Fan Reviews - GoldenEye

Fan Reviews of the James Bond films can be submitted to MI6 via the Contribute page, or on the Reviews board of the "Keeping The British End Up" discussion forums. The views expressed on this page are those of the individual and not

"GoldenEye" by Luds

Following Dalton’s second outing as Bond in Licence To Kill, Cubby Broccoli faced multiple obstacles which held Bond away from the big screen. A falling out with long time Bond director John Glen, his deteriorating health, and legal battles between MGM/UA and Danjaq put the series on hold. Broccoli passed EON to his daughter Barbara and step-son Michael G. Wilson. It was only in August 1993 that news came out about the next movie, but in April 1994 a bomb was dropped: Timothy Dalton was refusing to come back for his 3rd outing as Bond, having been away from it for 5 years. A fresh start would be needed: a new director and a new Bond!

Australian Martin Campbell was chosen to direct GoldenEye based on a script written by Michael France. Two actors who screen-tested for Bond were also cast: Pierce Brosnan as Bond and Sean Bean as villain and ex-00 agent Alec Trevelyan. Two fairly unpolished and unproven ladies were also chosen for the Bond girls as Polish singer Izabella Scorupco was cast as Natalya Simonova, and Dutch model Famke Janssen as the villainess Xenia Onatopp. Campbell also opted to cast Joe Don Baker who portrayed the villain Brad Whitaker in The Living Daylights, an actor with whom he worked before, as ally Jack Wade. This move may have been made as the character of Felix Leiter had been greatly injured in Licence To Kill. Another gutsy move was to cast Judi Dench as M. Would the audience accept Bond’s boss being a woman?

GoldenEye was definitely a step in the right direction for the franchise, mixing the right amount of storyline, action, and character development. Bond’s former friend and 00-agent 006 faked his death and became leader of Janus, a Russian crime organization. Upon investigating Janus member Xenia Onatopp, Bond was quite shocked to learn 006 wasn’t dead: he was Janus himself! Bond’s personal feeling of revenge towards 006’s killer now became hatred towards Trevelyan. Sean Bean’s performance as Trevelyan was so fantastic that viewers all wanted Bond’s revenge! Janssen as Xenia Onatopp did a surprisingly good job and many consider her to be one of the very best femme fatale of the Bond franchise next to Luciana Paluzzi’s outstanding performance as Fiona Volpe in Thunderball. Izabella Scorupco and Pierce Brosnan managed to produce an interesting scene when Natalya wonders why Bond is so cold.

GoldenEye’s greatest strengths were certainly Michael France’s brilliant script, Martin Campbell’s direction and the outstanding cast. Even the smaller roles like Robbie Coltrane as Russian gangster Valentin Zukovsky, Gottfried John as Ourumov, and Tchéky Karyo as Russian Defense Minister Mishkin were well delivered. Needless to say, Desmond Llewelyn as Q was funny as always and provided Bond fans with the expected first-rate performance. Another element that plays an important part for a good Bond movie is the excellent choice of filming locations. From the Switzerland Dam jump to the Puerto Rico telescope sequence in the end, all locations seemed fresh and interesting. The usage of CGI hadn’t come into play enough to deteriorate the movie either. Most of the stunts were great. A few memorable scenes were the tank chase in St Petersburg, Bond escaping the Russian facility by catching a plane going off of a cliff, and the discovery of the hidden Cuban facility under a lake were very innovative and provided a feeling of freshness to the franchise. Daniel Kleinman created top notch main titles, following the work of the great Maurice Binder who died in 1991. Tina Turner’s GoldenEye song was terrific and simply worked wonders with the main titles.

There are very few low points in GoldenEye. The first that comes to mind is the lacklustre score. Eric Serra’s soundtrack is absolutely brutal, possibly the very worst in the franchise and it came to no surprise that he didn’t come back for the following movie. However, it must be said that the actual material used in the movie, mostly for important sequences was quite acceptable. His use of percussions was very interesting but the overall quality of the soundtrack is disappointing.

