Guest blogger Blair Kramer writes:
Here’s the nitty gritty on GoldenEye:
The laser satellite from Diamonds Are Forever was dusted off, a modern sheen was added, and the ancient 1970s script was brought before the cameras once again in 1995. (In fact, the same script was largely remade again in 2002 with Die Another Day.)
Oh, well. You know what they say: “Do it again, only differently!”
I worked with Mike France, the primary screenwriter of GoldenEye, many years ago. Trust me when I tell you that the world has never known a bigger Bond fan than Mike! Which explains why GoldenEye has all the requisite Sean Connery-era elements.
GoldenEye offers Sean Bean as a villainous MI6 turncoat, Alec Trevelyan. A former compatriot of James Bond, Trevelyan’s deep facial scars (à la Blofeld) supposedly reveal his evil nature. Unfortunately, they don’t make him all that terribly menacing. His partner in mayhem, Russian General Ourumov, is somewhat more threatening. Well played by Gottfried John, the General is ruthless, thoroughly violent, and purely evil. On the other end of the yardstick, bespectacled Russian computer geek Boris Grishenko (Alan Cumming) is a very unusual henchman. Nerdy, clownish, and decidedly boring, Boris contributes absolutely nothing to the proceedings. Finally, Famke Janssen plays beautiful Russian henchwoman Xenia Onatopp (think Fiona Volpe or Helga Brandt). Onatopp isn’t very scary, but she’s certainly entertaining in a kinky sort of way! She’s a sadist who apparently experiences an orgasmic rush every time she commits a murder! Kinky, indeed.
All things being equal, GE is a reasonably decent freshman foray into Bondage on the part of Pierce Brosnan. It’s hardly the best Bond film ever made, but it certainly isn’t the worst. It’s a genuinely entertaining film that I wholeheartedly recommend.
Since the main bad guy in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies operates a newspaper called Tomorrow (“Tomorrow’s News Today!”), the film should have been called Tomorrow Never LIES, which, in fact, was the initial idea for its title. It certainly would have made much more sense. For this reason, TLD is very definitely the worst of all the James Bond movie titles.
As for the film itself, Jonathan Pryce portrays Elliot Carver, a global news media magnate who plots to use his own warship to provoke a confrontation between Great Britain and Red China. Plainly insane, Carver is a total megalomaniac, which makes him a reasonably entertaining menace.
Vincent Schiavelli plays sadistic henchman Dr. Kaufman. Quiet and homely, Dr. Kaufman’s love of torture makes him scary as hell!
Finally, Hans/Eric/Necros again returns as a character called Stamper, herein portrayed by Gotz Otto. Every bit as threatening as a musclebound henchman is supposed to be, one wonders if Hans/Eric/Necros/Stamper will ever learn that he cannot defeat James Bond? In any case, as before, I’m sure we’ll see him again sometime in the future.
And again…and again…and again…
Despite what you may have heard, Tomorrow Never Dies isn’t the worst of the Brosnan Bond oeuvre. It succeeds because it moves at a very fast pace. Also, David Arnold’s wonderful musical score added immeasurably to the proceedings. After all is said and done, it’s a very entertaining film.
Deep, complex characters definitely made 1999’s The World Is Not Enough the best of all the Brosnan 007 films, despite the decidedly unoriginal story about a threat from nuclear missiles aboard a hijacked Russian submarine. (Yawn)
Robert Carlyle is very compelling as an international terrorist called Renard. A great deal more than just another one-dimensional villain, Renard is a very dark character because he’s slowly dying due to a bullet in his brain. His lover, an equally compelling and very beautiful young woman known as Elektra King (Sophie Marceau), will do anything for him. This includes engaging in a passionate love affair with James Bond merely to further Renard’s schemes. Unfortunately, since Elektra is every bit as devious as Renard, Bond, for once, takes the affair quite seriously. As a result, a very big question arises. When push comes to shove and the truth of Elektra’s duplicity is finally revealed, can 007 bring himself to eliminate the woman he loves?
I must say that I am a very big fan of TWINE. It remains top notch Bond that you certainly should not miss.
