The Cold War is over, but its legacy lives on in GoldenEye,
a Soviet satellite-control device that could cripple the computer
systems of an entire nation. When the device is stolen from
a remote outpost, James Bond must travel to Cuba, Monte Carlo,
Switzerland and even Russia, where he crosses paths with an
old friend - and some old enemies...
This is the film that brought Bond back to the cinema after
a gap of six years. In view of the franchise's prolonged hiatus,
and the relative lack of financial success experienced by
Licence to Kill, a change of artistic direction was
almost inevitable, though it is open to debate whether this
was for the better.
aspect that Albert R "Cubby" Broccoli went on record as wishing
to emphasise during this comeback was that Bond should never
become a "superhero". It's ironic, then, that this movie should
depict a freefalling Bond managing to catch up with a plummeting
plane and a chase sequence in which 007 causes devastation
with a tank in St Petersburg without even getting dusty.
movie also exhibits an awkwardly cautious attitude, betraying
backstage fears that the movie-going public of the '90s might
find Bond a bit old hat. Thus we are unsubtly reminded that
the Cold War is over (despite the fact that the movie series
had never really relied upon the Russians as bad guys anyway)
and that 007 is a "sexist, misogynist dinosaur", a relic of
that bygone age. At least these lines are delivered by an
actor of the calibre of Dame Judi Dench as the new M, one
of the film's undisputed masterstrokes of casting. Having
acknowledged the character's shortcomings, GoldenEye
then proceeds to have Bond be as much of a womaniser as before.
This attempt to please all of the people all of the time leads
to a slightly wishy-washy feeling.
Similarly, Brosnan appears to be attempting to cover all bases
rather than establish a characterisation of his own, amalgamating
the harder edge of Dalton and Connery with the suave sophistication
of Moore. He makes a decent enough debut performance, but
he would not consolidate his position as a true action hero
until 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies.
supporting cast is generally excellent, including Michael
Kitchen as Bill Tanner, a character who was a mainstay of
Fleming's novels. Samantha Bond's Moneypenny holds her own
against Bond, though her line, "As far as I can remember,
James, you've never had me," is too in-your-face. Leading
lady Izabella Scorupco enjoys the chance to make an essential
contribution to the plot as computer programmer Natalya Simonova,
while future X-Men star Famke Janssen is wonderfully
wicked as another X-woman, the fetishistic assassin Xenia
Onatopp. Amusing cameos are played by Joe Don Baker as Jack
Wade, a kind of anti-establishment Felix Leiter, and Robbie
Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky, both of whom would make welcome
returns in subsequent Brosnan films. Sean Bean is okay as
Alec Trevelyan, though the home-counties accent sounds strange
coming from a Yorkshireman's lips. (Compare this with his
usual accent during the press event presented on disc 2, during
which he says "ta" to all the reporters!)
the identity of the main villain, who is effectively set up
as a corrupt version of 007, was spoiled by the movie's pre-publicity.
The concept of Janus, a scarred villain who plots revenge
against Britain for that country's actions during the Second
World War, owes something to Drax in Ian Fleming's novel Moonraker.
balance, though, this is a swish production with a stylish
script - barring the aforementioned imperfections and a hidden
satellite dish, which owes far too much to You Only Live
Twice. Of course, the Bond series has often repeated itself,
but rehashing Blofeld's famous volcano base is something that
the creative team should have known they couldn't get away
Caine and Bruce Feirstein's screenplay is surprisingly high
on plot development rather than action, an aspect that is
underscored by the music of Eric Serra, who is extremely good
at generating mood but proves to be less successful at the
traditional style of Bond action themes. However, the production
does boast one of the series' best-ever title sequences, in
terms of both relevance to the plot and sheer eroticism. This
comes courtesy of Daniel Kleinman, who makes his debut here
following the passing of Maurice Binder.
to the wealth of contemporary behind-the-scenes and promotional
material that is available for use among the special features,
none of the Brosnan DVDs include retrospective documentaries
of the type we have seen accompanying the previous Bond movies.
This means that we get precious little historical information,
such as details of the legal dispute that kept the franchise
on hold for so long (though the second audio commentary on
Licence to Kill covers some of this ground).
we do get two featurettes, GoldenEye Video Journal and
Promotional Featurette, as well as the 1995 World
of 007 documentary, hosted by Elizabeth Hurley (in what
is practically a dress rehearsal for her role in Austin
Powers: International Man of Mystery), the music video
to Tina Turner's powerful title song and no fewer than 14
theatrical and TV trailers. That's before we even take into
account the 90 minutes' worth of new-to-DVD material, including
four deleted scenes, with introductions by director Martin
Campbell; location, stunt and special effects footage in On
Location with Peter Lamont, Driven To Bond, Anatomy
Of A Stunt: Tank Versus Perrier and Making it in Small
Pictures; and Building a Better Bond, a featurette
devised to entice the cinema industry before pre-production
had even begun.
is a flawed but well-polished piece, worth keeping an eye