Ranking the Bond Movies: #5 – GoldenEye (1995)
I grew up with GoldenEye. It’ll always be a seminal Bond film for me. Plus, GoldenEye 64 is probably the best Bond video game ever made. We all played it. I know this film. In terms of films I know backwards and forwards, this and Casino Royale are the two for me.
That said, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I feel like Dr. No probably should be here at #5 (and might well be, the next time I update this list after Skyfall). But, I feel like, for now, the sentimental aspect of GoldenEye helps me keep it here.
Either way, I think we can all agree that this was one of the best Bond movies they made. Almost everything about it works. It’s clearly Brosnan’s best, which might not be saying much, given his rocky tenure as Bond (he was always a good Bond in decent or not so good movies, but fortunately, here everything lined up), but still — this is easily a top ten film for all time, and is one I consider to be in that hallowed “top six” distinction. I feel like this, Dr. No and the four remaining films are easily the best six Bond movies made. And then the next four (at the moment) are Spy Who Loved Me, You Only Live Twice, Thunderball, and Quantum of Solace. Rank them however you want, as long as we can all agree that those are clearly tops.
This one has the distinction of really being the only top Bond film in the 80s or 90s, which is interesting. It’s really the only Bond movie made in those two decades (aside from maybe Licence to Kill) that has a perfect blend of story, action and “Bond.”
This is Pierce Brosnan’s first time out as Bond, so let’s show his gun barrel sequence:
The cold opening begins with a plane flying over a dam.
It’s a Pilatus PC-6. Doesn’t make sense that it’d be here, but who cares? It’s a sweet plane.
A gate opens.
Someone’s running. Obviously it’s not Roger Moore.
I do want to emphasize that. This is how they chose to introduce us. Brosnan’s an action Bond. Craig, we first see having infiltrated a bad guy’s office by being sneaky. Connery’s socializing at the casino, and Moore’s at home in bed with a woman. These first moments have a lot to say about the tone set for each actor during the franchise. Dalton, I don’t know what they were going for with him and the training exercise.
(Mike Note: It’s probably the fact that he’s serious about his job and is actually willing to do these bullshit things. Do you really think any of the other Bonds would do a training exercise? Maybe Moore, because he’d be so tongue-in-cheek about it, but none of the other ones. Also, notice how we don’t even bother to mention Lazenby?)
Honestly, from that angle, it looks like it could be Tom Cruise. He runs a lot in those Mission: Impossible movies. (Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s all they are at this point.)
Don’t forget masks. The hallmark of every Mission: Impossible movie is a good mask. It’s the Scooby Doo of action franchises.
(Mike Note: And I would have gotten away with it too! If it weren’t for you damn Thetans!)
But it’s not Tom Cruise. It’s Bond. James Bond. And what is he doing on the dam?
Diving off of it, of course.
This is a stunt guy doing the jump for real, but now you can actually pay to bungee jump off this dam. It’s the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland. 220 meters down. Have fun.
I love how silent the whole thing is.
And when the cord reaches its lowest point –
That takes him the rest of the way.
It’s here we find out we’re in a chemical weapons facility in the USSR. (This is meant to take place nine years before the action begins. So technically this would have happened in 1986, assuming the film takes place in 1995, which, why wouldn’t it? That means they’re saying it happened after A View to a Kill, which – does that mean they’re saying that the Timothy Dalton Era didn’t happen?)
Since none of these movies are REALLY connected, other than the staples like Tracy having died, we can consider each film to be a mini reboot. They don’t exist in the same timeline as any others — until Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace came around. Every Bond movie up til that point was just another chapter in Bond history that could take place at any time.
Good thing he didn’t hit that button on the way down.
That’s our first shot of him, but not our first real shot. Our first real shot is one of the best first images of a new Bond there is. (Dare I say it might be better than Craig’s first shot. Nothing’s better than Connery’s first shot, but this might have Craig beat. I mean, you’re impinging on the “who’s the better Bond” argument there, but in terms if pure introduction, I think this might be #2 behind Connery.)
Those of us who’ve played countless hours of GoldenEye 64 remember this mission quite well.
Those of us who’ve played countless hours of GoldenEye 64 would have already shot off his hat and then put one in his ear.
“Beg your pardon. Forgot to knock.”
For the record – we’ve had a Scottish Bond, an Australian Bond, an Irish Bond and two Brits. All we need is a Welshman and we’ve got the entire UK covered. Then throw in an American and a Canadian and that’s pretty much all the primarily English-speaking countries.
Somehow, an American Bond would feel weird. But not as weird as a Singaporean Bond.
(Mike Note: Herro, pussy.)
Seriously how fucking annoying was this mission in GoldenEye 64? The fucking scientists running into walls and not being able to run away, and you having to make sure they didn’t die – fuck those guys were stupid.
“Aren’t we all?”
That’s Alec Trevelyan – 006. We’ll talk more about him later.
But first, here’s a fun little interlude — we never actually really know what’s up with the other 00’s, do we? I found this nifty list that contains all the times the other 00’s are mentioned in the franchise. Check this out:
001 — we never find out about.
002 was killed by Scaramanga and appeared at the beginning of The Living Daylights during the training exercise.
003 was found dead in the A View to a Kill opening.
004 was killed in The Living Daylights opening.
005 was shown at the big meeting in Thunderball (as I guess all of them were).
006 was Alec Trevelyan.
007 is Bond.
