August 2020 is coming to an end. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, people can't do much to have fun, but there are certainly better options than just sticking to whatever they are showing on ITV. With a cellphone, tablet or PC, anyone can virtually watch, read or play almost anything. They may also have a few books or some DVD and BluRay discs to entertain themselves. However, on the night of August 29, 2020, people in the United Kingdom tuned on ITV to watch another broadcast of GOLDENEYE.
The film's title, along with "Brosnan" and "Sean Bean", was among the top trending topics on Twitter in the United Kingdom. Users posted anecdotes of watching the film for the first time, others called it "the best James Bond film ever" and named Pierce Brosnan as their favourite Bond. There were lovely memories of playing the Nintendo 64 video game with friends, too. There were a few who expressed their disliking for the film and Brosnan's Bond, but, as expected, they were a minority.
I've experienced this with great enthusiasm. GOLDENEYE is my favourite movie of all time and I am among those who insist this is much more than just another great 90s actioner. Not getting into details as I wrote about it in over 400 pages in THE WORLD OF GOLDENEYE, but this one has superior quality in comparison to many other 007 films (past and present) while still retaining the essence of the character and all the elements that turned it into a worldwide success. But to cut a long story short, I'm not in the United Kingdom and ITV is not broadcasted over here, so I just followed the Twitter trends and reconfirmed, once again, what I always point out: the film aged wonderfully.
TWEETS OF PEOPLE WATCHING GOLDENEYE ON ITV:
You may say it's "dated" into the mid-1990s, but to me, that's definitely a pro. Particularly if you grew up in the 90s and experienced things such as the slow Internet connections and the emergence of this new tool, right when it was beginning to change things from social interactions to purchases of goods.
Most of the Bond films are attached to their release year and that's their magic. A time-travelling quality they have. And many friends will agree that GOLDENEYE, particularly, is what you need to watch to escape of all those slow-paced, pretentious, over-emotional action flicks that plead for the eyes of the Academy and their coveted golden statues in every frame.
GOLDENEYE didn't want an Oscar, and it would have certainly deserved at least many nominations (Terry Rawlings, Phil Méheux and Peter Lamont would have been my top candidates). But the film's mission wasn't to seduce the Academy, it was just to entertain audiences and reaffirm that the world still needed James Bond, despite the many changes in the geopolitical map with the fall of the Soviet Union; and that the formula established by producers Albert R Broccoli and Harry Saltzman in 1962 could still have an impact on younger generations.
Needless to say, the film proved that. It wasn't just a box office success (back then, the highest-grossing Bond film in 16 years) but many kids and teenagers joined the bondwagon and began to collect trading cards, Corgi replicas of the BMW Z3, action figures of Pierce Brosnan, toy replicas of the Walther PPK handgun, and, of course, the GOLDENEYE 007 video game that retroactively elevated the appreciation for the movie two years after its release. MGM/UA took notice of that and made James Bond the studio's top priority, pushing EON Productions to deliver TOMORROW NEVER DIES, the next instalment, no later than December 1997.
Leaving the historical facts aside, the quid of this article is explained in the first paragraph: you, British resident, could have done anything yesterday night to entertain yourself. YouTube gives you a myriad of options, also does Steam, Netflix and Amazon Prime. I also asume your TV has plenty of channels to watch. Yet, you choose to tune in GOLDENEYE. A 25-year-old James Bond film, a film that is now as old as ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE was in 1995.
The film's repercussion on Twitter last night was not a minor detail: not only they were watching it, they were also commenting it and sharing anecdotes. Most of them were clearly positive and enthusiastic. It baffles me how there are people who can think it hasn't aged well or that it's overrated, denying its huge generational impact. Had this film been poor, tame or uninteresting for today's audiences, people would have simply tuned out and start doing anything else instead of watching and commenting GOLDENEYE.
Not only this flick is the reason why we are waiting for NO TIME TO DIE (hopefully) in November, but its positive reception and legacy weren't ignored by EON Productions. Take CASINO ROYALE, for example. That film is a child of GOLDENEYE's rotund success: it shares the same director (Martin Campbell), the same cinematographer (Phil Méheux), the same costume designer (Lindy Hemming) and production designer (Peter Lamont). Last time I've checked, they didn't ask John Glen, Alec Mills or Jodie Tillen to return after LICENCE TO KILL during the infamous six-year gap that led to GOLDENEYE. Other than that, I've seen Gen-Z people watching the movie and enjoying it: laughing at every joke, pumping at the action scenes and (probably) falling for Famke Janssen. It can easily surpass most of the other 90s productions and stand up in a fight with today's actioners.
The action scenes have a special edge: not only they are superbly directed by Ian Sharp and coordinated by Simon Crane, but Rawlings' editing and Méheux's shots are responsible for that unique, immersive mood of those scenes that few action/adventure flicks have. And nope, I don't care about the surrealism of Bond catching the plane in mid-air, or the fact that the Arkhangel facility is on a cliff below a dam, or that Alec Trevelyan is too young to care for events taking place during World War II. No Bond film beats the realism test and I've counted many things of the current 007 era that are impossibly unrealistic.
With all those qualities on the entertainment side, there's also the look: Pierce Brosnan looks seductive, self-assured, charming and deadly. The women look incredibly beautiful. The locations! You'd never think half of the St. Petersburg tank chase was shot on the Leavesden Studios (a disused airfield, in case you dind't know) backlot or that the interior of the Casino de Monte-Carlo was recreated there. As for the exteriors, it's not just the locations they choose but the way they made the locations feel like what they are: you can feel the luxury of Monaco, the claustrophobia of an illegal facility in the Soviet Union or the paradisiac mood of the Caribbean where everything is peaceful and romantic.
Yesterday's improvised tweet-along confirmed my thoughts that GOLDENEYE is a beloved classic. It's the GOLDFINGER of the 1990s kids, despite whatever criticism you may do to some small "unrealistic" things or to Eric Serra's soundtrack, which I find quite suitable with the style of the film, and in fact, makes up for that singular post-Cold War mood of the movie. The Twitterverse was out there, 25 years later, celebrating the movie when they could have been doing anything else. As the teaser poster reminds us, there is no substitute.
The author has written The World of GoldenEye, which is