Alan Cumming as Boris who would be annoying in another film works well here. The pacing is very well done that even I didn’t know that an hour had passed halfway through watching this film. This film is just a stellar one to watch. Also it has one of my favorite Q scenes in a feature with him yelling at Bond for touching his lunch, thinking it’s a gadget. The only major complaint I have is the constant winks and nudges at the longtime watchers and fans. They are very fun at first, but pointing all the cliches out while doing the cliches themselves are very hypocritical but luckily, this doesn’t fully deter the experience of GoldenEye.
The theme by Tina Turner is amazingly done and fantastic, nearly reminiscent of Shirley Bassey’s other iconic gold based theme, ‘Goldfinger’. Also helps that Bond and The Edge did some great writing. GoldenEye is a golden treat for the eyes with all the fun of yesteryear Bond, but adding a modern twist that doesn’t feel forced. I love it.
Assignment Status: 4.75 out of 5
Next time, Brosnan is back to fight against a media mogul from taking over the world and ingniting World War III, alongside Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin and Teri Hatcher. This might be a fun one.
Oh wait, one more thing…
How do you not talk about GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64? It opened a new world of first person shooters to succeed on home consoles, started a big movement in multiplayer in shooters that still resonates to this day. I’ve played it countless of time and it got me more involved into watching the James Bond features, mostly GoldenEye. Overtime, the gameplay hasn’t held up the best, but for it’s time it was innovative and paved the way for more shooters on consoles. If it wasn’t for its success, I don’t think we would have ever seen Halo or the successful Call of Duty series take off as large as they did. GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64 is a classic and the HD remake of the same game for the Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360 aren’t so bad either, so go scope those out for some action.