James Bond Retr007pective: GoldenEye (1995)

As part of a new series looking at the Bond films of the past couple of decades, we remember Pierce Brosnan’s debut GoldenEye…

 

The Name’s Bond. James Bond: Pierce Brosnan steps into 007’s shoes, after a seven-year hiatus for the franchise. He instantly sinks into the part and, I would argue, nails Bond’s dual sides – his charm and humour and his grit and ruthlessness – better than any other actor. To reflect the more modern world, there are some attempts to deconstruct the character. e.g. M calling him “a sexist, misogynist dinosaur.”

The Song: Tina Turner belts out the title number ‘GoldenEye.’ She’s not a bad successor to Shirley Bassey’s legacy and the song has some memorable lyrics and a catchy tune. The accompanying video is also worth a mention – it sees the usual female silhouettes breaking down the hammer and sickle, the symbol of Soviet Union, reflecting that the Cold War has ended since the last Bond film.

The Gadgets: Bond’s BMW has a bunch of gadgets but weirdly he never uses them in the film. He does have a watch that can cut through metal, though, and a handy exploding pen. The classic Aston Martin DB5 also appears in the film’s opening – this is the first time it has returned since Sean Connery’s time, but it would become a recurring fixture through Brosnan and Craig’s eras.

The Women: Like The Living Daylights’ Kara before her, Natalya Simonova (Isabella Scorupco) is a refreshingly down-to-earth Bond Girl. A computer programmer, she just happens to get swept up in Bond’s adventure. She’s good but even better is the ever scene-stealing Xenia Onatopp (X-Men star Famke Janssen). An assassin who squeezes her victims to death during sex, she’s a brilliantly OTT character. It’s a shame she didn’t pull a Jaws and make a second appearance.

The Villains: Simply put, Sean Bean’s turncoat baddie is one of the finest Bond villains ever. Alec Trevelyan AKA Janus AKA 006 works on every level – he’s a personal threat as he is Bond’s former best friend, he’s got a crazy plan involving a giant space laser and his backstory further deconstructs Bondian tropes. In this case, English patriotism – he hates Britain because of what the UK government did to his people, the Cossacks, after WW2.

Oh, and though he’s not a major part, we have to mention Alan Cumming’s brilliant turn as Alec’s slimy hacker Boris. Everybody now: “I am invincible!”

The Verdict: GoldenEye is easily the best Brosnan Bond film and one of the finest of the lot. It literally soars in each area – the villain, the women, the action and Bond himself. There is just enough reinvention to make it fresh but enough of the old tropes and atmosphere to keep it feeling like classic Bond. Before this film came out, there was a lot of discussion about how Bond could survive in a post-Cold War world. Thanks to GoldenEye‘s success, Bond will likely go on forever.

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