GoldenEye (1995)
GoldenEye (1995)

Genre: Action and Spy Running Time: 2 hrs. 10 min.

Release Date: November 17th, 1995 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Martin Campbell Actors: Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Famke Janssen, Izabella Scorupco, Joe Don Baker, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane, Gottfried John, Alan Cumming, Tcheky Karyo, Desmond Llewelyn, Samantha Bond, Michael Kitchen, Serena Gordon




t’s been six years since 007 appeared theatrically, held up due to legal disputes and complications. But times have changed, and the need for a serious, charismatic, action-packed secret agent has returned. The actor has also undergone a swap, though he regains much of the tongue-in-cheek dialogue of Roger Moore’s version (lightening up on the severity of Timothy Dalton); the music has taken on a synthesized, harsher edge; and the visuals are crisper, cleaner, and significantly modernized. The opening sequence features a spectacular bungee jump off a colossal dam, followed by arguably the most outrageous stunt ever devised for a brief introduction to a new Bond (involving multiple vehicles falling from a cliff). The repeated looks of disbelief from the enemy general are priceless. Unfortunately, all of this segues into one of the absolute worst title songs (performed by Tina Turner), fueled by an incredibly bizarre set of graphics (designed by Daniel Kleinman instead of the usual Maurice Binder work).

At the Arkangel Chemical Weapons Facility in the USSR, MI6 Commander James Bond (Pierce Brosnan), codenamed 007, convenes with Agent 006, Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean), to annihilate the plant. Alec is killed in the process, but Bond escapes. Nine years later, he’s assigned to investigate Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen, sporting a peculiar Russian accent, a ludicrous name, and literally killer thighs – a completely unique, murderous weapon), an ex-Soviet fighter pilot with ties to the Janus arms-dealing organization. Bond is just in time to watch her steal the technologically advanced Eurocopter Tiger helicopter at its inaugural demonstration. The vehicle is equipped with stealth technology and is immune to electromagnetic interference and radiation. This makes it the perfect hardware to infiltrate the Space Weapons Control Centre in Severnaya, Russia, where rogue General Ourumov (Gottfried John, sporting the most consistently realistic reactions of any Bond nemesis) swipes the controls to the secret space-based satellite weapon GoldenEye – capable of delivering a massive electromagnetic pulse – before obliterating the outpost.

Lone survivor Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco), a lowly Level 2 programmer, is the only witness to the crime – identified and then hunted by both Ourumov and British Intelligence. Bond is sent to St. Petersburg to track her down and to discover the whereabouts and intentions of the traitorous Janus mafia, linked to the fanatical Russian general. Bond and Natalya are seized numerous times (but always manage to escape) before tracing Janus’ base of operations to Cuba, where the command center for the second GoldenEye weapon is hidden.

Bond recaptures his cavalier attitude towards life, joined by Q’s (Desmond Llewelyn) upgraded weapons division and his own welcome comic relief. Bond also gets to spout repartee with just about everyone he converses with, including the crotchety new MI6 leader M (Judi Dench), Bond villainess Xenia, an evaluation officer, CIA agent Jack Wade (Joe Don Baker, returning to the series in a different role), ex-KGB agent Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane), and the new Moneypenny (Samantha Bond). The dialogue correspondingly retains the light-hearted intrigue of Moore’s later films (viewers even learn that Bond’s parents died in a climbing accident), while attracting the more serious predicaments of Connery’s earlier works. And the special effects nicely outdo all previous efforts.

Other asides aren’t nearly as momentous. Minutes are spent showing off a race between the iconic Aston Martin and a Ferrari; inside man Boris (Alan Cumming) and his flamboyant idiosyncrasies, along with Xenia and her orgiastic reactions to murder (even acknowledged as disturbing by General Ourumov), are ludicrously cartoonish; the sympathetic plight of Bond girl Natalya is unnecessarily lengthy; and the exposition elaborating on the continual location changes from one hemisphere to the other (coupled with several fading shots that help to relocate the heroes or pass time) trip up the pacing. But the action scenes have gotten notably better, with ambitious stunts and more daring set pieces. The tank chase through St. Petersburg is perhaps the greatest action scene in any Bond film to date, combining the theme music, historic locations, massive firepower, unequalled demolition, a touch of wit, and an undeniable panache. While Brosnan’s 007 isn’t as fresh or original as many might have hoped for, “GoldenEye” is still very much a James Bond feature – and one of the most adventurous of the bunch.

– Mike Massie

  • 8/10