1995 Running time: 124 Certificate: 12 Rating: 4

Synopsis

Pierce Brosnan's debut as 007 was a rip roaring success. Grittier than most Bonds before it, the plot kicks off in the mountains, where Bond leaves Sean Bean's double agent for dead, only to have the world held to ransom by his return, replete with a device that can destroy anything with a circuit board inside. Dame Judi Dench appears as M for the first time, while Sean Bean is perfect as the bad guy with a real chip on his shoulder - and a genuine reason for killing off the elusive 007.

Director

  • Martin Campbell

Cast

  • Pierce Brosnan

  • Sean Bean

  • Izabella Scorupco

  • Famke Janssen

  • Alan Cumming

  • Robbie Coltrane

Review

Long before Daniel Craig was seen as the brand new face of a rebooted Bond, Pierce Brosnan was presented as the ailing franchise's breath of fresh air.

It had been six years since Bond last donned the tux, in the guise of Timothy Dalton in the rarely-appreciated Licence To Kill, and the series was on its last legs. The cheap action that underpinned Dalton's earnest performances had let the franchise down.

While the producers could be proud of Connery's cutting edge action and disappointed at the campness of Moore, they could easily be accused of laziness and complacency given the 80s-popcorn approach of Dalton's pair, which, while admirably dark, were undermined by the silly scenes that so often ruin a good bond movie (see: the cello sledging stunt) and Dalton's inability to quite fill the role.

Cue Brosnan, whose previous opportunity to play Bond arose before the casting of his predecessor - but commitments to TV show, Remington Steele, saw him miss the boat.

But it was for the best. Being older and wiser made him more credible, not to mention the opportunity to play Bond in a movie that had a lot more to live up to. Action movies had seen something of a rebirth thanks to the likes of post-modern actioners True Lies and Die Hard With a Vengeance. Bond was coming back, and he needed to be harder than ever before.

Thankfully, Brosnan, and director Martin Campbell did not disappoint. The opening sequence was one of the best - a bungee jump at an astonishing 730ft height followed by the rare introduction of another 00 agent - and set the audience up for the most thrilling ride since Connery saw Goldfinger get sucked out a window at 20,000 feet.

The story concerned the existence of a device, known as the Goldeneye, which could pinpoint any object with a circuit board - and blow it to kingdom come. Sean Bean's evil double agent had it, and he intended to hold the world to ransom. And kill off his old friend in the process.

The stunts were brilliantly executed, from the bungee jump to the jet fighter ejector seat, the trip through Russia in a tank - not to mention the climactic battle over a giant satellite dish.

Of equal import was the movie's casting.

Famke Janssen, who was awesome as the wickedly evil Xenia Onatopp, went on to have a Hollywood career, a rare thing for a Bond girl, while the less successful Izabella Scorupco was more than adequate as the love interest (and went on to marry a banker).

Dame Judi Dench made her first bow as M, the only surviving element in the more recent pictures, while even Robbie Coltrane acquitted himself well as Russian arms dealer Valentin Zukovsky.

But the movie belonged to Brosnan. Exuding charm, charisma and managing to convey a darker side to Bond without ever resorting to Timothy Dalton's pouty approach, he became the first actor to give Connery a run for his money in the 'who's your favourite Bond stakes'.

If the subsequent Bond movies had contained the confidence and edge of Goldeneye, it's doubtful Craig would ever have had a shot at the tuxedo. But it was only three films later that Brosnan would find himself surfing on a piece of plastic in front of an animated wave, and the bow tie began to slip.

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