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Monday, February 03, 2014

007 Feature #5 - "GoldenEye" featuring Brosnan...Pierce Brosnan

This is going to be a huge challenge for me to write this blog entry today because as I type this entry out, I am battling the dreaded stomach flu.  It came on all of a sudden too, which stunned even me.

But I suppose that it couldn't be helped.  The flu is going around a lot where I live.  I suppose that it was only inevitable for me to catch it.  And, while I won't go into detail over how badly I feel, I'll just say that having the flu is by no means glamourous.

So, I hope you'll understand why I probably won't be making this blog entry as jam-packed full of trivia information as previous entries.  My hope is that next week, I'll be recovered enough to end this special series of James Bond themed entries with a bang.

What, you think a little thing like a gastrointestinal bug is going to stop me from writing an entry?  Of course not!  This is week #5 in a six-week look back at all things Bond.  Each week, I've been taking a look at one of the Bonds, as well as what I think was their best movie.  For the list up to this point, here's links to the other postings.

007 Feature #1 - Dr. No featuring Connery...Sean Connery

And, for this week's edition, the Bond that is the subject of mixed opinion.  Some absolutely love him, others can't stand him.  My own opinion of Bond #5 is exactly the same as Bond #3.  I loved his earlier movies, but didn't care for his later ones.  Not that any of the movies that he did were horrible.  I didn't mind three of the four of them.  But when it came to choosing the film that I would spotlight featuring Bond #5, I tended to go for one of his earliest ones.

And what's interesting about Bond #5 was that he was actually supposed to be Bond #4, but due to NBC deciding to keep him on contract to "Remington Steele", he ended up losing the gig to Timothy Dalton in 1986.

Nine years later though, Pierce Brosnan would come to have a second chance to play Bond.  And beginning in 1995, Pierce Brosnan became the fifth actor to play the role of James Bond after Timothy Dalton resigned from the role one year earlier.

And the story behind the departure of Dalton is almost as interesting as Brosnan being given the part.  You see, Timothy Dalton was actually committed to three films in his contract.  We already know that two of those movies were "The Living Daylights" and "Licence To Kill".  It was widely considered that Dalton would honour his third film commitment shortly after "Licence To Kill" wrapped up, and the third film project would be released sometime in 1991.

Unfortunately, neither Dalton nor the Albert R. Broccoli were prepared for the events that lead to Dalton resigning.  Because "Licence To Kill" was the lowest grossing Bond film in America, people began to speculate that the film franchise was in trouble.  To add to the drama, MGM/UA (the company that sponsored and distributed the Bond series) was sold to an Australian broadcasting group known as Qintex - at which point, Qintex would merge with French production company Pathe.  Meanwhile, Danjaq - the parent company of Eon Productions had launched a lawsuit against MGM/UA because the Bond back catalogue had been licensed to Pathe, which planned on broadcasting the entire Bond series on television around the world without Danjaq's approval. 

Because of these legal disputes, Dalton's contract was left in limbo, and the film release date was pushed back from 1991 to 1994!  Although the screenplay had been completed for the film by Michael France, the waiting proved to be too much for Dalton's patience, and he resigned from the series in April 1994. 

So, with a new Bond being required to finish the film, the choice was really a no-brainer.  Since Brosnan had already been promised the role in 1986 (before the "Remington Steele" debacle), it was decided that he would take over the Bond franchise, which he did from 1995 until 2002.

Now, here comes the tricky part.  Brosnan did four films in the series.  Which one would I feature?

Well, as I stated before hand, I liked Brosnan's early films, but not so much the later ones.  1999's "The World Is Not Enough" was okay, but I never did like Denise Richards as a Bond girl for whatever reason.  Nothing against her acting ability, but perhaps my opinion may have been clouded by the fact that Richards once played a girl who had a crush on Slater in "Saved By The Bell".  And 2002's "Die Another Day" relied too much on CGI animation to really tell a coherent story - although Rosamund Pike's portrayal of Miranda Frost was excellent, and I didn't mind Halle Berry as Jinx either - though Madonna should probably never do another Bond theme again.

So, we're left with 1995's "GoldenEye" and 1997's "Tomorrow Never Dies".  Both films are quite excellent, and in my Top 10 list of Bond films, both of these are in that list.  But as good a movie as "Tomorrow Never Dies" really was, I decided to go with "GoldenEye" as the subject of discussion for three reasons.

First, the theme song is wickedly cool.  Tina Turner singing a song written by Bono and The Edge from U2?  Pure awesomeness.  And whoever did the title design for these opening credits was a genius.

Secondly, this film actually does a great job incorporating Brosnan into the Bond franchise, and the casting choices were fantastic all around.  Sean Bean, Famke Janssen, Izabella Scorupko, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Cumming, and introducing Dame Judi Dench as the first female "M" was brilliant!

And, thirdly..."GoldenEye" was supposed to be the final film that Dalton would have made had he stayed on with the franchise.  I admit that it would have been interesting to see what might have been had Dalton stayed on.  It might have moved him up a couple of notches on my most liked Bonds.

So, let's talk a bit about the plot (and when I say a bit, I mean the most miniscule details, as I never want to spoil too many details).

