Age Rating (UK/US): 12A / PG-13
This weekend I decided to re-watch Pierce Brosnan’s debut film as James Bond, 1995’s Goldeneye for no particular reason but I absolutely loved watching this movie and thought I would share it here.
Note: This review does contain some spoilers.
I am a massive fan of the James Bond series and have been since I was little with Pierce Brosnan being the first Bond I saw on screen (though I am not entirely sure if The World Is Not Enough or Die Another Day was my first movie) and I have reviewed some of the novels on here, starting with Casino Royale.
Though I have enjoyed Daniel Craig’s run as Bond, especially at the beginning where it adopted the gritty origin story approach of other films at the time like Batman Begins, I did find by the time of No Time To Die the gritty approach was starting to wear a bit thin and re-watching this movie made me realise that Bond does need to have the light and shade for me to be enjoyable.
This movie begins in 1986 with Bond infiltrating and destroying a chemical weapons plant in the Soviet Union with 006, Alec Trevelyan, who is played by Sean Bean. Though Bond is successful in blowing up the plant the mission goes awry when Trevelyan is shot by Ourumov.
After the opening credits the movie jumps forward 9 years when Bond is in Monte Carlo where he meets Xenia Onatopp, a femme fatale played to perfection by Famke Janssen. Xenia is a former Soviet fighter pilot and is involved in the Janus Syndicate. She also uses sex as a weapon, with her thighs being used to suffocate and kill an admiral so she can steal an EMP protected helicopter.
Meanwhile in a Russian satellite base in Severnaya, Onatopp is revealed to be working with Ourumov and the pair steal the Goldeneye, a Soviet era space weapon. Bond is tasked by the new female M to go after the weapon and find whoever stole it and why.
The movie is a really entertaining thrill ride, beginning with the incredible stunt in the opening sequence of a bungee jump from the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland (a stunt which very brave souls can still recreate at the dam 27 years later). This stunt already sets this movie up to be a very big and bold return for the franchise, which at the time had had the same six-year hiatus Daniel Craig’s movies had between Spectre and No Time To Die.
The movie also has some fantastic action set pieces throughout the film, from the tank chase in St. Petersburg to the epic final showdown at the second Goldeneye satellite based in Cuba. The action is incredible to watch on screen and is very inventive (Also as CGI was in it’s infancy much of the stunt work was done for real which does add a sense of realism to it).
I also watched a review of this film on a YouTube channel I follow called The Critical Drinker where he compares the film to No Time To Die and it did actually give me some new things to appreciate (his review is here).
I do remember as a little kid finding the section between Severnaya and when Bond meets the villain to be a little bit slow but I do now appreciate how well these scenes create tension and depth between the characters, especially Bond and M.
For example, Tanner refers to M as the “evil queen of numbers” and there is a brilliant briefing/sparring scene between Bond and M where M establishes that though she is a woman she has no qualms sending Bond to his death. Upon comparing this to the scene with Lashana Lynch and Bond in No Time To Die where it is written for Lynch to be seen as better than Bond, I did agree with Drinker that the conflict in this scene is much better handled.
I also actually found I enjoyed the scene with Miss Moneypenny and Bond in this movie as up until this point, Moneypenny hard largely spent the movies looking doe-eyed at Bond but this re-introduction to the character played by Samantha Bond adds a much feistier take on the character as Bond quips she dressed up for him she makes it clear that she isn’t wearing this dress just in case she needs to impress James Bond, she was on a date “with a gentleman”.
I do feel like I’m showering this movie with praise but I also can praise aspects of the score and the locations. I love how Russia is presented quite industrially and in stark contrast to Cuba which gives each location it’s own identity in the film.
Also Eric Serra’s score, though it is maligned by most fans, I do like for it’s new take on the Bond sound. The synth laden score for me does make it sound militaristic for me, especially the Goldeneye Overture, which is a reworking of the Bond theme on kettle drums.
The only real time I didn’t enjoy the score is the infamous music used during the car chase between Bond and Xenia at the beginning where it uses this super cheesy sounding backing track that doesn’t fit with the scene at all.
Overall though I do really enjoy this movie so I would recommend giving it a watch if you haven’t before.