A full six years after the previous Bond film, GoldenEye represented a significant franchise re-boot. A new Bond (Pierce Brosnan), and new M (Judi Dench), and the first ever Bond movie set and released after the end of the Cold War.
It's a new world, and M does not think highly of Bond -- she calls him "a sexist, misogynist dinosaur", and "a relic of the Cold War." Still, when control of a Soviet-era military satellite system capable of destroying cities with an electromagnetic pulse falls into the wrong hands, M sends Bond after the mysterious Janus Crime Syndicate.
Janus turns out to be Alec Trevelyan, previously known as Agent 006 (Sean Bean), and formerly believed to have been killed while on a joint mission with Bond. Helping Trevelyan on his quest to destroy London is Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), who get orgasmic delight while killing people, particularly when she is suffocating her victims between her thighs during sex. Also among the bad guys is Soviet-era General Ourumov (Gottfried John) and techno-geek Boris Grishenko (Alan Cumming).
Meanwhile, Bond is getting help in and out of bed from Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco), a Russian computer programmer. Natalya repeatedly complains that Bond destroys every piece of machinery that he get close to, but that does not prevent her from falling into his arms at every opportunity.
The pursuit of the bad guys takes Bond from Monte Carlo to St. Petersburg, where he commandeers a tank to chase Ourumov through the city streets while being chased by countless army jeeps and police Ladas in one of the most fun chase sequences that the franchise has offered. The story reaches a climax at a hidden satellite control facility in Cuba, with the typical frequency and intensity of loud explosions.
Pierce Brosnan was born to be Bond, and he does not disappoint with his naturally suave persona easily slipping into the Bond world. Judi Dench gives M a new world spin, balancing the incompetence of analysts and accountants with the real threats to global stability. The rest of the cast has limited star power and the characters remain well within the thick lines of typical Bond villains and babes. As has become common, neither Scorupco nor Janssen were able to translate their Bond experience into significant international career success.
GoldenEye may not be a masterpiece, but it probably saved Bond from extinction -- and for that, secret agents and movie fans world-wide are grateful.
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