Brosnan’s first outing as Bond is easily his best, but also one of the best of the series yet. It has the perfect mix of humour and darkness, not overly serious like Dalton’s films, not overly funny like Moore’s. Not only is it a new Bond, but of course it is a new era, Cold War over, girl power starting etc. All of these themes are covered- we have a villain who simply wants revenge, while surrounded by the fading images of the Soviet Union, and several strong female characters who make Bond earn his money rather than simply making them do what he tells them to. M is dead-long live M- as Judi Dench takes over as Bond’s boss, making sure he knows exactly who is in charge. Natalya, a computer programmer is feisty and capable of surviving many fights on her own, while Xenia Onotopp is like nothing Bond has faced before, and probably the best female Bond villain so far. No, definitely the best.

The story begins a few years in the past, with Bond and his fellow agent and friend Alec Trevelyn tackling the evil General Oromov in Russia. However, Trevelyn is killed and Oromov escapes, leaving Bond with another lost friend. Flash forward a few years, and Bond is investigating Oromov’s whereabouts, and his involvement with a new uprising in Russia. Bond investigates, finding Natalya along the way, as her Satellite base was destroyed in a missile attack by Oromov and Onotopp, leaving her the only survivor. Bond hears that Oromov’s boss wishes to meet with him, and in a shock revelation, we see that it is Trevelyn! He wants revenge for his family’s treatment by Britian, as he was a Lienz Cossack. Bond is horrified. The race begins to stop Trevelyn as his new warhead becomes functional, and Bond has to decide whether he can kill his friend. ‘For England James?’ Trevelyn asks, leading Bond to question his part in Britain’s game- he, like all the agents are after all, simply pawns, no matter what they might think or achieve.

The chemistry between Bond and Bean is excellent, making Goldeneye one of the most emotional films to date. He genuinely seems to like Natalya, and the scene where she tells him he will always be alone is both stark and beautiful, and one of the best scenes in the Bond series. Oromov is a great villain also, Onotopp is so good we almost want her to kill Bond, and Alan Cummings as Boris adds some comic relief. In the game, everyone loves killing Boris. The song is OK, the revamped Bond theme is not as good as the original, but the incidental music is the best since You Only Live Twice.

There are many memorable set pieces and stunts including the Dam jump, the plan jump, the Tank chase, and the final fight, and makes you wonder how Die another Day could have been so awful. The film is almost flawless, as the game was, and should be considered as one of the best films of the nineties.

The DVD has all the features you would expect- documentaries about a new Bond for a new era, deleted scenes, and other interesting bits and pieces. The restoration work on picture and sound is, naturally, without fault.

As always, please leave your comments on the movie and the review- was this the best Bond for a  long time or was it a sign that Brosnan wasn’t going to be a great secret agent? Don’t forget to check out my other Bond reviews in the DVD section.

Die Another Day

Die Another Day

Easily, by far the worst Bond film yet, truly awful, with almost nothing going for it. What turned out to be Brosnan’s last Bond film this should have been much better, but right from the start we were dreading it would turn out like this.

Let’s see where they went wrong- Plot: Tries to be smart, ends up making little sense. A blatant attempt at pandering to today’s younger audiences, and succumb to the modern definition of cool. This involves retro stuff- nods to past films, updated technology, stupid looking cars and modern music etc. This may have always been the way with the series, but here it just goes too far and ends up looking horrendous. Script- Nothing but innuendo. Nothing. No attempt at anything else, more akin to a Carry On movie than a Bond movie. Music- Madonna’s ‘song’ is the worst Bond song ever, by a long way. Bad Guys- Some guy who fences, and some other guy with a strange face. Neither pose any threat, neither seem evil, not worthy of a spot in Eastenders. Girls-Madonna’s pointless cameo further reduces her status to inglorious levels, once an interesting artist, now some woman you would avoid on the street. Halle Berry as Jinx, yes she’s pretty, but an average actress, flavour of the month, and a very weak character obviously created in the hope of a spin off. She is apparently a strong female character because she knows how to kick people, use a gun and show off her body-well done, i’m sure intelligent women around the world are enamoured by her. Miranda Frost- instantly forgettable character and Pike’s performance is pretty bad too, hamming up the terrible dialogue. She is only there so Bond can have a ‘steamy’ scene. Stunts, action, gadgets- Probably the best part, there are plenty of set pieces, and the intro is pretty good. But some dodgy CG, combined with the other faults mean the experience of watching is hollow, we do not feel any excitement or tension. All that remains is a series of explosions flashing in front of our already switched off minds.

So, where to now for Bond? Rumours of a younger reincarnation did the rounds after this film- that would have surely brought in tonnes of cash, but would probably mean more teen fluff. Contrary to what many believe, Bond is a character of great depth and emotion, he is not just a guy who shags women and saves the world. He is a haunted, lonely figure, at odds with himself and his actions, with a tragic past, but the fact he must do his job means he will never escape. Remember Goldeneye?- Bond-‘It’s what keeps me alive’, Natalya- ‘No, it’s what keeps you alone’. We see nothing of the real Bond in this attempt at a film. Only Cleese, Dench etc rescue it slightly.

I tend not to write negative reviews here, as I do not want to spend any time writing about things I dislike (as I will have already wasted time watching, reading, or listening to it in ther first place) but as I am reviewing all of the Bond films I had to bring myself to typing this. The film-makers needed to seriously rethink what they have done here, and what they should do to this much loved character in the future. Luckily, they succeeded with the brilliant Casino Royale. This however, is a hideous film by any standards- an overly camp mess devoid of structure, a kick in the face of the franchise, and more like a straight to DVD action film starring Big Brother rejects.

I only give this 2 stars because the extra features are good, although strangely they are inferior to the 1 disc Special Edition. It seems the disease caused by the film has spread to the DVD.

Feel free to comment on the movie and the review- was I too harsh and is this one of the better Bonds of recent times? Check out my other Bond reviews in the DVD section.