008 was mentioned in Goldfinger as a potential replacement for Bond if he failed. He was also mentioned in The Living Daylights as a replacement assassin for General Pushkin.
009 was killed at the beginning of Octopussy. And he (or, I guess, the new one) was the one who initially shot Renard in The World Is Not Enough.
The shit you don’t think about, right?
Oh, perfect. I was going to throw this together, but you’ve already done it. This is why we have people.
“James – for England.”
“For England, Alec.”
This is the shot where everyone who has played the 64 game will immediately be able to tell where it’s from. Seriously, I have it as one of my thousands of screenshots (by the way, at the time of this writing, it’s 23,000), and my friends and I would just sit in my room at like 2:30 in the morning and watch them, and people would shout out and guess what movie each of them was, and everyone who played the game was immediately able to pick out this screenshot. And it’s just of some gas tanks. This could be any movie. But it’s not. To people my age, this is about as memorable as Robert De Niro pointing a gun into the mirror.
Hah! Great Analyze That reference.
I’m imagining the hate building up in your chest right now.
(Mike Note: No joke, I was getting set to figure out how to respond to that right as I scrolled down. I wasn’t angry, since I know it was deliberate, but I was going to respond to it. That was a perfect case scenario of me not scrolling down and seeing the second paragraph.)
But seriously, you can’t NOT know this shot. And we should play that screenshot game again, that was fun.
Alec says to set the timers for six minutes.
But then General Ourumov shows up.
He’s still a bitch-ass lil colonel at this point.
(Mike Note: But it’s what’s on the inside that counts.)
Look at that fucker with the jaw next to him.
Dude, don’t use the Klobb.
But wait – something’s not right.
That’s not right.
Alec tells him to “finish the job,” and to “blow them all to hell.”
Well, all right.
“For England, James!”
For…ty four caliber right into your fucking head, you mean.
I love how he gets out of it.
Reaction shots are the key to comedy.
Most people might not think much about Ourumov, but that right there automatically makes him one of the better villains/henchmen in the franchise.
Arkady Grigorovich Ourumov begins as the colonel in charge of this chemical weapons facility in the middle of nowhere. Since he has ambitions of becoming the next “Iron Man of Russia” (you’d think that a Russian Iron Man would be named “Anthony Starkov”), he advances himself through the ranks to become a general, and the head of Space Division. He shows no misgivings about killing fellow Russians (as we just saw) and he’s willing to see many more killed before he gets what he wants — to restore Russia to its Cold War era glory. He gets a bit duped, but he’s a crafty guy who has some pretty excellent scenes and a car chase that he drinks through the entirety of. Big fan of Ourumov.
“Are we done with all of that bullshit?”
“Now what are you gonna do?” (He’s got that smile like Alan Rickman at the end of Die Hard.)
His line here is a popular one around the inter-webs. “You can’t win.”
(Mike Note: The inter-webs? What’s that? Is that one of the tubes?)
Wow, I wonder what company made that motorcycle. If only it was plastered across three parts of the bike.
(Mike Note: Gee, I wonder what fucking movie that reminds me of…)
Top five cold opens for the series. No joke. Probably top three. Maybe even top two. I haven’t given much thought about it.
This leads to our credit sequence, set to Tina Turner’s “GoldenEye.” (Written by Bono and The Edge, by the way.)
Is she moving like Bernie?
Great credit sequence. One of the franchise’s best. Not absolute best (like, top three or anything). It’s still kind of 90s (read: dated) in terms of its CGI. But it’s still really good.
Is that Baron Samedi?
(It’s clearly a woman. It’s just – technically he’s out there, right?)
In Soviet Russia…
The ending to this is pretty great. We go up the gun barrel and right into our opening.
We open on the road.
Oh, you already know what it is.
It’s the perfect way to start any movie. With the sound of an Aston Martin approaching the red line.
Of course he’s got a bitch with him.
What’s with the softcore porn music that comes on here?
“I enjoy a spirited ride as much as the next girl, but – who’s that?”
“The next girl.”
“Well all right, let’s race this bitch.” (Seriously, all he’s gotta do it be like, “Fine, you wanna say shit, I’ll go fuck someone else,” and you see how fast they’re like, “No no, no, I want it willingly.”)
The (friendly) chase is on.
One of the best location choices you could have for a car chase. Rally fans, in particular will know where this race is ending up before we see it, because these are some famous roads. Shooting was done on several of the more famous routes in the mountains surrounding Monte Carlo, including the iconic Cote D’Azure.
That bitch cheatin’.
Look at those cars.
This might be a good time to discuss this “race”. It doesn’t really make sense, because the Ferrari is eons ahead of the Aston Martin in just about every way. It’s faster, more planted, accelerates harder — Bond doesn’t stand a chance in this old relic. But it’s the Aston Martin DB5, so we just accept that it owns and allow it to keep up with her.
(Mike Note: But hasn’t Q made “adjustments” to it?)
She’s in a Ferrari F355 GTS, which is a great looking car. I’d say it’s the last good looking mid-engine car that Ferrari made until 2010. It’s also the perfect car for her character. It’s attractive, flashy, fast, and exotic — but it’ll also kill you if you don’t do the right thing.
You know she enjoys a spirited ride.
At least it’s not on ice, right?
Famke Janssen did all of her own driving in this movie, which is really impressive. The Ferrari was too stable to do the slides like the one we see below, so they put nails in the tires to make it skid.
