British cinema poster for GoldenEye, by Terry O'Neill, Keith Hamshere and George Whitear
|Directed by||Martin Campbell|
|Story by||Michael France|
|Based on||James Bond
by Ian Fleming
|Editing by||Terry Rawlings|
|Distributed by||MGM/UA Distribution Company
United International Pictures (UK)
|Running time||130 minutes|
GoldenEye (1995) is the seventeenth spy film in the James Bond series, and the first to star Pierce Brosnan as the fictional MI6 officer James Bond. The film was directed by Martin Campbell and is the first film in the series not to take story elements from the works of novelist Ian Fleming. The story was conceived and written by Michael France, with later collaboration by other writers. In the film, Bond fights to prevent an arms syndicate from using the GoldenEye satellite weapon against London in order to cause a global financial meltdown.
GoldenEye was released in 1995 after a six-year hiatus in the series caused by legal disputes, during which Timothy Dalton resigned from the role of James Bond and was replaced by Pierce Brosnan. M was also recast, with actress Judi Dench becoming the first woman to portray the character, replacing Robert Brown. GoldenEye was the first Bond film made after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, which provided a background for the plot.
The film accumulated a worldwide gross of US$350.7 million, considerably better than Dalton's films, without taking inflation into account. Some critics viewed the film as a modernisation of the series, and felt Brosnan was a definite improvement over his predecessor. The film also received award nominations for "Best Achievement in Special Effects" and "Best Sound" from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
The name "GoldenEye" pays homage to James Bond's creator, Ian Fleming. While working for British Naval Intelligence as a lieutenant commander, Ian Fleming liaised with the American OSS to monitor developments in Spain after the Spanish Civil War in an operation codenamed Operation Goldeneye. Fleming used the name of his operation for his estate in Oracabessa, Jamaica.
In 1986 MI6 officers James Bond—agent 007—and Alec Trevelyan—agent 006—infiltrate an illicit Soviet chemical weapons facility at Arkhangelsk and plant explosive charges. Trevelyan is apparently shot and killed by Colonel Arkady Ourumov, but Bond steals an aeroplane and flees from the facility as it explodes.
Nine years later, Bond arrives in Monte Carlo to follow Xenia Onatopp, a suspected member of the Janus crime syndicate, who has formed a suspicious relationship with a Royal Canadian Navy admiral. She murders the admiral to allow Janus to steal his identity. The next day they steal a prototype Eurocopter Tiger helicopter that can withstand an electromagnetic pulse. They fly it to a bunker in Severnaya, where they massacre the staff and steal the control disk for the dual GoldenEye satellite weapons. They program one of the GoldenEye satellites to destroy the complex with an electromagnetic pulse, and escape with programmer Boris Grishenko. Natalya Simonova, the lone survivor, contacts Boris and arranges to meet him in St. Petersburg, where he betrays her to Janus.
In London, M assigns Bond to investigate the attack. Bond flies to St. Petersburg to meet CIA officer Jack Wade. He suggests Bond meet Valentin Zukovsky, a Russian Mafia head and business rival of Janus. After Bond gives him a tip on a potential heist, Zukovsky arranges a meeting between Bond and Janus. Onatopp is sent to meet Bond at his hotel and attempts to kill him, but he overpowers her and she takes him to Janus. Bond meets Janus who reveals himself as Alec Trevelyan, who had faked his death but was badly scarred from the explosion at Arkhangelsk. A descendant of the Cossack clans who collaborated with the Nazi forces in World War II, Trevelyan had vowed revenge against Britain for their involvement in his parents' deaths. Just as Bond is about to shoot Trevelyan, Bond is shot with a tranquiliser dart, knocking him out.
