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I bid a fond farewell to Timothy Dalton’s Bond (which was excellent) and welcome Pierce Brosnan as the fifth James Bond in the franchise. I really enjoyed the Goldeneye N64 game in my youth, so I kind of know the broad strokes of this movie. But I’m also leery of it because it involves some sort of post-communist Russia techno-terrorist plot, and stuff involving computers in movies back in the 1990’s is inevitably kind of stupid. (See: every movie made in the 1990’s where computers and the “Internet” [back when we capitalized that word like it was a proper noun] were a main plot point.)

We open on a giant dam, where Bond is running like the wind with a harness strapped around him like it’s a rope relay race. He stands at a precipice at the center of the dam and jumps off the darn thing, completing the most insane bungee jump  I’ve ever seen. When he reaches near the bottom, he shoots a Batman-like grappling hook into the roof of a building and reels himself in. A title card helpfully explains that this is the Arkangel Chemical Weapons Facility in the USSR (so we know it’s the past). From there, he uses a laser to get inside and he then drops onto some dopey soviet soldier on the toilet. He gets a little quip in before punching the dude out, then enters the facility proper. Man, this is just like the game.

With his Walter PPK, he snoops around and finds that this place is just crawling with Russian soldiers. He meets his partner in this little escapade, 006, and they go about the flip business of saving the world. Bond and 006 gain entrance to the labs and 006 shoots a scientist while Bond gains access to the chemical storage warehouse. I’m still surprised how much like the game this is, which goes to show what a quality game Goldeneye on the N64 was. Except you weren’t supposed to shoot scientists unless they shot at you first. OK, back to the movie.

Bond sets charges on the vats while he and 006 say ironically casual Englishman stuff to each other. Russian soldiers blow the door and start a-shooting, and suddenly 006 isn’t responding to James’s quips. Seems that he’s been captured and the Russian commander has Bond deactivate his bombs but the commander shoots 006 in the head anyway. So Bond says fuck it, let’s just do whatever here and he plays a little jazz with the plan. Hiding behind an explosive rack of chemical tanks, he squeaky-wheels himself across the room. Bond turns on a conveyer belt and shoots a bunch of storage tanks out of their place, raining them down upon these Russian goofs. He flips and flops his way outside while racing towards a plane, wherein he smashes the dude flying it and they both take a tumble out of the moving plane.

Bond hops onto a motorcycle whose driver he just shot and drives towards the still-moving plane, which is heading towards a precipice. So far, the precipice count in this movie is at 2. As it goes over, so does Bond, who dives in mid-air towards it. He catches up to the plane in a way that’s incompatible with the laws of physics, gets behind the throttle, and pulls the goddamn thing out of its dive. Bond soars through the air, a miniature model of the facility blows up, and that’s the opening action sequence. It was OK, I guess.

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“What’s with me and precipices?”

Here’s the opening credits sequence, and it’s very 90’s. But hey, the theme song is sung by the excellent Tina Turner! The song is “Goldeneye” (duh), and if you were alive and cognisant in the 1990’s you would remember this tune, since it played on VH1 all of the time. A bunch of Soviet statues are danced on by naked ladies and it’s a pretty weird credit sequence. A two-faced lady has a gun come out of her mouth and I’m wondering what the hell this is all about. It’s like a Dali painting about the deconstruction of the Soviet Union. Anyway.

CUT TO a goddamn Aston Martin zooming down a twisty road and we’re informed that it’s NINE YEARS LATER but Bond hasn’t aged a day. James is behind the wheel, scaring the hell out of the woman in his company. Some other lady pulls up next to him to do a dance of death with James on this road and of course we know Bond doesn’t feel alive unless the risk of death is in play. So he and the lady in the Ferrari plays chicken with a truck, she spins out, and the music is wildly 1990’s with its record scratches and electronica beats. While the woman in his car is scared out of her mind, Bond acts like they’re on their way to lunch at a nice tea cottage. Ferrari and Bond keep driving recklessly for their own amusement, and a bunch of bikers–you know, those types that bike in groups like a bunch of kids on Power Wheels–get knocked down because fuck those guys.

His lady companion tells him to stop the goddamn car so he does, and then opens a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon that’s in his center console because who gives a shit about drinking and driving when you’re James Bond? Anyway, they make out. Of course.

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Terrifying women turns Bond on because he’s pretty much a serial killer.