It’s nice that he lets her go first. Anyway, Caroline – she’s an MI6 psychologist, sent to “evaluate” Bond – tells him to stop the car at once.
BUT AIN’T NO STOPPIN’ THE DICK!
Ain’t more than an arm’s reach away, baby.
Great place to fuck.
Monte Carlo. (What better place for a new Bond?)
And look who’s there.
“Oh, Imma fuck her.”
That’s Xenia Onatopp. There’s probably a more opportune time to talk about her, so we’ll wait. She’s – she’s fun.
Well that shot looks eerily familiar.
Now this really looks familiar.
“It appears we share the same passions. Three, anyway.”
“I count two. Motoring and, uh, baccarat.”
“I hope the third is where your real talent lies.”
“One rises to meet a challenge.”
Bond wins. (Fun fact: Her first hand is 007, and his last is 006.)
And now it’s time to fuck.
“Vodka martini. Shaken, not stirred.”
You know how she takes hers? “Straight up. With a twist.” (That’ll be ironic in about twenty minutes.)
“The name’s Bond. James Bond.”
Getting them both out of the way early. I like their style.
“Xenia Sergeyevna Onatopp.”
You can see him coming up with the puns in his head as he asks it.
He even refers to himself as “Commander” Bond. I like how the traditional stuff is gotten out of the way in the first act. You got the sense with the other Bonds that it was a big deal when they had those moments. Here it’s like, “Yes, let’s do it, moving on. We have a story to tell.” I’m a fan of that.
Bond watches as Onatopp goes to fuck an admiral.
He’s got a nice device that we’ll learn about in a second.
The dude next to him really ought to get his back window washed. You shouldn’t be allowed to have a dirty car in the presence of such beauty.
It’s a Citroen CX GTi. I’ve never been a fan. Just google it.
Not sure why Moneypenny has to narrate what’s on the paper, but it’s a nice way to get Moneypenny involved, so I’m totally fine with it. Plus she gets a line in there about how M is cool with him watching Onatopp but doesn’t want him to initiate any “contact” without prior approval. (Yeah, I bet M said that.) She also gets to make an “Onatopp of things” pun.
Oh yeah, so this scene is about to happen.
This is the first explicit sex scene ever shown in a Bond film. Milestone!
Now would be a good time to talk about Xenia Onatopp.
Xenia Onatopp is a complete psychopath. A former Soviet fighter pilot, she works for the crime syndicate Janus now. We meet her in the race with Bond, then at the casino where we find out that she’s Georgian. She is CRAZY. She pretty obviously takes erotic pleasure in killing people, which we’ll get later, and even Ourumov is like, “Bitch, what the fuck is wrong with you? You’re hot, but damn.”
She has really strong legs that she uses to asphyxiate dudes. She’s never not awesome, cause she’s either a psycho killer (qu’est-ce que c’est?), or a mopey, sarcastic bitch. Famke Janssen was also way hotter in this than she was in the X-Men movies. She could be my favorite henchwoman. Cause who else is there? May Day and Miranda Frost, basically. Oh yeah, Xenia’s the best.
Someone also steals the dude’s ID. (Of course he’s Canadian.)
I’d just like to say — I did not know that Canada had admirals. I know Canadians play hockey, so I bet they’re actually pretty badass soldiers. But they could probably get by without a military, cause who’s seriously gonna pick a fight with Canada with the US chillin’ next door?
The next day, Bond sneaks aboard the yacht.
Henchman, six o’clock.
And yet – not the first towel smack in the franchise.
“Whew – all this killing henchmen has caused me to perspire.”
Anyway – some sort of military thing is going on. Ourumov is there with Onatopp, and someone is there impersonating the dead Canadian admiral.
Bond, meanwhile, is trying to figure out what’s going on.
At least he died doing what he loved.
Best ID photo ever.
Time to go warn everybody.
Monaco looks like the best place in the whole world. That’s probably at the top of my list of places to go.
Apparently it’s a prototype of a helicopter. (Yeah, this won’t end well.)
This is really cool. I love that they did this. This is a Eurocopter Tiger, which actually was in the prototype stage at the time of filming. The ship this is taking place on is the actual testing vessel for the prototype, which the French Navy allowed to be use for shooting. Good sports.
Onatopp’s got a surprise for the pilots.
“I think I’ve gone to heaven.”
These are both stunt guys for this film, and the one on the left saying the line was the guy who did the bungee jump.
Who is that mysterious pilot, Sarge?
I’ll tell you who it most certainly isn’t – Henry, the mild-mannered jani-tor.
It just got up and walked away.
Meanwhile, in Balto…
Nah… it’s just Russia. They just don’t have cars yet.
I picture Russia as being 47% bunkers.
And they’re all going to vote for Obama.
This is Natalya Simonova, our Bond girl. We’ll talk about her later. Honestly, we’re probably more interested in the dude in the background of this image. He’s much more interesting than she is at the moment.
Because he can do that.
That’s Boris Grishenko. He is invincible.
He’s invincible. Boris is a high level Russian programmer who works in the GoldenEye facility and spends most of his time hacking. He has wacky glasses, a goofy smile and a penchant for spinning click pens while he types with one hand. The best thing about Boris is his ridiculous air of superiority. Cause he’s invincible.
The clue to his password is, “They’re right in front of you, and they open very large doors.”
And behind such a gleeful, childish façade is a hacker who just hacked into the Department of Justice.