Bond awakens tied up with Simonova in the Tiger helicopter programmed to self-destruct, from which the two escape. They are immediately arrested by the Russian police and are brought to the military archives, where the Russian Minister of Defence Dimitri Mishkin interrogates them. As Simonova reveals the existence of a second satellite and Ourumov's involvement in the massacre at Severnaya, Ourumov bursts into the room and kills Mishkin. As Ourumov calls for his guards, Bond escapes into the archives with Simonova, where a firefight ensues. Simonova is captured and is dragged into a car by Ourumov. Bond steals a T-55 tank and pursues Ourumov through St. Petersburg to Janus' armoured train, where he kills Ourumov as Trevelyan escapes and locks Bond in the train with Simonova. As the train's self-destruct countdown begins, Bond cuts through the floor with his laser watch while Simonova locates Grishenko's satellite dish in Cuba. The two escape just before the train explodes.
Bond and Simonova, now lovers, meet Jack Wade and trade Bond's car for Wade's aeroplane. While flying over a Cuban jungle in search of the satellite dish controlling the satellite, Bond and Simonova are shot down. As they stumble out of the wreckage, Onatopp rappels down from a helicopter and attacks Bond. After a struggle, Bond shoots down the helicopter, which snares Onatopp and crushes her to death. Bond and Simonova then watch a lake being drained of water, uncovering the satellite dish. They infiltrate the control station, where Bond is captured. Trevelyan reveals his plan to rob the Bank of England before erasing all of its financial records with the remaining GoldenEye, concealing the theft and destroying Britain's economy.
Meanwhile, Simonova programs the satellite to initiate atmospheric re-entry and destroy itself. As Trevelyan captures Simonova and orders Grishenko to save the satellite, Bond triggers an explosion with his pen grenade and escapes to the antenna cradle. Bond sabotages the antenna by jamming the gears, preventing Grishenko from regaining control of the satellite, before turning and fighting Trevelyan. The two end up on the antenna platform, 500 feet above the dish. Bond kicks Trevelyan off the side of the platform, but reflexively grabs him by the foot. After a brief and personal exchange, Bond lets go of Trevelyan and he falls to the bottom of the pool. The cradle blows up and kills Trevelyan and Grishenko. Meanwhile, Simonova commandeers a helicopter and flees with Bond, and the couple is then rescued by Wade and a team of Marines.
- Pierce Brosnan as James Bond (007): An MI6 officer assigned to stop the Janus crime syndicate from acquiring "GoldenEye," a clandestine satellite weapon designed and launched by the Soviets during the Cold War.
- Sean Bean as Alec Trevelyan (006) / Janus: Initially another 00 officer and Bond's friend, he fakes his death at Arkhangelsk and then establishes the Janus crime syndicate in the following nine years.
- Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova: The only survivor and eyewitness of the attack of GoldenEye on its own control centre at Severnaya. A skilled programmer, she helps Bond in his mission.
- Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp: A Georgian lust murderer and Trevelyan's henchwoman. A sadist, she enjoys torturing her enemies between her thighs.
- Joe Don Baker as Jack Wade: A veteran CIA officer on the same mission as Bond.
- Judi Dench as M: The head of MI6.
- Gottfried John as General Arkady Grigorovich Ourumov: Commander of Russia's Space Division, secretly an agent of Janus who nefariously misuses his authority and position for helping Janus gain access to the GoldenEye.
- Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky: A Russian gangster and ex-KGB officer through whom Bond arranges a meeting with Janus (Trevelyan).
- Alan Cumming as Boris Grishenko: A computer programmer at Severnaya secretly affiliated to Janus.
- Tchéky Karyo as Russian Defence Minister Dmitri Mishkin
- Desmond Llewelyn as Q: The head of Q Branch (research and development division of the British Secret Service). Llewelyn was the only actor to reprise a role from a previous Bond film.
- Samantha Bond as Miss Moneypenny: M's secretary. Samantha Bond made her first of four appearances as Moneypenny.
- Minnie Driver as Irina: A Russian nightclub singer and mistress of Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky.
- Serena Gordon as Caroline, MI6 psychologist evaluator, whom Bond seduces.
- Billy J. Mitchell as Admiral Chuck Farrel of the Royal Canadian Navy, who is in a sexual relationship with Xenia Onatopp.
Licence to Kill had underperformed at the box office and was, in the American market, the lowest-grossing film of the series. Also, in 1989, MGM/UA was sold to the Australian broadcasting group Qintex, which wanted to merge the company with Pathé. Danjaq, the parent company of Eon Productions, sued MGM/UA because the Bond back catalogue was being licensed to Pathé, who intended to broadcast the Bond series on television in several countries across the world without the approval of Danjaq. These legal disputes delayed the film for several years.
