Monday, March 26, 2012


(November 1995, U.S.)

In the very early 1990s, something tragic happened in the world of cinema, though no one would immediately be aware of if for a couple of years. What happened is that the James Bond film franchise came to a screeching halt for the first time since its inception in 1962. Since 1977, I'd come to rely on a brand new James Bond film every two years during the summer blockbuster season. Now, for the better part of six years, it appeared to be all over (WTF???). This, my friends, was my first real lesson in film franchise re-booting. In 1995, when I first saw the trailer for GOLDENEYE starring Pierce Brosnan (the ORIGINAL choice to play Bond after Roger Moore), I was, needless to say, overcome with tremendous excitement and anticipation. You know what happened after I finally saw it? I hated it! Really, no shit! I'd convinced myself that it was a terrible film and I thought I'd had a stack of what I thought were viable reasons: six years after the Cold War and Soviet Union dissolve and the Russians are STILL the enemy, severe alterations in the traditional James Bond musical themes because John Barry hasn't scored the film, a less than thrilling final scene and now "M" was a WOMAN! I repeat...WTF???

So lets jump ahead about six to eights months when I decide to give GOLDENEYE another chance on Pay-Per-View. Stop the presses! This new Bond film doesn't look quite so bad afterall. Brosnan is a tough, no-nonsense Bond who makes the hardcore action of it all the best I've seen since Sean Connery and also (for the time being, anyway) seems to be minimizing the silly puns that traditionally go with a Bond film. And what's this? Judi Dench appears to be damn good in the role of "M"! Suddenly it all makes sense to me. With a franchise reboot such as this, change is not only in the air, it's what makes perfect sense. Because if there's no change, then you're just watching the same 'ol, same 'ol all over again, and that's not always good.

So now lets talk about Bond girls. Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova (yes, ANOTHER Russian Bond girl!) is just about as good or bad as anyone else you may have seen (well, she's better than Dennise Richards, anyway!). Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp is another matter intirely. This is a truly serious evil bitch who appears to get tremendous sexual pleasure by killing people, particularly with her long, sexy bare legs. No wonder her first victim has a huge smile on his face when he dies! Bond being Bond, of course, can resist her sexual aggressiveness (HOW??) to get the job done and save the world once again. This is actually one of those rare times Bond DOESN'T sleep with the bad girl. And to just briefly mention Sean Bean as the Bond villian of former Agent 006, I have to say it's an original idea that gives his character a more disgruntled point of view as one who's chosen the evil side of life, as well as a man who can anticipate Bond's every move a little better than the next guy.

All in all, though, it's pure James Bond action, adventure, thrills and a formula that still works when it remembers not to get too damn stupid or far-fetched (or to let Madonna sing the opening theme song!). So, you see, sometimes just a little time and a more open frame of mind can turn a movie that previously sucked into one of the better films of the James Bond film franchise. Anything's possible, people.

Favorite line or dialogue:

Miss Moneypenny: "You know, this sort of behaviour could qualify as sexual harassment."
James Bond: "Really. What's the penalty for that?"
Moneypenny: "Someday, you'll have to make good on your innuendos."

1 comment:

  1. Like you I was conditioned to expect a new Bond film every couple of years. From 1973 (Live and Let Die) to 1989 (License to Kill), I went to every Bond film with my Best Friend as soon as it opened. The one exception was 1977, when my friend was in the Army and I could not wait to see "The Spy Who Loved Me", until his leave a month after it opened. I went with my girlfriend and then when he was back we all went together. During the long hiatus from 89 to 1995, my friend passed away. There was no Bond on the horizon when he died in 93, and I did not know how tough it would be to keep waiting, and even more so, how tough it would be to go without him when it got here. Goldeneye is a reboot and you are right that there are a lot of changes, but I saw them as the kind of changes that the series needed. I was suspicious of Judi Dench at first, but it is clear that the M becomes the job not the occupant and she worked well. When Timothy Dalton got the part for "The Living Daylights", I heaved a sigh of relief because I thought Brosnan was to youngish and slight to be effective as Bond. Nearly a decade later, he was more mature, a little thicker, and a grown up that you could believe was a tough international spy. I was not happy that trailers gave away the twist that 006 was the bad guy, and let's face it you knew that Sean Bean was not going to disappear from the movie after the first ten minutes. Also, they made us wait and wait for the Bond theme, and when it kicked in during the tank chase through Moscow, I smiled and laughed and felt warm all over. The girls were fine, Joe Don Baker shows up in a new role and is a kick for two minutes, and there are some good fight scenes. The one major disappointment I had was the use of CGI in the pre-title bungee jump sequence. In "The Spy Who Loved Me" they did a real ski-parachute jump. The fight in the sky with Bond thrown out of the plane in "Moonraker" was done with real stunts in the air. This was one of the first times that obvious CGI took me out of the movie. Other than that, I was really pleased and I know my friend Art would have been just as happy. I hate the longer wait between movies, but it might be a good idea to keep things fresh. We get Skyfall in November, thank goodness.