Film Review: Goldeneye (1995)

Pierce Brosnan’s debut as Bond goes well in Goldeneye but the real star is Tina Turner’s iconic theme song

“I think you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War…”

Goldeneye heralds a lot of firsts for the James Bond franchise, as well as being Pierce Brosnan’s first appearance in the lead role. The first to use CGI, the first not to use any Ian Fleming story elements, the first in the post-Cold War era too. And coming after a six-year hiatus, director Martin Campbell had a lot on the line to reintroduce the idea of Bond movies as something more than mindless bank holiday rerun territory. Safe to say, I think he achieved that. 

Adopting a more serious tone to address its plot of international terrorist networks and rogue agents, Brosnan’s slightly reserved interpretation works well to reset the playboy nature which preceded (and which is soon to return…) and against Sean Bean’s excellent Trevelyan, has a real tussle with real stakes on his hands. For all the talk of Phoebe Waller-Bridge coming into to retool scripts for No Time To Die, there’s work here that scratches intriguingly at Bond’s psychology, even if only briefly from both M and 006.

That’s not to say there isn’t some daftness here: the number of different (not-Russian) nationalities playing Russian characters, the consequent accents from the likes of Alan Cumming and Robbie Coltrane, the briefest of random lip-syncing cameos from Minnie Driver… But the opening bungee jump sequence is an all-time classic, lines like “maybe you two would like to finish debriefing each other at Guantanamo, hmm?” hit really differently nowadays and the overall impact is strongly worked.

Bond women

You think Austin Powers was taking the piss with Alotta Fagina but when you see what they do with Famke Janssen’s Xenia Onatopp, you realise how little they had to do to reach parody. Which in some ways is a shame as Janssen is a fine actor and she brings a nice touch of psychopathic glee to her characterisation, ruined by the fact that she can’t just kill people, she has to crush them to death with her thighs and orgasmic moans. Izabella Scorupco gets the underwritten wet blanket role of scientist Natalya Simonova who can’t help but offer herself up for sex everytime she’s near Bond, regardless of the situation.

Theme song

Tina Turner’s ‘Goldeneye’, written by Bono and The Edge, is a Bond theme very much in the classic mould and as such, I bloody love it. Folklore tells us that we very nearly had a theme song from Ace of Base which would have been amazing in its own right but this is just the right mix of Bassey-esque camp dramatics, sweeping strings and high notes that soar and then screech. I’d do this at karaoke if I had the balls, and the voice.

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