CUT TO: some palatial hotel in Francy Land, where he hands his keys to some frog and sees the red Ferrari from his earlier death fantasy. He goes in and plays goddamn baccarat, which of course the Ferrari lady is also playing. He takes a seat across from her and Brosnan looks very Bond-like. She smokes a cigar (yuck), and Bond chats her up. They flirt like sociopaths and Bond continues to gamble like a lunatic. She gets pissed that she loses the hand and storms off but Bond goes right up to her and keeps up with the smooth talk because he’s an animal. He orders a vodka martini (shaken, not stirred), and says the “Bond, James Bond,” line while the lady provides the completely insane name Xenia Onatopp. I’m Russian by ethnicity and heritage, and Onatopp is not a Russian surname. But we need a sexually punny name for our Bond girls, after all. Anyway, some goddamn Russian admiral takes her away from Bond, so he says the rather dirty pun, “I like a girl who pulls rank,” because yikes.

We then see some goddamn awful French mime show because this movie obviously finds the French silly, and Bond spies on Xenia and the admiral as they get into a motor boat. He takes pictures and sends them to his printer. Wait, what? It’s 2017 and I can’t even get anything to send remotely to my printer correctly. Anyway, he has the goddamn printer in his car while Moneypenny sends him some information about this crazy Xenia lady. CUT TO Xenia Onatopp having rough, crazy Russian sex with the admiral on the boat. She acts like she’s turning into a werewolf. Anyway, she uses her legs to crush the admiral to death, which is pretty fucking crazy, and some disembodied hand takes the admiral’s ID card from his jacket.

CUT TO Bond sneaking onto the boat the next day. He watches the powerboat speed away, and then he has a hand-to-hand combat fight with some Gilligan-looking motherfucker. And that’s that? Because CUT TO some bullshit by the docks with a military band playing and the admiral’s ID being used by somebody. These Russkies are doing a demonstration of some crazy new aircraft, and it looks like Bond is still on that other boat, snooping as usual. He finds the admiral’s dead body in the closet and high-tails it out of there on a boat looking like he’s in a fancy whisky commercial.

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The sweet smell of success: The Macallan.

So the helicopter demonstration goes on, explaining that it’s the height of aerial technology, while Xenia is on the carrier, where she shoots the two pilots that are going to do the demonstration. She dresses up in their gear and gets into the helicopter while Bond shows up trying to stop this crazy thing. But he’s blocked by the guards and the helicopter is just stolen right off the carrier. Nice going, everybody!

We CUT TO some husky dogs pulling a sled and the Space Weapons Control Centre (English spelling, of course) in Russia. Hey, this was another level in the game! Neat. It’s weird watching this movie after playing that game for so long. Anyway, in an underground bunker, there’s a bunch of hi-tech computer stuff going on, and we are introduced to our next Bond Girl, a redheaded fox, and for some reason Alex Borstein (Lois from Family Guy) is also in this movie as a Russian! What the hell? Anyway, the redheaded fox has to deal with Boris the Creep for a password, and they talk about the Internet and e-mail like it’s The Second Coming and their accents are atrocious. The way the internet is portrayed in the 1990’s is also ridiculous. Stupid past! You had NO IDEA how crazy stuff was going to get! So Boris uses his silly fake computer tracing program and it’s neither funny nor interesting. Redheaded Fox says fuck this noise while Boris goes outside for a cigarette.

That stolen helicopter lands at this base while Boris is outside and Xenia and Some Russian Dude hop out. Redheaded Fox pours herself a cup of coffee while they enter the facility. Turns out Some Russian Dude is Ourumov, head of the space division, and all of these goddamn Cossacks all snap to action when this dude shows up. They’re going to test Goldeneye (HEY! That’s the name of this thingy!), and it’s some satellite bullshit that’s happening. I don’t know. This kind of stuff always trips me up in Bond movies because the exposition that lays out the villain’s plan is always too quick to really catch while you’re also writing in real-time.   

Foxy Redheadovich espies some of this bullshit happening while trying to enjoy her goddamn coffee for once without Boris the Creep creeping on her all creepily. Ourumov then has Xenia blow everybody away with a machine gun and she is sexually aroused by slaughtering all of these people. Totally out of control, Bond movie. Anyway, Ourumov and Xenia activate the Goldeneye thingimajig and arm the weapon and it’s just another missile in space as usual. Redheadovich drops a fucking spoon or something, which alerts Xenia, while some dying dude triggers the alarm. Redheadovich ducks into the ceiling vent, which Xenia again lustfully shoots at. Thinking it’s all cool, they split while the space missile gets into position. Flying away on their stolen chopper, the Russian Air Force scrambles, but tough luck, comrade!