Oh, they found him.
Remember when computer hacking was that simple?
At that time, it looked seriously skilled, but it looks sad to us now. This is like how you hear about 1910s racing drivers dying in crashes at speeds of 35 mph, and you’re like, “Shit, I do twice that on the way to work every day.” And take notice — Boris has a little revolving avatar cube with Star Trek insignias on it in the lower left of the screen.
He is invincible.
And Bone Saw is ready.
(Mike Note: Apparently the world just wasn’t ready for these people.)
Boris goes out for a cigarette in celebration when –
They say it’s a test run for a firing of the GoldenEye satellite. It’s actually a perfect cover. Coming in, making it like it’s a unscheduled review of everyone’s job, making them do everything real well, then –
Wax the motherfuckers.
You have to love how she gets off on stuff like this.
“Bitch, what the fuck is wrong with you?”
YES! Go back to my blurb about Xenia! That’s EXACTLY what I said.
Time to fire.
That’s GoldenEye. It’s an EMP satellite that pretty much radioactively wipes out anything with electricity.
Pretty sure that’s Neptune. Why is the earth all electric blue?
(Mike Note: You saying Neptune reminded me of this old Sega Genesis game I had, The Magic School Bus in Space. The Neptune level was awesome.)
Only, uh oh, they heard Natalya.
Meanwhile, in London…
Moneypenny’s all decked out in her Miss Havisham dress.
She was on a date. (Uh huh. The same date every night at 7:30. Maybe one day he’ll show up…)
Flirty flirty. Apparently the penalty for sexual harassment is that one day he has to “make good” on his innuendos (in her endo).
And there’s M. The new M is a lady.
I can’t not read that sentence in a Robbie Coltrane Russian accent. Why? You’ll see.
And that’s Tanner. We never really got much of Tanner before this. He was briefly in The Man with the Golden Gun (uncredited, even), then was in For Your Eyes Only, taking over for Bernard Lee (who was “on leave”), then didn’t show up again until this film, and sine has only appeared in The World Is Not Enough and Quantum of Solace. He’ll also be in Skyfall.
Oh look, Natalya’s alive.
GoldenEye. (Duh duh duh duh.)
It’s funny that GoldenEye was the name of Fleming’s ranch. It’s this franchise’s equivalent of naming Rosebud after Marion Davies’ clitoris. (And you’d think that connection wouldn’t seem legitimate, yet…)
Run, bitch! RUUUUUNNN!!!
Who knew that hiding under stairs could help you survive that?
Just another day in Russia. So you think she carpooled with them, or…
So…it went from shitty to shitty and on fire. Which, that’s an improvement during a Russian winter.
“Where did I park my bobsled?!”
“Would you care for a drink?”
“Bitch, do you not know who the fuck I…. I mean… thank you.”
“Your predecessor kept some cognac in the top—“
“I prefer bourbon.”
“You don’t like me, Bond. You don’t like my methods. You think I’m an accountant. A bean counter more interested in my numbers more than your instincts.”
“The thought had occurred to me.”
“Good. Because I think you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War, whose boyish charms, though wasted on me, obviously appeal to that young woman I sent out to evaluate you.”
“Yeah… she was fun.”
She then says she has no compunctions about sending him to his death. And she tells him not to go after Ourumov because of Alec’s death. And after all that, she tells him to “come back alive.”
I think that he respects Judi after this scene. I know I do. Her approach is all about getting on the defense early about being a woman in the job, which gets Bond to accept her and has the effect of making the audience accept her too. She’s snappy, cold, calculated, badass. Okay, M, we’re cool. And by Quantum of Solace, it’s pretty much accepted that Judi kicks your ass.
Either the Russian SPECTRE or the Russian MI6 is meeting.
It’s the Russian Security Council.
(Mike Note: Potato potahto. They both make vodka.)
Hard to tell.
Ourumov tells them about the shit he pulled, pretending to be investigating it (always a great situation to be in – with him looking for himself and everyone looking up their own ass, my bet is nobody finds nothing), and then is told about the two missing employees.
How much better would this scene have been if it’d been done in a porno theater?
(Mike Note: I ask myself that during every scene of every movie.)
Ourumov didn’t know about two. He knew about Boris. Not Natalya.
Time to see Q!
“Sorry about the leg. Skiing?”
Q don’t give a fuck about aim! Aiming is something bitches do.
“Now pay attention, 007…”
This is the first of a three film deal with BMW for product placement. The deal went through so late that they didn’t have time to make up a gadget car or work it into the script, which could actually be a good thing. As a result, this car is kept very simple. We hear that it has beefed up armor, all points radar, and missiles behind the headlights — all things that can’t be seen and can therefore exist in a stock car.
This car gets used once, briefly, in Florida. Bond trades it for a plane with our CIA contact (who we’ll meet soon) and the contact takes it for a spin. In spite of this car being only a minor part of this movie, BMW sold out all 15,000 pre-order cars almost instantly. It was a HUGELY successful product placement deal, one of the best in film history.
And a pen that’s also a grenade. This will be the most useful gadget in the film.
“How long did you say the fuse was?”
“Oh, grow up, 007.”
Time to show it in action. Sorry, Fred.
“Don’t say it!”
“The writing’s on the wall?”
“Along with the rest of him.”
I particularly enjoyed it when Bond made a comment about how they say the pen is mightier than the sword, and Q goes, “Well, thanks to me, they were right!” He knows he’s a boss.