While the legal disputes went on, Timothy Dalton was still expected to play Bond in the new film, as he had signed a three-film contract. Pre-production work began in May 1990 with a story draft written by Alfonso Ruggiero Jr. and Michael G. Wilson. Production was set to start in 1990 in Hong Kong for a release in late 1991, however the legal disputes caused these dates to pass without a film in production. In an interview in 1993, Dalton said that Michael France was writing the screenplay, due to be completed in January or February 1994. Despite France's screenplay being completed by that January, in April 1994 Dalton officially resigned from the role. To replace Dalton, the producers cast Pierce Brosnan, who had been prevented from succeeding Roger Moore in 1986 because of his contract to star in the Remington Steele television series. Judi Dench was cast as M, making GoldenEye the first film of the series featuring a female M. The decision is widely believed to be inspired by Stella Rimington becoming head of MI5 in 1992.
GoldenEye was produced by Albert R. Broccoli's Eon Productions. With Albert Broccoli's health deteriorating (he died seven months after the film's release), his daughter Barbara Broccoli described him as taking "a bit of a back seat" in film's production. In his stead, Barbara and Michael G. Wilson took the lead roles in production while Albert Broccoli oversaw the production of GoldenEye as consulting producer but is credited as "presenter". Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer approached John Woo to make GoldenEye; Woo turned down the opportunity, but said he was honoured by the offer. The producers then chose New Zealander Martin Campbell as the director. Brosnan later described Campbell as "warrior-like in his take on the piece" and that "there was a huge passion there on both our parts".
The producers had originally chosen not to use Richard Maibaum, long-time writer for the series; he died in 1991. After Michael France delivered the original screenplay, Jeffrey Caine was brought in to rewrite it. Caine kept many of France's ideas but added the prologue prior to the credits. Kevin Wade polished the script and Bruce Feirstein added the finishing touches. In the film, the writing credit was shared by Caine and Feirstein, while France was credited with only the story, an arrangement he felt was unfair, particularly as he believed the additions made were not an improvement on his original version. Wade did not receive an official credit, but was acknowledged in the naming of Jack Wade, the CIA character he created.
While the story was not based on a work by Ian Fleming, the title GoldenEye traces its origins to the name of Fleming's Jamaican estate where he wrote the Bond novels. Fleming gave a number of origins for the name of his estate, including Carson McCullers' Reflections in a Golden Eye and Operation Goldeneye, a contingency plan Fleming himself developed during World War II in case of a Nazi invasion through Spain.
Since the release of Licence to Kill, the world had changed drastically. GoldenEye was the first James Bond film to be produced since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. This cast doubt over whether James Bond was still relevant in the modern world, as many of the previous films pitted him against Soviet villains trying to take advantage of the Cold War. Much of the film industry felt that it would be "futile" for the Bond series to make a comeback, and that it was best left as "an icon of the past". However, when released, the film was viewed as a successful revitalisation and it effectively adapted the series for the 1990s. One of GoldenEye's innovations was the casting of a female M. In the film, the new M quickly establishes her authority, remarking that Bond is a "sexist, misogynist dinosaur" and a "relic of the Cold War". This is an early indication that Bond is portrayed as far less tempestuous than Timothy Dalton's Bond from 1989.
Principal photography for the film began on 16 January 1995 and continued until 6 June. The producers were unable to film at Pinewood Studios, the usual location for Bond films, because it had been reserved for First Knight. Instead, an old Rolls-Royce factory at the Leavesden Aerodrome in Hertfordshire was converted into a new studio. The producers later said Pinewood would have been too small.
The bungee jump was filmed at the Contra Dam (also known as the Verzasca or Locarno Dam) in Ticino, Switzerland. The film's casino scenes and the Tiger helicopter's demonstration were shot in Monte Carlo. Reference footage for the tank chase was shot on location in St. Petersburg and matched to the studio at Leavesden. The climactic scenes on the satellite dish were shot at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The actual MI6 headquarters were used for external views of M's office. Some of the scenes in St. Petersburg were actually shot in London – the Epsom Downs Racecourse doubled the airport – to reduce expenses and security concerns, as the second unit sent to Russia required bodyguards.
