Thursday, September 06, 2012

007 James Bond Marathon: GoldenEye

Based on the stories of Ian Fleming, GoldenEye is the story of James Bond going up against an old 00 agent from destroying London with a satellite weapon. Directed by Martin Campbell and screenplay by Michael France, Jeffrey Caine, Kevin Wade, and Bruce Feirstein from a story by France. The film marks James Bond return to the big screen following a six-year hiatus due to legal disputes as playing the role of Bond is Irish actor Pierce Brosnan. Also starring Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupo, Famke Janssen, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Cumming, Tcheky Kayro, Joe Don Baker, Desmond Llewnlyn, Samantha Bond, and Judi Dench as M. GoldenEye is an exhilarating yet fun film from Martin Campbell.

On a trip to Monte Carlo, James Bond follows a mysterious woman named Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) who is rumored to be part of a secret crime syndicate called Janus. Bond tracks her down as she had just killed an admiral to steal a helicopter that can withstand electromagnetic pulse. The helicopter arrives at a Russian bunker where Onatopp and General Ourumov (Gottfried John) kill the people at a satellite command station to take control of a satellite known as GoldenEye that can destroy locations with an electromagnetic pulse. Witnessing this is a computer programmer named Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupo) as she hides from the massacre and manages to survive the collapse of the building. Bond is asked by M to investigate the matter as he travels to St. Petersburg to find out more about Janus.

With the help of CIA agent Jack Wade, Bond meets an old adversary in Russian mafia head Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane) who decides to help Bond by setting up a meeting between Bond and Janus. After an encounter with Onatopp, Bond finally gets to meet the head of Janus as it’s revealed to be former 00 agent Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) who Bond thought was killed in a mission they took part in nine years ago. Trevelyan with help of Onatopp and Ourumov trap Bond in the helicopter that was stolen as Bond and Simonova manage to escape as they’re eventually captured by Russian authorities as they meet Russian defense minister Dimitri Mishkin (Tcheky Kayro) where Bond reveals what’s going on.

Ourumov would end up causing trouble as he takes Simonova leading to a chase as Bond boards Trevelyan’s train where Bond has another confrontation with Trevelyan. After another escape with Simonova, the two travel to Cuba to stop Trevelyan from using the GoldenEye satellite as Bond learns what Trevelyan is planning to do.

The film is essentially another story of James Bond trying to save the world but this time around, he faces up against someone who was a friend and ally who knows Bond better than anyone else. It’s also a film where Bond has to deal with changing times as the Cold War is over and he has a new M that is very different from her predecessors who isn‘t fond of Bond and his antics. This would allow Bond to face hard facts about himself and his company as he discovers that the man who was once his ally has now become the enemy whose motivation is simply vengeance in the most extreme way.

The screenplay explores this new post-Cold War world where it’s clear that people like Ourumov is still trying to uphold the old prestige of the Soviet Union as he plans to threaten the new, fragile peace that Russia wants. Yet, it’s the Alec Trevelyan character that is the most interesting as he is the brains behind the scheme as he wants to destroy London for what they did to his parents. With Ourumov’s help as well as Xenia Onatopp and a computer programmer named Boris Grishenko (Alan Cumming), Trevelyan would not only get his revenge but also something more as he also wants to humiliate Bond. Still, the script allows Bond to re-think his strategies as he gets help from another computer programmer in Natalya Simonova who knows what the Janus crime group are up to and can stop the GoldenEye satellite from creating chaos.

Martin Campbell’s direction is definitely big in the way he presents the film as he is aware that this is a James Bond film and it has to be big. The film opens with this amazing prologue of Bond and Trevelyan teaming up to stop Ourumov at a Soviet chemical plant where it establishes Bond’s friendship with Trevelyan and the unexpected betrayal that would follow nine years later. With the locations set in Russia, London, Monte Carlo, and Puerto Rico, the direction establishes that the world is far grander in this post-Cold War period as computers also play a part in the scheme where Trevelyan and Grishenko would do things to control this deadly satellite.

With these spectacular action sequences that includes a few chase scenes, Campbell does manage to create a film that is thrilling while taking its time to establish what is going on. Campbell also balances the action with bits of humor as well as a lot of suspense as he makes sure that is about Bond doing his job to investigate where he would uncover many secrets about what he’s facing. Even as it would lead to a climatic face-off between Bond and Trevelyan in a grand sequence that pits 00 against 00. Overall, Campbell creates a truly solid yet exciting film that lives up to the James Bond name.

