Do a Shot: whenever Xenia has an orgasm
Chug a Beer: when Pierce Brosnan does his “I’m in pain!” face
Take a Drink: for every sexual innuendo
Do a Shot: when the Bond theme appears
By: Frank Cerros (Two Beers) –
When I was a kid, my father and I used to watch the James Bond movie marathons on TBS. The action, the intrigue, the inherent coolness and silliness of Bond fascinated me as a child and kept me glued to the screen. When I heard a new James Bond film was coming out called GoldenEye, I was so excited to see my first Bond movie on the big screen. To say I loved it would be an understatement, and Pierce Brosnan immediately became “my” Bond.
Nostalgia is a funny thing. A lot of those movies we loved as kids? Absolutely atrocious. Trying to watch Space Jam for the first time as an adult did not go well for me. And when I finally convinced my girlfriend to watch Problem Child? She didn’t talk to me for a week. So, with the announcement of a new James Bond film coming out next year, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to go back and rewatch this movie that I loved so much as a kid to see if it still holds up almost 20 years later. So does it? Let’s find out.
I’m pretty sure this still holds up, though
Nine years after James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) fails to stop Russian General Arkady Ourumov from murdering his partner, Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean), Bond gets a second chance at revenge. General Ourumov steals a top-secret EMP weapon codenamed GoldenEye with the help of a shadowy criminal mastermind known only as Janus and they have a plan to steal untold millions and destroy England’s entire economy. Guess who’s the only man that can stop them? Also, there’s an evil henchhottie (Famke Janssen) who derives sexual pleasure from murdering people. Pretty kinky, huh?
To a pretty great and fairly capable Bond girl in Natalya Fyodorovna Simonova (they say her full name at least 5 times in this flick, for some reason). Bond movies don’t usually have a great track record with Bond girls, as they tend to be either damsels in distress or women in refrigerators. Here, though, while Natalya often does need saving, she also pulls her own weight; whether it’s helping Bond in a fight against Xenia, reprogramming the GoldenEye satellite so it burns up during reentry, or even commandeering a helicopter to save Bond, she does a lot of things that impact the outcome of this film in a positive way. In fact, without her, Bond would not have been able to save the day. Nostrovia, Natalya Fyodorovna Simonova!
There are some other really great and memorable characters in this film as well. Sean Bean is perfectly cast as Alec Trevelyan. Though it is a fairly small role, he brings a lot of gravitas to his performance as an MI-6 agent with a secret. Robbie Coltrane has a great cameo as an ex-KGB agent Bond forms a temporary alliance with in order to find the bad guy. His two scenes with Bond are short but definitely contain the funniest dialogue in the flick. Finally, Famke Janssen is perfect as Xenia Onatopp. She’s beautiful, sexy, and sick in the head. Her scenes always made me feel a weird mix of arousal and repulsion as a 13-year-old and they still do today. Mission accomplished.
The action is also pretty fantastic throughout the movie. The pre-credits sequence is a little dated in terms of the visuals, but seeing Bond drive a motorcycle off a cliff, jump off the bike and skydive into an airplane is still balls-out fun. Then there’s the epic tank chase through the streets of Russia, where James absolutely DGAF what he plows into or destroys. Finally, the final fight set on the underground satellite lets Bond dish it out (see what I did there?) one-on-one and reminds us that James is the best at everything. Don’t even try. Because you’ll lose. Seriously, why hasn’t anyone learned that yet?
Sure, the last couple hundred who tried to kill Bond failed. But this time…
Sadly, Pierce Brosnan doesn’t seem entirely comfortable in the role of James Bond in his first outing. I think a lot of it has to do with the screenplay itself. In the first hour of the movie, Bond’s dialogue mostly consists of half-assed quips made to no one in particular. I don’t think he really says anything of substance besides jokes, innuendos, or reactions to other people until about halfway through the film. Pierce seems to have to rely mostly on the history of Bond as portrayed by other actors in other films as the script doesn’t have much for him to grasp onto and isn’t very interesting from a character standpoint until late into the second act. He also doesn’t seem to be having as much fun with Bond as he does in later films.
A lot of the music in the film doesn’t really work either. The iconic Bond theme is definitely not as present as it should be, and much of the music is otherwise unmemorable. In fact, this film even has one of the worst music selections I’ve ever seen in a Bond film. During Bond’s car chase/flirt session with Xenia, the music sounds like a demo track from a Casio keyboard that somebody stuck in there as a joke and they forgot to take out. Trust me, it doesn’t sound like it was composed so much as vomited onto sheet music. But hey, at least we get Tina Turner’s awesomely bombastic title song to open the flick. She’s still got it! Well, 20 years ago, at least.
When the scene starts, just mute the TV and instead mash your hands on this keyboard
So, did this film live up to my 13-year-old self’s love for it? Overall, I’d say yes. It has some silly moments, an overly complicated plot, and not much character development to chew on, but aren’t these pretty much the hallmarks of any Bond film? This isn’t Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It’s James Bond. It’s fun, funny, sexy, shooty, and explosiony and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Pierce Brosnan is still my James Bond, after all. But c’mon, James, get rid of the BMW and get back in the Aston Martin!