The French Navy provided full use of the frigate FS La Fayette and their newest helicopter, the Eurocopter Tiger to the film's production team. The French government also allowed the use of Navy logos as part of the promotional campaign for the film. However, the producers had a dispute with the French Ministry of Defence over Brosnan's opposition to French nuclear weapons testing and his involvement with Greenpeace; as a result, the French premiere of the film was cancelled.
The sequences involving the armoured train were filmed on the Nene Valley Railway, near Peterborough in the UK. The train was composed of a British Rail Class 20 diesel-electric locomotive and a pair of BR Mk 2 coaches, all three heavily disguised to resemble a Soviet armoured train.
GoldenEye was the last film of special effects supervisor Derek Meddings, to whom the film was dedicated. Meddings' major contribution was miniatures. It was also the first Bond film to use computer generated imagery. Among the model effects are most external shots of Severnaya, the scene where Janus' train crashes into the tank, and the lake which hides the satellite dish, since the producers could not find a round lake in Puerto Rico. The climax in the satellite dish used scenes in Arecibo, a model built by Meddings' team and scenes shot with stuntmen in England.
Stunt car coordinator Rémy Julienne described the car chase between the Aston Martin DB5 and the Ferrari F355 as between "a perfectly shaped, old and vulnerable vehicle and a racecar." The stunt had to be meticulously planned as the cars are vastly different. Nails had to be attached to the F355 tyres to make it skid, and during one take of the sliding vehicles, both cars collided. The largest stunt sequence in the film was the tank chase, which took around six weeks to film, partly on location in St. Petersburg and partly at Leavesden. A Russian T-54/55 tank, on loan from the East England Military Museum, was modified with the addition of fake explosive reactive armour panels. In order to avoid destroying the pavement on the city streets of St. Petersburg, the steel off-road tracks of the T-54/55 were replaced with the rubber-shoed tracks from a British Chieftain tank. The T55 Tank used in the film is now on permanent display at Old Buckenham Airport where the East England Military Museum is based.
For the confrontation between Bond and Trevelyan inside the antenna cradle, director Campbell decided to take inspiration from Bond's fight with Red Grant in From Russia with Love. Pierce Brosnan and Sean Bean did all the stunts themselves, except for one take where one is thrown against the wall. Brosnan injured his hand while filming the extending ladder sequence, making producers delay his scenes and film the ones in Severnaya earlier.
The opening 220 m (720 ft) bungee jump at Archangel, shot at the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland and performed by Wayne Michaels, was voted the best movie stunt of all time in a 2002 Sky Movies poll, and set a record for the highest bungee jump off a fixed structure. The ending of the pre-credits sequence with Bond jumping after the aeroplane features Jacques 'Zoo' Malnuit riding the motorcycle to the edge and jumping, and B.J. Worth diving after the plane – which was a working aircraft, with Worth adding that part of the difficulty of the stunt was the kerosene flying on his face.
The fall of communism in Russia is the main focus of the opening titles, designed by Daniel Kleinman (who took over from Maurice Binder after his death in 1991). They show the collapse and destruction of several structures associated with the Soviet Union, such as the red star, statues of Communist leaders and the hammer and sickle. In an interview, Kleinman said they were meant to be "a kind of story telling sequence" showing that "what was happening in Communist countries was Communism was falling down". According to producer Michael G. Wilson, some Communist parties protested against "Socialist symbols being destroyed not by governments, but by bikini-clad women", especially the Communist Party of India, which threatened to boycott the film.
GoldenEye was the first film bound by BMW's three picture deal, so the producers were offered BMW's latest roadster, the BMW Z3. It was featured in the film months before its release, and a limited edition "007 model" sold out within a day of being available to order. As part of the car's marketing strategy, several Z3's were used to drive journalists from a complimentary meal at the Rainbow Room restaurant to GoldenEye's premiere at Radio City Music Hall.