I love how useless and yet how perfect most of his gadgets are.
“Don’t touch that!”
“That’s my lunch!”
Also a fantastic gag. You think it’s gonna be some deadly device.
So Bond goes to Russia.
And meets Jack Wade, CIA. (I’ll spare you the shot of his tattoo.)
This is Wade’s first appearance, so we’ll talk about him. (All I really need to say is – I much prefer this Joe Don Baker to the Brad Whitaker Joe Don Baker.)
Wade is a somewhat simple CIA operative who’s had a number of wives. We have fun with his little car and his ass tattoo. Bond doesn’t take to his informality, and Wade gives him crap for being a “stiff-assed Brit.” Wade also has a habit of calling James “Jimbo,” which Bond shakes his head at. This is what the British think of the US. Wade also has a moment of embarrassment when Natalya drops some classified CIA info like it isn’t shit. He’ll be back for Tomorrow Never Dies, and he’s not terrible in that.
(Mike Note: Though, to be fair, he’s also not really in that. He gets one little expositional scene, which is in line with how Felix was used in the early films.)
Bond gets some information about Janus, the head of the crime syndicate that’s doing all these things, and Wade says the best he can do is introduce Bond to Janus’s competition – “an ex-KGB guy. Tough mother. Got a limp on his right leg. Name’s Zuovsky.”
“Valentin Dimotrovich Zukovsky?”
“Yeah, you know him?”
“I gave him the limp.”
Meanwhile, Natalya’s in St. Petersburg as well, apparently delivering a robe to Ric Flair.
Cue an IBM commercial.
(Mike Note: Starring Ric Flair.)
Remember internet cafes? (Yeah, me neither.)
There’s a nice moment here where Natalya pretends to be some company woman who wants to buy a bunch of shit just so she can have free access to a computer for a little while. I like when Bond girls do that shit, especially since, for the most part, they’re not usually the type of chicks who would do something like that.
Anyway, she contacts Boris, and goes to meet him.
There’s also a weird shot of her typing in a weird way with her hands floating over the the keyboard. Remember when nobody knew how to type? It’s funny to me.
(Mike Note: Honestly, anything is better than Jonathan Pryce’s typing.)
Only that doesn’t go so well.
“Now let me get this straight, Jimmy – you shot him in the leg, you stole his car, you took his girl, and now you want Valentin Zukovsky to set you up with Janus?”
At least it’s not yellow, right?
Oh, no, I love this car! This is a ZAZ 965 Zaporozhets, which was the Soviet counterpart to the VW Beetle and the Fiat 500. It’s tiny and useless mostly, but the cool part about it was that around the time it went into mass production, there were so many disabled WWII veterans around that the whole options list revolves around that.
It’s like, “Option 2A: Special model for drivers who have no left hand or right foot.” And the car is modified so you can drive like that. I don’t know what this one is, but I love the idea of a car like that. Missing a bunch of limbs? You’re a Soviet, so of course you are! No problem, drive a ZAZ!
“Walther PPK. 7.65 mm. Only three men I know use such a gun. I believe I’ve killed two of them.”
“I think not.”
I love Zukovsky. We already talked about him in The World Is Not Enough, but since this is technically his first appearance, I guess we should talk about him again.
(Bond sure does point a lot of guns at him.)
Zukovsky is such an awesome Bond ally. Ex-KGB agent turned businessman. He’s an arms dealer, and a rival of Janus. Bond had a run-in with him sometime in the past, and he put a bullet in Zukovsky’s knee. Basically, he’s just a big, fat, Russian gangster with an excellent sense of humor. He gives Bond a hard time by making fun of his suave image, mocking him with the line, “Shaken, not stirred!”
Anyway, we only get to see him this once in GoldenEye, but he makes an excellent impression. And he’s amazing in World is Not Enough too. People think that Hagrid is Robbie Coltrane’s best role ever. And those people are wrong.
(Mike Note: Clearly his best role was as Rhun in Krull.)
(Though, actually, a very underrated Robbie Coltrane performance in a very underrated movie is him playing the ticket seller in Let It Ride. Such an underrated comedy from the 80s.)
And there’s a random Minnie Driver cameo as Zukovsky’s mistress.
“Who’s strangling the cat?”
“That is Irina. My mistress.”
“Very talented girl.”
“Irina! Take a hike!”
She didn’t like dem apples.
“I hear the new M is a lady.”
“My knee aches every single day. Twice as bad when it is cold. Do you have any idea how long the winter lasts in this country?”
“Tell him, Dimitri.”
“Well, it depends—“
Bond tells him he didn’t kill him because of professional courtesy. Zukovsky goes to shoot Bond in the knee, as a professional courtesy. Bond offers him a shitload of money. Janus is pulling a job. They’re gonna take down the Janus man, and let Zukovsky’s man get away with the money. Then Bond and Zukovsky are even and Janus owes Zukovsky one.
And in return, all Bond wants is to be set up with Janus.
“And what has he done to deserve you?”
“Stole a helicopter.”
“I have six.”
“Three. None that fly.”
Zukovsky then says that Janus is a Cossack. His family helped the Nazis during World War II, and they came over to England after the war, figuring they’d be able to fight the communists, only the British sent them back to Stalin, where they were all shot.
Later, as Bond is swimming in the hotel pool (this feels like a very Bond place to be) –
But it begs the question (not that we don’t already know the answer) – Assassination Attempt or Sex?
