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Goldeneye (1995)



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Bond explodes back on to the silver screen after six long years. It's not Timothy Dalton, but it's the next best thing: Pierce Brosnan. Brosnan, who almost landed the role in 1986, and would have if it wasn't for the renewal of his Remington Steele contract, got a second once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play the role he desired so much. After so long, seeing the gunbarrel opening start across the silver screen is reason enough to shout and cheer. But, stepping back to a more objective viewpoint, what have we got?

First, Brosnan makes a terrific James Bond, with a harder edge than anticipated. The downside is that the script is so full of non-stop action, there isn't a lot of time for Brosnan to be Bond. The raves and rants of Goldeneye are many. I'll rant first: (1) too many cheesy one-liners that marred so many other Bond films mar this one too, (2) Eric Serra's deplorable score is the worst in the series, period, (3) machine guns don't hit anybody, even at point blank range, (4) the tank/statue scene recalled carefully buried memories of the stupid slapstick in Moonraker (thankfully, the stupid humor in Goldeneye, one-liners aside, was confined to this one scene), (5) when a tank and train collide, the tank won't fly apart, leaving the train relatively intact, still on the tracks, (6) a weak Moneypenny played by Samantha Bond (what happened to Caroline Bliss?), (7) the villain captures Bond and puts him in a gazillion death machines (a common Bond film flaw) three or four times, never once thinking to put a bullet in his head and end it all, and (8) the healthy dose of politically correct speeches were met with Bond's wimpy silence -- that's not Bond!

It's a daunting set of complaints, but they are redeemed by as many or more strengths. (1) The stunts in the opening sequence are breathtaking (and while the second may be a little over the top, the stunt was actually attempted and would have been completed successfully if budget constraints hadn't forced the stunt team to quit early and use computer graphics to touch up the footage), (2) there's not one but two of the best Bond girls in the series, (3) a strong villain, (4) some very strong character scenes, including a meeting between Bond and the villain amongst some ruins, (5) a hacker nerd character (which might easily have been a disaster) who delightfully mixes anger and frustration; another of Goldeneye's strong scenes, excellently edited, involves a peculiar mannerism of the character, (6) convincing, exciting action scenes (except for those involving machine guns), (7) Dame Judi Dench as the new 'M' who, in one brief scene, brings more depth to Bond's relationship with 'M' than most of the previous sixteen films combined, and (8) most importantly, a relatively strong story, incorporating the better elements of A View To a Kill, doing them right, and adding a good amount of original material.

Goldeneye's greatest accomplishment, however, was that it made a truckload of money, proving Bond could survive in the nineties, ensuring his future. Producer Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli, at the helm of the series since Dr. No, lived long enough to see the revitalization of the series and died some months after Goldeneye's release.

For trivia buffs: Kate Gayson appears as an extra in the casino scene; she's the daughter of Eunice Gayson, who played Sylvia Trench in the first two Bond films, Dr. No and From Russia With Love.

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