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.