The 17th film about Ian Fleming's infamous super-spy, James Bond. This time, 007 (aptly played by Pierce Brosnan) is an operative in Russia (Arkhangelsk, in particular), after the Iron Curtain has fallen, trying to stop an evil scientist from his plan to use a secret satellite to destroy the human race.

Nine years earlier, Bond and his friend (and fellow agent) Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean), aka 006, are on assignment in Russia, attempting to destroy a nerve gas factory, when 006 is killed. Although Bond manages to destroy the plant, he is forever haunted by the death of his colleague.

Time has passed—nine years, to be exact—and Bond soon finds himself embroiled in the usual stew of secrets, sex, and super-spys. In this episode, Bond is up against the incredibly sexy Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), and his own friend, Alec, seemingly back from the dead, as they attempt to steal the arming device for the super-secret weapons satellite, Goldeneye. Bond, as always, must prevail in the face of ever-increasing odds.

Made after a six-year hiatus, GoldenEye was the first to star Pierce Brosnan as the suave secret agent. Brosnan had long been sought for the role, but lost the chance in 1986, when NBC forced him to continue filming their own television action-thriller hit, Remington Steele. When Timothy Dalton, star of the previous Bond flick, License to Kill (1986) decided to move on to other things, the movie execs knew just who they wanted—the debonair gentleman, Brosnan. They couldn't have made a better choice.

Brosnan is joined by two incredibly sexy women: Famke Janssen as the deliciously evil Xenia Onatopp (typically for a Bond woman, her character's surname is a double entendre; you may recognize her as Jean Grey in the X-Men movies), and relative newcomer Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova - Bond's female counterpart. Alec is so well played by veteran Sean Bean, that you might find yourself rooting for the wrong side—he is every bit as good as Bond, but twice as bad, too...

The rest of the cast is just as impressive: Robbie Coltrane (recently playing Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies) turns in his usual sturdy performance, while returning standard Desmond Llewelyn gives the requisite dry martini-flavouring to his regular character, "Q." Comic relief is provided by Scottish character-actor Alan Cumming, as the Urkellian Boris Grishenko. And in an amazingly astute move, the studio has updated the super-spy's agency with the inclusion of a new female "M"—played to a "T" by the incomparable Judi Dench.

Though delayed for many years, this piece shows that Bond can and will survive under any circumstances. The action is fantastic, the characters well-etched, and even the exaggerated unbelievability is exactly up-to-par. (Combat on a satellite?!). If you haven't already seen this, make it the next stop at the video store. Definitely one of Bond's best.

Sources:
IMDB - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113189/
Hollywood.com - http://www.hollywood.com/movies/detail/movie/179536
Movieweb.com - http://movieweb.com/movie/goldeneye/index.html

What's interesting about GoldenEye (the movie, not the video game) is how the filmmakers made a concerted attempt to "deconstruct" James Bond. The films had been out of the theater for six years, the Cold War was over, and James Bond was at risk of becoming a joke. So the filmmakers tried to beat the audience to the punch line and poke fun at 007 themselves. There are several places where the very "Bond-ness" of the character is exposed and gently mocked:

  • In the first scene after the teaser sequence, Bond is being examined by a psychologist, the implication being that there may be something wrong with Bond's womanizing and derring-do attitude.
  • Moneypenny dares bring up the notion of sexual harassment regarding Bond's advances. Additionally, this Moneypenny is nothing like the classic portrayed by Lois Maxwell. This one is playfully combative, tossing one-liners back at Bond without simply swooning under his charms.
  • In Bond's first scene with M, she calls him a "misogynist dinosaur" and a "relic of the Cold War". Though M's speech served the plot, I think it reflects quite clearly what the producers were afraid Bond had become.
  • Bond is paired with Jack Wade throughout a large part of the film. Bond, the epitome of the upper-crust Brit, is reflected off Jack Wade, the rough-around-the-edges American.
  • When Bond is captured by Alec Trevelyan at the end of the film, Alec takes his watch. The running joke among Bond fans is that no villain takes Bond's watch -- it was always Bond's ace-in-the-hole.

There are other examples throughout the film. The generally feeling in this film is that Bond can't take himself too seriously. The film needed to be self-aware. It needed to wink at the audience and say, "Look, we know this story and character are a little ridiculous, but this is fun so play along, okay?" This attitude may have been the key that made GoldenEye a hugely successful return for James Bond, 007.

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