It’s Onatopp! How can it not be both?
She’s in the fucking steam bath. Come on, now.
“You don’t need the gun, Commander.”
“That depends on your definition of safe sex.”
The great thing about her is that it’s always both.
Right in the fucking face.
I love this moment. He pulls out the gun, then goes, “No, no no no.”
“No more foreplay.”
“Take me to Janus.”
Oh, those statues. Fond memories of those statues.
This is fantastic. She’s such a sarcastic bitch in this scene. We’re not playing anymore.
Nice little exchange, before –
I can’t even begin to think about how many times I’ve played the level with those statues.
This is the Soviet version of Scaramanga’s fun house.
It’s time to meet our Bond villain.
Or should I say Alec Trevelyan.
Dude, shoot him right now and it’s fucking over.
That’s why I was waiting to talk about him. In case for some random reason someone hadn’t seen this movie and really likes having it spoiled by random blog articles.
This is a relief. I can talk about Alec now, cause I’ve been careful not to mention him so far. Basically, we get the back story, which is that Alec’s parents were Lienz Cossacks who survived the end of WWII (during which they were traitorous bastards) and then committed suicide out of the shame of it — apparently in 1959.
As an orphan (just like James), Alec went to work for MI6, but remembered the hatred for England and planned this stuff from the very beginning. In the chemical weapons facility, he stages his own death with Ourumov, but actually gets Harvey Dented because Bond set the charges for 3 minutes instead of 6 minutes. Now he runs Janus and is in cahoots with General Ourumov to use the GoldenEye for evil uses.
He’s got a sweet Cuban lair, as well as the best train EVER. We’ll see that soon. Alec is cool, though, cause the first half of this movie is about Bond avenging Alec’s death and the second half of the movie is Bond trying to kill him.
We then get Alec’s backstory and motives – his parents survived the execution squads, but his father still killed himself and his mother anyway, and MI6 figured he was too young to remember, so they took him on.
You got a fucking dart in your neck.
And then he falls in the pool and we hear “The Sound of Silence”? That’s a reference of a movie referencing another movie. Meta.
(Mike Note: Not to make it even more meta, but I’m pretty sure tomorrow’s article randomly references that song, too.)
Yo, someone’s in your room, wake the fuck up.
This is actually a great cut. They cut from silence to Natalyz screaming “WAKE UP!” It’s weird – she’s not high on the Bond Girl list or general hotness, but in terms of how integral she is to the plot and how interesting her character is, she’s actually a lot higher than I’d immediately think to put her at first glance.
Oh, no, I have her as high on both the overall list and in terms of hotness.
(Mike Note: It’s difficult for me to immediately proclaim her as hot because she’s in winter clothes for the first half of the film. That’s why at first glance I don’t consider her much. I blame Russian winters.)
The helicopter is set to fire a missile at itself.
Natalya wants him to get them the fuck out of there.
Well of course fucking hit that.
Well that was short-lived.
I like buildings cars can drive into like that. You don’t see that very often anymore. (Or… in America.)
Also, I love symmetrical framing.
Oh, this scene. I loved this level.
Bond tells her who he is and wants to know what she knows.
She want the dick.
Dimitri Mishkin, the defense minister, comes to question them. Or rather, he asks how they’re gonna execute him.
“What, no small talk? No chitchat? That’s the trouble with the world today, no one takes the time to do a really sinister interrogation anymore. It’s a lost art.”
Bond and Mishkin get into a shouting match and Natalya’s like, “Shut the fuck up, both of you!” It’s a nice moment. She then says Ourumov did it.
And then Ourumov shows up, hoping he got there before she said anything about him.
Well that’s one way to remedy the situation.
Then there’s a cool moment of Ourumov figuring out how he’s going to get away with this, by wiping off his prints and giving the gun back to Bond. He’s making up the narration as he goes, until he gets to Bond being “shot trying to escape.” And tries to shoot him.
That’s one hell of a stunt fall.
YES! The library!
And the tank. Oh, the tank.
(Mike Note: As I read through this, “tank came off sounding eerily like ‘pepper’.” To the people who know what I’m talking about — I’m sorry for that image.)
Oh, they got Natalya.
“Well, that’s a shame. Bye, bitch.”
Get in the tank!
I can’t decide whose reaction is better.
“Where the fuck is the beer?!”
St. Petersburg Drift.
A ha. Nice reference with the baby carriage.
There’s something so fitting about an image of Bond driving a tank through St. Petersburg.
It’s a heavily modified T-54 made to look like a T-55 and it’s awesome. There’s a lot of unrealistic stuff going on in this scene, and it’s still awesome. I love everything about this scene, especially how Ourumov is yelling at his driver and drinking out of a flask. Cause what do you do when you’re being chased by James Bond in a tank? You fucking drink.
(Mike Note: That’s a trick question. You can replace everything after “when” and the answer would still be the same.)
Ourumov also yells at his driver to hit pedestrians, saying, “Use the bumper! That’s what it’s for!” Ah, Russia.
Still can’t drive though, can they?
Fuck yo water.
Perrier came back and got every last can off the street cause they were afraid people would use the cans to sell bullshit water using their name. Talk about full of yourself.
(Mike Note: There’s an entendre there involving water…)
How did Russia agree to this?
That looks like a Pokémon.
(I deliberately didn’t say which one because, if you already know which one it is without me having to, it means we both have a problem.)