Cinematographer Phil Meheux does excellent work with the film‘s photography from the lighting schemes in the spa fight scene to some of the day and nighttime exteriors of the locations in the film. Editor Terry Rawlings does nice work with the editing by creating some rhythmic cuts for the film‘s action scenes along with some more methodical cuts for the film‘s suspense. Production designer Peter Lamont, with set decorator Michael Ford and art director Neil Lamont, does fantastic work with the set pieces such as MI6 base, the train car that Trevelyan chills out at, and the main base for the film’s climatic confrontation. Costume designer Lindy Hemming does superb work with the costumes such as the lavish dresses and clothes that Xenia Onatopp wears.

Special effects supervisor Chris Corbould does brilliant work with the special effects created for the action scenes along with visual effects miniatures made by Derek Meddings, whom the film is dedicated to. Sound editor Jim Shields does terrific work with the sound to capture the atmosphere of action scenes to the more intimate moments in the meetings Bond would have. The film’s music by Eric Serra is wonderful for its mix of orchestral flourishes and electronic music to create an air of suspense as well as utilizing the Bond themes to play out the action scenes. The title song by U2’s Bono and the Edge that is sung by Tina Turner is among one of the most fascinating songs of the Bond catalog.

The casting by Debbie McWilliams is amazing for the ensemble that is created as it features appearances from Minnie Driver as Zukovsky’s mistress, Serena Gordon as Bond’s Monte Carlo evaluator, Robbie Coltrane as Russian gangster Valentin Zukovsky, Joe Don Baker as CIA agent Jack Wade, and Tcheky Kayro as Russian defense minister Dmitri Mishkin. Alan Cumming is very funny as the cocky computer programmer Boris Grishenko while Gottfried John is very good as the villainous General Ourumov. In her first appearance as Miss Moneypenny, Samantha Bond is wonderful as M’s personal secretary who revels in her dating life while Desmond Llewelyn is fantastic as the very witty inventor Q who provides Bond some amazing gadgets.

Famke Janssen is superb as the villainous Xenia Onatopp as she has this great presence that is alluring while being very dangerous in the way she deals with men physically. Judi Dench is great as Bond’s superior M where Dench provides a very different approach to the character in her disdain towards Bond’s antics while making sure he maintains his professionalism in his mission. Izabella Scorupo is excellent as computer programmer Natalya Simonova who helps Bond to deal with the Janus crime syndicate as she is also a very smart individual who can deal with Grishenko. Sean Bean is phenomenal as Alec Trevelyan who organizes a plan to destroy London while trying to defeat Bond in every game while anticipating everything else Bond does as Bean does solid work.

Finally, there’s Pierce Brosnan in his first of four outings as James Bond. Brosnan brings a sense of wit and charm to the character that is very engaging as well as a physicality that is also startling to watch as he makes Bond a guy who isn’t afraid to throw down. Brosnan also manages to make Bond more human by having show a bit of humility for the fact that he’s facing an old friend adding a bit of new edge to the character as Brosnan definitely gives a very memorable portrayal of Agent 007.

GoldenEye is a marvelous film from Martin Campbell that features Pierce Brosnan in a remarkable performance as James Bond. Along with wonderful supporting work from Sean Bean, Famke Janssen, Izabella Scorupo, and Judi Dench. It’s a film that lives up to a lot of elements of the Bond films of the past while bringing something new to make Bond fresh and exciting. In the end, GoldenEye is a mesmerizing and spectacular film from Martin Campbell.

James Bond Files: The EON Films: Dr. No - From Russia with Love - Goldfinger - Thunderball - You Only Live Twice - On Her Majesty's Secret Service - Diamonds are Forever - Live and Let Die - The Man with the Golden Gun - The Spy Who Loved Me - Moonraker - For Your Eyes Only - Octopussy - A View to a Kill - The Living Daylights - Licence to Kill - Tomorrow Never Dies - The World is Not Enough - Die Another Day - Casino Royale (2006 film) - Quantum of Solace - Skyfall - SPECTRE - No Time to Die

Non-EON Films: Casino Royale (Climax! TV Episode) - Casino Royale (1967 film) - Never Say Never Again

Bond Documentaries: Bond Girls Are Forever - True Bond - Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007

© thevoid99 2012


Alex Withrow said...

I LOVE GoldenEye, definitely one of my favorite Bond flicks ever made. It's so fun and smart and shows the real potential Brosnan had as Bond. Too bad the material in his subsequent 007 flicks failed him so badly.

thevoid99 said...

GoldenEye was a lot of fun to watch as was Tomorrow Never Dies. Now, I'm about to take part in the other two films and I've seen them before and... yeah, they weren't very good. Pierce Brosnan is a good Bond but they didn't give him material that lives up to the Bond legend.