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Sunday, 20 May 2012

BlogalongaBond: Goldeneye

Way back in 2011, my favourite film critic The Incredible Suit figured out there were exactly the same amount of months preceding the release of Skyfall as there were Bond films. And thus BlogalongaBond was born, in which international film critics from around the world (hence the international bit) reviewed one Bond film a month until Skyfall dropped.

Being the top bloke that I am, I convinced my then-girlfriend (now wife) to take part in BlogalongaBond with me, seeing as how she hadn't seen a Bond film before, or couldn't remember having done so.

Her: That's it! I've had enough! I don't want to watch any more!

Me: Aww, come on, we're so close to the end....

Her: No! This is getting ridiculous! It's the same film again and again!

Me: Well, there is obviously a formula that was established reasonably early in the series....

Her: I know, but why do they keep making the same stupid mistakes? If it's an established formula, then why do they keep being so stupid?

Me: I'm guessing you didn't like this one.

Her: No I didn't! I hated it! I'm sick of these damned movies!

Me: And what stupid mistakes do they keep making?

Her: The Bond girls for starters. I really like Natalya, but they still made her a pushover. Ditto for the psychiatrist at the start of the film. And what the hell was the go with the other chick who was orgasming every time she killed someone? It was like something out of an Austin Powers film.

"Yes, Onatopp. Like 'on the top'. Do you get it or would you like me to demonstrate?"

Me: Fair point about Xenia Onatopp. A henchwoman who kills people by squeezing them with her thighs is as equally ridiculous as a man who throws lethal hats. But I thought she wasn't a terrible character. Certainly Famke Janssen played the role well. It was nice to see some Bond girls who could actually act for a change too. She certainly beat Alan Cumming and Robbie Coltrane in the Russian accent stakes. They were some of the most Scottish-sounding Ruskies ever.

Her: Yeah totally. Wait - who and who?

Me: Boris the hacker - that's Cumming - and Valentin was played by Coltrane. You know - Hagrid. From Harry Potter.

Her: Hagrid wasn't in that film.

Me: The guy who played him was.

Her: No he wasn't.

Me: Yes he was.

*The ensuing five minute "discussion" about whether Robbie Coltrane was in the movie has been omitted. PS. He was.*

Her: And was that Minnie Driver as his mistress?

Me: Yeah I think so. What the hell was she doing there?

Her: It was a small role - wasn't she already famous by then?

Me: Was she ever really famous?

Her: Anyway, back to the important stuff - like how much this movie sucked.

Me: You mentioned repeated stupid mistakes - what in particular?

Her: Well, aside from the film-makers having no idea about women, what about how Bond never gets shot despite being sprayed with machine gun fire? Would it kill him to get shot in the arm every now and then? Jeez.

Me: I think that's more of a fault of most action movies, not just Bond films.

Her: And the villains giving away every detail of their plan and talking themselves into trouble.

Me: Ok, that trope may have started with Bond films, but it's pretty common as well. Why are these things bothering you so much now after 17 films and not, say, 12 films ago? Are you hungry? Sleepy? Gassy? Gassy? Is it gas? It's gas, isn't it?

Her: Shut up with your inane Simpsons quotes.

Me: Sorry. Maybe you're suffering from Bond fatigue - there must have been something you liked about Goldeneye. What about the theme song?

Her: Yeah that was pretty good.

Me: I reckon it's a great one. I had no idea that Bono and The Edge wrote that, or that Tina Turner sang it. For some reason I'd always thought it was Shirley Bassey.

Her: And the title sequence was one of the better ones in a long time.

Me: True. What about Brosnan?

Her: Yeah, he was good. Certainly the most handsome Bond so far. You just instantly accept him as Bond too.

Me: Agreed. What about the plot?

Her: The plot was pretty good. That personal edge that made Licence To Kill so interesting is retained by the involvement of 006...

Me: ...who was nicely played by Sean Bean.

Her: And some of the stunts were pretty good. I loved the tank chase.

"This tank needs more guns."
Me: My favourite was the punch-on at the end of the film. We haven't seen a set of fisticuffs like that since From Russia With Love. And that opening bungee jump was pretty awesome. You know, it sounds like you didn't totally hate the movie after all.

Her: Maybe. Maybe I am just gassy. What did you think?

Me: Goldeneye is great. I think it was the first Bond film I saw - it came out at the movies around my 15th birthday - and I loved it so much. Looking back at it now, it has some rough edges, but it was another important update. Much like the Dalton films brought Bond into the '80s, Goldeneye acknowledges that 007 can't operate as he always has and must adapt to the world of the '90s, where women have top jobs, sexual harrassment is a thing, computers run the world and the Cold War is over. The film has enough self-awareness to cope with these developments while stepping up to the plate as a competitor to the style of action movies of the era, such as Die Hard With A Vengeance and Bad Boys. Goldeneye manages to be progressive and respectful at the same time, and while it does fall into some of the same traps, such as the mis-handled romantic sub-plots, it's a successful debut for Brosnan, who looks like he was born to brandish a Walther PPK. Also, it reminds me of the greatest Nintendo 64 game ever.

Her: Ok ok, but how many more of these damned films do I have to watch?

Me: Only five more. And then the new one, Skyfall.

Her: Nooooooooooo!

BlogalongaBond will return in Tomorrow Never Dies.

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