Goldeneye (1995)

James Bond is back, thought not exactly as we remember him.  Sure, the
girls and gadgets are all there.  As are the pithy one-liners and the
over-the-top stunts.  Check.  What's missing is the level of technical
polish that has best-characterized the 31-year-old series.  Thrilling, but
tiring; Bonded, but bloated, GOLDENEYE is only a half-success.  (Half
shaken, not stirred?) Director Martin Campbell (CRIMINAL LAW, NO ESCAPE)
has loaded the post-Cold War story with *plenty* of delightful bits,
ranging from Bond's sexy showdown in a St. Petersburg steambath, to a
tank/car chase through those same Soviet streets.  (The plot involves 
quite a bit of vehicular traffic, actually.  Even the old Aston Martin 
makes an appearance!)

The problem is that these scenes, the best scenes, never gel into a
cohesive whole.  GOLDENEYE is an exciting, episodic film that lacks a
singular vision.  For that reason, it's difficult to properly gauge Pierce
Brosnan's performance as Ian Fleming's master agent.  He seems to have
more verve than his most-recent predecessor, Timothy Dalton, but the
overstuffed story never gives the actor any room to breathe.  It's fight,
dash, scowl, kiss, repeat.  Over and over and over again.

Too much action is only one of the problems in GOLDENEYE.  The absurd
opening-- involving, among other things, the bungee jump shown in the
trailer-- sets the precedent that nothing in the story shall be taken
seriously.  Nothing new there.  The trouble comes when Campbell tries to
insert real drama into this classy, cartoon reality.  It doesn't work. 
Equally uncomfortable is the amount of graphic violence that we're shown. 
Bond is quite the indiscriminate killer in this one, and that harder edge
isn't effectively balanced by the bigger, sillier stunts. 

Other problems include Derek Meddings' too-obvious miniatures, a boring
score from Eric Serra, and a wandering POV that strays too far away from
our favorite secret agent.  The laughs are there, though, thank God, and
the supporting cast is impeccable.  Some of the surprise scene-stealers
include Jon Don Baker, as Bond's cranky American contact, Robbie Coltrane
(!), as an ex-KGB heavy, and Famke Janssen, as the sadomasochistic
villianess with killer thighs.  Literally.  Peter Lamont's production
design is also very good.  The best visual metaphor of the year may just
be Bond's nighttime meeting in eerie junkyard (graveyard?) of fallen
Russian monuments.  Startling.     

BOTTOM LINE:  For the Bond franchise, and for Brosnan, it's a start.

Grade: C+

Originally posted to triangle.movies

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