Friday, November 27, 2009

Saturday Is Bond Day, #18: Goldeneye

After a long hiatus, my older son (Thing 1) requested that we get back to the Bond movies, and so we hit Goldeneye this past weekend. (Yes, we did give the two Timothy Dalton movies -- The Living Daylights and License to Kill -- a miss for now, though we may go back and pick up Daylights at some point. The boys are still not going to see the Daniel Craig movies. We may see the '60s Casino Royale if I feel in the mood to utterly confuse them some day.)

Goldeneye is PG-13, and clearly is aiming to be much more "serious" and "real" than the general run of the Roger Moore films. One of the things that means is that Pierce Brosnan's Bond, more often than not, is toting a semi-automatic rifle. (That doesn't say much for his stealthiness or marksmanship, of course, but Big Action Movies require lots of bullets flying about.) It also means that the Bad Bond Girl, Famke Janssen's Xenia Onatopp, is an over-the-top sadist with literally killer thighs. That wouldn't be out of character for one of the Moore movies, but it would have been humorous there, and here it's just meant to show how tough and nasty she is. You can actually feel Goldeneye clenching its teeth at times, which is distracting.

This was the first post-Cold War Bond movie, though the plot is entirely concerned with Russians and only the iconography shows a difference. There is a doomsday machine -- it's always good to see one of those in a Bond film; it shows the writers are trying -- but it's only moderately exciting, a single-shot orbital EMP device that the Secret Villain is using to cover his actual get-rich-quick scheme. Honestly, it's a bit wasted here, and I started wondering what a real evil genius like Blofeld could have done with it. Trying to make Bond movies fit into the real world is a futile exercise; they really need to get back to serious villains and allow European actors to emote wildly and chew the scenery again.

The action set-pieces are fine here -- the tank chase through St. Petersburg is a lot of fun, though, like all of the similar moments in Goldeneye, it shows Brosnan's Bond using a sledgehammer where previous Bonds would use a scalpel -- and the supporting cast, particularly Alan Cummings as a computer programmer, are all entertaining. (Though my young sons were surprised, and possibly appalled, to see that M was now a girl. They'll need to get over that reaction if they hope to get anywhere in life!) Oh, and it was great to see Joe Don Baker as a CIA agent.

Goldeneye is too long and too full of itself, and Brosnan too reserved -- he's just there a lot of the time, rather than centering the movie and action on himself -- but it's a solid Bond movie, and I suppose it must have come as a relief after the high camp of many of the Moore films and the wilderness years of Dalton. At this point, with three more Brosnans to come, I'm just hoping he lightened up a bit and removed the pole from his nether regions.
Listening to: Anna Ternheim - No Subtle Men
via FoxyTunes


wdstarr said...

"Xenia Onatopp, is an over-the-top masochist with literally killer thighs."

Masochist? I thought she was mostly at the other end of the spectrum.

As for the Daltons, I thought at the time that "Licence to Kill" was the best Bond film in ages ("Daylights" showed too many signs of having been written as a Roger Moore gagfest and then hurriedly and incompletely serioused up at the last moment), though I'm sort of afraid to rewatch it and see how it stands up today.

Andrew Wheeler said...

wdstarr: Absolutely right -- that's the peril of typing at high speed; one's fingers sometimes go in reverse for no good reason.

I've fixed that in the post.

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