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Goldeneye: Gleaming View

A film review by Joe Parra

Rating: 3.5 out of 4

The world is in terrible shape. In Russia, the Commies are gone, only to be replaced (villain-wise) by the Russian mafia. In Britain, MI6 has been overhauled by the Prime Minister. At the CIA, Felix Leiter is out of commission; and his replacement, Jack Hill (funny performance by Joe Don Baker), is definitely NOT of the old-style agent mold. Who ya gonna call? 007, of course! And Pierce Brosnan takes the stage as the 7th incarnation of James Bond to hit the silver screen - and hit it he does, with a one/two punch and a .32 bullet between the eyes.

Golden Eye starts off with a mission nine years ago: 007 and 006 are in Russia disabling a nuclear missle site. All goes well until an alarm is tripped. The Russkies come en masse and the boys are trapped - especially 006, who is unfortunately expendable and, thus, expended. (006 is played, deliciously at that, by the handsome Irish actor, Sean Bean, who played the IRA zealot in Patriot Games.) Now, it's nine years later - James Bond is attending (sans invitation) the premiere of a new powerful mini-copter when it is hijacked by what seem to be KGB agents. We come to realize the "KGB agents" are not what they seem when their next action is to destroy a Russian missile complex utilizing Golden Eye - which sets off a nuclear explosion in the ionosphere and directs the energy at the missile base, neutralizing all electrical systems within a 3-mile radius and thus activating the base's fail-safe self-destruct mechanism.

Bond's new M sends him on a mission of retrieval: bring back the Golden Eye system. M is played by Judi Densch, the first woman to portray that role. Famke Jannsen, the international model, plays Bond's physical adversary (à la Oddjob or Jaws); she orgasms when she kills and, in one scene, intimates bisexuality. Jannsen does a wonderful tongue-in-cheek performance, and twice in the film she parodies Barbara Carrera from Never Say Never Again. Bond has his hands full (no pun intended) both with her and with his unexpected ally, a woman computer-operator who survived the destruction of the missile silo. James and his new friend must face off not only against the dragon-lady, but also her boss, Janus, the head of the Russian mob. (Janus was the name of a two-faced god - yes, that's a clue!)

The only old-timer to appear from previous James Bond films is Q, as portrayed by the always delightful Desmond Llewellyn (from From Russia With Love all the way to Golden Eye). He returns here with new toys for Bond, including a 3-click grenade pen, a waistbelt block-and-tackle device, and a brand new BMW loaded to the max with extras not found at the factory (like Stinger missiles behind the headlights). The only complaint I'll lodge about the equipment is that this pretty car is never used with all its toys! Oh well, maybe in the next 007 movie Brosnan will put this BMW through its paces the way Sean Connery did his beautiful Aston- Martin (which gets retired in this film, by the way).

Golden Eye represents a delicious marriage of the old and the new. Pierce Brosnan comes across like the child of Sean Connery and Roger Moore: cool, calm, sexy, tough, hard, mysogynistic, compassionate, witty - in short, Ian Fleming's James Bond! The gadgetry, the villains, the tongue-in-cheek humor, the classic confrontations - they are all here and work quite well. The movie Bonds (including Pierce Brosnan) have all had that wonderfully tart dryness in their humor that allows them to bite down and draw blood, smiling all the way. Director Martin Campbell has kept an interesting tether on his performers, allowing them just enough rope to be bold but not enough to hang. Executive Producer Albert Broccoli has handed over the reins of hands-on production to his son and daughter, who have boldly carried on the tradition.

Initially, there was a great deal of concern about the James Bond franchise -- that it was passé, too expensive, not necessary anymore. Crap! Crap! Crap! In the personae of Brosnan & Co., we shall see that the eye is not the only "gold" about "Bond... James Bond." He is a precious jewel. (And, remember, "Diamonds Are Forever.") ENJOY!!!

By the way, a trivia tidbit - "Golden Eye" was the name of Ian Fleming's Jamaican estate.

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