It's bodies, bullets, and blood--carnage, American style.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

"Goldeneye" will be a real letdown for the faithful. In the attempt to reinvent a legend cherished for three decades for its wit and elegance, the filmmakers have simply replaced those elusive qualities with the excessive violence that infects so many current movies. This one, "written by Jeffrey Caine and Bruce Feirstein, based on a story by Michael France and characters created by Ian Fleming," has nothing of Fleming in it but Bond.

At least, thanks for that. Pierce Brosnan is a dandy 007, and he has a bright and beautiful sparring partner as his new love, Natalya (Izabella Scorupco), a heroine with at least nine spine-tingling lives. Let's put all the good news up front: Brosnan and Scorupco are a glamorous, sophisticated pair who can easily carry Fleming's characters for another decade if someone will just write a script for them--the late Ian Fleming himself would do nicely.

So what happened? Poor Bond falls victim here to writers whose imagination is limited by delusions of bigger and better fireballs. With the screen aflame for most of the two hours, this has become an American movie, a vehicle for the likes of Sylvester Stallone, who we fully expect will step out of the flames firing his tommy gun from a bandoleer of bullets across his chest.

All the right toys are here: motorcycles, helicopters, small planes, tractors, tanks, bicycles, parachutes, and the Internet. But most of them end up in uninspired crashes and explosions. We mourn the time when words were weapons, and charm bubbled up from the impossible predicament. This cross between Rambo and Waterworld is an embarrassment for James Bond. The movie finds a little of the old flavor in Monaco and the Caribbean, but we spend a lot of time in the grim Russian winter, where an ambitious Russian general sabotages the secret space- based weapons program known as "Goldeneye," while blaming his treachery on Siberian separatists. (It's a bit of a stretch for enemies, but what's a writer to do without a Cold War?)

The monstrous Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) is a violent creature of our time: a woman who crushes her lovers to death between her thighs while she breathes in orgasmic ecstasy at the sight of their pain. One longs for Odd Job, who dispatched his enemies so deftly in "Goldfinger" with one toss of his razor- brimmed derby.

The only deft touches in this movie come from Brosnan, who mops his brow with the towel he has wrested from a strangler, and who, while driving a Russian tank through buildings to save his beloved, straightens the knot of his tie with an almost imperceptible flick of his fingers. Natalya falls in love with him then, and so do we. A wave of nostalgia rolls over the audience. For a few short moments, it's good to have the old Bond back.

It's bodies, bullets, and blood--carnage, American style. Where are the English when we need them most?

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 500
Studio : United Artists
Rating : PG-13
Running Time: 2h10m

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