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This review is from: GoldenEye (Special Edition) (DVD)
Back in 1987, a few years after Roger Moore announced he was retiring from playing James Bond, the search was on to find a new Bond to take his place. In the front-running, was up and coming Irish actor, Pierce Brosnan, who made a name for himself on the popular television series, Remington Steele. It should be pointed out that he in fact did win the part of 007 and was scheduled to begin filming, when, just a few weeks prior, it was realized that Brosnan's TV contract with Remington Steele conflicted with his working schedule on the Bond movie. Sadly, no compromise could be made and Pierce Brosnan reluctantly stepped down, being replaced by Shakespearean actor, Timothy Dalton, who would go on to star in only two James Bond movies (The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill, respectively). But soon after Licence To Kill ended, a huge court battle over the rights to the Bond franchise erupted, preventing producer, Albert R."Cubby" Broccoli from making any more 007 films. Soon, many wondered if James Bond had finally met his match, with Dalton's contract up, and the actor no longer interested in doing future Bond films, things began to look bleak for everybody's favorite spy. It would be 6 years, the longest in history without a 007 film in movie theaters, before Broccoli was finally able to produce another James Bond movie. The title, named after author Ian Fleming's home in Jamaica, Goldeneye would be the film to decide Bond's fate. And after nearly 9 years since he had to give up the coveted role, Pierce Brosnan was asked again to play James Bond. Thankfully, this time his schedule was open and he soon became the 5th actor to portray Bond on the big screen for United Artists and MGM Pictures (EON Productions overseas in Europe). So much was riding on this film. With a newer generation of movie goers out there, what modifications would be needed, if any, to insure Bond's appeal to the public? It was decided to modernize the franchise and bring in fresh talent to give it a new flavor. Replacing John Barry as composer would be Eric Serra, best known for his work on the films by director, Luc Besson (Subway, Leon, The Fifth Element). Deciding to stray away heavily from the traditional Bond themes, which to him, felt outdated, Serra began a complete overhaul on the scoring, a feat to this day, he has never regretted. Director, Martin Campbell was also looking for fresh ideas and concepts. He knew he had a great task before him, not just making a good film but living up to previous efforts and scores of fans everywhere. Things had to be memorable. What a choice it would be, indeed, to begin the film with what would be one of the greatest stunts in Bond history. Filmed at Contra Dam near Lugano, Switzerland, stuntman Wayne Michaels broke a world record for the longest bungee jump against a fixed object (a 640-foot drop). This one scene would set the tone for the entire film...Bond is back! But the film wouldn't stop there with amazing stunts. The now famous tank drive through St. Petersburg would also be a feast for the eyes. Partially shot at the famous Russian City, and the rest shot back at Leavesden Studios in England, it would take about 150 permits to execute the scene, with the citizens of St. Petersburg looking on, not knowing who James Bond even was, since all previous 007 films were banned in Russia. Bond's new BMW Z3 Roadster would be equipped with Stinger missiles behind the headlights, an ejector seat, an emergency parachute braking system, and an all-points radar tracking system. Although quite impressive, it was decided not to use these gadgets in the film as it had all been done before in previous Bond outings (Goldfinger, The Living Daylights, ect). Campbell wanted everything to be new and fresh, to see things we've never seen before in a Bond movie. Such was the case for the climatic confrontation between Bond and Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) which was shot on the largest spherical radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. A true eye grabber.
Good acting was also very crucial to make for a more believable (and memorable) outing. For another fresh touch it was decided that the character of "M" be portrayed by a woman instead of a man as it was usually done. Famed English actress, Judi Dench was offered the part and immediately responded to it. Her scene with 007 in her office would be another one of those crucial scenes that would set the mood as well as the standard for future Bond films.
Robbie Coltrane, playing Valentin Zukovsky, in a now quite memorable performance. Sean Bean as Alec Trevelyan (006), who was at one time considered for the role of James Bond. Izabella Scorupco (Natalya Simonova) and Famke Janssen (Xenia Onatopp) who are now considered two of the best Bond Women of all. All these wonderful performances would only enhance the film itself and take it to another level all its own.
With a unique main title sequence with lead vocals by Tina Turner and music by Bono and The Edge (of U2 fame) it made a memorable impression, although some Russian officials found some of the shots of Russian monuments crumbling very insulting.
But the happiest of ending is that Goldeneye did very well at the box office when it premiered in December of 1995, becoming the highest grossing Bond film of all, only to be beaten by the next two Bond films (Tomorrow Never Dies & The World Is Not Enough). The word was out. Bond is back and here to stay. "Bond.....Only Bond".