For the film, a convertible Z3 is equipped with the usual Q refinements, including a self-destruct feature and Stinger missiles behind the headlights. The Z3 does not have much screen time and none of the gadgets are used, which Martin Campbell attributed to the deal with BMW coming in the last stages of production. The Z3's appearance in GoldenEye is thought to be the most successful promotion through product placement in 1995. Ten years later, The Hollywood Reporter listed it as one of the most successful product placements in recent years. The article quoted Mary Lou Galician, head of media analysis and criticism at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, as saying that the news coverage of Bond's switch from Aston Martin to BMW "generated hundreds of millions of dollars of media exposure for the movie and all of its marketing partners."
A modified Omega Seamaster Quartz Professional watch features as a major plot device several times in the film. It is shown to contain a remote detonator and a laser. This was the first time James Bond was shown to be wearing a watch by Omega, and the character has since worn Omega watches in every subsequent production.
The theme song, "GoldenEye", was written by Bono and The Edge, and was performed by Tina Turner. As the producers did not collaborate with Bono or The Edge, the film score did not incorporate any of the theme song's melodies, as was the case in previous James Bond films. Swedish group Ace of Base had also written a purposed theme song, but label Arista Records pulled the band out of the project fearing the negative impact in case the film flopped. The song was then re-written as their single "The Juvenile".
The soundtrack to GoldenEye was composed and performed by Éric Serra. Prolific Bond composer John Barry said that despite an offer by Barbara Broccoli, he turned it down. Serra's score has been heavily criticised: Richard von Busack, in Metro, wrote that it was "more appropriate for a ride on an elevator than a ride on a roller coaster", and Filmtracks said Serra "failed completely in his attempt to tie Goldeneye to the franchise's past." The end credits song, Serra's "The Experience of Love", was based on a short cue Serra had originally written for Luc Besson's Léon one year earlier.
Later, John Altman provided the music for the tank chase in St. Petersburg. Serra's original track for that sequence can still be found on the soundtrack as "A Pleasant Drive in St. Petersburg". Serra composed and performed a number of synthesiser tracks, including the version of the James Bond Theme that plays during the gun barrel sequence, while John Altman and David Arch provided the more traditional symphonic music.
Release and reception
GoldenEye premiered on 13 November 1995, at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and went on general release in the USA on 17 November 1995. The UK premiere, attended by Prince Charles, followed on 22 November at the Odeon Leicester Square, with general release two days later. Brosnan boycotted the French premiere to support Greenpeace's protest against the French nuclear testing program, causing the premiere to be abrogated.
The film earned over $26 million during its opening across 2,667 cinemas in the USA. Its worldwide sales were around the equivalent of $350 million. It had the fourth highest worldwide gross of all films in 1995 and was the most successful Bond film since Moonraker, taking inflation into account.
GoldenEye was edited in order to be guaranteed a PG-13 rating from the MPAA and a 12 rating from the BBFC. The cuts included the visible bullet impact to Trevelyan's head when he is shot in the prologue, several additional deaths during the sequence in which Onatopp guns down the workers at the Severnaya station, more explicit footage and violent behaviour in the Admiral's death, extra footage of Onatopp's death, and Bond giving her a rabbit punch in the car. In 2006, the film was re-mastered and re-edited for the James Bond Ultimate Edition DVD in which the BBFC cuts were restored, causing the rating to be changed to 15. However, the original MPAA edits still remain.
The critical reception of the film was mostly positive. Film review collection website Rotten Tomatoes holds it at an 82% approval rating, while a similar site, Metacritic, holds it at 65%. In the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert gave the film 3 stars out of 4, and said Brosnan's Bond was "somehow more sensitive, more vulnerable, more psychologically complete" than the previous ones, also commenting on Bond's "loss of innocence" since previous films. James Berardinelli described Brosnan as "a decided improvement over his immediate predecessor" with a "flair for wit to go along with his natural charm", but added that "fully one-quarter of Goldeneye is momentum-killing padding."
