This one starts really bad. Bollocks bad! But let’s face it: there may be nothing more difficult in this world than making a great James Bond movie. Many have tried. Few have succeeded. It is an unenviable task because the series is so laden with baggage. And so this installment definitely has the feel of a “comeback” (what with the six years in between episodes). Bringing Bond into a new age is a daunting endeavor.
I don’t know if it helps or hurts that the six-year gap is accompanied by a new 007. Pierce Brosnan starts a little vanilla, but he heats up throughout the course of this picture. Judy Dench is powerful in her limited screen-time as M: head of MI6. Overall, Martin Campbell does a fine job directing this addition to the legacy. But it’s not all roses.
Bond’s getaway stunt in the Pilatus PC-6 Porter seems to defy the laws of physics. To wit: the plane is flying almost straight down and yet Brosnan catches up to it in freefall. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the heavier object (the plane) would fall at least as fast as Bond (the other object: human) especially since the human has no propeller attached to his head. I am not an expert on the law of falling bodies (if you can call it that). What a drag! Per second, per second.
But we suspend disbelief as a matter of course for these films (or else we don’t watch).
Mercifully, a convincing villain enters the picture after some further pointless meanderings and baccarat. Simply put, Famke Janssen is what Grace Jones should have been in A View to a Kill. That’s no disrespect to Jones. Grace cut a much more iconic figure, but Janssen’s sadomasochistic character and her immersed portrayal of the same make for much more enthralled viewing in this respect.
But another problem presents itself with the helicopter theft. Supposing that Severnaya (in the film) is the same as Severnaya Zemlya (both are Siberian/Russian arctic), then we are talking about a 3000 mile trip from Monte Carlo in a chopper. That’s a lot of gas. It’s just a clunky bit of storytelling.
But again Famke Janssen comes to the rescue with her wargasm reaction to machine-gunning a bunch of Russian cyber-defense workers. Yes, it’s like something out of the poetry of Ed Sanders. In fact, her bloodlust with an automatic weapon mirrors Christopher Walken’s in A View to a Kill.
But one young programmer escapes. All it takes is one. Izabella Scorupco is really fantastic in this film…especially as she tries to make her way out of the destroyed space weapons base. Her acting throughout is very convincing.
Janus. Films. It’s a nice touch on the part of the writer Michael France. Kinda like Joe Don Baker. We remember him vaguely as Brad Whitaker (the villain) from The Living Daylights, but here we see the other face: Jack Wade of the CIA. Sneaky device there. Perhaps.
But most likely it was just to reward a member of the Bond family with another role. Who can forget Maud Adams in her two Bond series roles (nine years apart).
Robbie Coltrane is great in his tiny role. It’s kinda like the Bond girl innuendo…Onatopp. You have to look for it. It’s there, but it’s no Pussy Galore.
Really, it is a shock when we find out what happened to 006.
But again, the “death by Tiger helicopter” scene is pretty preposterous. This Janus guy certainly has a moronic streak in him…even if he is creative.
Gottfried John is pretty damned convincing in this film as well.
What’s not convincing (though it is entertaining) is Pierce Brosnan driving a tank. Or rather, how is this tank keeping pace with a powerful sedan? The Guinness record for a tracked vehicle (tank tread) is 51 mph. Suffice it to say that this scene really stretches the bounds of reality. The funniest part is that Brosnan’s hair is never messed up. It’s perfect even though he plows through walls…kicking up concrete dust. We never see him close the hatch, yet not a speck of white on him (though the tank be littered with bricks and other debris from the endless rampage of cavalier driving).
The armoured train is a nice touch (though it only figures into a brief portion of the film).
The EMP theme is still relevant, but the film pays a strange homage to the Star Wars franchise in the end struggle on the antenna structure (a rather tasteless bit of copying). This is balanced out with some nice fight scenes which are some of the best in any Bond film.
I should really mention Sean Bean. He is pretty damned good in this flick. It’s funny that he later plays essentially the same role in National Treasure.
One brilliant bit is that with the pen grenade. This might be director Campbell’s finest moment in the film. Brosnan plays it perfectly…reminding us that attention to detail can make all the difference.
It’s too bad Alan Cumming had to be the bad guy (though his name perfectly fits the perverted Boris character). I guess he wasn’t inwincible after all. Haha! And don’t forget Minnie Driver singing “Stand by Your Man” with a Russian accent.
I may be showing my age a bit, but this is the film that introduced me to the world of Bond, not to mention the accumulative days spent in front of a four-way-split TV screen playing the video game version of the same name. My childhood in a nutshell.
Love the analysis. It’s especially hard to re-watch this in the era of the bloodied, bruised Bond. “Vanilla” is the perfect word to describe Brosnan, and, I believe, even he agrees.
I remember fondly the pen scene as well as the opening scene; however, I tend to blur the film with the video game, maybe not remembering everything from the film but every detail and mission from the game. I suppose that says something?
Ha! Thank you!!! Yes, I am often sheepish to admit that Roger Moore was the Bond I grew up with. It wasn’t till much later that I watched the oldest Bond films. As for these newer ones (showing my age), it’s a discovery of catching up. I do, however, fondly remember playing the From Russia With Love video game a few years back. Credit Ian Fleming with tapping into something special when he concocted Bond. Who doesn’t want to be the international man of mystery? –PD
I am ashamed to admit that my first bond movie was skyfall.
No shame in that! I haven’t seen it yet. We all start at different places. So many movies have been made in just over 100 years. –Paul
Dr. No is my favorite. The beginning of the saga of bond were great after that it is okay. The ones with Daniel Craig love those more it looks like that they revived it. anyway cool review.
Thank you! Yes, Dr. No holds a special place in my heart. Visually, it has perhaps the most depth and atmosphere. I’ve seen only one with Daniel Craig. I’ll have to rewatch it and the others. Cheers, Paul
I liked all the Pierce Brosnan Films , he made a good Bond I thought my favourite always before that was Sean Connery , Yes Golden eye has some good Baddies , what did you make of Sean Bean he was something else and yes the Helicopter was good , the film tried to probe Bonds dark secrets within himself which I thought Brosnan did to good effect , he was also good in Le Carre’s Tailor in Panama
Sean Bean makes a good villain. I’m looking forward to the other Brosnan Bond films. I guess Roger Moore is my favorite because I saw so many of his Bond films growing up.