Once again the pleasure was all yours (1995)

Believing himself responsible for the death of 006 (Sean Bean) during a raid on a Soviet chemical weapons facility, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) returns to London where he is confronted by a new M (Judi Dench) who wants him to promise not to go off on some pointless vendetta. Tasked only to investigate, he sets off for Monte Carlo to follow Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), a suspected member of Colonel Arkady Ourumov (Gottfried John) the Janus crime syndicate. He is too late to prevent Onatopp from stealing a prototype helicopter, however, and she uses it to massacre the staff of a control centre in order to acquire the access codes for the dual GoldenEye satellites. Teaming up with the sole survivor (Izabella Scorupco), Bond pursues Onatopp only to discover that she’s not working for who he thinks she is, but a far more familiar face.

Before embarking on this BlogalongaBond, I don’t think there is any shame in admitting that Pierce Brosnan was my favourite 007 and Goldeneye my favourite 007 film. After all, with the exception of various Channel 4 programmes listing movie moments that mustn’t be missed and Daniel Craig’s turn as James Bourne, Brosnan’s run was really the only Bond I knew. And in many ways I can still understand why: not least because it was the one that I grew up with, the one that – thanks to the timely release of the second best game N64 game ever made – I was even able to be.

The seventeenth James Bond film to be released (and reviewed – but hey, who’s counting), Martin Campbell’s Goldeneye is also responsible for a number of others firsts: It’s the first to cast a female actress as M (none other than the character-defining Judi Dench), the first draw its story not from the source material of Ian Fleming but the mind of Michael France, the first Bond movie to be filmed after the dissolution of the Societ Union brought on by the end of the Cold War, and the first to star an Irish actor in the role of MI6 agent 007.

For a franchise that had become infamous for recycled plots, repetitive villains and forgettable characters, change was no bad thing. Godeneye feels remarkably fresh, even today, with Brosnan distancing himself from his forebears whilst simultaneously taking on board the best character traits of each. He’s less rapey than Connery, better dressed than Moore, funnier than Dalton and slicker than Craig. And he’s not a former Austrailian model. In fact, he’s the perfect Bond for the 90s, a sort of homogenised product that offends nobody while entertaining everyone.

Dench shines as the cold and calculating M (“Unlike the American government, we prefer not to get our bad news from CNN”), proving the perfect antidote for this new, cooler incarnation of James Bond – so much so that you can’t help but miss her come the second and third act. Robbie Coltrane is also a pleasure as, in my opinion, one of the most memorable recurring characters outside of MI6. Goldeneye‘s real triumph is in its choice of villain, however, with the double team of Sean Bean’s rogue agent and Famke Janssen’s sadomasochist providing some very equal-opportunities antagonism.

For me, however, it is the plot that really works. Free from Fleming’s overwritten and overcomplicated storylines, Goldeneye finally boasts a narrative that is compatible with the new post-MTV attention span. So much so that Nintendo were able to adapt it for their new console without leaving much of the important stuff out at all. From 006’s betrayal, to the attainment and deployment of the GoldenEye EMP, we have a nuts and bolts story that fleshes out our villain and leads to a deliriously exciting final set piece with minimal dead henchmen and almost no abandoned subplots.

I love Goldeneye. I always have. And while with hindsight I can now claim A View To Kill or The Living Daylights as my favourite instalments, there will always be a special place in my heart for the one where James Bond motorcylces off a cliff, free-falls into a crashing plane and flies it to safety – all before the opening credits. Once again the pleasure was all mine.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

4 Responses to Once again the pleasure was all yours (1995)

  1. Pingback: May 2012 – It appears to be some sort of cake « popcornaddict

  2. Stath says:

    Brosnan is actually Irish, not American.

  3. vinnieh says:

    Great review, this is one of the first movies of the Bond series that I remember watching.

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