By Marc S. Sanders
Over six years went by following Timothy Dalton’s last appearance as James Bond. He wasn’t likely to come back and the big question, besides if we’d ever see another film, was who would carry the Walther PPK pistol next as 007. Pierce Brosnan was not a likely choice as I recall, having missed out on the opportunity before with a flimsy Remington Steele contract commitment with NBC. Yet, one day my brother called me at work to share with me the news that Brosnan had signed on. His first film in the everlasting series was Goldeneye directed by Martin Campbell (eventual director of Casino Royale and Green Lantern). It was a welcome debut for the former odds-on favorite contender.
Bond goes up against the Russians in a post-Cold War 1990’s era, with Sean Bean as his adversary, also once known as Bond’s ally, Agent 006-Alec Trevalyen.
With Famke Jannsen as sidekick Xenia Onatopp (holding on to the sexual innuendo tradition), Alec steals a super helicopter that allows him to take possession of the Russian Goldeneye disc. Dame Judi Dench, making her first appearance as M, assigns Bond to locate the disc and find out what Alec intends to do with it. Forget about what the disc is for; you don’t uncover that until the end of the film.
Brosnan is a good physical Bond and he does the tongue in cheek well, sounding much like his Remington Steele character. Screenwriters Jeffrey Caine and Bruce Fierstein provide a wealth of signature puns for Bond to deliver. Onatopp can masterfully kill someone by squeezing a victim between her thighs. Bond’s observation: “She always liked a tight squeeze.”
The film has an outstanding but unrealistic opening scene with a motorcycle trying to catch up to a descending airplane. There’s also a fun tank/car chase in Red Square, and a great action-packed ending in Cuba where a satellite is hidden to aid Alec in his plot.
Bean’s role, like most of those on his resume, makes for a great villain – a real equal to Brosnan in physicality and wit. A great match up.
The Bond girl is also very good. Beautiful but not exuding too much sexiness. More so, actor Izabella Scorupco as Natalya, the Russian computer analyst, is an intelligent addition to the story. Alan Cumming is fun as a nerdy analyst as well. I love when he consistently boasts “I AM INVINCIBLE!!”
Goldeneye was well celebrated upon its release. James Bond was back and updated for the modern action film. The first scene of the film cemented Brosnan as the super spy with a true to life stunt where 007 bungee jumps off of a high-altitude water dam, with just enough time to take out his cable pistol. As soon as the scene graced the screen, fans sat up with attention.
This was a James Bond everyone could love.