Another negative point is that even after re-writes and polishes of Michael France’s script by Jeffrey Caine, Kevin Wade, and Bruce Feirstein, it is blatantly obvious that the movie was written for Timothy Dalton: A story about friendship, guilt, and revenge. Pierce Brosnan was understandably out of his league trying to portray another actor’s Bond. Brosnan still managed to deliver an acceptable performance even if clearly completely lost in Bond’s boots. Sadly for Brosnan, his comfort level playing 007 would only go up as the script quality went down exponentially in the next 3 movies.

GoldenEye was a huge hit with audiences around the world. The 6 year drought made fans hungry for a new Bond movie. It is clear that Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli and Cubby Broccoli made the right choices by hiring Martin Campbell as new director and Michael France to write the story. Richard Maibaum and John Glen had been a great part of the series but had to go. New blood was needed to lead the Franchise in the 1990’s.


"GoldenEye" by SportzStooge007

Who is James Bond?

No one quite remembered him anymore. He was as distant a memory as the Cold War. Children really didn't know who he was (the younger the child, the less he knew), and the adults remembered him as the guy from those movies their parents would watch.

Yeah, it was a part of their childhood, but by the time they were old enough to follow the Bond films, the Bond films were for old people (Roger Moore being 56 during the filming of the incredibly boring AVTAK; and that mean guy making that movie that no one liked).

Making a new Bond movies wasn't going to be easy. Its not like they can just write a script, pick a Bond and make a movie. It wasn't that easy. Why? Because of the above question. No one knew who James Bond was anymore. He was old news, the last videos on the shelf at the video store. The Bond series had come and gone, and people were ready to move on. No, wait, people had already moved on.

So making a new Bond movie was like starting the series all over again. They were going to have to reintroduce Bond to everyone, and not only that, but make sure you make him compatible with the new time and new generation.

So you had to bring back the old character that dated back to 1962, but change him enough to make him modern enough for the audience in the mid 1990s.

And there was no room for error. None at all. The series had already essentially been written off, people kind of figured it died away with the poor performance of 1989's Licence To Kill at the box office. But they were willing to give OO7 a second shot.

But, if the movie bombed, OO7 would be officially dead. That would be it. Done.

That was the stage set for the debut of GoldenEye in 1995, starring Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, Isabella Scorupco as the beautiful Natalya Simonova, Sean Bean as Alec Trevelyan and Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp.

Plot: The plot of GE might be its weakest point, actually. Its a crazy megalomaniac trying to make it big, and getting revenge against against his former employers. That's actually the only novelty about this film's plot. Alec Trevelyan used to work for Mi6, and would partner up with Bond (he was agent OO6) and he was "betrayed" by OO7 and now wants revenge. Other than that, on the whole, this movie doesn't rely too much on its plot to make it fly, although its one of the more "plot heavy" Bond outings. Overall, a good effort, especially being they can't fall back on the Cold War, which was not only a recurring theme in Bond, but an essential part of the character. This film's plot successfully proved there can be Bond movies without the Cold War. Good job there. 7/10

Bond: Pierce Brosnan came into the role he had waited nearly a decade to get; the role of James Bond. From very early on he told people that his favorite Bond movie was GF, and that his mission was to give OO7 a deeper persona - something that had only been see in a Bond film once, in 1969s On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and that is seen as the dark horse of the Bond series. In GE, Pierce Brosnan, although he was in his mid 40s, still looked a bit too young to play Bond in this film. He still had that boyish charm, that, even though it was considered attractive, worked against him here, in my opinion. He played Bond well, a bit stiff, and at times a bit too cool, but came off as a Cold War spy with considerable ease. He's not a great actor, but his acting skills sufficed in this flick, and he proved that he could tackle the role. One of the finest scenes in the series is when Bond is on the beach, just staring out into the ocean, and Natalya comes. The dialogue there is probably the deepest Bond had gone in a very, very long time. Neither Timothy Dalton (although he could've) nor Roger Moore went there with the character. Not even Sean Connery ventured into that territory. Brosnan is great as Bond, no matter how you put it. He's a bit wooden at times, and sometimes seems to lack the self confidence and arrogant approach to the role that is needed for the role. But that will come in time, as it did with Moore and Connery, who both were a bit hesitant in the role in their first outings. By Brosnan's third film, he was going at it like an old pro. 9/10

Characters: This film features some of the more diverse set of characters and some of the best actors to play them in the Bond series, something that is just rare. Every actor gave it their all, I really have no complaints here. 9/10

