Continuing on in CommanderBond.net’s celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the 17th James Bond film, GoldenEye, is today’s article: Reflections in a GoldenEye. Members of the CBn Team have written about their experiences of first seeing Pierce Brosnan’s first 007 flick. All CBn members are encouraged to add their own reviews of GoldenEye in either the Countdown Review threads or in the discussion topic for this article. With that…
‘GoldenEye’ by: John Cox
In the mid ’90s I was trying to start a screenwriting career and somehow keep myself fed at the same time, so I had fallen a little out of Bondage. Sure, I still keep up on the latest news and read each John Gardner novel as they came out, but I didn’t much care for Licence To Kill and Bond 17 had several false starts, so I had lost my faith in the future of James Bond as a film franchise. Maybe there would be another movie, maybe not.
Then Brosnan became Bond and before I knew it there was a poster for GoldenEye starring me in the face and trailer that looked pretty darn good. However, I was philosophical. It was clearly going to be a new Bond for a new generation (I was little nervous about Bond running around with a machine gun in the trailer), so it may not contain that old intangible magic that I had come to expect. But that was my fault for getting old. I would see the movie and accept it for what it was.
Of course, I was still fan enough to go to the main showing at the biggest theater I could find, which was the Mann National in Westwood. It was unusually easy to wrangle several friends to come with me. Even non-Bond fans were eager to see GoldenEye (a good sign).
We got to the theater at least an hour early and already there was a line down the sidewalk. We grabbed our spot in line, and while our place was held, my friend Asbed and I ran across the street to a sports bar for a quick pre-show martini. Incredibly, the bartender had no idea how to make a Martini (and we’ve not in the sticks, we’re spitting distance from the Playboy mansion for crying out loud!). We talked him through it and sucked down two of worst martinis I’ve ever had in my life. We them darted across the street as the line began to move.
The theater was packed and some fans where dressed in Bondian costumes. We found dynamite seats dead center. I was both nervous and excited, and when the theaters went dark and the new UA logo came up, I really couldn’t believe I was going to see and new James Bond movie in 1995.
GoldenEye un-spooled and the audience laughed and cheered from gun barrel to closing credits. We cheered when he said “Bond, James Bond” and the rest of he audience cheered the fact that we were cheering.
After the movie we exited back out into Westwood (very crowded at this time of night) and my friends instantly turned to me for the verdict. Well, what did I think?
My verdict was then what it still is today; I couldn’t believe I just saw a full-on JAMES BOND movie! Everything that was hard to pull off they nailed. That old intangible magic was still there! Sure, I was a little thrown by the score and that low-key song at the end, but other than that, it was glorious. Pierce Brosnan IS James Bond (but that was never in doubt), and 007 returned for me in full force on the night of November 17, 1995.
‘GoldenEye’ by: Athena Stamos
I didn’t see GoldenEye on November 17, 1995. I saw the ad in the LA Times and was extremely excited both because of James Bond and…OMG Pierce Brosnan! But my mom barred me from seeing it because it was rated PG-13. I was 13 at the time and very upset. I ended up renting it one night from Blockbuster in 1997/98 (don’t remember which) while my mom was at choir practice. It’s one of my favorite James Bond films… possibly more of a favorite because I was rebelling against my mother.
‘GoldenEye’ by: Jacques Stewart
The first time I saw GoldenEye was – I forget the date – during the first week of its release; its qualities as a Bond film – what it says about itself – are less meaningful to me that what it said about me. Licence to Kill I had watched in the cinema as a fifteen-year-old, a child; GoldenEye I watched as an adult and a hell of a lot had happened in the interim. As a result, while I can remember being excited at the thought of going to see previous Bond films in the cinema, this… well, with the passage of time, with growing up, with becoming interested in other, better things, the prospect of GoldenEye left me totally neutral. It was just… there.
Why that should have been I didn’t know at the time, although I suspect that it’s probably that as a child, going to see a Bond film was probably the only occasion we would go to the cinema, and we all went as a family. In the interim years, at university, that stopped and perhaps I went to the cinema too often – and without my family – for it to be the subject of great – or any – excitement. Hence, when GoldenEye came along, it was just another film.
Or maybe I had grown out of it.
Accordingly, I watched it but with a nagging suspicion that things weren’t quite right, weren’t quite the same and – despite the abundance of things that could really only happen in a Bond film – this wasn’t quite James Bond. Or it wasn’t quite me watching James Bond; I still wonder whether the expectations of the film were expectations of myself and I’d rather take it out on the film than on me.
So I’ll do that. But I doubt it’ll help.
One can tick many boxes with GoldenEye and it comes up to scratch with its ingredients; however, there is a suspicion that this is exactly how they did write it, so it does come across as a going-through-the-motions film. It really didn’t do anything new, just warming-over some crowd-pleasing moments. I had changed. It… hadn’t. Perhaps that was to expect too much.
