007, 1990's, Alan Cumming, Desmond Llewelyn, Famke Janssen, GoldenEye, Gottfried John, Izabella Scorupco, James Bond, Joe Don Baker, Judi Dench, Martin Campbell, Pierce Brosnan, Robbie Coltrane, Samantha Bond, Sean Bean, Spy
- Pierce Brosnan as James Bond
- Sean Bean as Alec Trevelyan
- Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova
- Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp
- Joe Don Baker as Jack Wade
- Gottfried John as General Ourumov
- Alan Cumming as Boris Grishenko
- Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky
- Judi Dench as M
- Desmond Llewelyn as Q
- Samantha Bond as Moneypenny
After Licence to Kill, the Bond series and producers had many legalities to sort out and these protracted battles extended for years. In 1995, the Bond franchise finally returned after years in the cinematic wilderness with a new man as 007, Pierce Brosnan. The film was GoldenEye and what a return for Bond it was to be. With pulse-pounding action, an interesting plot, eclectic characters and just about everything coming together amazingly, GoldenEye announced that the Bond series was here to stay.
The film begins in 1986 with 007 and Alec Trevelyan (006) infiltrating an illegal Soviet nuclear weapons facility. As they plant explosives, Alec is captured and killed by the corrupt General Ourumov, Bond in typically exciting fashion manages to escape before the place is blown up. Nine years later, Bond is in Monte Carlo investigating a link to the Janus group, a major underground crime syndicate. His first contact with the nefarious group is the sultry but sadistic Xenia Onatopp, a former Soviet fighter pilot and femme fatale who derives sexual pleasure from murdering people with her strong thighs. Onatopp manages to hijack a prominent helicopter and flies it to a Russian bunker called Severnaya, which doubles as a computer station and weapons division. With Bond’s old nemesis General Ourumov, she massacres the staff and arms a device known as the GoldenEye, a satellite with the power of EMP which destroys the bunker. Unbeknownst to them, someone did survive the blast, Natalya Simonova, a talented computer programmer who manages to flee as her name is marked and her life is in danger. There was another survivor in the form of the arrogant computer geek Boris Grishenko, but he is in league with the Janus group and left before the devastation took place. Meanwhile, having been informed of the destruction of Severnaya, the new M sends Bond on the trail of the Janus syndicate and instructs him to discover what they plan to do with the GoldenEye. Travelling to Russia, Bond teams with Natalya, who comes in very handy in matters of computers and technology. After being put in touch with an old adversary Valentin Zukovsky, he is lead to the head of the Janus syndicate. To Bond’s dismay, the head is revealed to be his old friend Alec Trevelyan, who faked his death all those years ago and now wants revenge against the United Kingdom for an incident involving his parents years ago. Pitted against a former friend and globe-trotting from the snows of Russia to the heat of Cuba, Bond must do battle with him and his other associates in order to avert financial and economic destruction to the United Kingdom of the highest order.
Bringing the series back to life is the talented Martin Campbell. He balances the espionage thrills with superb action and allows the script to incorporate some interesting themes. The main one is the subject of change, since Bond last had an outing the world around him has changed. The film highlights this by the using the fall of the Soviet Union as a backdrop( one scene takes place in a graveyard of broken down monuments of Soviet times) and casting the role of M as a woman. The question of whether or not Bond is relevant in a modern era is also brought up in a very interesting fashion ( although of course we know the answer is a resounding yes). Pitting Bond against an old friend who has turned is another successful attribute of GoldenEye’s arsenal of goods, as we watch the friendship disintegrate into hate and hurt as Bond and Alec come to violent blows. Explosive action abounds with the highlights being a chase through the streets of St. Petersburg in which Bond uses an army tank, a flame engulfed train ride and a brutal fight between Bond and his treacherous old friend. Eric Serra provides the often discussed score to GoldenEye, which has divided opinion on its merit since the release of it. I stand in the middle ground, I believe that there are some excellent pieces of music here and that some are wholly out-of-place in the world of 007. The theme sung by Tina Turner is a highlight of the music, with her soulful and sultry vocals belting out the song with gusto. It provides the perfect complement to the title sequence which features women clad in revealing lingerie dancing and destroying Soviet statues.
Stepping into the role of James Bond, Pierce Brosnan is fantastic in his first outing. Combing urbane charm with a streak of menace and ruthlessness, he really brings the character alive and ensures that Bond is a character that will stay in the minds of millions. Sean Bean makes for an interesting nemesis due to Alec’s history with Bond and he successfully plays him with understated skill. The dynamic between the two gives GoldenEye that extra feeling of danger as we watch the inner conflict Bond must face in knowing that he has to kill a former friend. Izabella Scorupco brings cynicism and determination to the role of resourceful Natalya Simonova, while letting the audience glimpse a touching vulnerability beneath the steely surface. Famke Janssen clearly has a blast playing the sadistic Xenia Onatopp, who is looking to put the literal squeeze on Bond for her own twisted and perverse satisfaction. Combing outrageous zeal, extreme sexual aggression and unnerving glee, she makes for a highly charged and unforgettable Bond girl gone bad. Joe Don Baker, returning to the world of Bond after his portrayal of Whitaker in The Living Daylights, is far more successful here as the amusing CIA contact Jack Wade, while Gottfried John gives physical presence and unusual menace to the role of the increasingly corrupt General Ourumov. Alan Cumming embodies the rat like tendencies of the geek Boris and Robbie Coltrane makes for a reluctant but very helpful ally for Bond in the guise of Valentin Zukovsky. In her first performance as M, Judi Dench is a marvel. Not only can she handle herself with great authority but she can put Bond in his place to( Case in point when she refers to him as a “Sexist, misogynist dinosaur”). Series stalwart Desmond Llewelyn is once again on hand for the usual banter in his gadgets lab, while Samantha Bond is great as the witty new Moneypenny, who can match Bond in terms of innuendos.
With a talented cast and excellent direction, GoldenEye proudly takes its place as one of my favourite Bond movies.