It’s the third 007 film with “gold” in the title! It’s the first 007 film with Pierce Brosnan! Let’s have a look at it.
It is 1986 – 007 bungee-jumps off a dam wall and infiltrates a Soviet chemical weapons storage facility, where he meets up with good buddy 006 (Sean Bean), and they go off to wreak havoc, at least for a bit – 006 gets captured and killed, 007 sneaks out the back door and very nearly misses the last flight out, but just manages to answer the last call to board.
These have gotten a bit of a spruce up over the break – long time stylist Maurice Binder had died during the interregnum, so Daniel Kleinman, having had cut his teeth making music videos, comes in and does a superb job. As such, it’s a slightly different take, doing away with silhouettes and projections, but still heavy on the impressionistic sequences dealing with the themes of the movie – the fall of Communism, the two faced god, that sorta thing. Also still with the gyrating ladies and the Helvetica because those things are important.
Is pretty damned anaemic, let’s face it. (Kind of weird, because Éric Serra has done good work with Luc Besson.) As required, Monty’s theme at a few crucial points, which is good, and Tina Turner knocks the title song out of the park. Apparently written by these two guys called Paul Hewson and David Evans whom I’ve never heard of. Apparently the other two guys in their band, being miffed they couldn’t all do what they did for the bad Batman movie, went off and reworked the Mission Impossible theme for the film version the following year.
Most of the first part of the movie is set in Russia, firstly in the backwoods and the second act in St Petersburg (and apparently for real this time). The finale takes place in “Cuba” because Ian Fleming knows Bond loves the goddamn Caribbean.
Also notable is the return to home base in London after not being seen at all in LTK. MI6 is now bunkered down in their weird looking new headquarters in Vauxhall Cross, because basically they couldn’t be bothered hiding their spook palace any longer.
The New Guys
Brosnan is a very acceptable as Bond. Little cues from his predecessors and then adding his own touch. Maybe people were unhappy at how cranky Dalton was, well, Brosnan is arguably the most cold blooded of the lot. Still likes a squeeze, though.
We also have a new M, as in a new actual M person, not just a different actor playing the same person like Felix Bloody Leiter, which gets very confusing, especially because Dame Judi Dench keeps playing M right into the “reboot” movies. But anyway, she sticks it right to 007 from the start dressing him down in a fashion that might have a certain type of idiot choking on their Cheeto dust while they defend Bond’s right to be a male chauvinist pig.
“I’d happily see you killed in the line of duty. Try to come back alive.”
Miss Moneypenny is played by Samantha Bond for the first time, and apparently it’s the same Moneypenny even though it’s a different actor. Awfully confusing, yes. Also, Michael Kitchen pops up as Bill Tanner, M’s Chief of Staff. (Notably, he played the King of England during the good House of Cards series, and later as Foyle in Foyle’s War which, in M*A*S*H style, lasted twice as long as the war.)
The only guy who’s not new is Q. Always great to watch, Desmond Llewellyn boils the role down to pantomime, very nearly breaking the fourth wall (only Lazenby is allowed to do that) as he waits impatiently for Bond to say one of his stupid death quips – which are back in abundant supply considering Bond is less taciturn this time around, if just as morally ambiguous.
General Ourumov (Gottfried John) is, at first, the main bad guy – as a colonel, he’s the one that shoots 006 in the opening and pursues Bond. Later, in the present day, he turns up in Monaco, pinches a you-beaut EMP-resistant chopper with his henchperson Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) – described in Wikipedia as a “Georgian lust murderer” – or to put it another way: In Soviet Russia, woman squeezes you. Naturally, Bond is intrigued by this sort of kink and is already on her trail.
Anyway, they take the chopper to a remote satellite dish installation, use some doodads to unleash GoldenEye, an orbital EMP weapon thingy, at the installation, and then take off in the chopper with the doodads. For whatever reason. Anyway, only two people survive, an Boris Grishenko (Alan Cumming) an obnoxious geek, and Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco), who has to put up with Boris’ Cheeto dust. Mysteriously, Boris has to leave the bunker to vape just before shit goes down.
Seemingly it’s all at the behest of a mysterious figure called Janus. Bond is put on the case, and he starts his search in St Petersburg, where he catches up Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane) with whom he’s had dealings before – mostly unpleasant. Zukovsky would’ve stolen the whole damn movie had he been given a few more moments, fortunately we see him again in the next instalment so it’s all good.
Anyway, Bond manages to put forth a business opportunity to Zukovsky, who puts Bond on the trail of this Janus guy.
As it turns out, Janus is old mate 006, Alec Trevelyan, who is embittered enough by the British shipping the Cossacks back to the Russians, including his parents, after the Second World War after they collaborated with the Nazis. Complicated. In addition to that, he was not entirely happy about Bond leaving him for dead all those years ago – although to be honest he did look very dead back then.