Back in Britain, Bond meets with a new Moneypenny, who’s kind of sick of his shit at this point and calls him out on his innuendos, and then he goes in to see some other dude, who’s also new. They start looking at the missing helicopter that satellites have found, and and hey! Dame Judy Dench is the new M! And she still is to this day! Good for her. Anywhoo, it’s the regular blah blah exposition about Goldeneye, a Star Wars-like program (the 1980’s American defense industry’s satellite defense program, not the movie).

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Having…flashbacks…to Moonraker!

We also see Foxy Redheadovich crawling out of a cabinet where she’d been hiding, so nice fake-out, movie. She sees everyone has been shot to ribbons and the Goldeneye space ray zaps the instillation in some sort of EMP-like shock, and everything ‘splodes like it wouldn’t if an EMP hit it, but Redheadovich just kind of cowers in the corner of the room so I guess she’s OK due to movie magic. The fighter jets flying overhead also get fried and explode like a really bad special effect and one crashes into the satellite installation Redheadovich is hiding in. This also doesn’t kill her, and neither does the scaffolding that starts to fall on her but stops just before her face arrives at Smash Town. She walks among the fire and dead bodies of the installation and tries to leave but finds herself stuck because the electronic doors are fried. Then she hears a noise in the ceiling and the roof collapses. Everything’s a flaming wreck but she climbs up the steel girders to safety, ignoring that those girders would be insanely hot due to the fire everywhere. OK, movie.

Back at Bond HQ, Stuffy McTuffington tells Bond and M that the satellite’s back up and they look down at the installation, which is now toast. They jib-jab about some satellite such EMP radiation surge etc. and I get it movie, you read a book once. Bond says that helicopter’s involved in stealing the somesuch thingy and this is the kind of stuff in Bond films that I can’t follow. Bond scans the installation and sees Redheadovich’s heat signature, and we cut back to her finding those deux ex sled dogs.

Back at HQ, M and Bond exchange more exposition dialogue about what’s going on in the plot. He and M have a drink because why the hell not and I wish I had a drink because I’m getting bored with this scene. M says you don’t like me, Bond, do you? And Bond says of course not. But M gives him some shit for being a sexist holdover of the old days and I’m gonna send you off to your doom soon enough. Bond’s like, point taken, and takes a sip of his bourbon. Anyway, M says don’t be James Bond and go on a mission of vengeance, OK? And Bond finishes his drink and says fine, fuck, whatever.

At an office at Red Square, a bunch of Russkies are having their shitty brunch when Ourumov walks in. The council looks like a collection of marble busts and Ourumov says blah blah whatever, more goddamn exposition for the upcoming intrigue. They tell him that a survivor (Redheadovich) from the station must be found, and Ourumov says I’ll go kill her, I mean find her. Back at HQ, Bond’s having his regular meetup with Q for his new gadgets for this adventure, and I’m astonished at the continuity of one actor playing Q since From Russia With Love in 1963, Desmond Llewelyn. They check out his new car–a BMW Z3, which is a honey of a vehicle (although a convertible, which doesn’t seem to be a good choice for a spy car). Q still doesn’t find Bond’s quips amusing, which is amusing as usual, of course. He also has a spy belt for repelling, a pen grenade, and a plane ticket to St. Petersburg. As usual, Q is pretty damn amusing and his workshop gets nuttier with each movie.

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“I see you’ve gone completely barmy, Q. Good work.”

In St. Petersburg, Bond meets his contact, who’s a goddamn southern American because this franchise loves making fun of Americans from the south. He says stuff your secret code, but Bond says fuck you buddy, that’s how we do things and holds him at gunpoint until he gives the secret code and (grossly) shows him his disgusting tattoo on his flabby old body. They then become pals, I guess. And hey! Redheadovich is in St. Petersburg, as well. Ah, economy of fiction, you never let me down.

Because Americans suck, the agent’s car is all broken and he’s trying to fix it. He also keeps calling Bond different variations of James (Jimmy, Jimbo, etc.), and man do I already not like this character. Anyway, Redheadovich goes to an IBM store (I’ve never seen one before, but I guess that’s a Russian thing) and buys some laughably outdated computers. Goddammit, it turns out Boris the Creep is still alive, and they have a super-90’s chat session. Remember when computers were beige? What an awful color for computers.

