GOLDENEYE brought James Bond out of a six-year hibernation since Licence To Kill, with a suave and confident Pierce Brosnan replacing an uninterested (and uninteresting) Timothy Dalton. Good call. When ‘Alex Trevelyan’, a.k.a. 006, betrays Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and as crime syndicate boss ‘Janus’, prepares a grand-scale theft by zapping Britain back to the Stone Age with an electromagnetic pulse, only one man can stop him and his lethal accomplice ‘Xenia Onatopp’. “No more foreplay“.
Brosnan’s first of his quartet of 007 missions remains his best, a solid entry in the series, marked by a strong cast injecting some new blood into the escapading, with tough and flashy action scenes and a decent script. Brosnan makes a fine Bond, lean and handsome, with the right mix of earnest killer (it’s OK, he’s licensed) and subtle eye-twinkle over it all. Sean Bean is a swell choice as #1 bad guy Janus, a formidable physical opponent for James to bruise it out with. Both female leads, statuesque stunner Famke Janssen as sex-bomb S&M bad-girl ‘Onatopp’ and comely Izabella Scorupco as Bond’s helper,’Natalya Simonova’ (a Russian computer programmer–do they all look like this?) register with respective appropriate deep impact. There’s a new ‘M’ in town, courtesy of the no-nonsense Judi Dench, who took over the role and made it as much of her own as the original Bernard Lee. *
Directed by Martin Campbell, the well-crafted screenplay is an original by Jeffrey Caine and Bruce Feirstein, the first not based off an Ian Fleming book or another source. There’s a neat credits sequence from Daniel Kleinman, taking over chores from the late, great Maurice Binder, and a suitably sleek title tune, written by Bono and the Edge, sung by Tina Turner.
Filmed for $60,000,000 in Monte Carlo, St. Petersberg, the UK and Puerto Rico (subbing for Cuba). The insane 720-foot/220 meter bungee jump that kicks things off was done by stuntman Wayne Michaels from the Verzaska Dam in Switzerland. That wild tank chase was done with a 39-ton Russian T-55. Bros-Bond knocks off 46 guys and one evil gal in this opus, a homicide-excused record for 007. The only real half-debit is the score by Eric Serra (a one-off), which is the 2nd-most relaxed—as in unexciting—in the series.**
“Do you destroy every vehicle you get into?”
It was the the 4th biggest gun of 1995, making a planetary yield of $356,000,000. With Joe Don Baker (purposely overdone as a CIA cowboy), Alan Cumming, Robbie Coltrane (good stuff), Gottfried John, Tchéky Karyo, Desmond Llewelyn (having fun in his 15th go as ‘Q’), Serena Gordon and Samantha Bond (her first of four as ‘Miss Moneypenny’). In one of her earliest movie roles, Minnie Driver shows up in a funny bit as a bad nightclub singer. One of extras in the requisite casino scene is Kate Gayson, daughter of the first ‘Bond girl’, Eunice Gayson aka ‘Sylvia Trench’ in Dr. No. 130 minutes.
*Bonus tie-in blab—Sean Bean had been considered for Bond (he got ‘Sharpe’, so that’s a win). Dench had been close friends with Bernard Lee, so it’s an M&M situation right off the pitch. The first movie Brosnan saw in a theater when he was a kid was Goldfinger, so his course was pre-ordained. He’d actually been set for the part, two entries back, before Dalton got it, but was locked into Remington Steele (basic training). Meanwhile,back to Sex—the perpetually fun-famished vixen Ms. Onatopp takes the get-it-on quotient of the series to a new level in this affair, as she literally uses sex as a weapon, killing her prey during the act: death by galore. There are worse ways to go (most of them).
**The 1st-prize dishonor for lamest score in Bond World still remains to tarnish the reputation of Michel Legrand, for his elevator-in-a-retirement-home job on Never Say Never Again. Eric Serra’s blase background for GoldenEye isn’t that bad, but he wasn’t shaken or stirred back for more.