Anyway, Trevelyan’s scheme with the EMP shiznat is that he has one GoldenEye satellite left at his disposal, so the plan is to siphon all the money from the Bank of England with his dorky mate Boris (Grishenko, not Johnson), aim the GoldenEye thingy at London and cause a massive economic meltdown destroying the British economy. Could’ve just waited a couple of decades for Nigel Farage and Michael Gove, to do that, eh?
The Squeeze (Not The Squeezer)
Bond gets tranquilised during this fateful meeting, and wakes up strapped to the chopper, with Simonova, which is armed to self-destruct. They escape their doom, when Bond triggers the ejector seat, but they get captured by the Russians.
While being interrogated by the Minister of Defence, Ourumov walks in (still having not gone rogue officially ), tries to shoot everyone, but Bond and Simonova escape that as well for a short time. Ourumov snatches up Simonova, though, and while they try to flee, Bond grabs some tank that’s just sitting there like it’s Grand Theft Auto or something, and very quickly runs up six stars, chasing them, until he finds Janus’ big train.
After another little discussion between them all that ends up with Ourumov getting killed, Trevelyan locks Bond in the carriage, with Simonova, which is armed to self-destruct. Simonova takes the three minutes Trevelyan has given him to use her own 1337 hax0ring skillz to get a bead on where the other installation is, getting as far as Cuba.
During their journey, she also gets on Bond’s case on why he has to be a hard-ass all the time, and he’s all “well, I dunno”. And then she falls on him anyway.
Sean Bean Dies
Bond and Simonova have some alone time off Cuba, then head off in a light plane trying to find the dish. They’re just about to give up the search when some rocket ploughs through the plane’s wing when they figure they’ve found the right place, managing to land the plane in a less than graceful manner.
Onatopp locates Bond in the bushes and, after another love tussle that she’s enjoying altogether too much, she ends up at the end of the line, and it’s time for Bond to figure out where the dish actually is. As it turns out, it’s cunningly submerged in the lake, and only brought out for special occasions. In this case, Trevelyan wants to make a large transaction in currency just so he can watch it tank.
It’s a Bond film, though, so that doesn’t work out for him; while he and Boris are trying to get the signal, Simonova finds an old 386 25DX system in a back storeroom and hacks the Gibson or encrypts some shit to lock Boris out, while Bond goes out to the antenna to disable it. Trevelyan follows him out there, they trade blows dangling from the antenna while Trevelyan talks some smack about how good he is and Bond sucks, but Bond has the last word and drops the mic. And also Trevelyan.
And to just make sure, the antenna drops on Trevelyan.
Meanwhile, Boris gets freeze dried, lets not care about Boris, he’s arguably one of the worst bit-part characters in a Bond movie since – well, OK, he’s not as obnoxious as that Louisiana sheriff guy. (If Alan Cumming reads this, don’t worry, I enjoyed your “walking around cities” programmes.)
I guess Zukovsky is an ally, but Bond’s first lead in St Petersburg is Jack Wade (Joe Don Baker), who bares an uncanny resemblance to the arms dealer in The Living Daylight. Jack refuses to call Bond James, preferring Jimmy or Jimbo or Jiminy. Something that doesn’t bug this Bond too much. Wade also pops up to sort out Bond’s foray into Cuba, I guess because Leiter was still regenerating after having his leg bitten off. As an ally, Wade proves fairly useful, although perhaps a little too attentive in the end when Bond just wants to unwind.
The bit with the car chase as Bond is being “assessed” at the beginning is, well, kind of fun but at a real risk of going Lazenby. I think I’ve mentioned how obnoxious the character of Script Kiddy Boris is, but its also annoyingly true-to-life. There’s nothing really super terrible about the whole thing.
For the most part, a big step up – if nothing else the tank chase is over-the-top and great fun, as is the opening sequence in the chemical weapons dump, as is the first splodey scene in Sriracha or wherever that base was. Even the parts that are a little more naff, like the battle in the Cuban installation, are naff in a very Bond way, like just about every villain lair mass freakout from You Only Live Twice to Moonraker to A View To A Kill.
The space CGI is terrible, though. Could they have possibly put a call into Paramount and ask whoever does the orbital shots in the 90s Star Trek TV series to make it look less terrible? Anyway. A very small thing, though. For the rest of the film, Martin Campbell makes it gleam in the way a Bond film ought to and sets the bar for the next few films.
As I said last time around, while the legal scuffles scuttled the third Dalton film I would’ve liked to have seen, it probably wasn’t the worst thing for the series in general to have that breather. With its return, the hallmarks are in place, with a few tweaks to bring the series into the 90s.
Brosnan is very good, at least this time around, backed up by good performances from the ensemble, particularly Bean, Dench and Coltrane. As far as the plot it’s nice mix of the technodoom, revenge and old war tropes, leavened by *real* *historical* *fact* as the motivation for Trevelyan.
Anyway, a solid entertaining film that doesn’t meander too much, I’m quite happy rating it up there with my other old and new favourites from this run.
As such, I rate it 18 clicky pens out of 20.