Bond in Review: Goldeneye
I really like the James Bond franchise. This is part eighteen of a behind schedule, bimonthly, 24-part series of me watching James Bond movies and providing a stream of consciousness style commentary for a given film. I will also rank the movies so stay tuned for that at the bottom of the piece. Simulating the time between License to Kill and Goldeneye wasn’t my goal but there was a long hiatus in the franchise. People weren’t ready for Dalton’s interpretation and the end of the Cold War led to real questions about the place of Bond. In steps Pierce Brosnan and a reset of the franchise to match the era. Of course, Goldeneye is a place in Jamaica where Ian Fleming wrote his novels.
· The sound as the music kicks starts off warped but the strings sound bang on. Look at this shiny new gun barrel sequence. Whew we are in the 90s!
· I am a real fan of Pierce’s walk and shot. It’s a confident move and the one hand down really does suggest he has incredible confidence (doesn’t need that stabilizing hand)
· Chekov’s plane foreshadowing the end of the opening titles.
· I do miss the days of stunt men being clearly different than the actor but seeing it enough that they get credit for doing this work.
· Dam jump without the music is beautiful.
· Laser light and cutting through metals — not as beautiful.
· Out first look at the new Bond is always a big deal. We get piercing eyes but his introduction, upside down in the bathroom is a bit comedic. Speaks to the relationship we will get with Brosnan movies.
· This opening scene gives all the throwbacks to the video game, Goldeneye. Arguably the best videogame of all time.
· Forcing in the call numbers 006 and 007 here. Didn’t need to be so forceful there.
· So Alec just offs the scientist there. One would think they could’ve knocked him out — perhaps there was an additional reason.
· “Half of everything is luck…the other half fate.” The storytelling here is really good knowing that there is betrayal later. This entire mission was doomed to fail as those two were working together.
· “How original” — the movie is known for taking Bond to task but it also pokes at action movies generally which is an added touch
· So does James not know Alec isn’t dead here? Is he not checking for blood on the ground or anything?
· We also see Ourumov shoot his old solider so presumably the first round was a blank? Dicey.
· Great pacing of action being interrupted by an intentionally slow moment.
· Savvy move but wow, that is not a wise way to stack dangerous gas tanks such that they come flying out if the gate isn’t locked.
· Ourumov requests that they don’t shoot twice on the runway. Not a good General.
· The movie does a lot of work to establish Brosnan’s eyes here. Better that than the chin clinching
· OHHHHH BABY! LISTEN TO THAT SOUNDTRACK KICK IN! THIS IS SENSUAL.
· “Goldeneye” — Tina Turner.
· The “Bond theme” kicking in the second verse is absolutely the best.
· Daniel Kleinman designed these titles and they are really good. Also, does a nice job foreshadowing the movie (fall of Soviet Union, eye that exploded, woman with two faces)
· The lyrics of this song are really really really weird. Bono and The Edge are responsible for those.
· Martin Campbell directed this movie. He will go on to direct Daniel Craig’s first movie. He is 2-for-2
· Driving fast is required more often than you’d think — true of all action movie.
· He’s got a big….ego…engine?
· For the gearheads, Xenia’s Ferrari is the F355 GTS
· 20 minutes in and we have a firefight, a car chase, car sex, and Bond in a tuxedo and in a casino. This movie is giving you a lot of the hits early.
· Three passions: motoring, baccarat, and a healthy dose of sexual tension. It would be a big three but I haven’t risen to the occasion
· Straight up with a twist, Xenia Onatopp, long looks. Yeah this isn’t your serious Dalton Bond kids.
· Bond flex with his knowledge of license plates. So silly (but I would also like to do that)
· Nice modern specs with the active transmissions and print out system. Ahhhhh, the power of a Sony Ericson in the 2000s
· Xenia doesn’t miss a leg day that’s for sure.
· Strong Bond move — using objects in the environment for reflection. It’s a win every time in a movie with spying
· So they are on a cavernous, metal boat but she is firing shots without a silencer and no one hears a thing? Nah.
· Also, Bond, try letting someone know what you are doing and maybe they won’t stop you? Just a thought.
· We’re at the end of optical miniatures but this movie employs some nice ones throughout.
