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GOLDENEYE (director: Martin Campbell; screenwriters: Jeffrey Caine/Bruce Feirstein/story by Michael France; cinematographer: Phil Meheux; editor: Terry Rawlings; music: Eric Serra; cast: Pierce Brosnan (James Bond), Izabella Scorupco (Natalya Fyodorovna Simonova), Sean Bean (Alexander Trevalyan), Famke Janssen (Xenia Onatopp), Gottfried John (General Ourumov), Alan Cumming (Boris Ivanovich Greshenko), Robbie Coltrane (Valentin Dimitrovich Zukovsky), Judi Dench (M), Joe Don Baker (Jack Wade), Desmond Llewellyn (Q), Tcheky Karyo (Dimitri Mishkin), Michael Kitchen (Bill Tanner), Serena Gordon (Caroline), Samantha Bond (Miss Moneypenny), Minnie Driver (Irina), Billy J. Mitchell (Admiral Chuck Farrel); Runtime: 130; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Barbara Broccoli/Michael G. Wilson; United Artists; 1995-UK)
“One of the more entertaining entries in the series, even if one thinks it’s hogwash.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

GoldenEye is the 17th James Bond film and Pierce Brosnan becomes the fifth Bond portrayer; it came after a six year gap between the previous Bond film – License to Kill (1989). It’s one of the more entertaining entries in the series, even if one thinks it’s hogwash. Since it recognizes that the times are changing, the franchise undergoes some mild changes through its self-deprecatory humor–but it still keeps intact all the sexism, gadgetry, exotic locations and cartoonish heroics that earned it its stripes with its loyal fan base.

Producer Albert R. Broccoli, the producer of every Bond film since Dr. No (1962), had retired and his daughter Barbara and stepson Michael G. Wilson now were the producers.

Tina Turner sings the theme song. Martin Campbell (“The Mask of Zorro”/”Criminal Law”/”No Escape”) competently directs, keeping it well-crafted and filled with action sequences and the usual farfetched plot of 007. This time it has Bond (Pierce Brosnan) saving the world from a deadly villain. It’s based on a story by Michael France and is written by Jeffrey Caine and Bruce Feirstein. The title is derived from the house in Jamaica where Bond author Ian Fleming did his writing.

The pre-credits sequence has agents 007 and 006 Alec Trevalyan (Sean Bean) daringly break into a Soviet chemical weapons facility at Archangel (filmed at Contra Dam near Lugano, Switzerland), located in the Soviet Union. 006 is apparently killed by the Russians, but Bond while escaping destroys the facility. Nine years later, at a casino in France, Bond meets Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen). She’s a beautiful Russian woman, who is a member of the Janus crime syndicate based in St Petersburg. The head of Janus is reputed to be a Cossack, who no one outside his organization has ever seen and who lives on an old missile train.

Onatopp has rough sex with a Canadian admiral (Billy J. Mitchell) and steals his ID pass after killing him in the saddle, as she has him in a high-pressure scissor lock between her thighs. The pass allows access to the demonstration of the new high-tech Tiger helicopter, which is protected against all forms of electromagnetic jamming or radiation. The evil lady with another crime partner kill the real pilots and steal the helicopter. Later it’s used by Onatopp and Russian General Ouromov (Gottfried John), Head of the Russian Space Division, to secretly land at a satellite control station at Severnaya, Russia. There, working with insider computer whiz Boris (Alan Cumming), they steal the control codes for the two highly secret GoldenEye satellites, which use nuclear explosions to form an electromagnetic pulse. The powerful device can disable and destroy all of the electrical devices in whatever area they are fired at. Ouromov and Onatopp kill all the Russian workers at the station and use one of the satellites to blow up Severnaya itself to cover their tracks – escaping in the protected helicopter. But the rogue general and his accomplice are unaware that one of the technicians at the site, a pretty woman named Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco), has escaped.

Bond is sent by his new female boss M (Judi Dench), a tough cookie with no love for Bond–calling him a “misogynist dinosaur,” to St Petersburg, Russia, to find out what the heck is going on with that raid. Since Bond senses that Onatopp is somehow involved, he schemes with the Janus crime syndicate rivals to meet the Janus crime boss. It turns out his former colleague 006 is the traitorous crime boss. Alec has always resented the bad treatment of his parents by the British (they were betrayed Cossacks returned to Stalin at the end of World War Two after being promised Brit help if they fought the Reds) and uses that as an excuse for becoming a bank robbing turncoat. The embittered Alec, with half his face scarred, now intends electronically stealing billions of pounds from London’s financial market and then permanently wiping out all financial computer records by using GoldenEye. This diabolical deed will bring England back to the Stone Age.

After the two tussle in Russia, Bond and a helpful Natalya follow Alec to the jungles of Cuba, where Alec’s satellite control station is located. Bond then blows it up before the baddie can transmit the firing signal. Alec is killed in a fight with Bond atop a radio telescope (filmed near Arecibo, Puerto Rico on the world’s largest spherical radio telescope).

The film’s highlights are its excessive cartoonish action sequences that range from Bond jumping off a cliff in his motorcycle and catching up with a pilotless plane to make his escape from an army of Russians to Bond crashing through the streets of St. Petersburg with a Soviet tank while being pursued by the Russian army.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”