Published Nov 19, 2012In the six years since Licence to Kill underperformed at the box office and turned the Bond franchise into a humourless bloodbath, MGM/UA was sold to an Australian broadcasting group, causing legal problems with parent Bond company, EON Productions, when the films were set to screen on television throughout the world without multilateral approval. This caused production delays, leading to the casting of Pierce Brosnan in the role of 007, which, along with the fact that the Berlin Wall had fallen and the USSR had dissolved since the last Bond film, changed the landscape of the franchise implicitly.
Though, rather than reiterating an outdated Cold War ethos, this 17th installment of the Bond franchise exploited the political climate after the fact, detailing a global terrorist conspiracy that was born amidst the Soviet era.
When tasked to investigate the destruction of a Russian technology complex, Bond—much more affable, wry and human in Brosnan form—learns of the Janus crime syndicate led by former MI6 agent Alec Trevalyan (Sean Bean) and their plans to use a GoldenEye electromagnetic satellite to destroy the British economy by wiping all financial records clean. Moreover, this vengeful, self-serving plot comes from an agent still wearing the emotional and physical scars from a mission gone wrong in a Soviet chemical factory a decade prior.
Beyond the lighter tone of GoldenEye and the self-aware dynamic—the opening theme song features a girl destroying the Soviet hammer and sickle, and M (Judi Dench) refers to Bond as a "relic of the Cold War" as well as a "misogynist dinosaur"—this 1995 entry was noted for its modernization. With a different guiding ideology and a decidedly different style brought in by New Zealand director Martin Campbell, there was a larger-than-life aspect added to the well-blended comic, perilous tone.
While decidedly ludicrous and driven almost entirely by chase sequences and gunfights, even featuring a sequence where Bond drives a tank through a crowded city, destroying buildings and landmarks indifferently, GoldenEye captured the ethos of its time and reinvigorated the franchise for the next decade. In such, it stands as one of the better 007 films overall and definitely the best of the Brosnan entries.
GoldenEye screens as part of the Shaken, Not Stirred: Bond on Film series at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Saturday, November 24th at 12pm. It will screen again in January 2013. (MGM/UA)