After Licence to Kill was released, pre-production work for the seventeenth James Bond film — the third to star Timothy Dalton — began. There was even a poster shown at Cannes. But soon, producer Albert R. Broccoli would stop working with long-time writer Richard Maibaum and director John Glen.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the owners of the series’ distributor United Artists, and Broccoli’s Danjaq, owners of the Bond film rights, then fell apart. MGM/UA was sold to Pathé Entertainment, who attempted to sell off the broadcast rights to the studio’s films to pay for the buy out. The problem was that they were selling them for firesale prices and were denying Danjaq any of the profits.
By the time the legal issues were settled, six years had passed. While Dalton was still Broccoli’s choice to play Bond, the star’s original three-movie, seven-year contract expired in 1993. That means that Pierce Brosnan could finally be Bond.
John Woo was originally selected to direct, but Martin Campbell — who directed two Zorro films, two Bond films and, perhaps not so successfully, the Green Lantern movie — finally took over.
This is the first Bond film to be made after the fall of Communism. One of the movie’s big changes was to cast Judi Dench as the new female M, who refers to Bond as a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur” and a “relic of the Cold War.” The fall of Russian is also shown in the opening titles, which upset plenty of people in those countries to see the symbols of their past decimated by girls in bikinis.
GoldenEye begins with James Bond and Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) infiltrating a chemical weapons facility in Russia. Trevelyan is caught and presumably killed by Colonel Ourumov. While Bond manages to destroy the site before escaping, the truth is that Trevelyan and Ourumov come together to create the Janus crime syndicate.
Famke Janssen makes for a great henchwoman as Xenia Onatopp, a fighter pilot and killer who loves to crush men between her thighs. She’s awesome in this and even did all of her own driving stunts. There are also great turns by Joe Don Baker, Robbie Coltrane and Alan Cumming.
So what is GoldenEye, other than Ian Fleming’s estate? It’s a satellite that the Russians are using to destroy targets with a nuclear electromagnetic pulse.
Perhaps more people in the U.S. know this movie as the inspiration for the Nintendo 64 game, which was a huge multiplayer game.
This is a film of many firsts and lasts. The first Bond film to use CGI. The first to switch the roles of Moneypenny, M and Bond all in the same film. And the last that Albert Broccoli would live to see. Luckily, with Brosnan, the series was in stable hands.