Back with The American & The Brit, they pull up to some shady doings to give them an ass-kicking courtesy of Her Majesty The Queen and Uncle Sam. And then we cut to Redheadovich in a church, where she’s probably meeting Boris the Creep. And so she does–along with Onatopp!!! CUT TO: Bond infiltrating some sleazy club where he pulls his Walter PPK on, I don’t know, some Russian jerkovich. But he gets the drop on him, too. And then there’s this completely awful stage show going on where a bunch of Russian women are singing “Stand By Your Man” with the thickest accents possible. I’m pretty sure one of them is Minnie Driver. So Bond insults her and this fat-headed Russian named Valentine insults him and more blah blah happens. Bond needs a favor from him, and they laugh and laugh and Valentine starts shooting at his knees but Bond says look, I can make you some money. And then they’re friends again. So Bond wants him to hook him up with Ourumov in exchange for helping Valentine ripping off some dudes in a C-4 explosives deal. Jeez o peez, more convoluted cloak and dagger stuff.

Back at Bond’s posh hotel, he’s supposed to be meeting Ourumov at some point but first he takes a dip. But someone enters his seemingly private pool while a sexy bass line plays. Who is it? Is it Onatopp? I bet it is! And…it is. Bond makes a terrible pun of “safe sex” and Onatopp starts going to town on Bond while acting like a sex badger in heat. Never stick your you-know-what in crazy, Bond! Anyway, she starts attacking him and squeezing his ribs with her thighs and acting like a complete animal. This is crazy even for a Bond movie. He flips her around and pulls a gun on her telling her to take him to Ourumov. She curses in Russian and is kind of a scary person in general.

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As Batman once said, why are all the beautiful ones homicidal maniacs?

So Bond’s driven to Ourumov’s place and he quips away with Onatopp before karate chopping her into dreamland. At least the man-on-woman violence is done off-screen these days. Good job? Hey! I recognize this scene from the video game, too! It’s a graveyard for old Soviet icons and the set design is pretty rad. Bond walks around with his Walter PPK drawn and hears a voice…a familiar voice. It’s 006! That sneaky Pete! Only his face is all scarred up. Bond doesn’t have a quip for this situation, and 006 is all bitter that things aren’t the way they used to be, toppling regimes and fighting commies and such. He throws some shade at Bond for the heck of it and it turns out 006’s parents were Cossacks and were destroyed after the war. So 006 started working for the British Secret Service. He also blames Bond for his scarred-up face which makes his new name Janus a great allusion to the ancient two-faced Greek god. Thanks, AP Literature! Anywhoo, Bond’s shot with a knock-out dart and goes beddy bye.

Bond’s waken up by Redheadovich screaming at him like a lunatic because they’re tied to the stolen helicopter that is set to launch its missiles. James starts smashing buttons with his face, turning on the copter, and those missiles are coming right back towards them. Whoops! So James’s handsome face gets a workout at he smashes the eject button with it. Their capsule launches into the air, the helicopter body blows up, and they descend just yards away. Bond makes a terrible quip about frequent flier mileage and frees Redheadovich, who kicks him and tries to run away as so many women have before. But before they can get too far, they’re surrounded by soldiers who take them into custody.

They’re brought to a dingy interrogation room and stand there like, what now? I also get to hear Redheadovich’s name again so I can call her by the right name, and it’s…wait for it….Natalya Proshinya? Prishivgna? Holy smokes, she said it so fast that I actually have to look it up. Natalya Simonova. That’s her name. So Natalya starts telling Bond what she knows (pretty much what we’ve seen) and that Boris the Creep is a traitor. She’s worried that they’re going to kill her, and Bond says trust me, but come on, would you trust him? Some defense minister asks how Bond would like to die, and Bond is as flip as possible about all of this. The minister asks where the fudge is the Goldeneye device, and they go at it, and Natalya says you’re both pretty, OK? And she also lets them know that it’s Ourumov that stole the Goldeneye. The minister thanks her for the information, and then Ourumov comes in demanding that it’s his investigation, dammit! And then he blows the guard and the defense minister away. He lets Bond know that the murder will be pinned on him, but Bond gives him five good reasons and a fist why that’s just not going to happen. He and Natalya duck out of there and hey! This is another level from the video game! I remember that it was annoying because you had to make sure Natalya didn’t die, which she always would because game AI sucked back then. Anyway, blam blam blam, run run run, you know how it goes. Natalya gets caught but Bond gets the hell out of Dodge because nuts to this, fellas. Natalya’s thrown into the back of a car so Bond gets in a goddamn tank. This is another level from the game, and a really fun one too because you’re driving a tank around blowing stuff up.

