GoldenEye is the third gold titled Bond film I’ve reviewed as well as my third recast Bond debut film. And of those three, it is easily my favorite. It hits on all the Bond tropes I look for. Great action, great villains, great wit, and great style. Most remember Bond 17 because of the epically popular Nintendo 64 game. Hell, I was practically raised on it. However, GoldenEye should be heralded as possibly the most well received relaunch of the franchise ever. And that includes Casino Royale.
In hindsight, Casino Royale is way more successful than GoldenEye. However, Craig’s casting as Bond was not lauded as a good choice at all. Even after starring in three films, all being the three highest grossing Bond films in history, Craig is still criticized. Pierce Brosnan was not. Bond fans, along with the producers wanted Brosnan years before. However, he was unable to put on the tux due to his commitments to the television series Remington Steele. When Brosnan was finally free to play Bond, the anticipation was at a fever pitch.
I’ve stated before that I have a soft spot for Roger Moore, seeing as he was the first actor I saw play James Bond. After GoldenEye, however, Brosnan became my favorite Bond of all time. Not the best Bond. (Connery. I know! Sheesh!) Just my personal favorite. I measure my Bonds on two and only two things. Tactical believability and social charm. Some Bonds are better at the action like Dalton, Lazenby and Craig. And some are better with the charm like Connery and Moore. Brosnan, in my opinion, displays the best balance of those two traits. He nails every single action beat he does and can charms the pants off of anyone. You see Brosnan straighten his tie casually while driving a tank through Russian streets and say, “That’s James Bond.” He’s someone who you would love to have a drink with, but someone who you would never want to fight. Daniel Craig (My second favorite Bond) is what I imagine 007 to be like if he existed in my world, but Brosnan possess more of the mystique and romantic super spy aura, while still feeling believable.
GoldenEye’s QUALITY carries on from the revamped Bond to his fearsome foes. An S & M henchwoman that receives orgasmic pleasure watching people suffer, and an (17 YEAR OLD SPOILER ALERT!!!) evil former double-0 with a grudge. They are great Bond villains. Not in the sense that they have metal teeth or golden guns. They are great because they are a great challenge for James Bond. Logic suggests that MI6 ranks their double-0s in descending order by skill. That said, Alec Trevelyan, 006, is supposed to be a better Bond than Bond. Better at combat. Better with the ladies. Better all around. To pull that off, they had to get an actor who could believably outclass James Bond. I personally think they did that with the casting of Sean Bean. Bean has been stealing scenes for years. From Lord Of The Rings to Game Of Thrones. You can’t help but like his characters, no matter their faults. Trevelyan is no different. Many Bond villains tend to be less cool than Bond. Trevelyan more than holds his own with Bond stylistically and even physically. When he says the line, “I was always better James” you believe it. Xena Onatopp is a much sexier version of View To A Kill’s May Day. You can tell Famke Janssen is enjoying the hell out of the character. Her chemistry with Bond is great. Especially in the baccarat scene, that pays tribute to Dr. No. Alan Cumming also injects some really fun stuff with the hacker Boris.
Natalya Simonova is less of a Bond girl pawn and more of a victim of circumstance. It can be argued that she is a forgettable character compared to her predecessors and successors. However, she does bring something more to the table than, say, Honey Ryder in Dr. No. Though her chemistry with Brosnan isn’t very palpable, Natalya’s story is interwoven with Boris. Their rivalry at least gives her a satisfying arc. This is also Judi Dench’s first go as M. What can I say about the famous Dame that I haven’t already said in my Skyfall review? She is outstanding. Right off the bat, she puts Bond in his place faster than any other M I have ever seen. Proving she has what it takes to control MI6 and him.
GoldenEye is a QUALITY classic in the Bond series. It is easily Brosnan’s best outing in the role. Director Martin Campbell did such a great job with it, EON Productions picked him to relaunch Bond again with Casino Royale. Which begs the question…WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO HIM WITH GREEN LANTERN?!? Sing along with Tina…play the old 64 game…but not against me. I’ll kick your ass…Watch it…keep your eyes open for a strange Minnie Driver cameo….then tell me I’m wrong.