Villain: Alec Trevelyan in trite. The plot itself is trite. But, heck, you wouldn't know it from just watching the movie! He plays his character as though its never been done before, even though its been done in and out of Bond for the past half century. Nice job, Mr. Bean. 10/10

Girls: Natalya Simonova is played as though she's something special. Which can be annoying, but it was needed. Personally, I'm convinced that she's a modern day Tracy, the only girl that is right for Bond. 10/10

Music: Well, here's where things get fuzzy. The music isn't bad, its just different. Which is why its hated all around the world. But I like it, appreciate it for what it is. But Eric Serra is not John Barry. 6/10

Direction: Excellent, excellent job by Martin Campbell and all his editors, especially after the dismal directing job done by John Glen throughout the 1980s. Glen made the films look dull, boring, the colours not rich, the flow of the movie to systematic. They looked like "made for TV" detective movies, which is not good for Bond. Martin Campbell took GE, and bought it back to Bond's roots, with the gloss, and glam that made the Bond films look attractive. Nice job here. 10/10

Script: Despite a weak plot, this film had a very rich and intelligent script, one that did exactly what it needed to do: reintroduce James Bond, while updating him slightly for the new generation and at the same time putting him in a new and original situation. This was done especially well here. Its not the best Bond movie ever, script wise, but considering how good the script was, and all the script had to be, it was great. It accomplished 95% of its goal, which is great, but not even I know what the other 5% of their goal was. 8/10

Overall, this turned out to be one of the best Bond films ever, bring Bond back into the public eye. Everyone does their job right, and Bond is back in action.


"GoldenEye" by Agent JM7

The year is 1995. The world has been deprived of a Bond film for six years following the release of Licence to Kill. Pierce Brosnan has now stepped into the shoes of 007, in what promises to be the one of the best films of the series, GoldenEye - now produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, due to their fathers diminishing health.

The film has a great plot. Nine Years after 006 is killed in the USSR, 007 is informed a space weapon, GoldenEye, that has been stolen. He is sent after the chief culprit, General Ourumov. Bond finds however that the villain network is deeper than it looks, and leads him into a trap, against the villain, Agent 006. You have to admit, GoldenEye scores on almost every level of satisfaction. Something that is easily recognisable is that Pierce Brosnan makes a great Bond, with some saying he was the best Bond since Sean Connery. You can see this in the first half hour when Bond enters the gorgeous locale of Monte Carlo Casino. A scene that is full of class and elegance, and harks back to the days of the early films with smoky Casinos. It is done particularly well with the dialogue, and in a way, sets the tone for Pierce Brosnan’s Bond. But it also has another purpose, introducing us to Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), just one of the girls...

Xenia is the first Bond girl that the audience encounters on screen, and we are quite perplexed to know at first which side she is on: Good? Bad? Somewhere in between? It turns out she works for the villain. One the other hand, we have Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco), a gorgeous Russian computer programmer who helps Bond defeat the GoldenEye system. Scorupco is a great actress too, and pulls of the emotional sensitivity that Simonova has at the beginning of her role.

The villains are also very sinister in their different ways. Sean Bean makes a wonderful Trevelyan. However, a slight complaint by many is how he seems to change from a wealthy middle class accent to a broad Yorkshire accent in some scenes, but apart from that, he's great. Gottfried John also presents the audience with another pivotal villain, but somebody that plays a part in the bigger network, and not providing the main threat. However, a supposed villain, Boris Grishenko, is only given to add a bit of comedy to the film, much like "Sharkey" in Licence to Kill.

The locations also give the film some added buzz. As well as Monaco, we have the amazing city of St. Petersburg, which gives the backdrop for many of the Act II scenes. And towards the end of the film, we see Puerto Rico doubling for Cuba and the Arecibo Observatory for Janus HQ. As well as the glamour, the darkness of the USSR factory in the pre-title sequence give the balance of gloom and glamour. The locations play a vital part in giving GoldenEye its identity among the films.

Cinematically the film succeeds too. The shots are done well with fast-paced, but not outlandish action. And the production design achieve a goal in that they make the sets stunning and sophisticated at the same time. A particular example of this is the very sexy sauna scene which features Bond almost being crushed.

