GoldenEye (1995)
September 17, 2015 3:53 AM - Subscribe

James Bond teams up with the lone survivor of a destroyed Russian research center to stop the hijacking of a nuclear space weapon by a fellow agent believed to be dead.

This is the 17th James Bond film adventure.

The Wikipedia entry. reviews GoldenEye.
The James Bonding podcast (Matt Mira, Matt Gourley and guest Craig Rowin) covers GoldenEye.

Some Top Critic reviews from Rotten Tomatoes:

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: "I don't know whether the Bond series has a future, but if Xenia Onatopp ever returns to try for world domination, he may finally get a battle worth fighting."

Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader: "There's something a mite pathetic about our culture still clinging to 007, but it's hard to deny that this is one of the most entertaining entries in the Bond cycle."

Richard Schickel, TIME Magazine: "Richard Kiel, you are missed."

Todd McCarthy, Variety: "Among the better of the 17 Bonds and, perhaps more important for today's audience, a dynamic action entry in its own right, this first 007 adventure in six years breathes fresh creative and commercial life into the 33-year-old series."

Time Out: "Director Campbell keeps matters bowling along and even manages to recapture something of the look of the earlier films."
posted by doctornecessiter (13 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I happened to rewatch this fairly recently. It was actually the first bond film I saw in the cinema, and I greatly enjoyed it then, and do enjoy it now.

I think it's interesting to compare Brosnan's bond to Craig's. Both are somewhat positioned as men past their time, the cold war being their day. But while Craig's films are very interested in who Bond is, trying to get at his essential psychology, the Brosnan films really aren't. Brosnan may have Sean Bean throwing insults about all the dead girls he's failed to save, but he never looks terrible affected by it. Instead he's the cool, calm sociopath we have come to expect Bond to be, with not much hint of anything going on underneath. If we are looking for humanity in this film, we do get it, in the form of Natalia, a Bond girl who actually gets a great deal of time, to the point of having scenes with her and no Bond earlier in the film.

Of course the main point of this film is not character development, it's stunts and action, and this film is very good at that. The tank sequence is a lot of fun, even if you have to squint slightly to pretend that no police officers were harmed in Bond's rampage across the city (and would police cars really try and chase down a man in a tank?), and that opening skydive is fun.

This film also features a remarkably stupid "stupid bond villains" moment. When Brosnan arrives at the dish, Sean Bean instructs his men to kill Bond. He gets past the first wave and into the dish, when, while laying explosives, he is surrounded by men with guns. The men, with guns, with an express order to kill Bond, go get Bean, who for some reason decides to just bring a man he'd decided to kill into his central office next to his hacker who is vital to his plan, and taunts him for a while. Oh, and gives a pen which is probably a gadget to said hacker.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 6:23 AM on September 17, 2015

I've seen a lot of this one recently as well. MGM HD had it as one of the four in their Labor Day Bond "marathon." (Along with Dr. No, The Man With the Golden Gun, and Moonraker. Man is that a weird combo.)

I like it these days, I think more than I did when I first saw it. Some really first rate action sequences. Some good character stuff. It's kind of interesting how obsessed it is with what the world, Bond's world specifically, is going to be like without the Cold War to work with, and what Russia is going to be like. It almost reminds me of The Third Man sometimes in that it's at least as much about post-Soviet Russia as it is about its story and characters.

I really like a lot of the supporting characters - Alan Cummings and Robbie Coltrane are great. So's Joe Don Baker, and who thought they'd ever say that? Love the way he insists on calling Bond "Jimbo!" And don't get me started on Judi Dench. Possibly the best casting risk the series has ever taken. (Remember how much shit they got over that when they announced it? Worse than the hubbub over Craig.) But she just drops the mic on it. Dench owns the role in a way nobody had. Even Bernard Lee at his best only came close to her. And she brings a really great dynamic to the relationship between M and Bond - I don't think the films ever really captured the M/Bond dynamic from the novels, but this one is different but just as good.

There are bits I think aren't quite as good as the rest. The opening sequence is great until the free fall dive after the empty airplane, which was a bit of a reach for audiences in the theater when I saw it, and still is today. And the tank chase is just too damn much. It's where the filmmakers indulge their Roger Moore side with things like that stupid statue that ends up riding on top of the tank. Not to mention their penchant for really horrible product placement, like the truck carrying enough Perrier to supply St. Petersburg's premium bottled water needs for a couple decades.

Overall though, Brosnan is at his best here, the script is (mostly) smart. It's a great update of Bond for a new era. It's just a shame that the series can't hold this level. It starts to slide downhill. Slowly at first-I think Tomorrow Never Dies is very nearly as good as Goldeneye-but then it really starts to pick up speed go downhill fast until the Craig reboot. But we'll have time to talk about that.
posted by Naberius at 7:14 AM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

My favorite part of this one is the whole train sequence, specifically the looks on Sean Bean & Famke Janssen's faces as the train is about to hit the tank. Such glee!
posted by everybody had matching towels at 8:00 AM on September 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

I remember going to see this when it came out; I had somehow wound up with an afternoon off from my practicum placement and decided to go see this since all my friends had been rather unimpressed with License to Kill and had given up on the franchise.

