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Review: 'GoldenEye' (1995) Dir. Martin Campbell

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Joe Don Baker, Alan Cumming, Gottfried John, Robbie Coltrane, Tchéky Karyo, Judi Dench and Desmond Llewelyn


After a 6 year hiatus that saw world politics and cultures change, it was a gamble for EON to see if James Bond still had a place in the world. Their new 007 helped the gamble pay off...

MI6 agent James Bond (Brosnan) is tracking the Janus crime syndicate who have stolen a prototype EMP resistant helicopter. Renegade Russian General Ourumov (John) and assassin Xenia Onatopp (Janssen) fly to a secret bunker in Severnaya where they steal the GoldenEye weapons satellites launching key.

M (Dench) sends Bond to find and retrieve the GoldenEye key before it is too late. Heading to Russia to meet CIA contact Jack Wade (Baker), Bond manages to fix a blind meeting with Janus, but is horrified to learn that the face behind Janus belongs to none other than a man he long thought dead – Alec Trevelyan (Bean).

Thrown together with the lone survivor of the Severnaya blast, computer programmer Natalya Simonova (Scorupco), Bond must escape his Russian captors, find Trevelyan and Xenia and stop them before they can unleash GoldenEye on the world and cripple national security…

The fresh take on the old winning formula of James Bond doesn't falter one bit with a story that uses more intrigue and thrilling elements as much as the breath-taking stunt work and action packed sequences like car, train and tank chases, exciting shoot-outs and brutal fist-fights. As the audience of modern cinema doesn't faze easily, James Bond ups the ante with that shade more violence, danger and realism for the new generation of fans with a fine balance of comedy and action.

Pierce Brosnan fills the role of 007 with no trouble and works well with new Bond girl Izabella Scorupco. Blending elements of all former Bond actors before him like the coldness of Connery, the humour of Moore and the danger of Dalton, Brosnan has natural good looks and a very sophisticated aura that makes 007 sexy, cool and likable more than ever. He's intimidating, but charming. Dangerous, but caring. Clever, but cunning. The mix of all who have been before Brosnan clearly influence his portrayal, showing a man who understands the source material to represent 007 in a new, modern but faithful way for new (and old) fans. Sean Bean works wonders as the complex soul Alec Trevelyan, matching Pierce Brosnan in all aspects of brains and brawn – a real spy vs spy battle. He presents a new grounded era of villains in a new era of world politics and powers, but still retains the elements we love such as a physical defect, a secret lair and a ruthless side we love to hate.

The gorgeous Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp is one of the most memorable Bond villainesses since Fiona Volpe in 1965s 'Thunderball'.

Judi Dench makes her blistering debut as the new female M and sets her standard very high for the films to come as Bond's new mother figure, while Samantha Bond is a new, sexy and sophisticated Miss.Moneypenny. Desmond Llewelyn is dependable as ever as the cantankerous Q, providing yet more genius and dangerous gadgets.

It's new Bond, but still classic Bond. The classic narrative of a villain (with scar) ready to hold the world to ransom can’t be faulted because it presents a new style of threat, using modern technology as the front runner to accommodate the chance in society since the 1980s.

The Cold War is over, but there are plenty of reasons for James Bond to keep thrilling us in the wake of a 6 year absence from an early end to Timothy Dalton's run in 1989. Old and new crew come together to take 007 to new heights with classic elements we love laced with a new, modern twist.

It's the film that proved James Bond can still exist in a post-Cold War world and he won a new legion of fans thanks to this return when the world needed the original action hero.

With death-defying stunt work and brilliant choreographed action sequences, a modern take on the memorable James Bond theme and all the martinis, girls and guns we’d come to expect from 007, it’s a new era but one that proved nobody does it better.

'GoldenEye' is an EON Productions production

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