In the end, GoldenEye is a massive triumph for the franchise. It makes the money to get it back on its feet again, whilst appealing to a totally new generation of Bond fans, the fans that would ensue the financial success on the next few films.


"GoldenEye" by Lethal Weapon

Following a six-year drought from License to Kill (1989) (due to legal issues) Bond fans all over the world were eagerly anticipating a new James Bond movie. Timothy Dalton had stepped out of the role and the new star to gain worldwide fame was to be Pierce Brosnan who formerly starred in Remington Steele, a 1980s TV series now available on DVD. Most fans were most likely pleased with Brosnan, due to the majority of fans having a dislike for Timothy Dalton’s Bond, one closer to the one of Ian Fleming’s novels.

The movie starts off superbly with James Bond (played by Pierce Brosnan) and Alec Trevelyan (006; played by Sean Bean) infiltrating a Russian Chemical Weapons facility. The opening shot of James Bond leaping off the Dam was actually a world record – the dam was around the range of about 600 feet, if I remember correctly. Once 007 and 006 rendezvous, they head off to the bottling room. Shortly after their arrival, the alarm goes off, and everything goes into action mode. Seconds later, the room is flooded with Russian guards and Colonel Ourumov (played by Gottfried John), a henchman of ‘Janus’, the villain revealed about halfway into the movie. The mission ultimately results in the death of 006 by Ourumov, and the facility goes kablooey as 007 makes his escape in a plane waiting outside. This sets the stage for the rest of the movie.

Colonel Arkady Ourumov (later promoted to the rank of General) seems to be the main villain at the beginning of the movie, but we later learn that it is someone named ‘Janus’ (the name of the two-faced Roman god). I shall not reveal his identity here, for the surprise is a great one, when Janus finally steps out of the shadows and reveals to James Bond, his actual identity. Let’s just say that a villain along the lines of Janus (a former MI6 operative) has never been done before – the scriptwriters had a great sense off originality. However, it leaves a gigantic plot hole in the movie – but it does not detract greatly from the overall movie experience. But then Purvis and Wade came along, which pretty much sent the rest of the Brosnan movies into a downward spiral.

The last time we saw a henchwoman was with Fiona Volpe in Sean Connery’s 1965 film, Thunderball. Here, they return. Xenia Onatopp, an ally of Janus and Ourumov strangles people with her thighs – one piece in the puzzle of obtaining the Tiger helicopter, a helicopter shielded from the effects of the Goldeneye. Xenia Onatopp is later involved with James Bond in his attempt to locate and identify Janus. Just like all other henchwomen, she is eventually killed.

Goldeneye also introduced a new character. This new character was both liked and disliked by the fan community. M, now played by Judi Dench is Bond’s new boss. She doesn’t take to Bond’s womanizing and criticizes him as ‘a relic of the cold war’. Nice lady, isn’t she? It appears that she’ll stay onto the Bond series for a long time to come.

What would a James Bond movie be without Bond girls? A Bond girl by the name of Natalya Fyodorovna Simonova (played by Izabella Scorupco) is a systems programmer at a secret underground base in Severnaya, or was, after a little something occurs with the henchman (as well as henchwoman) of the series, and a secret weapons system code-named ‘Goldeneye’. Natalya eventually escapes a bit later after the crisis at the Severnaya and eventually meets James Bond trapped in a helicopter rigged to blow in about a minute. They are later arrested after escaping (well, what else did you expect?) in which good ol’ Ourumov appears in an interrogation room with them, eventually resulting in the abduction of Natalya and Bond giving chase in a Soviet tank in the streets of Russia.

Later, with the help of CIA agent Jack Wade (who makes brief appearances every now and then to help Bond out) (played by the same person who played Whittaker in Timothy Dalton’s 1987 film, The Living Daylights) and former systems programmer Natalya team up to take Janus and his organization down, who plan to use the Goldeneye against anyone they please. After targeting Severnaya, they decide to move onto London, after robbing the major banks. James Bond later criticizes Janus as a petty thief, which Janus does not take to lightly. Eventually, James Bond, with the help of Natalya stop Janus’ evil plan of doom and save the world. Bond gets the girl in the end and that’s pretty much it.

All in all, the six-year wait that Bond fans had to endure to see another Bond film was rewarded with the only good Pierce Brosnan James Bond film Pierce Brosnan ever acted in…if that even makes sense. All the acting is superb and as time went by, M portrayed by Judi Dench became more accepted by the Bond community. After Goldeneye there came a dark age of Bond films with people such as Purvis and Wade taking over the Bond scripts, creating quite possibly the worst dialogue I have ever seen in a movie – check out Brosnan’s last film, Die Another Day. Perhaps they’ll redeem themselves someday… Unfortunately, Brosnan didn’t go out with a bang in his last films – typical of most Bond actors.


"GoldenEye" by JamesC

"Bond... come back alive"

It's June 1994 and it has been almost five years since audiences were last treated to a Bond adventure. Timothy Dalton has kissed goodbye to his three picture Bond contract after two films and the world has changed. The Berlin wall has fallen, communism has disintegrated and the Cold War is over. With John McClane, Rambo and so many other action heroes permeating the genre, many felt that Bond had had his day. Goldeneye, thankfully, proved the naysayers wrong. The task was for Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli (the producers, taking over from an ailing Cubby Broccoli) to reinvent Bond for the nineties audience. The public welcomed Pierce Brosnan as 007 number five and within a year he would be deemed 'the best Bond since Connery'. Whether this is true or not it is undeniable that Brosnan's debut as Bond is as assured a return for Fleming's secret agent as everyone could have hoped for.

Daniel Kleinman has modified the traditional Maurice Binder gun barrel to give it a 3D effect and created a memorable title sequence playing on the fall of Communist Russia and dictatorship whilst taking care to incorporate the titillating images of scantily clad women with guns now synonymous with the world of the Bond titles. It is Eric Serra's score that proved most controversial with its electronic synthesizers arguably tearing the traditional Bond theme to shreds in favour of sporadic melodies and musical jumps that feel somewhat out of place in the Bond universe. There are some classic action cues but the best thing about the music in Goldeneye is the brilliant Tina Turner belting out Bono and The Edge's lyrics in the title song in true fashion reminiscent of the mighty Shirley Bassey in the early Bond years.

First and foremost, Pierce Brosnan gives a strong debut performance as the secret agent. He has the wit and self deprecating nature of Bond to a tee even if he does at times appear a little young to play the spy - Brosnan was 42 in Goldeneye though you would never guess it! Backing up Brosnan are the strongest supporting cast of any of his Bond films. Famke Janssen is a brilliant femme fatale and Izabella Scorupco is a gorgeous and resourceful leading lady who is crucial to the story and forms a strong relationship with Bond. There was a time when I felt Sean Bean's portrayal of 006 Alec Trevelyan and Janus was a 'play it safe' performance but on further viewing it is clear that he plays this assertive, conflicted character with great nuance and vengeance. Brosnan and Bean work very well together on screen - the break in to the Arkangel plant in the pre-credits demonstrates their buddy relationship brilliantly which makes the betrayal all the more convincing in the film's second half. The only weak casting link is Alan Cumming, hamming up the unnecessary role of Boris Grishenko. The character is played for laughs and comic relief but rarely generates either.

The star of the picture is both the sparkling dialogue from Michael France - particularly between Bond and the new M (played effortlessly by Dame Judi Dench) and in the graveyard confrontation between Bond and Janus, but also New Zealand-born director Martin Campbell. Here is a man who it would be hell to work with due to his no nonsense approach to directing and short fuse but nevertheless a man with a keen eye and enough understanding of the Bond character that he can reinvent the wheel with a new Bond not once but twice, most recently in 2006 with Daniel Craig's Bond debut in origin story Casino Royale. Both are conflicted Bonds - Brosnan's for the guilt in watching Trevelyan 'die' and then in having to hunt him down, as well as adapting to changes in society in the nineties, Craig's in falling in love and being betrayed by the woman he was prepared to give up his life for.

With Goldeneye fans could ultimately relax. Quite the antithesis to M's insistence that Bond is a "relic of the Cold War", 007 ignited the box office on release in November 1995 making more than $350 million domestically, the best Bond film gross since Thunderball 30 years previously. James Bond had returned, and in hindsight, Cubby must be smiling from the grave. An impressive debut for Brosnan and a welcome return for the world's greatest secret agent. It is perfectly justifiable to say that had Goldeneye failed at the box office we would not now be nearly celebrating half a century of James Bond. 'The trick is to quit while you're still ahead" suggests Onatopp. "That's one trick I've never learned" quips Bond. Quite!


"GoldenEye" by Louis Armstrong

Let's start out with my favourite and least favourite elements of this film: the action, and the actor. As far as Bond action goes, it doesn't get much better than this. The pre-title sequence, escape from the Soviet archives and the chase & fisticuffs in the finale are scenes where I can just sit back and have a good time. Eric Serra's largely percussive music compliments these scenes well, providing a tremendous tempo for the editing to work off of. His roaring timpani Bond theme has to be heard to be believed. The tension ebbs and flows in the action as well, moments of relief frequently interrupting the storms of gunning and running. However, I take exception to the overly-praised tank chase, which I find too much of a throwback to the cute, pointless destruction featured in the Moore films. Adding insult to injury is a by-the-numbers, slowly-progressing Bond theme. It would've been better to just let the tune blare immediately when Bond first crashes through the wall. It's not like we don't know how it goes by now, and we would like to bask in it!

Speaking of throwbacks, Mr. Brosnan joins the Bond family here. He landed the role because of his success on a popular-in-America TV comedy from the 80s. As you might be able to infer, he shares little in common, persona-wise, with Connery's Bond - if anything, the intent was to get him as an extension of the Moore brand. Which I'm not sure the series needed. After Dalton's two films, hearing Bond breathe out one-liners such as 'I suppose that depends on what kind of weapon you're talking about disarming', like he's Mike Myers or some kid pretending to seduce a Bond girl, is a bit upsetting. How is his actual performance, though? Too flamboyant for a hard-edged guy like Bond - take a look at his body language in the casino scene. I just want to groan when that mysterious silhouette in the back of Xenia's car sits forward to reveal a grinning punster of a Bond. He consistently fails to impress as the character, bringing nothing notable to the table except a pretty face for the camera to focus on and looking severely out-of-place amongst the talent around him. But Brosnan's not a complete waste of time, as he brings an enjoyable youthful energy to scenes such as the car chase.

Let me complain some more. The script tries too hard to be clever, with many insignificant phrases (such as 'boys with toys' and 'closing time, James') being thoughtfully said once and then referenced to excess throughout the film. This is honestly a gripe of mine. It would've had far more impact to repeat the 'For England' line just once, at the climax. But Trevelyan has to spout it in the middle of the movie, too. You can't milk his disdain for Bond the same way twice. (I know, it's smart to remind the audience halfway through of the line if they want us to remember it. But we could really do without these cheesy 80s action movie lines in the first place.) The villain does this with something he himself said earlier as well (the line about few people caring if Bond died), basically re-wording an old sinister thought. This manages to strip what he said in the past of memorability while boring us in the present. 006's quoting of things Bond said to him nine years ago, a cheap trick, left me feeling empty. Anyway, I was too busy thinking up better one-liners. The film dares you to.

Ambitious themes of betrayal and coping with a post-Cold War world aren't dealt with satisfyingly and there isn't anything special made of 006 vs. 007 besides adolescent 'I was always better than you' cliches. Xenia and 006's working relationship is never addressed, which I find odd as they are driven in very different ways. But I don't care too much. Just don't go in expecting anything too deep. The film's use of Russian icons and images is interesting. Judi Dench does her best turn as M. Sean Bean, Robbie Coltrane, Izabella Scorupco and Famke Janssen are all good fun to watch. The latter two are seriously attractive ladies and make for some of the more fetching Bond girls this side of the 60s. GoldenEye's lighting is generally stylized and dark, enhancing the slow-burning espionage feel and giving us a sense that Bond isn't dealing with entirely cartoon Soviets for once. A breath of fresh air after John Glen's fill-lighting throughout the 80s. The film's action sequences are shot and played with panache and rarely upstage the story. The miniatures of Trevelyan's base at the end are particularly impressive, a great villain hideout in the lush Cuban jungle. I should have more to say about GoldenEye - it's pretty strong entertainment. I can't come up with many things I love about this film, but there's not much I loathe either. Voila, I'm done typing this.