GoldenEye (1995)

GoldenEye (1995) – There was a bit of downtime after 1989’s Licence to Kill. The production company had some issues and there ended up being a six year gap before the next movie. Timothy Dalton opted not to return to the role of James Bond (which sucks somewhat because as I have said before, he was awesome at it). It did allow the producers to go back to one of their previous choices for Bond, Remington Steele star Pierce Brosnan. His commitment to Remington Steele kept him from accepting the role for The Living Daylights, but since the show had long since been cancelled he was more than game for GoldenEye. However the world had changed somewhat in six years. In 1989, the same year Licence to Kill was released the Berlin Wall came down. After 1991 there was no more Soviet Union. GoldenEye is acutely aware of the changes this made to the spy genre. Collapsing soviet imagery (and naked women) fill the credit sequence (along a truly great Bond song by Tina Turner). On the plus side, they actually got to film the Russia-set scene in Russia, a first for the series!

During the Cold War 007 and Agent 006, Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean), infiltrate a Soviet base. Given Sean Bean’s survival record on screen, you can guess what happens, but Bond manages to blow some commie shit up anyway. Many years later General Ouromov (Gottfried John), the man who killed 006, steals the controls for a military satellite codename: GoldenEye. He is assisted by the deadly female assassin Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen). The two wipe out an entire satellite facility, where there are only two survivors: their mole Boris (Alan Cumming) and programmer Natalya (Izabella Scorupco). With the help of his new CIA contact Jack Wade (Joe Don Baker, since regular Bond CIA contact Felix leiter was rather brutally maimed in Licence to Kill) and Russian mobster Valentin (Robbie Coltraine), Bond tries to track down the mysterious arms dealer known as Janus to find out the truth behind the satellite facility’s destruction. However, Janus’s true identity holds the answers to more than just the theft of the GoldenEye satellite.

GoldenEye tries to play with a couple issues besides just the role of espionage in a post-Cold War world… The movie was originally written for Dalton’s darker interpretation of the James Bond character and therefore some psychological explanation is given for the drinking and the womanizing. Namely, it’s fucking traumatizing killing people all the time and he has to anesthetize himself somehow. Brosnan tended to play Bond as more suave, but I think GoldenEye is the best of his Bond flicks because it allows him to go for the extra depth. Speaking of the womanizing, it would be too much of a stretch to call any James Bond film “feminist” but GoldenEye allows for some stronger female roles than previous versions. As the new M, Dame Judi Dench plays the role as an even sterner authoritarian than her male predecessors (Bernard Lee and Robert Brown). Likewise while Miss Moneypenny (the appropriately-named Samantha Bond) is still an incurable flirt when it comes to 007, she comes off as more of an equal than Lois Maxwell or Caroline Bliss did (in this movie, anyway… later films not so much). GoldenEye just gets about every right that a Bond film needs. It has a healthy balance of the action and the humor. Brosnan seems to blend the more serious approach of Dalton with Roger Moore’s wit, and the combination really works for him. GoldenEye was the first Bond film I ever saw and still one of my all-time favorites.

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