We have reached the Pierce Brosnan era. GoldenEye was the first Bond movie I saw at the cinema. I loved it so much I went to see it twice. This is my favourite of the Brosnan movies, and I’m hoping after Mel enjoyed The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill, that we’re on a roll.
I haven’t told Mel that Timothy Dalton only played Bond in two films, and that we won’t be seeing him this month. But she shows no surprise when Pierce Brosnan strides across the screen and shoots at the gun barrel.
“I used to really fancy him,” she declares.
I ask her if she isn’t surprised that it isn’t Dalton.
“Yeah, I knew he only did two,” she reveals.
I ask Mel what she has thought of the four Bond actors we’ve seen so far: Sean Connery, George Lazonby, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton.
“Sean Connery is the classic James Bond. I’ll give him that. I didn’t like him because he was… a man of his time, and I don’t like the way women were treated. Lazonby was the most boring thing I’ve ever watched in my life. He needs to sort himself out. I hated Roger Moore; everything had a side-order of cheesy fries with it. I actually loved Timothy Dalton, but I loved him for not being a typical Bond. That’s why I really liked him.”
Mel’s Bond ranking looks like this:
1. Timothy Dalton
2. Sean Connery
3. George Lazonby
4. Roger Moore
Meanwhile, Bond is jogging across the top of a dam and bungees off it. He then fires a grapple hook to lower himself down the rest of the way.
“This already feels like a Daniel Craig film. The action is more real.”
Mel says, “This is the Bond when I was young. I remember my dad watching it. I think my relationship with my dad is partly why I don’t like James Bond.”
We don’t see Bond’s new face up close until he appears hanging upside down in a toilet stall, interrupting a man reading the paper.
“I thought he was going to do the Spider-Man kiss!”
I think that would have made this a very different film.
Bond makes his way through the Archangel facility until he is held at gunpoint by a figure in the shadows. This turns out to be 006.
TWO DOUBLE-OS! I exclaim, trying to make Mel as excited as I am by this unprecedented team-up.
Mel isn’t that excited. “I feel sorry for this double-O. He hasn’t got a film series,” she says.
Mel has more reason to feel sorry for 006 when he gets captured by the Soviets and shot in the head. 007 escapes, flying a motorbike off a cliff after a plane and free-falling into the aircraft to fly off. Mel enjoys the GoldenEye theme song by Tina Turner.
“This is the best James Bond song. I love it. Tina is Simply the Best. Oh God, the days of watching Roger Moore have rubbed off on me!”
In Monte Carlo Bond is driving Caroline, a lady psychiatrist sent by M to analyse him, around in his DB5. She disapproves primly when her patient starts racing with the female driver of a red Ferrari.
“The women in these films are all either wild or frigid. It’s like the Bible: virgin or whore.”
I hope nobody is offended by my wife comparing James Bond movies to the Bible. Clearly the Bond films are much better than the Bible. In many ways they are the greatest story ever told.
That night Bond makes the acquaintance of the Ferrari driver, Xenia Onatopp, in a casino.
“I’d love to got to Monte Carlo,” Mel says. “Old-style, classic glamour, not vulgar wealth like Las Vegas. They don’t allow paparazzi there.”
Bond and Onatopp are flirting in the casino after a game of Baccarat.
Mel says, “I will give you £100 if he doesn’t sleep with her.”
I quickly shake her hand on this bet, then remind her that I have seen this one before. I think it was the first Bond movie I owned on video, and I watched it a lot.
“Void for mistake!” Mel caveats, “Well, it could be.” She explains that if you enter into a contract knowing that the details are false then the other party can claim that it’s voidable on grounds of mistake. I won’t take £100 off her anyway.
After the card game Bond introduces himself in the classic way and order his favourite drink.
“He literally got both James Bond catchphrases out in about twenty seconds then!”
In The Making of GoldenEye by Garth Pearce (Boxtree, 1995), Pierce Brosnan talks about filming this scene:
‘I am okay with the Vodka Martini, because it’s a drink I like and I genuinely order them. One of those sets you up for the night. Four of them and you’re anybody’s. But saying “Bond, James Bond” is another matter. I was there cleaning my teeth this morning saying it over and over again. I felt very foolish with toothpaste running all over my chin.’
Mel suddenly gasps and points at the screen.
Then explains, “I thought that was Celine Dion. But it’s not.”
Onatopp goes to the yacht Manticore with her admiral lover. She takes him to bed, but crushes him to death between her thighs. It’s fair to say she quite enjoyed it.
“That is very disturbing. She just had an orgasm.”
Mel then says something quite disturbing herself: “I could probably crush you to death with my thighs. I can lift a lot of weight on the leg press.”
Xenia steals a prototype EuroCopter, a helicopter that is impervious to electro-magnetic pulses. She and the rogue General Ouromov fly the stolen vehicle to the Goldeneye facility at Severnaya.
At Severnaya we meet Natalya Simonova and Boris Grishenko. Boris gives Natalya a clue as what the password on his computer is: “You sit on it, but you can’t take it with you.”