It seemed to be a series of compromises: far more noticeable, if not more abundant, product placement; a Bond who appeared to have few individual characteristics but playing it as a mix of everything else that had been before; a cast culled largely from British television, and as a result unexotic and oddly reminiscent of an end-of-series pantomime Christmas “special” of something else. The plot, in particular, seems like a spoof of Bond rather than the echt; Trevelyan’s scheme just won’t work. That’s not to suggest that Hitler in Space or hypnotising a gaggle of lovelies to respect chickens are remotely plausible but they are plausible whilst the film’s on. Trevelyan’s scheme failed the moment the exposition hit my head. All very poorly thought through, although I suspect that I may be more willing to criticise it because of my attitude to the film and its attitude to me…
Seemed to have been filmed for television, too – looks a bit “compressed”, lacking the spectacle of the others. And I remembered reading at the time, although this may have been a joke, that Bond’s total screentime comes in at under thirty minutes. Whether that’s true or not, there are gaps where not very much that is very interesting is happening. And certain aspects are dire: Jack Wade (couldn’t they at least have found a different actor?), the car (to announce the gadget and then show, fine; to not announce the gadget and then show, less so; to announce the gadget and then not use it – weird) and poor old Desmond Llewelyn, nothing against the chap personally, but it’s not a happy scene.
Its one innovation is what truly failed it for me; true, the audience knows they are watching a Bond film. The performers know that they are in a Bond film. However, here, the performers appeared to have been directed (and their parts written) to demonstrate that they are self-aware, that they knew what the audience knew. The female M seems to be an opportunity wasted for the hell of a few jokes and its point runs out long before the scene ends; the sexism references; the Freud-for-morons dialogue (despite this piece being full of it – spot the irony, gang) landing like a bellyflopping bus… the previous Greatest Hits kick-start, The Spy who Loved Me, is by far this film’s superior for, despite being considerably more fantastical and utter piffle, it is utter piffle played straight. GoldenEye is one long wink at the audience (and you can replace the vowel in “wink” if you want). Problem is, the more you convince the audience that you are exposing the Bond films as being a bit stupid, the more you expose the Bond film you are in. Less self-analysis would lead to less analysis. And the apparent tone of apologising for the lead character… a James Bond film that doesn’t like James Bond much. Odd.
I was expecting someone else. I was expecting James Bond. I was also expecting myself as a child, reacting as a child. Neither happened.
Things had changed, and in neither case for the better. I can’t blame GoldenEye for me getting older, but I can blame it for me thinking about getting older and as a result, it has an emotional impact on me which I wouldn’t have expected. Haven’t watched it for years. I suspect that it’s probably quite good. James Bond had returned.
But not for me.
‘GoldenEye’ by: Devin Zydel
GoldenEye is a very important James Bond film for me; quite simply, because it was the first one I ever saw. Bond fans always talk about what the one ‘thing’ was that got them into James Bond, and in my case it was GoldenEye. I remember seeing it at a cousin’s house one night with my family and was instantly hooked. It was full of action and pure excitement. Having to go before it was finished, I asked my cousin about the series and got a reply telling me about “Jaws”, “Oddjob”, etc. having no idea what those words meant.
The following day or so I went to my local Blockbuster and was very surprised to see some fifteen other Bond films available. I had no clue which to pick, and expected to see titles like “James Bond 007” as opposed to ones such as From Russia With Love and The Living Daylights. I ultimately ended up choosing The Man With The Golden Gun and I ended up becoming a Bond fan.
This is without a doubt one of those Bond films that never goes wrong when it comes to watching it with others. It’s no wonder that it’s often cited as the most popular and often talked about of the Pierce Brosnan films. It’s fun. GoldenEye may not be my favourite 007 film, but it is always enjoyable and I have found it to be a clear winner no matter who is watching it.
‘GoldenEye’ by: Charlie Axworthy
I had just began working as an executive assistant in the industry and, with it coming up, my employers kindly gave me the day off.
I actually had the “Bond Clause” in my employment contract for years to come.i.e. – I get the day of domestic release in the US off. Paid.
At the time, my Bond Girl was living in Vegas and I flew her out to LA. We met for dinner with my other partner in crime (004) and I had pre-bought the tickets.
Packed theater, great seats and Bond was back!
When the gunbarrel started, my Bond girl leaned in and taking my hand said “There’s enough energy corsing through you to power Vegas for a month.”
The audience ate it up, the movie relaunched the series, Pierce was finally Bond and delivered the goods.
We rounded up the evening at my apartment with a bottle of Bollinger identical – by chance – to the bottle shown in the DB5’s compartment.
A grand evening that night….and a great memory.
I’ll always know where I was on that date and time in my life.