Goldeneye Review

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James Bond (Brosnan) is sent to a Russia that is still feeling the effects of the Soviet breakup to investiagte the theft of Goldeneye - a pulse emitting, jamming device that orbits the earth. Running into danger, chases and girls, he finds that the real villain is someone much closer to home.


Considering the identity crisis the Bond series suffered in the 80s when competitors like Indiana Jones and Arnie were denting its credentials, this movie is pleasantly sure of itself. If you love the Bond format, it's all here: an amazing stunt before the opening credits; a semi-surreal title sequence with naked women and broken statues, and Tina Turner belting out a song; a car chase involving an Aston Martin and a Ferrari in Monaco; a suggestive face-off with the villainess over a game of baccarat at the Casino Royale; a megalomaniac mastermind with an earth-orbiting super weapon; four or five top-notch action sequences; and - best of all - an explosive finale in which the villain's underground base is blown to pieces.

Martin Campbell, brought in to get the series back on track, gives more than his best. It is impossible, especially if you've grown up with Bond, not to be seduced by the loving recreation of the old style, albeit with topical politicking about the break-up of the USSR (one big confrontation takes place in a yard filled with abandoned, broken statues of Lenin and Stalin) and a gruff new M (Judi Dench) who chides Bond for being a sexist dinosaur. Moneypenny (Samantha Bond) even suggests that all that suave stuff might be considered sexual harassment in the 90s. Yet following a series of TV movies and straight-to-video-duds, Pierce Brosnan, Lazenby-handsome as he is, is still finding his feet as Bond. He may not be up to the standard of Sean Connery before or after 1969 (then again, who could be?); on this first outing, he doesn't appear to have the heart for 007 (although to be fair, neither did Roger Moore) and looks awkward when the script tries to probe the psyche of Ian Fleming's hero. "Do all those vodka martinis drown out the screams of the men you've killed?" asks the villain, "and does taking refuge in the arms of all those willing women help you forget those you couldn't protect?" When Bond tells the winning Izabella Scorupco that his cool detachment is what keeps him alive, she snaps, "No, it's what keeps you alone."

But Brosnan's stiffness is more than compensated for by the rest of the film: a terrific chase (with the Bond theme almost drowned out by falling masonry), modestly daring plot twists (the surprise villain, though tipped off by the billing, is a mould-breaker) and, most of all, by Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp, who coos orgasmically as she guns down innocent men and snaps spines with her thighs. The best woman in the series since Lotte Lenya in From Russia With Love, Janssen is the character you most want to see reappear when the producers make good on their closing credits promise that James Bond will return.

This is the best bond movie since On Her Majesty's Secret Service. On the evidence of Goldeneye, the shaken-not-stirred secret agent can more than hold his own against True Lies, the Die Hard series, Under Siege or any of the other action hero franchises.