Several reviewers lauded M's appraisal of Bond as a "sexist, misogynist dinosaur", with Todd McCarthy in Variety saying GoldenEye "breathes fresh creative and commercial life" into the series. John Puccio of DVD Town said that GoldenEye was "an eye and ear-pleasing, action-packed entry in the Bond series" and that the film gave Bond "a bit of humanity, too". Ian Nathan of Empire said that GoldenEye "revamps that indomitable British spirit" and that the Die Hard movies "don't even come close to 007". Tom Sonne of the Sunday Times considered GoldenEye the best Bond film since The Spy Who Loved Me. Jose Arroyo of Sight & Sound considered the greatest success of the film was in modernising the series.
GoldenEye was also ranked high in Bond-related lists. IGN chose it as the fifth-best movie, while Entertainment Weekly ranked it eighth, and Norman Wilner of MSN as ninth. ET also voted Xenia Onatopp as the sixth-most memorable Bond Girl, while IGN ranked Natalya as seventh in a similar list.
However, the film received several negative reviews. Richard Schickel of Time wrote that after "a third of a century's hard use", Bond's conventions survived on "wobbly knees", while in Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman thought the series had "entered a near-terminal state of exhaustion." Dragan Antulov said that GoldenEye had a predictable series of scenes, and Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said that the film was "a middle-aged entity anxious to appear trendy at all costs". David Eimer of Premiere wrote that "the trademark humour is in short supply" and that "Goldeneye isn't classic Bond by any stretch of the imagination." Madeleine Williams said that "there are plenty of stunts and explosions to take your mind off the plot."
GoldenEye was nominated for two BAFTAs, Best Sound and Special Effects. Éric Serra won a BMI Film Award for the soundtrack and the film also earned nominations for Best Action Film and Actor at the Saturn Awards and Best Fight Scene at the MTV Movie Awards.
Appearances in other media
GoldenEye was the second and final Bond film to be adapted to a novel by novelist John Gardner. The book closely follows the film's storyline, but Gardner added a violent sequence prior to the opening bungee jump in which Bond kills a group of Russian guards, a change that the video game GoldenEye 007 retained.
In late 1995, Topps Comics began publishing a three-issue comic book adaptation of GoldenEye. The script was adapted by Don McGregor with art by Rick Magyar. The first issue carried a January 1996 cover date. For unknown reasons, Topps cancelled the entire adaptation after the first issue had been published, and to date the adaptation has never been released in its entirety.
The film was the basis for GoldenEye 007, a video game for the Nintendo 64 developed by Rare (known at the time as Rareware) and published by Nintendo. The game was praised by critics and in January 2000, readers of the British video game magazine Computer and Video Games listed GoldenEye 007 in first place in a list of "the hundred greatest video games". In Edge's 10th anniversary issue in 2003, the game was included as one of their top ten shooters of all time. It is based upon the film, but many of the missions were extended or modified.
GoldenEye 007 was modified into a racing game intended to be released for the Virtual Boy console. However, the game was cancelled before release. In 2004, Electronic Arts released GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, the first game of the James Bond series in which the player does not take on the role of Bond. Instead, the protagonist is an aspiring Double-0 agent Jonathan Hunter, known by his codename "GoldenEye" recruited by a villain of the Bond universe, Auric Goldfinger. Except for the appearance of Xenia Onatopp, the game was unrelated to the film, and was released to mediocre reviews. It was excoriated by several critics including Eric Qualls for using the name "GoldenEye" as an attempt to ride on the success of Rare's game.
Nintendo announced a remake of the original GoldenEye 007 game at their E3 press conference on 15 June 2010. The game is a modernised retelling of the original movie's story, with Daniel Craig playing the role of Bond. The theme song is a cover of the movie's theme performed by Nicole Scherzinger. The game was developed by Eurocom and published by Activision for the Wii and Nintendo DS and was released in November 2010. Both Wii and DS versions bear little to no resemblance to the locations and weapons of the original N64 release. In 2011 the game was ported to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 under the name GoldenEye 007: Reloaded.
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- GoldenEye at the Internet Movie Database
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- GoldenEye at Box Office Mojo
- MGM's official GoldenEye website