It was 15 years ago today, on November 17, 1995, that GoldenEye--the 17th James Bond spy film, but the first to feature ex-Remington Steele star Pierce Brosnan--had its general U.S. release. That movie’s appearance came after what had seemed like a long period of decline for the franchise, including legal fights and low box-office numbers for 1989’s Licence to Kill, actor Timothy Dalton’s second Bond picture.
“So,” explains The HMSS Weblog, “in November 1995, when GoldenEye made its debut, Bond’s cinema survival wasn’t considered a sure thing. It had a new Bond in Pierce Brosnan (originally cast for The Living Daylights but forced to yield the prized role when NBC renewed Remington Steele), a new director to the series in Martin Campbell as well as writers who’d never worked on a 007 film before. It was a new era because Albert Broccoli’s health problems* caused him to yield the producing duties to Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.
“The result was a financial hit, ensuring new installments.”
GoldenEye doesn’t find a place on everybody’s list of favorite Bond films, but I remember being delighted by its high level of action and pyrotechnics, its latest offering of “Bond Babes” (especially sweet-smiling Natalya Simonova), its introduction of Judi Dench as intelligence chief M, and Irish actor Brosnan’s turn as Agent 007. Brosnan had shown a wide range of talents in Remington Steele, including sharp comic timing, and many of those same skills were on display in GoldenEye. Although Sean Connery remains the seminal Bond, Brosnan is my second favorite performer in the part, with his combination of polish and physicality, and his lightly ironic perspective of his situation as a spy.
As IFC.com points out, GoldenEye benefited not only from these other elements, but from its bang-up film trailer (embedded above):
As the opening strains of the classic theme music become audible, on-screen text highlights the word “new” before Pierce Brosnan waltzes out in typical black-on-white profile, shoots up the letters to reveal “007” (for added value, count the number of shots this takes) and then walks forward to reveal his face. “You were expecting someone else?” he playfully taunts.Recently, GoldenEye seems to be all over my TV screen. I don’t know if these rebroadcasts relate to this anniversary, or if it’s simple coincidence. But I like it. Even a decade and a half after its debut, GoldenEye (the first Bond film made after the fall of the Soviet Union) still packs a punch--not to mention a few car chases, death-defying acrobatics, clever gadgets, episodes of romance and sadomasochistic sex, and enough impossible feats to remind you that Bond is about nothing if not adult fantasy.
It’s a virtual come-hither line that thrusts the trailer into a blistering montage of machine-gun fire, explosions, ugly villain profiles (Gottfried John’s face was made for such espionage endeavors) and Famke Janssen tossing her head back with devilish eroticism, all of it only interrupted so Brosnan can dish out a trademark bon-mot (shirtless and gun-outstretched: “No more foreplay”) and his obligatory intro, which like the trailer--and the film itself--hits a perfect suave-and-cheeky Bond note.
* Broccoli died of heart failure in 1996, just seven months after GoldenEye’s premiere.