GoldenEye (1995) – A Review

Goldeneye Pierce Brosnan James Bond movie review haphazardstuff

After James Bond disappeared for six years from movie screens he would reemerge in 1995 in a new era and with a new actor.

Since becoming a household name with his starring role in the NBC show Remington Steele, Pierce Brosnan seemed to become an inevitable choice to play 007. However, when the opportunity finally came up his television contract prevented him from accepting the role in 1987 allowing Timothy Dalton to get a license to kill.

As Dalton’s two Bond films received a cool reception from audiences, Brosnan spent his time starring in forgettable, B-action movies. It just seemed like he was awaiting another chance at 007.

Thanks to ongoing legal disputes 1989 would begin a six-year hiatus of Bond from movie screens. During that six years a lot happened. The Cold War would come to a dramatic end, Dalton resigned from the role and some believed that Ian Fleming’s spy was no longer relevant in the post-Cold War era and should finally be retired.

The dust would settle and 007 was ready to get back to work, Brosnan was once again offered the role, which he gladly accepted. The filmmakers would thrust the character into the post-Cold War setting and attempt to bring back the fun that some fans missed from the Dalton films.

It would be the start of a new era of Bond films which I refer to as The Brosnan Age. Co-starring Judi Dench, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Alan Cumming, Robbie Coltran, Joe Don Baker and Desmond Llewelyn I take a look at the debut of Brosnan as James Bond in GoldenEye.

*For longtime Haphazard readers and viewers these are older Brosnan reviews that I did three years ago (wow has it been that long ago???). I have been forced to re-post many of my older Bond reviews elsewhere because of the upcoming deletion of my BlipTV account and thought while I was at it to archive them in my blog for longtime viewers to rewatch again if they wish or newer ones who have yet to see them.


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6 Responses

  1. Capt. says:

    I do admit.

    I was satisfied with my Goldeneye experience so many years ago. I was craving some 007 action at the time and this film was able to bring back hopes that this series could continue for a while.

    I knew who Brosnan was because the first film that had impressed me was "The Fourth Protocol." In that film, he played a dangerous secret agent. So I had no reason to think the series would go the way it did.

    But this was the over-the-top 90's where Hollywood was trying to outdo the 80's OTT-ness. In large part, they succeed. Many of today's "Blockbuster" movies owe their blue prints to this period. As well as future producers of it like Michael Bay. And Bond would start to get caught up in it.

    The machine guns you mention are a very early sign of this trend. (BTW, I love your little montage of what looks like Brosnan going apeshit with a machine gun and firing at other characters in other movies. How apropos)

    BTW, I do think Anna Topp survived. She improved her english and went on to father a daughter with another killer agent who looked like Liam Neason. 🙂

  2. spaceodds says:

    I pretty much agree with everything you've said in your video. I do like Goldeneye, and for me it was a milestone since it was the first Bond movie I saw at the theater. However the film is a missed opportunity.

    First of all, if it was up to me, I would explore the characters of both Bond and Alex. On paper they are very interesting character and it would've been great how their friendship is now antagonistic. To explore this thread against the backdrop of the fall of the Soviet empire, and how the world changed before their eyes would have made compelling viewing. The scene in the graveyard with all the ruined statues and monuments of the Communist past is by far my favorite scene in the whole movie, and its a shame that the brilliant dialogue spoken by both Bond and Alec did not extend further. Seriously Goldeneye had the potential to become a classic of the series.

    Secondly, I would drop Turner's song and replace it with Ace of Base's effort. Their song, eventually released as The Juvenile is a very melancholic song that references and compares the break up of a friendship to the break up of an ideal and belief. This could easily be a reference to the end of the Soviet Union, but it can also extend to Bond and Alec's beliefs in how the former still believes in Queen and Country, even though he knows its all bent, and how the latter dropped his beliefs to become an extremely wealthy mobster.

    I remember from one of your videos where you mentioned that Brosnan's films are updates on the old Bond film formats, a theory I totally agree on. Goldeneye is very much Brosnan's Dalton film, and the fact that it sacrifices character and angst for OTT action and artificiality pretty much becomes the norm for the rest of the Brosnan era. Although this maxim would become infuriating as time went on, I do understand why the producers chose to do this for Goldeneye since this was a make or break film for them. With impressive explosive set pieces, Goldeneye became an audience favorite and it guaranteed the series to stay on a while longer.

    Despite the negatives; there are some positives and one major positive is the Bond Girl Natalya, played brilliantly by the beautiful Izabella Scoupco. Natalya is one of the very best Bond girls ever, for me she comes in third place after Vesper Lynd and Tracy di Vincenzo. She is smart, strong and beautiful. The chemistry she has with Brosnan is brilliant and the way they can berate each other and then fall into bed together is a highlight. Not to mention her voice is both demanding and sensual. A brilliant Bond girl, and a perfect example of how you don't have to make a strong and intelligent Bond girl an annoying pain in the ass like Jinx from Die Another Day or, especially, like Eve Moneypenny from Skyfall (seriously she's very hot, but Eve just gets on my goddamn nerves)

    Xenia Onertop is also a brilliant flamboyant villainess, and she clearly leaves an impression, she's the villainess , but she's also responsible for some of the comic scenes (just look at how she leaves the Canadian Admiral) Also Famke Jansen is very good to look at.

    Overall even though I mentioned Goldeneye is a missed opportunity, I do understand why the producers decided to play it safe, and its because of this I think was the reason why Bond went onto become embraced again. For many it became the ultimate Bond film, for me it wasn't and I had to wait another eleven years for an ultimate example to come along.

  3. Nick H says:

    I appreciate you know your Bond onions but I have mixed feelings about your assessment of the Brosnan era. I think there's a lot to like in the movies and I think Brosnan does an excellent job for the most part. There's stuff he does in The World Is Not Enough that really gives the Bond character depth, especially in his dealings with Elektra King. Goldeneye had a tough job and it did it well. It had to re-establish the character at a time when critics were saying that True Lies out Bonds Bond, or xXx, or Long Kiss Goodnight out Bonds Bond as well. That the series was not only brought back, but refreshed and willing to tackle full on its legacy whilst moving things into the 1990s is a credit to Goldeneye. The Brosnan era was left to simultaneously please the Connery and Moore fan factions, take the positives from the Dalton era and also win new fans over and reign over other action spy movies which, for the first time, weren't cheaper knock offs but A list movies in their own right. The Daniel Craig era has been built on the foundations of the Brosnan one, the success of Pierce's tenure has allowed Daniel and the producers to push Bond further. For all the flaws here and there (and some of the criticisms of Goldeneye are a bit OTT, and there are reasonable explanations to apparent goofs as well) the Pierce Brosnan Bond movies are well done and entertaining.

  4. spaceodds says:

    @Nick H

    I understand where you are coming from. I agree that the grittiness of the Craig era was a response to the flamboyancy of the Brosnan era. The Brosnan era certainly did reinvent the character for a new generation, and it certainly pleased a lot of fans. I agree if it wasn't for the popularity of the Brosnan era, Bond would've been left to rot.

    However

    The Brosnan films are simply not any good. Looking back on them now I can't help but feel how so much more could have been done to improve them. Some of the plot lines were interesting and certainly had potential. But they were all ruined by bad writing and OTT action. As for Brosnan, well he certainly looked the part, but he was only playing the image of Bond, and in his defense this is not his fault since these were the cards he was dealt with (ie bad writing and annoying co characters)

    I sometimes wonder if the producers used the Brosnan era as a stepping stone on where Bond should go. Just look at Die Another Day, and compare that to Casino Royale. These two films could not be anymore different, and yet they feature the same main character and the world he inhabits. Brosnan himself went on record recently stating that he hates to watch his Bond movies, because they were not what he envisioned.

  5. John Richter says:

    I didn't like Goldeneye when it came out and am even less impressed upon a recent viewing. Plus, it has not aged well at all. And Brosnan always seemed to me to be too smug, too slight for the role. And all those puns. My god – just awful. In addition, the films went downhill as they went along, culminating in the ridiculous Die Another Day.

  6. Nick H says:

    Spaceodds, when I get around to doing my metatextual review of The World Is Not Enough I hope to convince those who believe the Brosnan Bond movies contain only an image of Bond, that they lack depth and that the writing is overwhelmingly poor, that they've misjudged that era.

    I see no problem with a Die Another Day sitting alongside Casino Royale as I have with You Only Live Twice sitting alongside On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Bond movies fall into 3 categories: Over the top spectacle, down to earth espionage and the personal duels of wits and skill. The trick to enjoying every single Bond movie ever made (which I do, even Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker) is knowing which kind of Bond movie I'm watching and not trying to judge it against those that fall into the other categories. So I don't compare Die Another Day with Casino Royale, I compare it with Diamonds Are Forever. Casino Royale I would compare with From Russia With Love. I know critics bemoan every Bond movie that isn't like Goldfinger starring Sean Connery, and pretentious critics bemoan those that aren't From Russia With Love starring Sean Connery, but the series (series…NOT franchise) would not have kept going if it was only one type of movie. It may be the done thing these days to put the boot into Pierce's tenure but I won't join in that game. He was good, the movies were enjoyable and were occasionally capable of Bond greatness.

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