From the best to the worst Brosnan Bond film: Die Another Day is a thoroughly unbelievable mess that actually offers nonsense like invisible cars and bad guys who completely alter their own DNA, none of which have anything to do with the story. And you can KEEP this story! Once again, we are presented with an orbiting satellite (ho-hum) that fires laser beams at targets on Earth. Toby Stephens cannot be taken seriously as Gustav Graves, the main bad guy, because he’s simply too young to be a credible menace. Rick Yune plays Zao, a boring, run-of-the-mill henchman who lets it be known, in his own unique way, that diamonds truly are forever! Another boring henchman called “Mr. Kil” (Lawrence Makoare) doesn’t do much other than prove that he’s a man of many parts! And finally, Rosamund Pike plays Amanda Frost, an attractive, young woman who…well, let’s just say that she isn’t nearly as interesting as her personal dress code! In other words: she’s certainly beautiful, especially when she’s wearing a tight halter!
Clearly, other than Ms. Pike, I cannot recommend Die Another Day.
On the other hand, 2002’s Casino Royale is a masterpiece. In fact, it’s the best James Bond film since 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. With a story involving third world terrorists, the villains of CR are frighteningly real. Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) is a singularly evil little man whose eyes actually drip blood! When his own life is threatened he takes to torturing 007 in the most painful manner possible! Trust me when I tell you that no previous Bond villain is anything like Le Chiffre! He’s downright disturbing!
Le Chiffre’s helper, a poker player known as Dimitrios (Simon Abkarian), is a much more conventional villain. For the most part, Dimitrios isn’t very interesting until his final card game. As for the extremely athletic terrorist known as Mollaka (Sebastien Foucan), he’s thoroughly entertaining because he’s very athletic. Another terrorist called Carlos (Claudio Santamaria) serves no real purpose other than to get into a fight with James Bond. But it’s a truly great fight.
And finally, Eva Green plays the incredibly beautiful MI6 treasury agent, Vesper Lynd. In order to avoid revealing too much about her, I’ll just say this: She’s so very appealing that it’s easy to understand why James Bond falls in love with her. And on that note, if you’re a genuine Bond fan, it will be easy for you to fall in love with Casino Royale. It’s a true classic that’s not to be missed.
The title of the last James Bond film (so far), Quantum of Solace, essentially means “measure of comfort,” which makes perfect sense within the context of the story. Due to that deep subtext, this overly maligned 2008 film is definitely better than you may have been led to believe. God only knows why it went over the heads of so many critics. In any case, by the end of this film, we learn that James Bond is more than just a womanizing killer. In fact, he’s much more complex than we ever knew. Can you believe it? He actually turns out to be a genuine mensch!
As for the villains of QoS, the plans of Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) aren’t apocalyptic. He doesn’t want to take over the world. He just wants to control all the fresh water in South America (for starters, anyway). Unfortunately, Greene comes across as an overly confident, unjustifiably smug CEO. Therefore, it’s difficult to take him seriously. His sniveling little henchman referred to as Elvis (Anatole Taubman) does very little, and, as a result, makes no real impression.
On the other hand, a South American Castro type by the name of General Medrano (Joaquin Cosio) is hard to forget. Desperate to acquire Greene’s help in re-establishing the tiny nation dictatorship he once held, Medrano is a sadist who likes nothing better than to inflict pain on others, especially young women. Consequently, Medrano is entirely reminiscent of the real life Castro: He’s pure evil! Finally, Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) serves no real purpose other than to move the story along. Think of him as the equivalent to “Spectre Number 5!”
Well, that’s it from this Bond fan, at least until Skyfall opens November 9. The villains of James Bond, as the saying goes, are the people we love to hate! But whether the bad guys of Skyfall prove to be memorable or not, there is at least one fact that will not change: Absolutely nobody in the world will ever be able to kill James Bond!
Blair Kramer is a widely published writer for various publications, including “Velocity: Chicago,” “A Guide to Art in Chicago,” “Comic Book Collector Magazine,” “American Metal Magazine,” and the “Jewish American Historical Society.” He also dabbles in screenplays and comic books. There are only two things in his life that he loves more than good movies. They are his wife and family.