5 Reasons to (Re)watch GoldenEye: The Most Iconic Bond Movie 

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You know the name, and you know the number, too. Yes, much has been written  about one of the best Bond films, which seems to consistently rank pretty high on  fans’ lists. But what exactly makes GoldenEye so special? 

1) The best villain ensemble cast 

What would a Bond film be without a good baddie, one that really puts 007 to the test? I have already written quite extensively about Bond villains, and Alec Trevelyan is definitely one of my favourites. The concept of a “rogue” Bond is simple, but so effective that it seems crazy the franchise waited until 1995 to fully exploit it. Sean Bean’s charisma and his cool facial scars already made Alec a memorable villain, but his status as a complex antagonist cements 006 as one of the best bad guys. Treading the fine line between revenge and personal gain, Alec  is hard to read, and impossible to forget! But he isn’t the film only villainous asset: GoldenEye makes the most of Trevelyan’s sidekicks. Xenia, Boris, Ouromov and their interactions are hilarious to watch, as all have their own agenda and personality – and don’t enjoy working together at all! Having one good villain is already a cause for celebration, so when it’s an entire ensemble cast, things can’t get better. 

2) A new era for Bond girls 

The movie also has some of the coolest Bond girls in the entire history of the  franchise: first, there is Famke Janssen as the unforgettable femme fatale Xenia Onatopp. Xenia is a predator, and a worthy adversary to Bond, who thinks his charms can open all doors… until he knocks on the wrong one! Of course, Janssen owns the film, to the point where the only thing wrong with Xenia’s is her disappointingly quick demise. 

On the other side of the spectrum, we have Natalya Simonova, a Bond girl wearing  a cardigan (who would have thought!). More than just a girlfriend, Natalya is the film’s deuteragonist: she has her own sub-plot, which runs parallel to Bond’s quest, and even her own antagonist to defeat. Fans fondly remember Izabella Scorupco’s performance, as she gave Natalya a real personality and some sharp wits. I also think that part of the fanbase, myself included, was glad to finally see a geek on screen! 

3) Action that stands the test of time 

Sometimes, we just want to see a train derail, or a giant antenna which collapses. And for those times, there is GoldenEye. Standing out in a saga full of amazing stunts isn’t easy, especially as blockbusters from the 90s were known for their over-the-top action sequences. But GoldenEye’s stunts really take the cake. There are simply too many memorable ones throughout the movie, which goes beyond the classic car chases (though even the titular chase is a perfect introduction to Xenia!). Between a barrage jump and that improbable motorcycle escape, the film knows how to awaken our inner child – and of course, it created  an entire generation of tank-obsessed Bond fans! 

4) The right balance between fun and emotion 

Yes, I just praised its action scenes, but the film isn’t just a succession of fast paced stunts. In fact, I’d argue that GoldenEye is Brosnan’s best precisely because it balances actual stakes with stunning action. Unlike Craig, whose latest entries delved too much into psychoanalysis and needlessly serious plots, and unlike Die Another Day’s brainless fun, GoldenEye has much to tell and knows how to tell it. 

Bond is scarred by Trevelyan’s death – and later, by his betrayal. In fact, the whole film discusses the importance of trust. His relationship with M is another glaring example: the unruly 007 has to regain his superior’s confidence, and needs to feel like he can rely on her, too. Natalya is betrayed by Boris, while Xenia is by essence a predator masquerading as a lovely woman. The more I think about it, the more this simple red thread helps to make the film stand out and gives it plausible stakes. 

5) It is GoldenEye, plain and simple 

 

Is this really a valid point? Okay, that’s debatable, but you can’t deny that GoldenEye got the saga back onto the right tracks – and fans could breathe a sight of relief upon seeing this masterpiece. I wasn’t around back in 1995, but I know the stress of not having a new Bond film guaranteed, so I can’t imagine what the commercial failure of Licence To Kill and its implications for the franchise felt like. So, GoldenEye’s status as a successful reboot and a franchise saviour suffices to make it iconic. 

And it isn’t just for the Bond connoisseurs, either: GoldenEye is a great introduction to the character for those who don’t know about 007. It ticks almost all of the boxes when it comes to the Bond formula. The film has a compelling plot, some iconic Bond girls, a great villain, hilarious sidekicks, amazing set pieces, a casino and improbable gadgets: it is quite a number!