I have a problem.
(Mike Note: Pokéholics Anonymous. My sponsor’s name is Charles.)
Let’s talk about Natalya now, while we have this nice shot of her.
Natalya is pretty high on my list. She’s played by Polish-Swede Izabella Scorupco, who’s a babe. At age 25, Natalya is a level 2 programmer with the Russian military, and she works in the same facility that Boris does. Other than being hot (I think), Natalya has elements of other Bond girls. She calls out Bond for his violence AND still sleeps with him, and she’s good with a gun and technology — the best of Honey Ryder and Camille at the same time.
She does some action with the running from explosions at the beginning, and she even suits up at the end to take care of business with James. She’s not the best Bond girl ever, but in a franchise with Christmas Jones and Stacey Sutton, she’s pretty damned good.
Trevelyan is creepy, which is weird, since one would presume he’s fucking Onatopp.
Blofeld was never this forward.
And she slaps the shit out of him. Oh, I like her.
Bond is playing chicken with the train.
“Bond. Only Bond.”
(Is that his cousin?)
“He’s going to derail us.” Look at her face as she says that.
Duh duh duh duh duh.
Some days you just can’t get rid of a tank.
So, Bond can kill Alec or save Natalya. Nice moment. Bond is so rarely put into situations like this.
“Kill her. She means nothing to me.”
“See you in hell, James.”
And that’s the end of Ourumov.
But not Alec.
They get locked in, but Natalya sees that Boris is online, so she tries to find out where they’re going.
A helicopter that comes out of a train. Nice shit.
If trains weren’t so crazily useless, I would make owning one of these my top priority. This is one of the coolest non-car vehicles ever in a Bond film. Near the top.
“Good luck with the floor, James. I set the timers for six minutes. The same six minutes you gave me. It was the least I could do for a friend.”
“What does that mean?”
“We’ve got three minutes.”
This is the part when I always shat myself as an eight year old playing GoldenEye 64. Cause you’re on the clock.
Somehow she can’t figure out Boris’s password, “What you sit on, but can’t take with you.” I love that Bond is immediately like, “Chair.” Which says two things to me – first, that’s a man that knows his puns. Like, “Bitch please, I make these plays on words every goddamn day.” And second, it tells me that they had to work in a moment where Bond was better than her. Since he already said he doesn’t know computers (which I guess they did for Natalya to have a purpose and had to carry over into his other films), so they needed a reason for her to not have complete power over him in a certain regard. Bond always has to help them on something. (And it’s something simple, too. It’s like those riddles Jeremy Irons gives Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson in Die Hard with a Vengeance. They’re life or death in the film, and yet they’re simple grade school shit.)
He’s in Cuba.
“Do you destroy every vehicle you get into?”
Oh, she’s coming with him to Cuba. She’s the only one who knows how to disarm the GoldenEye.
BUT SHE WANT THE DICK.
So we’re in Cuba.
Actually, I don’t think we are, and I’ll explain why in a second.
With our Bond car.
The dress is meant to imply that they fucked, right? Or is it just some Ninotchka shit? She’s finally in a place where they have actual clothing to wear?
And there’s Jack Wade.
Finally, for once, he’s not trying to catch the plane or drive off of it.
But this is the same plane that Sanchez is flying in Licence to Kill. Two films consecutive. It’s a Cesna 172P, which is a really popular plane, so it’s possible that it’s a coincidence. But even the color scheme is the same.
But Wade’s not there. Not at all. The CIA has no knowledge and no involvement in any of this.
So here’s why I’m pretty sure we’re not in Cuba. Wade talks about having no knowledge about Bond’s insertion into Cuba — and he instructs Bond to take the plane straight down the runway, adding, “Cuba’s 80 miles on your right.” Then when they’re actually in the plane, we see them coming in perpendicular to the Cuban coastline. I’m pretty sure they’re not already there. But it’s easy to just assume they are — which is why none of this is touched in any Bond literature. All we know is that it was shot in Puerto Rico at the same place as Contact.
Russians don’t get jokes.
“Borrowed a plane from a friend of mine in the DEA.”
Well that’s a fucked up thing to say.
“Did you check her out?”
“Head to toe.”
And he’ll just be taking the car.
Well, at least someone gets to enjoy the car.
Was this cut out of Casino Royale or something?
Or did they just superimpose a postcard on the background?
Actually, this is the most depth Bond has had in a long time.
“How can you be so cold?”
“It’s what keeps me alive.”
“No. It’s what keeps you alone.”
The magic dick disagrees with your theory.
“What were we talking about, again?”
Time to go see Scaramanga.
Make that Kananga.
Guess how I feel about rear projection.
I love how he never remembers his previous missions. Like, remember that time the volcano was actually hiding a rocket base?
It’s a miracle I haven’t given up on this synopsis to play the game yet.
If I had it here, I’d have been playing it hours ago. Instead I just watched gameplay videos.
(Mike Note: I have it on my laptop. This is my Lost Weekend.)
“This time, I get to cum.”
“Bitch, don’t you ruin this for me.”
I know I wasn’t the only one who was like, “Oh please kiss, oh please kiss.”
What a badass way to go out.
Meanwhile, Alec prepares to fire GoldenEye.
“The target is London.”
Who BUILT this? I get how it’s all secret NOW, but what about those six years when there were 4,000 Cubans working on this place around the clock? This stuff bothered me even as a kid. But I guess it doesn’t matter.
What he’s doing is breaking into banks, stealing money, then blowing the place up.
They exchange barbs. My favorite is Alec asking if “all the vodka martinis have silenced the screams of all the men you’ve killed.” And then tagging it with one about him finding forgiveness in the arms of women, “for all the dead ones you failed to protect.” He’s good.
Natalya’s not happy to see Boris.
“Oh, you kids…”
She fucked up the computer.
Oh, I LIKE this one. She’s like, “Hah, I fucked you uh-up!”
This begins a great little scene where Boris absentmindedly starts clicking Bond’s grenade pen. And Bond watches, waiting for him to hit the right number of clicks before it explodes.
“Go ahead. Shoot him. He means nothing to me.” It’s funny because Bond said the same thing about her before. This is the kind of shit that makes someone a top notch Bond girl.
“We have to destroy the transmitter.”
“Either way, I’m fine, thank you very much.”
Just like Marion Barry.
And to make it even better:
“Do you know how to use one of these?”
“Oh, Imma fuck the shit out of you later.”
This is all just a big “fuck you” to Roger Moore, isn’t it? (And by exclusion, Timothy Dalton too.)
I think my life is just a big “fuck you” to Roger Moore. Except for when I sleep with women. But even then, I don’t do it like Moore.
Bet this reminds you of home, doesn’t it, Boris?
Final showdown time.
Why would you climb down? Wait for him to come up and shoot the fuck.
Eh, I’d just shoot him, then. You never want to “wait” for Bond to do anything. Nothing good ever comes of that.
(Mike Note: Just ask the women he’s slept with.)
What’s great about this shot is that you can so clearly see how they set this up on a soundstage.
“For England, James?”
“No. For me.”
Ohhhh boy, that’s not where your foot’s supposed to go.
Why don’t you just climb back up the thing that you’re clinging to instead of jumping to a helicopter?
Oh, well that’s why you’d jump. But did he know this was gonna happen?
And that’s the end of Alec Trevelyan.
He was invincible :(
But now he’s invincicle.
And now it’s all over but the fucking.
“Suppose someone is watching.”
“There’s no one within twenty-five miles. Believe me.”
These three helicopters drop in from out of frame at the same moment all these guys pop up, meaning they were like ten feet above where this frame is. Isn’t it great how helicopters can be perfectly silent until you see them?
“Maybe you two would like to finish debriefing each other at Guantanamo.”
Ten years later, that would have been a threat.
Final Thoughts on GoldenEye:
I love this movie, but it doesn’t have quite the same sentimental pull for me that it does for other people in my generation. I grew up a Bond fan, and even though we used to watch this movie on VHS all the time, we watched Goldfinger or Thunderball just as much. It’s really only the game and the camaraderie I remember surrounding that. It doesn’t get as much of a bump on sentimentality.
That said, I still consider this to be a solidly top ten film, and agree with Mike that it has to go top six (at least until Skyfall comes out). For me, though, it’s losing out to Dr. No for pure class. This is a much better action film and it certainly does all the Bond conventions right. There’s nothing here to really complain about. It’s just down to a matter of taste and how much it gets you going. I’m going to say that Dr. No is my number four, and that GoldenEye should be tied for fifth with the movie that’s coming up tomorrow, but that’s a major cop-out, so for the time being, let’s call this sixth.
The Bond girls are both excellent, the villains are pretty good, there’s more than enough action, Brosnan is superb his first time out, the vehicles are to die for and we get Robbie Coltrane and Judi. And Boris, who is invincible.
This is bringing me to my final point, which is — look at this, Dr. No, and the film that’s coming up tomorrow, and you have three COMPLETELY different movies. Even though they’re the three that are locked in for 4-6 for both Mike and myself, it feels kind of wrong to be ranking them. They’re a set and your ranking of them could change based on the day. This film has top five potential depending on what day of the week it is, and we’re now into the home stretch where we don’t have any issues with these films; it’s all about how awesomely good they are.
My Final Thoughts:
There’s not really much for me to say about this one. It should speak for itself as a top ten film. The rest, for me, is the fact that I grew up with it and the game, and the fact that it manages to bring all the better elements of Bond together without getting bogged down in ridiculous and unnecessary action sequences that would haunt the rest of Brosnan’s tenure as Bond and grounding itself (as all the best Bond films do) in an engaging story and then using the “Bond” stuff as the cherry on top. Think about it — this is really the first time Bond and M’s conversations have really been about something. Usually those scenes are useless exposition, with maybe a few jokes thrown in, and we enjoy them because we get to see Bernard Lee (or Robert Brown, but mostly Bernard Lee). Here, they make M’s scene build a relationship between her and Bond (which would pay off huge in the Craig era) and also work into the actual plot of the film. And I like that they beef up Q’s role, like in Licence to Kill, and give him more than just two minutes to be awesome. It’s the little things that help a film really stand out, but again, the real thing this movie did right was having a great story, first and foremost. That’ll always get a Bond film ranked high.
– – – – –
Official Bond Number: #17
Release Date: November 13, 1995 (New York Premiere)
November 17, 1995 (U.S. release)
Run Time: 130 minutes
Budget: $58 million
Box Office: $106.4 million domestic, $352.2 million worldwide
Title Song: “GoldenEye,” by Tina Turner
Music By: Eric Serra
Based On: Just Bond in general.
Director: Martin Campbell