Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond (007)
Sean Bean as Alec Trevelyan (006)/Janus
Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova
Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp
Joe Don Baker as Jack Wade
Judi Dench as M
Gottfried John as General Arkady Grigorovich Ourumov
Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky
Alan Cumming as Boris Grishenko
Director: Martin Campbell
When a powerful satellite system falls into the hands of Alec Trevelyan, AKA Agent 006 (Sean Bean), a former ally-turned-enemy, only James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) can save the world from an awesome space weapon that — in one short pulse — could destroy the earth! As Bond squares off against his former compatriot, he also battles Trevelyan’s stunning ally, Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), an assassin who uses pleasure as her ultimate weapon.
I have watched most of the James Bond films (even though I don’t seem to remember most of them) however there were a few I haven’t watched: From Russia with Love, Goldeneye and Never Say Never Again (and the Jerry Lewis Casino Royale if you want to count that as a Bond film). Goldeneye has been called one of the best James Bond movies and having finally seen it, I can see why that is. I’ll be honest, the James Bond films don’t really do much for me, even though I do like most of them. It’s only the Daniel Craig era that has great James Bond movies (and really only 2 of them are great). Goldeneye has the typical tropes, clichés and structure of typical Bond films but it does the best with those aspects. Martin Campbell does deliver an entertaining flick that works really well.
The movie is set after the Cold War era (with it being the first Bond movie made after the end of the Cold War) and the film fully embraces that time period. The opening scene starts off the movie well, it’s simple and straightforward and completely Bondlike. From that point onwards, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a Bond movie. The movie has much of the same structure and tropes as most Bond films. However, when it comes to James Bond movies this is one of the better ones and it does rather well with it. You don’t get very invested in the story plot but its straightforward and easy to follow, easy to be entertained by. The movie is 2 hours and 10 minutes and the pacing does work quite well, it’s always moving in some way and doesn’t give you a chance to draw bored at any point. You’re generally entertained throughout.
Goldeneye is Pierce Brosnan’s first outing as the new James Bond after Timothy Dalton’s two film run. His version is a lot more charismatic and charming than all the other James Bonds’ and Brosnan really excels at that aspect. I don’t really buy him as a spy as much as the other James Bonds but he’s still pretty entertaining to watch. The ‘Bond Girl’ of Goldeneye is played by Izabella Scorupco, and I can’t really tell if she’s a good actor or not because her character once again falls into the typical Bond girl category of not really having anything to them as a character. You never really buy the relationship between her and Bond, but I guess it’s kind of something to look past because it’s a Bond movie. Sean Bean plays the villain of Alec Trevelyan, a former double 00 agent gone rogue. Though the character really isn’t anything special (a rogue agent in a spy isn’t really anything special), he does serve the movie really well, and Bean does play up his villainous role and is entertaining. Famke Janssen also does well as Xenia Onatopp (yes, that’s the character’s name). However the character is a little too over the top, with her trademark kill being crushing people with her thighs and there are even times when she is literally moaning with pleasure after killing people. It just comes across as being really goofy more than anything, and that’s saying a lot considering the James Bond movies as a whole. While in a smaller role, M this time is played by Judi Dench, who would do a fantastic job in both the Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig Bond eras. She’s only given a couple scenes here but she makes the most of these scenes to make a real impression. Alan Cumming is in this movie as a Russian hacker and while I get the feeling that his character is meant to be over the top, I think it was a little too over the top.
Martin Campbell starts off this new version of James Bond (not the first time he’d do this, see a decade later with Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale) and he does a great job. Campbell particularly does very well with the action scenes, with a lot of practical effects along with the digital effects. The fight scenes are great, especially the final confrontation between James and Alec, Bond actually seemed like he was somewhat in danger. There’s also some large scale and entertaining action sequences, including one with Bond chasing people in a tank. Some visual effects like blue lightning, satellites and some explosions look fake now but they probably worked greatly for 1995. The score by Éric Serra is different and stands apart from the other Bond scores, it really works.
Goldeneye is one of the best James Bond movies for sure. It’s very much a Bond film and has many of the familiar aspects and formula, but its really entertaining. Much of the success goes to Martin Campbell, who did a great job directing this movie and introducing a new James Bond with Pierce Brosnan. If you like the James Bond movies but haven’t gotten around to Goldeneye (which was me until recently), I’d suggest watching it, it’s a lot of fun.