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“Just a handsome man driving a tank through the streets, nothing to see here.”

Even though it’s a tank chase scene, it’s still a car chase scene and I don’t summarize those because what the hell else are you going to say? It’s two parties in vehicles chasing each other. The tank is a nice variation, though, since it just smashes through everything. What happened to 007’s BMW in this movie? Was it just in that one scene for product placement? Probably. I’ll note this: he drives through a Perrier truck, which was pretty cool, and also catches a giant statue on top of the tank, which makes for a neat visual. Bond must have killed about 100 people in this chase so far. Ourumov–with Natalya in tow–get to a train station, and goddamn Onatopp is there too, smoking a big gross cigar. She’s like the woman of my nightmares.

The train starts pulling out of the station and there’s a really fancy car that they enter. Now all of the bad guys–Ourumov, Onatopp, and 006/Janus–are in one place, and Natalya looks pissed. 006 is not happy that Bond escaped alive and tells Natalya to take a seat. The exterior of the train is really cool-looking. Janus creeps out on Natalya. Bond drives his tank up the train line to barricade the train. Those are three unrelated sentences, but things are kind of jumping around at this point.

Anyway, they see the tank is blocking the track and Onatopp says, “He’s going to derail us,” with such sexy enthusiasm that you’d think this was what she was anticipating her entire life. But Bond just fires a shell at the conductor’s car and stops the train because he’s in a goddamn tank. Natalya runs for escape but it stopped by Ourumov while 006 finds himself at the end of Bond’s gun. Now we have a stand-off between 006 at gunpoint and Ourumov holding Natalya at gunpoint. Then Bond tries to play head games to turn the two bad guys against each other. Onatopp is licking her lips like a sexual predator while Bond says kill the girl, who gives a turkey? So Onatopp and 006 run like hell while Bond turns around and blows away Ourumov to free Natalya. They’re shut in the train while…a helicopter comes out of one of the train cars for 006 and Onatopp to escape.

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Helicopter Train: Coming this Fall!

In the train, 006/Janus gives Bond the knowledge that he has three minutes to escape while Natalya tries to “hack” into something-or-other to figure out where Boris the Creep is. They duck out of the hole Bond made in the floor with his laser watch and the train blows up real good. Natalya asks if Bond destroys every vehicle he’s in, and Bond says duh, of course. Then they start making out because I guess almost dying really gets the ladies going. Then we’re in Cuba, and Bond’s finally using the BMW! They both look like they’re on their honeymoon, but that illusion is broken by a prop plane landing just in front of them. Who’s this now? I’m hoping it’s Q.

Dammit! It’s that idiot American from back in St. Petersburg! He’s dropping off a gift basket from Q. Why couldn’t it just have been Q? Stupid movie. Anyway, he lets Bond–and us–know that America’s CIA and FAA and etc. are on their side and will provide support. Great. When is this shit mission going to start? Idiot American takes Bond’s cool car, unfortunately, and I guess that’s a wrap for Bond’s cool spy car again. What was that, 30 seconds of screen time?

On the beach, Bond looks pensively at the ocean and Natalya walks up to him in a two-piece and I really do think they’re on their honeymoon. They have some sort of heart-to-heart about the awful part of Bond’s job that’s about killing people, and she has some sort of problem with this, but Bond’s like I don’t care, lady. Then they hate-kiss because that’s how things work in Bond’s universe, baby. LATER, they’re snuggling in bed and she asks Bond if he meant what he said about not caring if Natalya lives or dies and he says of course I did, and this is somehow funny and flirty because they smooch a little more. Maybe I just don’t understand how romance works.

Then they’re flying a lane over some gorgeous terrain in Cuba (or wherever this was shot) towards the Goldeneye project thing that they have to stop. The green screen effect inside the plane isn’t great, but the exterior shots are well-done. They keep flying and go round and round and round (PARK LIFE!). And then a goddamn missile shoots through one of their wings and they crash land on the water and into the jungle because I guess this is Indiana Jones now. Natalya’s knocked the fuck out but Bond is fine, as usual. Then he decides to take a nap next to her.

