Last week I wrote about my introduction to the cinema through the unexpected medium of the Care Bears. A decade or so later, I was granted an introduction to a cinematic icon in the James Bond reboot, Goldeneye.
I had six when Timothy Dalton’s debut, The Living Daylights had been released but my folks weren’t quite up to a cinema visit for that sort of film, so I mainly remember having to make do with cards from the Trio chocolate promotional packs stuffed into the pocket of my Parka. Then came Dalton’s second outing Licence to Kill; and, let’s face it, that movie is no place for children.
So, 1995 was my chance to watch Bond on the big screen. The movie debuted on 21st November and the way we watched it speaks volumes about how movie going had changed over the 10 years which had elapsed.
My parents took me – both of them this time as disabled access was now available. We were no longer in the charmingly crafted but dilapidated flea pit Picturedrome, Bognor Regis, but in the plush surroundings of Hampshire’s Port Solent, an area of reclaimed landfill and marshlands re-purposed in the late 80s to become a marina and expensive housing development. Tickets prices to see films had of course increased by, on average, 104%.
But what of the movie?
We open on a plane flying over a gigantic dam. We’ve had the opening gun barrel walk but all incidental music ceases as the light aircraft sweeps over this vista in spectral silence.
Then, we see a man run and bungee down this impressive 750 metre edifice, which saw stuntman Wayne Michaels set a world record for a tethered jump. By the way, this location is the Contra Dam in Switzerland, and because of this – still impressive – stunt, voted the greatest of all time in a 2002 Sky Movies poll. Incidentally, and this blog in no way endorses this course of action, the stunt inspired a company to begin offering you the opportunity to bungee jump off it yourself if you’re in that frame of mind. Details here: https://www.getyourguide.com/ticino-l80/golden-eye-bungee-jumping-from-the-verzasca-dam-t3225
And, I gotta tell you – Pierce Brosnan never looked better. Especially in the early part of the movie, that man is channeling both Dalton, Roger Moore and Sean Connery. There’s a best of feel to his performance which, if he’d had better scripts throughout the rest of his tenure would have put him significantly up the pecking order of greatest Bonds. Man could wear a tuxedo, too…
Tom Cruise and his rhyming slang character, Ethan Hunt, would’t debut for another six months, but Brosnan’s toilet entrance now looks like a fun twist on the famous vault access from Mission Impossible.
Alongside Brosnan, Sean Bean, an actor who ordinarily I find as sympathetic as a serial killer and as appealing as an aggressive cavity search, is never better than as Alex Trevelyan. His performance is cleaner, more nuanced and significantly more subtle than I remembered. His “execution” is harsh – even today.
Martin Campbell is clearly the man for reinvigorating the franchise as, nine years later, it would be him in the hot seat to replenish the steaming, coiled wreckage visited on the series in the superlative Casino Royale.
Here, he settles for the charmingly nostalgic return of the Aston Martin DB5, which is an excellent touch, as is the race with Famke Janssen- a driving sequence arguably not bettered until Quantum of Solace.
Dutch actress Janssen plays Xenia Onatopp, famed for her unique way of dispatching villains. Memorable for sure, but she somewhat overshadows Bean’s performance with her cartoonishly psychotic antics, which is a shame.
Other downsides? The body count is troublesome. I know this came before advent of introspective heroes, but jeso, do people get mown down with video game abandon in this movie.
Also, the incidental music is more 80s than a superhero team up featuring Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer. Which is odd because it couldn’t really be more mid-90s but this the consistent pounding on the synthesizer is hard going on the ear. It’s a rough listen today: heavy handed and distracting.
And, finally the theme tune. Tina Turner does belt out a tune but the only Edge that should be invoked here is the one which U2 should have been shoved off. The lyrics read like they were constructed during a Madlibs game fuelled by LSD.
Some of my favourites include:
See reflections on the water/ more than darkness in the depths/ see him surface in every shadow/ on the wind I feel his breath
Goldeneye I found his weakness/ Goldeneye he’ll do what I please/ Goldeneye no time for sweetness/ but a bitter kiss will bring him to his knees…
Goldeneye not lace or leather/ Golden chains take him to the spot/ Goldeneye I’ll show him forever/ it’ll take forever to see…
It’s a gold and honey trap/I’ve got for you tonight…
with a goldeneye, goldeneye.
To which I can only say: gibberish.
There’s more to say about this movie and, especially, the spin off video game which is a peak in the history of that medium so high it couldn’t be bettered by a pair of Italian plumbers, but I’ll leave it there for now. A high in the career of Pierce Brosnan as Bond, this is classic well worth #revisiting.
With a golden, goldeneye…