Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

"Where Goldeneye stands out is when it challenges the typical Bondian blueprint."

After a six-year hiatus due to legal disputes, James Bond finally makes good on his "will return" promise. However, with preceding instalment Licence To Kill disappointing at the box office and Timothy Dalton deciding you only play Bond twice, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson (who took over from Albert Broccoli as his health was deteriorating) decided to shake things up by stirring in a few 'firsts'.

We have Pierce Brosnan's first outing as 007. We have Judi Dench providing the first female "M". For the more observant Bondiasts out there we also have the first Bond picture to take place post-Cold War and be completely unrelated to the works of Ian Fleming. Thankfully, while all this gives Goldeneye a freshness of sorts, it doesn't distance it from being a recognisable addition to the franchise. Yes, there are a few new elements, but with the usual action overload this sticks as close to the beloved Bond format as any of its Goldfinger-copying predecessors.

Copy picture

Here, some years after his friend and fellow agent 006 (Sean Bean) is killed, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) comes across a plot involving the man responsible, General Ourumov (Gottfried John). Teaming up with a computer programmer (Izabella Scorupco) who survived an attack from Ourumov and comrade Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) while they were stealing a secret weapon called "Goldeneye", Bond tracks down the shadowy figure behind it all.

We're given an opening pre-credits stunt that’s up there with the parachute jump from The Spy Who Loved Me in terms of impressiveness. There's a cracking theme tune penned by Bono and belted out by Tina Turner (“Goldenaaaaaaeye!”). Throw an Aston Martin car chase, a Tuxedoed trip to the casino and an underground lair that explodes while minions fall over railings into the motion picture cocktail and you know exactly where you are.

However, where Goldeneye stands out is when it challenges the typical Bondian blueprint. Though placing James Bond in a modern world without Soviet baddies raised questions about his relevance (whatever), it gives us insights that are interesting - if somewhat brief - into what makes the super spy tick. Indeed, while in the minority, the best scenes are his beachfront isolation-themed chat with Bond girl Natalya (a stunningly-beautiful Scorupco), the "sexist, misogynist dinosaur" character dissection from M (a just-what-the-doctor-ordered Dench) and any of the verbal joustings with former colleague Alec (a scarred Bean). Self-awareness in a Bond movie? Now we’ve seen it all.

As for the newest PPK-wielder, Brosnan makes for a handsome, suit-suiting and charismatic Bond. Having been linked to the part for some time (only contractual obligations to Remington Steele prevented him from taking over from Moore in '85), big-haired Pierce looks like the Blofeld-stroked cat that got the cream, having a ball as he has provides the perfect remedy for those who complained about Dalton's pun-lite take.

On the other hand, while he has all the little touches down pat (like sorting his tie amidst life-threatening action), there's isn't anything unique in his portrayal. Cold professional killing? Connery did that for fun. Bags of charm with a sideline in glib humour? Moore cornered the market on that one. Flickers of depth? Both Lazenby and Dalton got there first.

Sadly the same is also true of the movie to a certain extent. Yes, it’s a decent stab at Bond and an effective re-launching pad but it doesn't offer enough originality to go down as one of the more memorable entries. That being said, with 33 years of history, 16 previous movies and a fanbase that SPECTRE would be afraid of to compete with, director Martin Campbell and co haven’t done too badly.

Brosnan’s first attempt at James Bond, an updated 90s feel and action sequences that vary from inventive to ridiculously over-the-top - 007 is back where he belongs.

Reviewed on: 04 Feb 2009
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Pierce Brosnan's first outing as the British agent.
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Director: Martin Campbell

Writer: Michael France, Jeffrey Caine, Bruce Feirstein, based on characters created by Ian Fleming

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Joe Don Baker, Judi Dench, Gottfried John, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Cumming, Tchéky Karyo

Year: 1995

Runtime: 130 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: UK, US


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