But wrong move, James! Here comes a helicopter and the movie switches to Apocalypse Now-vision. Here comes insane sex murder machine Xenia Onatopp, who zips down and starts kicking the crud out of James. This woman is a truly terrifying creature. She starts crushing Bond with her thighs and Natalya tries to smash her but Onatopp is a cyborg or something. Fortunately, Bond shoots and kills the helicopter pilot, and when the helicopter starts to crash, Onatopp is wrapped up in the zip line and she’s crushed against a tree. So goodbye, scary lady! I’ll see you in my sex nightmares!

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Sex Nightmare is a pretty good name for a punk band.

A gigantic satellite starts emerging from a lagoon, so Bond has finally figured out where the headquarters is for the Goldeneye operation. As they get ready to launch this crazy thing, I realize that this is yet another level from the game. I’m also impressed with how the Goldeneye N64 game faithfully reproduced the sets of this movie in the levels. That game ruled. This movie? Not so much.

Inside, 006/Janus spots Bond and Natalya snooping around and sends people out to kill them while he starts setting the satellite’s coordinates to London. Bond and Natalya take fire and start sliding down the satellite dish, which looks pretty fun if you ask me. Well, minus the death drop at the center. Bond stops the fall with his feets and inside they start to launch the Goldeneye thing. I’m still not entirely sure how the Goldeneye EMP works since it seems impossible, but then again, realism was never this franchise’s strong suit. Everyone inside starts going bonkers while Bond starts blowing everybody away. Natalya sneaks off to do some computer thing, I’m sure, and Bond very casually sends dozens of people off to their death, like he was waiting for his English muffin to pop out of a toaster. A bomb he sets starts ticking away as he’s captured, along with flammable liquid that begins to drizzle all over the place like butter on an English muffin.

Bond is taken to 006/Janus and it’s time for the evil villain monologue like usual. How I enjoy these. It’s even better because it’s personal between the two, and Janus starts asking how Q is, which is polite, but since he was a secret agent he also knows that he can deactivate any bomb Bond has set with the secret agent watch. Turns out this whole garbage was about extracting money from the Bank of England into their own account and then frying the mainframe with the Goldeneye EMP, erasing the entire history of the transaction. Bond calls him a petty thief, which pisses Janus the F off. Meanwhile, whatever Natalya was doing on the computer is stopped, but not until she encrypts whatever it was she was doing. Janus further explains that his little EMP operation will also burn out the history of everything on all of the computers in England, wiping out debts, criminal records, and late library fees.

Boris the Creep says hi to Natalya, who responds with a strong backhand to this nerd’s face. Natalya mixes the grenade pen up with Boris’ stupid one, and I bet that’s gonna blow his ugly face up soon. Meanwhile, the satellite is getting into position while Boris clicks and clicks and clicks that damn pen, activating and deactivating it. Natalya says you stupid assholes, I changed the route of the satellite, foolish Earthlings. That stupid grenade pen is just waiting to explode Boris, and man is the editing during this sequence headache-inducing. Just as they’re about to shoot Natalya, that buffoon Boris snaps and jumps up, screaming at her to give him the access codes while shoving that exploding pen in her face. Knowing it’s activated, Bond kicks it out of his hand and gets he and Natalya in position to duck and cover. The pen goes off, exploding the drizzled English muffin sauce, and the whole place starts going kaboom.

Bond and Natalya get into an elevator (during a fire, you’re not supposed to get into elevators, guys), and Bond says can Boris figure out your access codes? She says probably and thanks for asking if I’m OK, dickhead. Bond says whatever; let’s destroy the transmitter. Everything’s on fire and Boris is trying to fix the scrambled access code while Janus goes after Bond in true villain fashion. Hey! This was the final stage of the game! Fighting Janus on the top of the transmitter! Great level, too. This? Enh.

So Boris tries to fix the access code, now under threat of being shot if he doesn’t, while Bond ducks Janus’s fire on top of the transmitter. Boris figures out the stupid thing he had to while Janus and Bond square off. Bond throws him down a flight of stairs and jams the machinery up to stop the positioning because he’s quick-thinking while Bond and Janus continue finishing the final level of the game. There’s kicks, punches, thrills, and spills in their fight–classic Bond close combat fistacuffs. Seems that Janus has Bond at point-blank range with a gun, and he tries to get the final line, but James kicks out a ladder that drops like three hundred feet. He begins to climb up after Janus, and Janus climbs up down to him, and I guess they’re going to have a classic ladder fight.

