An Article by Ed
130 minutes-Starring Pierce Brosnan, Izabella Scorupco, Sean Bean and Famke Jannsen Directed by Martin Campbell
After a spell of legal troubles, the time had come for a new James Bond film and a new James Bond. After Dalton stepped aside, the role went to Pierce Brosnan…and Bond was back for good.
GoldenEye is a big, bold reintroduction to the world of 007 after a six year hiatus. It starts off with a spectacular teaser that gives us a breathtaking dam jump and a cool closing stunt as well. Talk about getting your money’s worth! Brosnan gets the “movie star” intro Dalton received and then some. After ten minutes of unrestrained action and a great main title sequence, coupled with an equally great title song, we are soon immersed back into the character of Bond. If Dr. No spent a great deal of time establishing who Bond is; GoldenEye spends an equal amount of time reminding us. For the first twenty seven minutes or so of the film we are with Bond for virtually every scene with the exception of the intro to Xenia Onatopp’s rather… enthusiastic form of murder.
Granted this might seem superfluous since Bond is a fairly difficult fellow to forget once you’ve met him but I honestly have to admire a movie willing to put over an hour between major action set pieces, especially these days where you get some action films cut so quickly it really makes you wonder why the hell they bothered filming the entire sequence to begin with.
Gripes about the current state of action films aside, GoldenEye does a wonderful job of simply letting the story unfold while reintroducing us to James Bond. I especially like that while the world has changed, Bond is still the same cocky womanizer with razor sharp instincts and lethal cunning. Plus, the rather leisurely pace of the movie serves the real plot of the film (Bond finding a place in the modern world, something which had been debated in reality as the film was being made) which as our own John Cox has written in another article on the site, is really more about the character of James Bond than it is about seducing beautiful spies, nifty gadgets and everything getting blown up real good… though we naturally get that too.
The plot in general is a nice one, unlike other debuts for new Bonds the producers decided to have a rather over the top storyline (I put the OHMSS story as low key since it’s almost secondary to the romance plotline in the film and LALD and TLD are basically Bond investigating threats to one specific region) in 006’s plans for the GoldenEye satellite. The execution of the plan at Severnaya is well done, with the exception of the Boris Grishenko character who just annoys me to no end. Although, he does get a very satisfying death scene at the end so I can be more forgiving on this point.
Better done is Natalya, the best of the Brosnan Bond Girls and the only one who isn’t either required to be especially talented. She knows computers but it doesn’t go past what she’s trained for. Izabella Scorpuco is gorgeous, does well with the role and is quite likable. Another good touch of the Severnaya sequence is Xenia’s orgasmic reaction to the killing she does. It’s an amazingly over the top moment that lets you know exactly how psychotic this woman is but also very funny.
The MI6 sequences do a great job of showing how the world has changed since we last saw Bond. The setup is more high tech and Bond dealing with a female M is entertaining as is Moneypenny’s joking remarks about sexual harassment. It works well without bashing us over the head with it (though I can certainly see how it could be seen differently).
With Bond finally on the case, we get a milestone in the series as Bond actually enters Russia. His intro to Wade is a nice bit and Joe Don Baker provides a relaxed performance that makes the character far less annoying than he could have been. Another good performance comes from Robbie Coltrane who manages to make Zukovsky both threatening and funny. Bond’s ensuing confrontation with Xenia is entertaining as well as we get classic Bond cool mixed with Famke Janssen’s great work as one of the best Bond villains in a long time.
The reveal that 006 is not only still alive but also the main bad guy is well done though it would have worked better had the marketing department not revealed this twist in the main trailer for the film. Still, Sean Bean plays the role well, exuding a great sense of bitter menace that makes for a splendid villain.
From there, the film kicks into action mode and we get a nice shootout with an even better tank chase that leads to a great climax. The final fight between Bond and Alec is stunning in its intensity and viciousness and it caps off a great return for 007 and an excellent debut for Pierce Brosnan.
A new decade brought us a new James Bond in Pierce Brosnan. I’ve always enjoyed Pierce’s take on the character. Granted it’s basically Connery’s coolness and Moore’s lighter touch with a dash of Dalton’s more serious tone but Brosnan does it quite well and presents a fine interpretation of the character.
While I feel he’s good throughout the film, there are three scenes that I really want to highlight.
After meeting up with Natalya, they are captured by Defense Minister Mishkin. While Bond is rather cavalier with Mishkin; that all changes when Orumov barges in. The physical change we see in Bond’s stature and demeanor is truly cool as Brosnan goes from being rather laid back to “Danger Mode” in the span of half a second. It’s very subtle but it works really well.
The beach scene with Natalya gives a good insight into the character of Bond. He knows he’s going to have to kill a former friend and in spite of it being justified, he still hates having to do it. Brosnan and Scorupco play the scene very well and make what could have been cheesy into an interesting bit of insight.
The final fight between Bond and 006, as I mentioned before is simply great. One of my favorite elements of it is that there’s no real rush to speak of as Bond has already foiled Alec’s plan in a wonderfully done, almost throwaway bit of business.
Brosnan captures who Bond should be and makes him work on every possible level. It’s a very good debut.
Well, that does it for the First Looks series, at least until Casino Royale comes out on DVD. I hope this has been an interesting series to read.