After six years in the freezer, Bond is back. Any 007 fan worth his salt will be aware of the fact that Timothy Dalton is out, and Pierce Brosnan is in as the U.K.’s ultimate spy. Out is Bond’s Aston Martin. In is a new BMW. Out with another actor playing "M." In with Judi Dench, the first female to take the role of Bond’s crusty boss.
But some things remain the same. Desmond Llewelyn seems unstoppable at reprising his role of "Q." Bondian gadgets still abound. The vodka martinis are still served shaken, not stirred. And what would 007 be without a parade of girls, girls, girls!?
It’s been six years, like I said, and the producers of GoldenEye seem convinced to raise the stakes yet again, having before them the daunting tasks of proving that James Bond is not dead, that Brosnan can cut it as an action hero (never mind the suave act, the New Bond can bludgeon a guy to death without mussing his tux), and most importantly, that people really still care about a hero that’s been around for 33 years.
Apparently they do…a lot. I’ve received more inquiries about GoldenEye over the last month than any other movie of the year. Everyone is talking about it. Step aside Waterworld, Bond’s buzz has you beat. And for the most part, it’s well-deserved.
GoldenEye’s storyline is basically lifted from 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever. A super-secret Russian spy satellite that can destroy an entire city’s electronics systems is aimed at London. Bond’s old friend, the now-renegade 006 (Sean Bean) is behind it all, and 007 is on the case. Along the way, he encounters Natalya (Izabella Scorupco), the best-looking computer programmer in Russia, who helps him out when she isn’t busy diving for cover in her mini-skirt (in the Russian winter, no less). Working for 006 is the deliciously evil Xenia (Famke Janssen), a masochistic killer whose favorite M.O. is squeezing people to death with her thighs. Really.
You’re probably groaning that this sounds ludicrous, and of course it is (remember Moonraker?). After all, it is a James Bond story, and you really have to leave your logical sensibility at the door. Otherwise, you’ll spend the whole film wondering, "How’d they get that 100-yard diameter satellite dish buried in Cuba without anyone noticing? Just how did he skydive to that nose-diving plane, climb in, and not crash into a mountain? Why would someone keep giant vats of kerosene out in the open in their underground bunker? How’d he get his BMW to Cuba, anyway…and would you give your car to Joe Don Baker?" And so on. Old Bond fans know that thinking too hard about things like this will only lead to a severe headache. In making the Bond-to-top-all-Bond films, something (namely plot) has to give.
With that said, Brosnan is admirable (better than Roger Moore, but no Sean Connery). The exotic settings, fight scenes, and car chases are also good, and the supporting cast is admirable. With the exception of some rotten music and a few disappointing blue screen effects, GoldenEye is overall a very likable film. Sure, you could drive the Russian tank Bond commandeers through all the plot holes…but you know it’d be one hell of a ride.
Fry another day.
Review by Christopher Null © 1995 filmcritic.com