GoldenEye ★★★½

See, I had a problem with Goldeneye right from the outset that actually had absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the film, whatever that may turn out to be. The problem was the N64 game.

I knew that it was going to take an effort on my part to actually watch and appreciate the film and not spend the whole time trying to match scenes to levels in the (absolutely brilliant even to this day) game. I didn't always succeed (I started having a conniption when that bloody silo made an appearance) but I think I did a lot better than expected. Mind you, I haven't played it for a few years.

It's strange, actually, when I was younger it had seemed like an age had passed between Licence To Kill and Goldeneye when in fact it had only been 6 years. Still long enough, of course, for us to have lost Timothy Dalton and gained Pierce Brosnan. Whilst the change between previous Bonds had been, I thought, quite smooth, it doesn't feel quite so smooth here.

It's not Brosnan's fault, actually, as he has all the tools for the role and does a very good job. And it's not the fault of the plot either which really does show a great deal of patience in unfolding an intricate but never confusing storyline. Story-wise, it's arguably the best Bond film to this point.

Indeed, on its own merits it's a fine film but the problem with series like this is that you cannot just judge it on its own but as part of the series as a whole. In many ways the series has moved on - it thankfully has moved with the times, looking and sounding sharper and is considerably more technologically advanced. And internet usage!

Tone-wise, however, it's an odd one. It starts out in a flurry of double entendres that would have had Roger Moore's eyebrows working overtime. It also had other daftness like 'Xenia Onatopp' and Alan Cumming's rude passwords. Contrast this with the most violent scenes in the series to date and Famke Janssen orgasming whenever she kills someone, and it's a slightly uncomfortable mixture at times - although not as uncomfortable as the dreadful scene between new M Judi Dench and Brosnan in her office, easily the worst part of the whole film. Mind you, the bit on the beach is quite shit, too.

But it does overcome these issues and is entertaining at a slower, more Connery-esque pace. The cast is exceptional, too, possibly the best yet. Janssen is commendably insane in her role and an outstanding Bond girl, but I think that the absolutely lovely Izabella Scorupco is almost as good in a less showy role. Sean Bean is also excellent as the main bad guy, but Cumming is an irritant, Robbie Coltrane doesn't get nearly enough to do, and Tcheky Karyo is in much the same boat.

Aside from the incredibly ridiculous, even by Bond standards, pre-credit sky dive into a falling plane, there is only really one action set piece that really stands out, too, that being the superb tank/car chase, but it's rarely meandering or slow and proves to be a high quality return for 007 despite my probably petty quibbling.

I want to play the game now. But I have no idea where my N64 is :(

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