Amusingly enough, the film opens up nine years prior to the events that take place in "GoldenEye" in 1986 - the same year that Brosnan got screwed out of playing Bond in the first place.  Initially, Bond is working with another Double-0 Agent - Alec Trevalyan 006 (Bean) to infiltrate a Soviet chemical weapons base and blow it up real good.  But naturally, if the two agents would have succeeded at their task, the movie would have concluded in ten minutes with Pierce Brosnan and Sean Bean playing a round of golf in Hawaii.

Instead what happens is that 006 is shot by Colonel Arkady Ourumov, and 007 manages to escape in a plane while the chemicals plant explodes.

So, from what it appears, it looks like Agent 006 has been killed.  But in a Bond film, nothing ever looks as it appears.  For not only has 006 survived the ordeal - but he has crossed over to the dark side.  And, whereas Bond was once a friend...he is now an enemy.

Flash forward nine years, and Bond is now given a new mission.  Track down Xenia Onatopp (Janssen) and keep an eye on her.  Onatopp is suspected to be a member of the crime syndicate known as Janus - a criminal organization that has committed crimes all over the world over the last eight or nine years (surprise, surprise), and Bond's ultimate mission is to shut the organization down.

Unfortunately, Bond is too late to prevent the group from causing a lot of death and destruction.  After Onatopp kills a Royal Canadian Navy admiral, and Ourumov steals his identity, it allows the group to steal a Eurocopter Tiger helicopter that can withstand electromagnetic pulses - the weapon of choice that they plan on using to steal the control disk for the dual GoldenEye satellite weapons.  They descend on a secret bunker located in Severnaya, and in their quest to gain control of the weapons, kill off most of the scientists and researchers in the complex and manage to recruit programmer Boris Grishenko (Cumming) to their side.

But as it turns out, the attack did leave behind one survivor - Natalya Simonova.  And Simonova teams up with Bond to bring down the Janus syndicate before they can have the opportunity to create more damage.

Now, that's all that I feel compelled to reveal.  If I give out too many plot details, I'll ruin the movie.

But I can offer up some backstage trivia for you in regards to this movie.

01 - Desmond Llewelyn was the only returning face to Bond's team as "Q".  This was Judi Dench's first film as "M", and Samantha Bond's first film as Moneypenny.

02 - This was Albert R. Broccoli's last Bond film in which he was credited as part of the staff (as consulting producer).  He would pass away at the age of 87 on June 27, 1996 - seven months after GoldenEye's November 13, 1995 release date.

03 - The film name "GoldenEye" pays homage to Bond creator Sir Ian Fleming.  One of the operations that he took part in while in service to the British Naval Intelligence was "Operation Goldeneye"!

04 - This movie was the first Bond movie to be released on DVD format.

05 - Famke Janssen performed her own driving stunts in the movie.

06 - The Rolling Stones were offered the chance to record the theme song for this movie, but turned it down.

07 - Some of the close-up shots of Bond's hand were actually that of Brosnan's adopted son, Christopher.  The reason why was because Brosnan had injured his hand quite badly at his home in Malibu.

08 - This film features a bungee cord jump from a structure 722 feet high up - the longest bungee jump ever recorded for a motion picture.  The man who performed the jump later had a cameo in the film as a helicopter pilot.

09 - Look closely at the cards that Xenia is holding in the casino scene with Bond.  Xenia has two face cards and a seven in her hand - or 007, if you like.

10 - This was the first Bond film to have an original screenplay - without any reference to any of Ian Fleming's previous works.

11 - The first Bond movie to use computer generated imagery - the gun barrel opening was completely animated using CGI.

12 - The movie began production in January 1995.  Robbie Coltrane's scenes were the very first to be shot.

13 - Pierce Brosnan is one of only two Bond actors to be born outside of the United Kingdom.  Brosnan grew up in Ireland, and George Lazenby was Australian.

14 - During the fight scene in the sauna, I imagine that it must have been painful for Famke Janssen.  She admitted that she broke a rib filming that scene!

15 - Paulina Porizkova and Eva Herzigova were offered the role of Natalya, but both turned it down.

16 - The first Bond movie to be directed by a non-British director.  In this case, it was directed by New Zealand born Martin Campbell.

17 - "M"'s real name is listed as Barbara Mawdsley.

18 - The alcoholic beverages weren't really alcohol.  The martinis that James Bond drinks were really ice water.  And "M"'s bourbon is really apple juice.

19 - Nails were attached to the tires of the Ferrari F355 for the skid in the car chase with Bond's Aston Martin.  Problem was that the car was rented, and when the car was involved in a collision, it had to be repaired immediately - at a cost of $80,000!

20 - Believe it or not, Sean Bean auditioned for the role of James Bond in 1987's "The Living Daylights"!

21 - This film also marks the film where James Bond kills the most people - with the final death toll being 47!

And, that's our look back at Pierce Brosnan's turn as Bond.  And, while I wasn't a fan of the latter two films he did, I loved the first two.  And, the seventeenth film of the Eon series of Bond films certainly was the best film that showcases Brosnan in the most positive light. 

Next week, the Bond series wraps up with the sixth (and current) Bond - and his turn as the spy shows that sometimes blond Bonds do have more fun!

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