· Allusions to a lovely beach island on Natalya’s computer. Cuba?
· Slugheads — the best, worst insult ever.
· Boris could just move out the way of the helicopter, especially given all the wind and snow it would be kicking up.
· Voice locks and hand scanners. A far cry from eyeball simulators
· Ourumov looks quizzically intrigued by Onatopp. I believe we all would be given the pleasure she experiences
· I do like having the primary henchperson being a woman. It’s a nice change up.
· Another nice change up: the ventilation shaft as misdirection. Well played, Die Hard watchers.
· This Moneypenny scene is a new level too. Moneypenny and Bond clearly have a flirtatious thing but noting 1) she isn’t sitting around to see Bond, 2) she was on a date, 3) he’s “never had her” and 4) calling out sexual harassment (tongue and cheek) is quite a departure from earlier movies
· I would love to be called the evil king of numbers. 😊 Michael Kitchen as Bill Tanner is nice.
· Judi Dench as M comes in hot. Statistical analysis (which proves to be incorrect) and a shot at the Americans.
· Natalya’s dive is one of the most impressive dives in movie history. Criminally underrated.
· It wouldn’t be the first time a satellite dish comes down in this movie.
· This is one of the neatest descriptions of an EMP, something that 1990s movies take for granted all the time.
· Bond gets to still flex his encyclopedic knowledge of everything.
· This is the finest scene in the movie, one of the tops in the franchise. Bond is right (on multiple occasions) that M’s love of analysts can be faulty. But Bond is too wedded to the old days of getting things done. It is such a fantastic dressing down of Bond.
· Small point worthy of focus: M dresses down 007 for his boyish charms and for what happened between him and Caroline, the psychiatric evaluator. Dench’s tenure as M repeated has her raise the stakes of Bond sleeping with folks (and those folks — often — being killed). That it’s raised here and in Casino Royale following the death of Dimitri’s girlfriend is notable given the director is the same. Bond ends with confirming that it is never personal (in this case avenging Alec) but it does become personal at the end of Casino Royale with Vesper. Small moves payoff big about a decade later.
· Music cue when Mishkin reveals another survivor is particularly strong.
· Q just fires that rocket and misses everything. Dangerous lab.
· I’m here for the sight gags
· Bond just grabbing sandwiches and such is a bit bold. But everything could be a gadget so I suppose it’s ok
· WOW WHITAKER! Oh, I mean Jack Wade this time.
· Another shot at action movies: classic codes and all that jazz — it is useful but old school
· Jack Wade brings up flowers and gardening a lot. He was supposed to have a greater backstory as a green thumb but that was cut. So you just get a bunch of random plant references which feel out of place.
· The movie does a lot of exposition but gets through it with humor and gags. It’s really smart.
· Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky is such great casting.
· Oh making fun of “shaken not stirred”; that’s spectacular.
· This section explaining the background of Janus as a Lienz Cossack is fruitful and the only place where the movie sags. There isn’t a reason to not have that conversation there in the previous scene. That said, it’s impressive to see two agents on “opposite sides” engage each other
· “That depends on your definition of safe sex” is a great line. Maybe his best of the movie.
· Oh the Roger Moore chop is still in use. Perplexing and endlessly effective.
· The movie does a GREAT job keeping the Trevelyan twist a secret.
· Alec has some AMAZING lines in this movie. “No pithy comeback” is near the top. We all expect it and Bond is indeed flatfooted here.
· Where Bond says it’s never personal, it is ALL personal for Alec at this point.
· I’ve always hated this attempt to kill Bond but I do like the idea of destroying the evidence of the helicopter and the remains of Bond in one place. So maybe it does work.
· I’m STUNNED someone didn’t say “it’s great to use your head.”
· Natalya kicking Bond after saving her life — I get that she doesn’t trust anyone but read the room.
· Good move by Natalya holding back information without knowing anything about Bond except he works for an oppositional government
· Ourumov is a quick shot
· We get a lot of Bond villains spelling out how they will spin their circumstances. Zorin comes to mind in city hall as will Carver in the next movie. Ourumov spinning here raises that theme
· This is a bloodbath by Bond on the stairs. Seriously, he is just laying out everyone
· You also don’t get this much Bond theme and work in the middle of the movie. They lay it on thick but the epic nature of the scene is worth it
· Bond is a Commander in the Royal Navy. How does he know how to drive a tank?!
