Number: One Hundred and Ten
Directer: Martin Campbell
Writer : Michael France, Jeffrey Caine, Kevin Wade, Bruce Feirstein
Seen on: DVD.
Seen Before: Several times when I was younger, not for a few years though.
Starring:Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Judi Dench
Running Time: 130 minutes.
Favorite Performance: Pierce Brosnan as James Bond
Favorite Line:“I might as well ask if all those vodka martinis silence the screams of those men you’ve killed. Or if you find forgiveness in the arms of all those willing women…for all the dead ones you failed to protect.”
Favorite Moment: The tank scene.
Thoughts: With Timothy Dalton bowing out after two strong performances, and a six year hiatus since “Licence To Kill”, there was a lot of questions marks about this film. Is Bond worth bringing back? Will there be any stories left to make? Would Brosnan be a good enough replacement? Well, turns out the answer to all 3 was ‘yes’, big time. “Goldeneye” has been referred to as a favorite of the series by many fans, and I can completely understand why.
Pierce Brosnan makes a strong James Bond, he isn’t as vulnerable as Dalton, but he does offer a soft side to himself, as well as a feeling of regret over the actions in his life, as well as showing the charming charisma of Moore, and the brutality of Connery. His physical side, displayed in several fight scenes, brings a smile to my face as he looks capable in them. He also has a good charm to himself, as well as often giving good line readings of Bond’s quips, not descending into self-parody. As a first attempt at James Bond, Brosnan does an impeccable job.
Judi Dench as M is a great choice, she gives Bond attitude and keeps him on his toes, allowing a more interesting relationship between the two. Her chemistry with Bond is strong, and the scenes between them feel like the beginning of history to a relationship, which is refreshing. I also thought Q had good chemistry with Bond as well, Brosnan seemed to bring a more refreshed performance out of him, compared to some of his older performances. And of course, Miss Moneypenny, as played by Samantha Bond, represents a stronger female perspective, as akin to Dench as M, both are strong female presences’ in a series that sometimes didn’t demonstrate this.
The love interest, Natalya Simonova, as played by Izabella Scorupco, was also refreshing, as unlike other Bond girls, she kept Bond on his toes. He would save her several times, but she wasn’t afraid to burst his ego, challenge him, as well as offering her own abilities as a programmer, in order to help the two of them escape situations or survive other situations. I thought she was both beautiful and capable, which was the most refreshing element.
On the villain side, we had Alec Trevelyn, who was a brilliant villain. The film felt like it took several elements from “Licence To Kill”, a personal attack that impacts upon Bond, but here, they went smaller with it, having the betrayal occur with Bond, his friend Alec betraying him. Alec came across as not just a physical challenge to Bond, but also an emotional challenge, forcing Bond to come to terms with not only Alec’s actions, but his own. Sean Bean was a good choice, and his magnificent villainous turn would take a long time to surpass.
It also helped he was backed up by two good supporting villains, firstly, the red herring villain, Russian General Ourumov, who makes a fascinating early villain, his glances at his peculiar colleagues, his slightly mocking tone to Bond, and his authority over his men, build what could have been in most Bond films a solid villain, here, the lead-in to the better villain, Alec. This is what “Octopussy” and “Licence To Kill” attempted with their villains, here it succeeds. There is also the second villain, the sexual Xenia Onatopp, as played deliciously over-the-top by Famke Janssen. Her character seems to represent the shift from the old-fashioned Bond films to the feel of a more contemporary market, and she suits the film. I also liked the comedic elements of Boris, as played by Alan Cumming, who made an otherwise small role, that in other Bond films you’d forget easily, quite memorable.
However, the main props have to go to Martin Campbell, who does a stellar job here. His set pieces are some of the best in the series, i.e. the opening scene, and the tank scene, both two of the most memorable action scenes in living history. Campbell also seems refreshing in that the story and emotion comes first, having a scene late in the film dedicated to an in-depth conversation about Bond’s role in life between himself and Natalya. Campbell is the best Bond director, in my opinion, and Sam Mendes has a huge task in front of him to even rival Campbell.
This is one of the few Bond films, you don’t have to be a fan of Bond to appreciate. End of the day, it is just very good, and possibly one of a few select perfect Bond films.
Thumbs Up, 9 out of 10