Combustible Celluloid
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With: Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Joe Don Baker, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane, Tcheky Karyo, Gottfried John, Alan Cumming, Desmond Llewelyn, Samantha Bond, Michael Kitchen, Minnie Driver, Constantine Gregory
Written by: Jeffrey Caine, Bruce Feirstein, based upon a story by Michael France, and upon characters by Ian Fleming
Directed by: Martin Campbell
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for a number of sequences of action/violence, and for some sexuality
Running Time: 130
Date: 11/13/1995

GoldenEye (1995)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Onatopp Again

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After the longest dry spell in the James Bond movie franchise (six years), director Martin Campbell and star Pierce Brosnan provided a highly successful reboot with GoldenEye (1995).

GoldenEye begins in a flashback: Bond and his fellow double-o agent Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) attempt to blow up a Soviet weapons plant, but Alec is caught in the explosion. Years later, Bond is assigned to investigate the evil Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen). It turns out she is involved with an evil villain code-named Janus, who plans to use a satellite to create an electromagnetic pulse that will knock out computers and allow easy access to the Bank of London. Bond gets a little help from a beautiful, scrappy Russian computer programmer, Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco), and from a loudmouth American agent (Joe Don Baker). But time is running out and our heroes must find the secret location of a satellite dish before it's too late.

Where the series had grown lethargic through the 1980s, Campbell injected into it a fresh dose of sprightly fun. (It doesn't try to be "darker" like the Daniel Craig entries.) Brosnan turned out to be the Bond many fans were waiting for: he was suave and tough, but also funny and with an electric screen presence.

Likewise, many of the supporting characters in this particular entry are unusually vivid and memorable. Notably, the movie introduced a new, female "M" (Judi Dench) -- although it used the same old Q (Desmond Llewelyn) -- and was the first of the series not to be based on the works of Ian Fleming. The original screenplay is satisfyingly complex, but allows for plenty of exciting chases, fights, and escapes. Indeed, though it does contain a few silly moments, the entire movie crystallizes nicely. Even Tina Turner's title song is terrific.

I love James Bond. No other hero has had such a lengthy, sustained run in movies or as many ups and downs as Bond. I watched both of the Timothy Dalton movies, hoping with every scene that he would get better. I watched all the Roger Moore movies, laughing and enjoying myself when he was good, wincing when he was bad. I glowered at George Lazenby, as he lacked what was required for what might have been the very best Bond movie, On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Although Sean Connery is still the best, Brosnan appears to have been born to fill Bond's shoes. He displays a both the charm and the grit of the best Bonds. He looks comfortable in ridiculous situations. He even pulls off an occasional pun with a straight face.

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