"GoldenEye" is a first-rate resuscitation of the James Bond series, and Pierce Brosnan is certainly more suited to the role than the past few Bonds. (He's no Sean Connery, but then who, besides Connery, is?)
What's more, three screenwriters and director Martin Campbell ("Criminal Law," "No Escape") have wisely decided to address rather than ignore the anachronisms of 007 in the '90s.
In between the impossible stunts (Indiana Jones has not eclipsed Bond in that department), miraculous escapes and sexual double-entendres, Bond is warned about the possibility of sexual harassment by Moneypenny (Samantha Bond), asked by the chief villain (Sean Bean) if his heavy drinking has helped him forget the men he has killed and is referred to as a "sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War." That last comment comes from his own boss, the new female M (Judi Dench) — who also confesses that she is not only immune to Bond's charms, she also doesn't much like him.
The expected pre-credits action scene is as wild as fans expect, with Bond riding a motorcycle into the air and then free-falling toward a runaway (flyaway?) plane. Unlike most Bond movies, however, this scene does not simply stand alone. It relates directly to the plot that will follow.
That plot, which is overly complicated — but which, of course, doesn't need to be understood — has to do with renegade ex-KGB agents stealing a Russian satellite nuclear weapon and ultimately taking aim at London for a combination of revenge and an elaborate bank robbery.
But it is Bond's encounters with various villains and his romantic interest — and all those wild stunts — that fans pay to see. And they won't be disappointed.
Best among the villains is Famke Janssen as a masochistic Russian who gets excited as things get more dangerous or violent. A hilarious example is when Bond drives a tank onto a railroad track directly in front of the bad guys' speeding train. As she spies the tank, Janssen grins, practically licks her lips and says, "He's going to derail us!"
Izabella Scorupco is also quite good as a Russian computer programmer who links up with Bond, and she isn't merely a "Bond Girl," instead proving herself an equal in the take-charge department.
One major misstep is that Bond's fancy, souped-up, weapons-loaded automobile is introduced — but never used! When Q (still played by the ever-present Desmond Llew-el-yn) explains all the things this new BMW can do, it certainly sounds like the setup for an exciting demonstration that should come later in the film. But after a brief spin, Bond simply lets a CIA operative (Joe Don Baker) drive it away. (Bond fans are going to complain like crazy about that!)
Baker, by the way, is lots of fun as a good old boy who calls Bond "Jimbo."
As for Brosnan, he seems somewhat slight for the role, a bit too thin and wirey. But director Campbell hides it well, using his camera in ways that accentuate the performance over the body, emphasizing the subtleties and nuance of Brosnan's delivery, which is dry and generally on the mark.
"GoldenEye" is violent, of course, with a remarkably high body count. But, as Arnold Schwarzenegger would say of all the people who are killed: "They were all bad."
The film is rated PG-13 for considerable violence, with a couple of profanities and a fair amount of sexual innuendo.