★ ★ ★ ★
A viewing of this film from the other night was probably the first time I had seen this movie in its entirety since soon after its home video release in the mid-1990s. Being that I was only six-years-old when Licence to Kill came out in 1989, and there was a nearly six year hiatus between films due to various problems and law suits, this was the first Bond movie that I was able to see upon release in theaters. For that, it does hold a special place in my heart; however, my viewing of this film as an adult has diminished my memories slightly from the grandness it was to my twelve-year-old mind.
The pre-title sequence takes place nine years earlier than the rest of the film and recounts Bond’s loss of good friend Alex Trevelyan, aka 006 (Sean Bean), to Russian General Ourumov while on a mission in Russia. Fast forward nine years later, while on a bit of a retreat and review, Bond runs into gorgeous Xenia Onatopp (get it? “On the Top”), portrayed by Famke Janssen. Suspicious of her background, Bond follows her and catches on that she is planning to steal a top secret Tiger Helicopter. Too late to stop her, she and an unnamed accomplice get away with the helicopter during a publicity event demonstrating the vehicles functions. Her accomplice turns out to be General Ouromov and, with him, they destroy a military communications base in Russia and steal vital information about the Goldeneye project, which is an electromagnetic pulse device. The only two survivors of the siege on the communications base are programmers Boris Grishenko (Alan Cumming) and Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco). Grishenko we find later is assisting the antagonist, and Natalya becomes the good Bond girl figure for the remainder of the movie. In investigating the destruction of the base, Bond uncovers an villain he would have never presumed and then goes on to save the world as usual.
Whew! That plot is harder to condense than you would think, but in reality, its not as complicated as it sounds. I was blown away by this film when I saw it in the theaters in 1995; I’m sure a large degree of this was due to my never having experienced Bond on the big screen, and my age at the time. Seeing the movie again at 28, I can’t say that it was as pleasing for me as it was when I was younger. It’s still a good Bond film, possibly still Brosnan’s best, but not near as interesting or exciting of many others in the canon. Though I will admit, Famke Janssen is as hot to me now as when I was a kid – that might be the only constant variable in the two viewings; what can I say, sometimes I’m a sucker for the bad girl.
In the end, however, it was just a “good” movie to me, rather than “great” as it once was. Literally every line out of Brosnan’s mouth is a pun or a cute comment, this didn’t bother me years ago, but drove me nuts this time around. Furthermore, I think I am just too familiar with the story to truly enjoy it, as I saw it in the theatre and on VHS years ago and played the heck out of the Goldeneye video game for the Nintendo 64. Heck, I still play that game sometimes. All and all, I chalked the review up to mix my feelings of long ago with my feelings upon recent viewing and feel that I’ve satisfied both my twelve-year-old and 28-year-old opinions on this movie.