Monday, July 12, 2010

Backwards Bond 3: GoldenEye

| by Justin Thomas |

The best bit in GoldenEye occurs when M tells Bond he’s a dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War, because the line describes what I thought of GoldenEye up to that point. It also accurately describes what I thought of the movie after that point. It’s not so much dated to 1995, although it is, but it’s a type of film and filmmaking I feel to be better left to mid-1980s and a type of film I don’t necessarily miss.

The best example I can use to describe it is Commando. In Commando, our hero goes off and, against impossible odds, accomplishes his mission. In the impossible odds are included scores of nameless, faceless thugs who have one job and one job only: provide a person our hero can kill, preferably in an exciting way, while proving how adept our hero is at being a hero. Basically, just a body to catch a bullet, the more the merrier, and it’s far better if the audience can’t possibly keep track of the number of bad guys our hero kills. There are plenty of these from the mid-1980s and the names Schwarzenegger and Stallone are on more than a few.

That’s how GoldenEye opens and it happens throughout GoldenEye. Bond against an army of Soviets, Bond against an army of Russians, Bond against an army of some sort in the jungle. Ooh, watch how they all die so well because he’s James Bond, Action Hero. When I was 10, I dug it. Now that I’m not 10, it wears on me and I turned into a codger over the course of three paragraphs.

Naturally the Cold War relic of movie making includes the gruesome deaths. Xenia Onatopp gets crucified, sort of, and Alec Trevelyan not only falls onto the dish but has part of it crash down on him. That’s fun. I guess. It reminded me of Schwarzenegger throwing a saw blade into a guy’s head in Commando. Did I just not get into the fun of watching a bunch of people die? What leap did I miss?

Was I too focused on that and not the humor? Are puns funny? I mean, are puns funny after you turn 9? Onatopp? For real? Is GoldenEye where George Lucas turned to come up with the dialogue in Attack of the Clones? There you go: George Lucas turned to Full House and GoldenEye for inspiration when writing the prequels. Nice. I didn’t laugh at or with GoldenEye and my interest and patience started to wane early in the movie.

I’m off the rails with getting my thoughts down here because the dramatic change from Daniel Craig’s Bond really messed with me. Pierce Brosnan has the charm down, which I’m not certain Craig had, but I couldn’t help thinking Brosnan and the film kept winking at me and I wasn’t in on the joke. At all. I wanted to see a good movie but instead got some cat named Q talking about a bomb pen, then later I got to see Boris twirling a pen, thus removing any doubt Boris would eventually wind up with Q’s bomb pen, and finally, I got to see Boris twitch enough to arm the pen and make it explode. Wow. I’m not psychic but the filmmakers removed any doubt as to how the pen issue would be resolved, which indicates bad filmmaking or no trust in the audience’s intelligence. Execution of the pen is one of a dozen things where GoldenEye shows ham-handed filmmaking as subtle as someone driving a freaking tank with a statue on top of it through a city. All while the movie kept winking at me. Stop winking at me! I don’t like it!

Bah. Something tells me I’m in real trouble if I am going to see through to the end my threat to finally see them all if I’m already mad after GoldenEye. Yes, this was a review and for that, I’m sorry, but man, is there a point to “analyzing” trash? Were we as a species really that dumb back in 1995? I think we were in 1985 but GoldenEye confirms to me we didn’t learn much in ten years. Now I know I’m being a codger. Crap.

I’m really going to hate Roger Moore, aren’t I.

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