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“Ladder fight!”

Janus slides down and kicks Bond right in the fucking face and Bond dangles with one arm on the last rung. So Janus climbs down and starts stepping on his hand, which drops Bond to the lower part of the satellite. There, Janus jumps down and starts strangling the shit out of him. Bond kicks Janus, who falls off the side, but Bond catches him. Janus asks, “For England, James?” to which Bond replies, “No: for me,” and drops him like a sack of potatoes. That’s pretty badass, James. Also, Natalya has a gun to a helicopter pilot’s head, so James jumps and grabs the landing thingies on the chopper while the satellite explodes like satellites don’t. Twisted flaming metal wreckage crushes what’s left of Janus, and for some reason Boris the Creep somehow doesn’t die. But wait, he does, so never mind. Fuck that guy.

Lowering the chopper, Natalya and Bond jump to the ground while the copter takes off to go…somewhere. I’m not sure where, since that dude’s employer is dead, but be free, chopper pilot. Natalya and Bond start making out but that idiot American agent is there for some reason, and I’m wondering why the hell this guy didn’t help him at all. The Marines pop up out of the ground and choppers descend out of nowhere and I’m still wondering why the hell they didn’t get involved at any point. Like, what the hell?

Bond picks Natalya up and gets her to the choppa and they fly to Guantanamo, which has a much different reputation in modern times than just being an American base in Cuba. The choppers fly away and…that’s it. Credits roll and some stupid rip-off Peter Gabriel song plays. Hmm. No James Bond Will Return or anything, just a soft synth-pop ballad. Poor show, 007.

Stray Notes

  • My grandfather’s name was Boris, so I don’t like that the creepy nerd character shares his name. He was a wonderful man with a good heart and deserves better characters in movies to share his name.
  • Didn’t realize that was Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp until the credits.
  • Not sure how I feel about the more electronica-influenced score which now dates the movie as a product of what “cool” was in the mid-90’s. But progress marches on, much like Bond.
  • That was Minnie Driver as the singer in that Russian club! But why?

Conclusions

Often regarded as one of the best Bond movies and the first one many members of my generation saw, I haven’t seen the whole thing until just now. And it’s…pretty OK, I guess. Having now watched the entire franchise in sequence up to this point, my perspective isn’t fresh; I wasn’t interested in the Bond franchise until just this past year, now in my mid-30’s. But I can see how it would be a nostalgic favorite of people in my generation: I would have been too young to see any of the Dalton ones (I was 5 and 7 when they came out, respectively), but I was 12 when this came out and pretty cognizant of pop culture by then. But action movies didn’t interest me at that age (I was one of those insufferable brats that was interested in “cinema” and “indie films” instead and was more excited about seeing Pulp Fiction and Clerks that year).

Watching it now, 22 years (oh dear God, has it been that long?) after its release, I was underwhelmed: to me, it seemed like a typical 90’s action movie with our favorite spy in place of John McClain. Pierce Brosnan is a pretty decent Bond–perhaps a little too debonaire at times, like he’s in a whisky ad instead of being an international spy, but serviceable. I liked Natalya Simonova as a Bond Girl, who was helpful and understated instead of being a useless idiot like so many Bond Girls before her. And Xenia Onatopp was a fantastic Bond Girl villain–even if she was completely nuts, which I guess made her so good. 006/Janus was similarly a good Bond Villain, as well, and its past relationship to Bond made it more personal than the usual “madman cartoon tries to take over the world.” I hated Boris the Creep, who was both comic relief and a goofy sidekick of sorts, but how much can you hate Alan Cumming in anything, really? That guy’s a treasure.

Still, it was a little too action-oriented and the editing was at times headache-inducing. It was a lot of sound and fury signifying less than its many moving parts necessitated. The story setup took a long time to get into, and much of that was kind of dead space. When the action kicked in, it was great, but again, it seemed to comfit normal action movie set pieces of the time than making the action its own signature Bond-like fights. Too much gunfire, not enough cleverness.

Rating

I know people love this Bond movie for a lot of reasons, and more power to them. I like stuff simply because it was my introduction to it more than because it was the best thing around. After watching all of these Bond movies, I’m starting to expect a lot from them, which is probably a mistake since these movies weren’t meant to be digested within such a compressed time frame; the fault lies not in the stars but within ourselves. Still, I give it what I give it, which is two and a half Bonds out of four.  

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