“Money,” Mel guesses.
Ouromov and Xenia arrive and activate the GoldenEye and steal a second one. Xenia machine-guns all the Goldeneye staff dead, taking a lascivious pleasure in the slaughter.
Mel shudders. “She is really freaky. She makes orgasm sounds every time she shoots someone.”
Bond arrives at MI6 headquarters, and is greeted by the new Moneypenny, this time played by Samantha Bond.
Mel recognises her immediately. “It’s the sister off Outnumbered!” she says.
We also meet the new M, in the form of Judi Dench. “I love Judi. She’s so powerful isn’t she?”
Mel guesses, “She looks about 50 here.” I have look at IMDb, she’s 60. Linda Devetta, make-up supervisor, is quoted in The Making of GoldenEye:
“She has the most beautiful face, but as she is sixty my brief is to make her look as young and glamorous as possible. I use foundation to make her lovely blue eyes shine out. She is blonde and fair, but can take a lot of definition.”
M delivers her damning her assessment of James Bond.
“… I think you’re sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War…”
Mel excitedly says, “What a speech! She’s just knocked him down! He’s never been spoken to like that, and she’s the woman to do it.”
007 goes to Q’s laboratory, with the usual array of gadgets being tested in the background.
“I would love to work there!” says Mel.
Mel is quiet while Bond travels to Russia, and meets with his new CIA contact, Wade. Wade puts him in touch with Valentin Zukovsky, who agrees to arrange a meet with the head of the Janus crime syndicate. Mel is surprised when this is revealed to be 006.
“006!” she says.
006, Alec Treveleyan, describes his erstwhile colleague as “James Bond. Her Majesty’s loyal terrier. Defender of the so-called faith.”
Between M and 006 delivering these withering summations of his character, I always feel it’s as though the writers are trying to define who Bond is, having the characters help find his place in the post-Cold War 1990s. Particularly after the six year absence of the character from screens, and the perceived failure of Licence to Kill. The other Martin Campbell-directed Bond movie, Casino Royale, which also introduces a new Bond does something similar with Vesper’s ‘skewering’ of him on the train.
Bond is tranquillised and wakes up with Natalya, bound, aboard the stolen Tyger helicopter. Bond desperately tries to headbutt the controls to release the pair.
“See, I’m good with my nose. That’s how I’d press the buttons. I use it to turn off the light switch if I’m carrying two plates. Don’t you do that?” Mel asks.
No, I tell her. I use my forehead.
Mel is again quiet as Bond and Natalya are arrested by the Soviets, only for Ouromov to turn up, kill Defence Minister Mishkin and take Natalya hostage. Bond chases them through streets in a tank, and ends up in Trevelyan’s armoured train.
Trevelyan forces a kiss on Natalya. She does not reciprocate.
“He’s thinking, ‘That always works for Bond! Why doesn’t attempted rape work for me?!'”
Mel admits that she is finding this one “quite boring.” She’s not saying much, so I suggest we take a break and come back to it when she’s more in the mood to engage with it. She just wants to push on though.
Bond and Natalya are captured in Cuba when their plane is shot down as they search for Trevelyan’s satellite dish.
Trevelyan explains that activating the GoldenEye is “…not just erasing bank records. It’s everything on every computer in Greater London. Tax records. The stock market. Credit ratings. Land registries. Criminal records.”
Mel says, “Land registry would be the worst one. To register property you’ve got to look at all the deeds. You’ve got to provide an epitome of title. And then you’ve got to make an application to the Land Registry, pay the fee, answer any requisitions and then it’s registered. For every tiny parcel of land.”
So it would be a pain if Alec deleted them all? I ask.
“Yes. And, a further complication that he’s not thinking about, is sometimes the Land Registry get rid of the original deeds. So you’d have to make an application based on lost deeds. Which is even worse, because you have to get statutory declarations because there’s no deeds to prove anything, and you’d probably only get possessory title, well, for some.”
Natalya scuppers the plan to detonate GoldenEye over London by re-programming the satellite’s guidance system. Boris is shaking his monitor in frustration, trying to get it to work again.
“That’s not going to help,” Mel tells him.
This is a bit rich. Mel does this with her phone all the time when she hasn’t got a signal or when it’s taking too long to load something.
The day won, Bond and Natalya start to get it on. But Natalya is wary. “Suppose someone is watching?” she asks.
“Oh, he’s not bothered about that, love.” Mel tells her, thinking about all the times Roger Moore was seen by people having his end-of-mission coitus.
The film ends.
“Nah. Not keen on that. It was like the old ones again.”
The song The Experience of Love begins.
“Is this Pierce Brosnan singing?!”
No. I don’t think so.
“The film was cheesy and overwrought. I just wanted it to finish… Are you sure this isn’t Pierce Brosnan? it sounds just like him.”
We watch the credits to find out. It’s Eric Serra.
Mel will return… watching Tomorrow Never Dies.
Order GoldenEye on DVD from Amazon:
The Making of GoldenEye: