After the financial disappointment of Licence to Kill (to say nothing of some legal issues), James Bond was on hiatus from the big screen until 1995 when Pierce Brosnan took the mantle. A sort of blending of the other actors who had come before, Pierce brought an interesting take on the character that served him well over four films.
Goldeneye is a big, bold reintroduction to the world of 007 after a six year hiatus. It starts off with a spectacular teaser that gives us a breathtaking dam jump and a cool closing stunt as well. Talk about getting your money’s worth! Brosnan gets the “movie star” intro Dalton received and then some. After ten minutes of unrestrained action and a great main title sequence, coupled with an equally great title song, we are soon immersed back into the character of Bond. If Dr. No spent a great deal of time establishing who Bond is; Goldeneye spends an equal amount of time reminding us. For the first twenty seven minutes or so of the film we are with Bond for virtually every scene with the exception of the intro to Xenia Onatopp’s rather... enthusiastic form of murder.
On a side note, Onatopp is probably the highlight of the movie as Famke Janssen chews every single bit of the scenery she can find. Orgasmically killing people, wild eyes, hell she even manages to steal scenes where she's just standing while someone else is talking!
Granted the extended reintroduction might come off as padding since Bond is a fairly difficult fellow to forget once you’ve met him but I honestly have to admire a movie willing to put over an hour between major action set pieces, especially these days where you get some action films cut so quickly it really makes you wonder why the hell they bothered filming the entire sequence to begin with.
Goldeneye does a wonderful job of simply letting the story unfold while reintroducing us to James Bond. I especially like that while the world has changed, Bond is still the same cocky womanizer with razor sharp instincts and lethal cunning. The plot in general is a nice one, unlike other debuts for new Bonds the producers decided to have a rather over the top storyline as Bond fights to stop former friend and agent Alec (Sean Bean) from causing a massive financial collapse using a satellite that can cause an EMP. The execution of the plan is well done, with the exception of Alan Cumming as nerdy Boris Grishenko who just annoys me to no end. Although, he does get a very satisfying death scene at the end so I can be more forgiving on this point.
Better done is Natalya, the best of the Brosnan Bond Girls and the only one who isn’t either required to be especially talented. She knows computers but it doesn’t go past what she’s trained for. Izabella Scorpuco is gorgeous, does well with the role and is quite likable.
The rest of the cast is fun as Joe Don Baker provides a relaxed performance as Bond's CIA contact that makes the character far less annoying than he could have been. Another good performance comes from Robbie Coltrane as a Russian criminal who manages to be both threatening and funny. Judi Dench is also solid as the new M.
The reveal of Alec as the main bad guy is well done though it would have worked better had the marketing department not revealed this twist in the main trailer for the film. Still, Sean Bean plays the role well, exuding a great sense of bitter menace that makes for a splendid villain.
Once the film kicks into action mode we get a nice shootout with an even better tank chase that leads to a great climax. The final fight between Bond and Alec is stunning in its intensity and viciousness and it caps off a great return for 007 and an excellent debut for Pierce Brosnan.
I’ve always enjoyed Pierce’s take on the character. Granted it’s basically Connery’s coolness and Moore’s lighter touch with a dash of Dalton’s more serious tone but Brosnan does it quite well and presents a fine interpretation of the character.
While I feel he’s good throughout the film, there is one scene that I really want to highlight. After meeting up with Natalya, they are captured by Defense Minister Mishkin. While Bond is rather cavalier with Mishkin; that all changes when his nemesis General Orumov (who apparently killed Alec in the beginning of the film) barges in. The physical change we see in Bond’s stature and demeanor is truly cool as Brosnan goes from being rather laid back to “Danger Mode” in the span of half a second. It’s very subtle and works really well.
Brosnan captures who Bond should be and makes him work on every possible level. It’s a very good debut and, apart from some minor pacing issues, a very good movie.