· Natalya’s subtle smiles along the way are a nice way to show her growing trust — given the corrupt General is holding a gun to her head
· Apparently the brakes don’t work on Russian Jeeps near the water?
· You see Bond rolling over cars but then cuts back to show people walking out of them — has to be for PG-13 rating purposes
· Ourumov drinking in the middle of the chase is a needless over the top gesture. 1990s gonna 90s. ☹
· Trevelyan’s train is a really fantastic set piece. We don’t do enough with trains and villains sadly.
· Xenia’s enthusiasm about being derailed is twisted and exciting
· Trevelyan’s arrogance to ram the tank is shockingly shortsighted since Bond would have all the best cards in this game.
· Tastes like strawberries…not to be confused with Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace
· Sean Bean is fantastic as the sinister foil of Bond. All the same type of swagger, but bad.
· Pen twisting — massive file this for later.
· Natalya calling out the destruction of vehicles is really good.
· Lip-service. 1/5 pun.
· Ahhhh, the famed BMW Z3 that doesn’t do anything in the movie.
· DEA friend with the plane for Wade — has to be related to License to Kill, right?!
· I am really just not a fan of this section with Bond and Natalya talking about his cool nature. The only thing we get is Bond forcing a kiss on her and her not rejecting it. Not a thing I’ve EVER enjoyed about this heroism.
· The biggest reason I was inspired to do this movie now was the announcement that the SETI Dish at the Arecibo Observatory will be destroyed due to a series of terrible accidents. It’s an absolutely iconic achievement and great from this movie as a location.
· Famke Janssen was spectacular for this role and is a great actor. Her death was amusing but a bit excessive.
· Is no one aware with all these censors that a helicopter has crashed and blown up near this secret dish?!!?!
· Trevelyan alludes to it a couple of times, but the idea that all of this personal motive is, in fact, a robbery is also pretty great as the audience has been primed by movies like Die Hard
· Trevelyan just wants him dead. So he could just shoot him. Or one of those guards could do it and be done with this entire exercise
· Having a villain that knows Bond’s moves is good. The watch moment really is a gotcha moment.
· Bond takes a shot a petty Trevelyan settling old scores and gets hit with a devastating blow that only someone like Alec could know: “I might as well ask you if all the vodka martinis ever silence the screams of all the 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.” Most people focus on M’s “sexist misogynist dinosaur” speech but this one is more piercing. The movie doesn’t just call out him being a relic of the past; it identifies him as a lonely killing machine whose penchant for women is used in the same way alcohol is. He isn’t living some “ideal” life for men with sex all over the place. He is trying to close a gaping hole and it never works. He is broken and is a hurt person who hurts those around him. Simply fantastic delivery and moving the character along.
· Natalya lays Boris out. All the way out. That was a helluva hit.
· Would Boris be better if he used two hands to type.
· Convenient elevator available for haphazard escape!
· A front flip down a flight of stairs is a wild thing to do when being shot at. Every time I see it, its incredible.
· Also incredible: How Bond missed Trevelyan when he was tumbling down the stairs
· If this fight reminds you of From Russia With Love, it should. It was inspired by the train fight. Bean and Brosnan did their own stunts
· First of many instances when Brosnan’s Bond hurts his shoulder.
· Brosnan’s Bond also makes great use of the head butt throughout this entire movie; not exactly the most expected move of a pretty boy spy
· Where does this pilot go and does he get apprehended by the Marines?
· And what happened to that accent at the end for Bond…sneaky sneaky.
There you have it. Goldeneye! This is the first Bond movie I remember watching and it is such a 1995 movie. It’s also a complete banger. Moves the franchise into the modern era, updates/rounds out the world around the character, and is a well-paced piece of work. Below are the updated standings:
2) From Russia With Love
5) The Living Daylights
6) The Spy Who Loved Me
7) Live and Let Die
8) License to Kill
9) Dr. No
11) The Man with the Golden Gun
12) A View to a Kill
14) For Your Eyes Only
16) Diamonds Are Forever
18) Never Say Never Again