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On Nov. 17, 1995, Eon and MGM relaunched the 007 series in theaters with Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in GoldenEye. The film went on to earn $352 million globally and Brosnan reprised the role three more times. The Hollywood Reporter’s original review is below.
Call him the Golden Guy. After last appearing in 1989’s Licence to Kill, original author Ian Fleming’s British secret agent James Bond took a much-needed hiatus from the movies. He’s back in top form in the rousing post-Cold War spy adventure GoldenEye, which marks the successful Bond debut of Pierce Brosnan — the fifth actor to play licensed-to-kill 007 in producer Albert R. Broccoli’s remarkable 17-film series.
Expectations are high and the United Artist release — produced by Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli (Albert’s daughter) — should open strongly and generate brisk business through the holidays. With the international total sure to be outstanding, it looks like a smart move signing on Brosnan for three more installments.
With a dynamite opening reel that showcases the series renewed vigor, GoldenEye is two hours of well-executed thrills, high-tech mayhem and one-of-a-kind comedy. Violent, edgy, just a little bloodthirsty and teasingly sexy, director Martin Campbell’s film offers top-drawer action sequences but gets bogged down periodically in the uninvolving machinations of secondary characters.
The most disappointing aspects of the film are the villains, Russian master criminals who look an awful lot like the old Soviet KGB and employ countless Red Army lookalikes, who are mowed down without complaining. While the combat scenes are returned to several times in the film, GoldenEye is ultimately concerned with Bond and his long-suffering Russian love interest (Izabella Scorupco) stopping the ruthless bands plot to steal billions of dollars by blacking out a major city using a secret orbital weapon (GoldenEye) that disrupts communications.
After the hot opening credits sequence featuring Tina Turner’s title track, the first few action set pieces are terrific. We see the effects of the satellite weapon against the Russian station where Scorupco’s character is employed in a bang-up effects sequence, followed by Bond driving a tank through St. Petersburg (re-created in England), bashing through everything in his path.
Likewise crowd-pleasing is Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp, the Russian tigress who tries to kill and seduce Bond repeatedly. She’s perversely energized by life-threatening situations and he’s almost done in by her killer thighs. Generating much less heat in the good-girl role is Scorupco, although her bland character’s computer prowess is crucial in the clinch.
Hopping from Monte Carlo to Cuba, the wide-ranging story has a few too many abrupt shifts, but the filmmakers intentions are serious. Screenwriters Jeffrey Caine and Bruce Feirstein even work in a highly personal angle to the story, giving Bond reason to question his career and loyalties in the aftermath of the Cold War, as well as providing an opponent that reflects the dark side of his own psyche.
There are many Bond traditions adhered to, including an hilarious visit with weapons-dispenser Q (Desmond Llewelyn), and several new elements tried out, such as the formidable Judi Dench as Bond’s superior M. New and old fans will have fun with the self-centered charm of the film and lead character.
With Peter Lamont’s ambitious sets covered from all conceivable angles by cinematographer Phil Meheux, the brawny widescreen production was filmed largely in Leavesden, England, at an old Rolls-Royce factory converted by the producers into a studio.
As expected, plenty of eye-catching locations are worked into the formula — from Puerto Rico and Monte Carlo to Russia and Switzerland. — David Hunter, originally published on Nov. 15, 1995
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