I had a blast. Still one of my favourite Bonds, despite the lame touches (the plane in the open, especially).
posted by nubs at 8:45 AM on September 17, 2015

When I first saw this in '95 that plane retrieval thing nearly made me turn on the movie ten minutes in...And the next scene involving the "car chase" with the over-the-top mugging evaluator and the terrible music (worst score?) didn't help at all. It did pick up and I've not dismissed the movie -- plus it only looks better when compared to some later Brosnans -- but I think that a lot of the affection that I do have for it is more due to nostalgia for the N64 game than for the movie itself. Something about these Brosnans make them play like fan-fiction to me. It might be that this was the first time in a long time that artists established outside of the franchise were brought in to direct and write the movies...I want to say that the fan-service touches feel more pandering than I like, but the Moore run obviously was mostly about pandering. So it's probably just that I was too old when these came out to appreciate them on a nostalgic level now the way I can with even the dumbest Moores.

However, I realized when watching it this week that I couldn't be much happier with all of the women in this one. Scorupco and Janssen both give good performances. Janssen creates as iconic a villain as we could hope for this late in a series' lifetime...Scorupco obviously has less scenery-chewing opportunities, but for as little as we learn about her character at least she actually really acts.

For all of the problems with the Brosnans (and it seems like I have more than most people), Judi Dench and Samantha Bond are perfect throughout. Bond (Samantha Bond)'s Moneypenny doesn't really get enough to do in any of them, but as an actress I consider her an unsung hero of this run.
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:11 AM on September 17, 2015

Oh yeah, love the title song. But the Eric Serra score is so bad. As a Bond score anyway.

About the best I can say about it is it's not like they failed to achieve their vision. They made a choice and executed it well. It was just a really bad choice.

Hmm. And your description of these as somehow feeling like Bond fanfic is surprisingly deft. I never thought of it that way before, but I get it. I'm not sure why, but that feels right somehow.

(Sort of like the not terribly good The Replacement Killers, which was basically Antoine Fuqua going, "Sweet, I've got Chow Yun Fat! I can make my own John Woo movie!"
posted by Naberius at 9:18 AM on September 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Speaking of the title song: Rest in peace Maurice Binder, long live Daniel Klienman! I love his work on all of the title sequences he's done...They honor Binder's work while being wonderfully original.

And I agree, I like the song a lot too...Sort of odd that it was written by Bono & The Edge (from the point of view of the Sean Bean character) but then is sung by Tina Turner...I wonder about the behind-the-scenes story on that. I guess when you can get Tina, you get Tina.

I regret having ever listened to Ace of Base's rejected GoldenEye theme song (changed to "The Juvenile" when they later released it on an album or wherever, how did they even exist after 1994), because as dull as it is, I still sometimes get it stuck in my head when thinking of the movie.
posted by doctornecessiter at 12:10 PM on September 17, 2015

I recall liking Izabella Scorupco a lot -- liking that she actually seemed to be a character, and its indicated early on that she was smart and capable of taking care of herself. The cats in general for this is terrific: Famke Janssen, Joe Don Baker, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Cumming, and especially Sean Bean and Judi Dench.

The films seemed to hold out genuine promise for a darker, smarter Bond. But my memories of the Brosnan Bond films is that they increasingly did him a disservice.
posted by maxsparber at 12:56 PM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

By far the best of the Bronson Bonds—and this close to not being a Bond film!
posted by infinitewindow at 2:33 PM on September 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

To this date, I think this is the only film which the licensed video game is markedly superior to - and it's not a bad film, at all, just an excellent game. Re-watching the film after sinking hundreds of hours into the game is an unusual experience, as the film appears to be a well-above average film-adaptation-of-video game, rather than vice-versa.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:19 PM on September 17, 2015 [6 favorites]

I should quickly add that anyone who played Oddjob when playing Rare's Goldeneye was a stone cold *dick*.
posted by longbaugh at 1:07 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I ended up watching Goldeneye pretty recently, and I realized that the video game, being such a big part of my life for so many formative years, has so thoroughly blinkered me that I can't really evaluate the movie on its own merits at all.
posted by invitapriore at 6:29 PM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

despite the lame touches (the plane in the open, especially).

When I first saw this in '95 that plane retrieval thing nearly made me turn on the movie ten minutes in

Coming in late to this party, but I have to come forward. I'm the guy. I'm the guy they made the plane scene for. I loved it, I loved it so much. I loved that whole opening sequence, especially after what I thought were really boring and too serious Timothy Dalton Bonds. I should also point out I was 16, but still. Bond is all in all a pretty dumb franchise and dumb stuff can be a lot of fun.
posted by Hoopo at 5:46 PM on October 22, 2015

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