We enter the decade long reign of Pierce Brosnan as 007 with this spectacular reboot of the franchise after a long layoff due to legal wrangling. Maybe the anticipation of a new Bond film after six long years, or the final arrival of the heir apparent was enough to satisfy my hopes, but I think it really came down to a very good film. Unfortunately from my perspective, it was the high point of Brosnan’s turn at bat.
001 The Opening Bungee Jump
For others it might rank higher, I think it is a terrific pre-title moment, but the one CGI shot at the end makes it just a little less than perfect for me.
The pause before the leap, the way the cameras shift between viewing angles, and the stuntman reaching in for the piton gun as the jump is nearing the end are all perfect. And then this happens.
It’s just fake enough to take you out of the moment. Still, it is one of the best openings since “the Spy Who Loved Me.”
002 Two Great Character Actors who will Make Return Visits.
Robbie Coltrane as former KGB man Zukovsky, now a Russian mobster, fills the bill as a former adversary who becomes an uneasy ally in tracking down “Janus” the head of a rival Russian Syndicate.
Joe Don Baker, who was one of the bad guys in “The Living Daylights, comes back to the series as CIA man Jack Wade, a more workaday and slovenly Felix Leiter, providing a little comic relief and exposition along the way.
Each of these characters will join James in a future episode.
003 006 Traitor
Purists might not like the idea of a Double O turning on his clan, but admittedly, a Double O woill make a fearsome opponent for James Bond. After establishing some bona fides in the opening, Alec Trevalyn disappears but Sean bean is too big a name to be gone after five minutes.
Bond goes to meet the mysterious “Janus” and the two faced god turns out to be his old friend, a traitor with a grudge. For the rest of the movie they trade masculine put downs and engage in the kind of one upmanship we would expect from a couple of alpha spies.
Why don’t you just die?
004 Xenia Onatopp
Another double entendre name and a fem fatale with bloodlust. The evil female side kick to the villain in this movie gets off on inflicting pain and death. The scene where she machine guns a room full of unarmed computer programmers has her facial expression as if she were arriving at a sexual climax.
So she is definitely a sadist.
She and Bond have several encounters of foreplay before their climactic scenes.
Sex was always the way to get the drop on 007.
Naturally, her demise will be a variation of her favorite method of execution, a squeeze that robs the victim of life. Her squeeze is provided by a helicopter and a tree.
005 Judi Dench “The Evil Queen of Numbers”
Bond is none too pleased to discover that the new “M” is a woman, and that as an analysit she depends on statistics to make her decisions. She is equally unhappy that she has to rely on a sexist, misogynist dinosaur, who is a relic of the cold war.
They establish a chilly truce, but you can see that loyalty to the cause will eventually warm up the relationship. Dench will be “M” for six more films.
006 The Hero of the Franchise Martin Campbell.
Campbell, who will return to the franchise to reboot it again ten years later, is a director know for action films and well paced scenes. This film is full of explosions, running and vehicular mayhem. He was the right choice to update the style of 007 in 1995.
007 Tank Ride through St. Petersburg.
A muscular chase scene with 007 pursuing the rogue general and the girl in trouble, through the Russian city with abandon.
A building or a bridge is no match for a piece of armoured equipment like this.
The film makers also wait until the start of this scene to unleash the Double o Seven theme on the audience. The result is action bliss.
This was the Bond film that was needed to answer the question of whether Bond was still relevant.
James Bond will Return in:
“Tomorrow Never Dies”
All the great things I love about Pierce Brosnan’s stellar debut as Bond.
Unfortunately, the first Brosnan film was also the best.