Pierce Brosnan was my James Bond when I was a kid. He had the dark hair, blue eyes, and ability to ruin anything Q Branch gave him. He was perfect. Even his cheesy puns were a Bond classic, and once he defeated the bad guys, it didn’t matter how ridiculous he sounded. I didn’t think anything would change that until I saw Daniel Craig in Casino Royale (but that’s a story for tomorrow.) He was a card player, a shaken martini drinker, and a womanizer the likes of which Roger Moore could only dream. Without a doubt, his movies are classic.
Brosnan was highly considered for the role of Bond years earlier, but it ultimately went to Dalton due to Brosnan’s previous commitments. In a way, this was good. Dalton changed Bond from a lover to a fighter. Brosnan seemed to take the best from all these prior actors and combine it to make the ultimate Bond – one who looked the part, but took some of Dalton’s darkness, Connery’s charm, Moore’s puns and gadgets, and Lazenby’s … um… knack for attracting bad scripts? Although those first three characteristics are the reason his first three films were so successful, the fourth clenched his last movie Die Another Day as The Most Disappointing Bond Movie Ever. This really wasn’t Brosnan’s fault – the plot was bad, the lines were worse, and reliance on Bond as merely a gadget-wielder was at an all-time high (Yes, that was an Octopussy pun).
There isn’t much I can say about Goldeneye. This movie is amazing. The video game is even better. Brosnan and Sean Bean have a terrific chemistry, and Famke Janssen is unrecognizably disturbing. (Even the Phoenix is running for cover from Xenia Onatopp.) The sauna fight scene is classic. Watch this movie!
Daniel Craig may be my favorite actor to portray James Bond and Sean Connery provided the quintessential Bond performances, but Pierce Brosnan will always be my first Bond. Goldeneye was the first Bond film I ever saw and I watched it constantly. For a while it was the only Bond film I had ever seen as it took me a while to see the other Brosnan movies. Watching this movie is always a treat but it is a bit better after having watched so many other Bond films this week. Goldeneye plays with several Bond tropes that I’m sure I wasn’t aware of when I was a kid (and probably seem obvious to most Bond-lovers). Probably the funniest example shows up early in the film when Q chastises Bond for picking up a sandwich and yells “Don’t touch that! …. That’s my lunch!” The line is funny regardless of the context but works better after seeing Q scold Bond for holding innocuous objects which turn out to be deathtraps. A similar gag pops up in the film’s final third when Bond plants a secret bomb only for the villain to spoil the plan by disarming Bond’s wristwatch trigger. Of course an explosion still takes place but having fun with old spy tricks keeps the film interesting while still honoring the genre.
As for Bond himself, Brosnan provides an excellent lead and (in my humble, humble opinion) is the best actor to play the character since Connery decades prior. His action work is as good (or better) than Timothy Dalton but doesn’t sacrifice on the charm. Plus that charm is more palatable than Roger Moore’s quippy one-liners and not goofy like George Lazenby. With such a strong freshman showing, it’s a shame that Brosnan’s later Bond films fell so flat. With better scripts his tenure could have almost matched Craig’s work. It doesn’t hurt to have one of the finest (and most realistic) villains to play across. As great as Brosnan proves to be, there are times where he is totally outclassed by Sean Bean’s excellent performance.
– There are some insane logic issues with this movie. The most obvious being: (1) Chainlink fences and metal grates are both able to deflect 100% of bullets shot in their direction, thus ensuring Bond is never hurt. (2) While driving a tank, Bond is able to keep pace with a car and even stops to adjust his tie and still never falls behind. (3) In this same super tank, Bond somehow leaves a train station at the same time as a train but is able to beat said train to a tunnel seemingly miles away.
– I’ve only seen a handful of Bond films but Sean Bean’s character has to be one of the worst villains in terms of letting Bond escape when Bond really should be killed. I mean you trap him in a helicopter with an ejector seat? Tell him a bomb is about to go off and give the exact amount of time before it explodes? Chase him down a perilous ladder instead of attacking him from safely above and/or locking him out to die on the antenna?
– I admit that I am completely incapable of separating my love for this movie with my love for the Goldeneye video game and for Sean Bean.
– Two sequences in the film are remarkably similar to sequences in The Empire Strikes Back. The first is the reveal of Sean Bean’s character as Janus which plays out very similarly to Luke’s dream about Darth Vader when he trains with Yoda. The second (and this may be less convincing) is the final fight on the antenna which always reminded me of Luke holding on for dear life under the Cloud City.