James Bond: The Brosnan Years

Before he was singing in Mamma Mia Pierce Brosnan was Bond, James Bond. We take a look at the Brosnan years of Bond…

Goldeneye (1995)

Bond: Pierce Brosnan
Villain: Alec Trevelyan played by Sean Bean

Pierce Brosnan was the “EveryBond”. He had the sadistic streak of Connery, the physicality of Lazenby, the smoothness of Moore and the sobriety of Dalton. He was all things to all men! The perfect Bond?

His history with Bond famously goes back to Dalton’s appointment. He was given the role but had to pull out due to television commitments. The time in-between helped him enormously. He matured, his profile increased, and the appetite for Bond had grown since LTK six years previously. The producers needed to kick start the franchise and return to the heady days of Roger Moore and Brosnan was their ticket.

Goldeneye is a really good film. The title and theme (belted out by Tina Turner) were clearly nodding to the past greats and the scale was reminiscent of the Lewis Gilbert movies. The set pieces are well handled and the pre credit sequence introducing Brosnan ticks all the boxes. The bungy jump off the dam is one of the best stunts in the entire series. Famke Janssen is wonderful as sexy assassin Xenia Onatopp, letting her deadly thighs do the talking whilst Judi Dench lends the whole thing class as the new M. Hard to criticise too much, but Sean Bean is a weak villain and this is the film where product placement came to the fore (a Perrier lorry being flattened by a tank comes to mind).

Great start for Brosnan then, Bond was definitely back.

Memorable scene: Bond and Xenia Onatopp have an interesting encounter in a changing room.

Goldeneye was the name of the Jamaican estate where Fleming wrote his novels.

 

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Bond: Pierce Brosnan
Villain: Elliot Carver played by Jonathan Pryce

Tomorrow Never Dies was a feeble follow up to Goldeneye. The dynamism was gone, the action a little lack lustre and the plot forgettable. Brosnan appeared, at this early stage, to be already coasting. The villain of the piece here is media mogul Elliot Carver. Certainly a more contemporary character and played with panache by Jonathan Pryce, who had clearly read the Bond villain rulebook. Michelle Yeoh, as Colonel Wai Lin, brings a real edge to the Bond Girl role but overall TND cannot rise above mediocre. Box office, however, was good and the producers obviously felt they had the right formula. Why tinker with success?

Memorable scene: The motorbike chase with Bond and Wai Lin handcuffed together.

Gerard Butler makes an early screen appearance as a member of the crew of HMS Devonshire.

 

The World Is Not Enough (1999)

Bond: Pierce Brosnan
Villain: Renard played by Robert Carlyle and Elektra King played by Sophie Marceau

Things improve with this, the third of Brosnan’s 007s. Robert Carlyle proves to be the most colourful chief adversary for Bond since Zorin in A View To A Kill. His Renard is a classic Bond villain but he is matched by Sophie Marceau, beautiful, but icy cold, as the vengeful Elektra. Brosnan, also, raises his game here. In one of the final scenes he shows just how clinically ruthless he can be, even Connery was not as cold. The weak link is Denise Richards as nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones. She is merely set dressing and completely unconvincing. It also would appear that the sole reason for her daft name is for the silly pay-off line from Bond at the end of the film. That quibble aside, The World is Not Enough is a solid entry in the canon, but sadly sees the last appearance by Desmond Llewelyn as Q. He bows out in a quirky scene where he hands over his duties to John Cleese. Shortly after the film wrapped he died in a car accident. He holds the record for the most appearances in the franchise.

Memorable scene: The newly built Millennium Dome is the back drop for the thrilling speedboat/hot air balloon chase.

Respected actress Serena Scott Thomas appears as Dr. Molly Warmflash! Only in the world of 007!

 

Die Another Day (2002)

Bond: Pierce Brosnan
Villain: Gustav Graves played by Toby Stephens

Trying to push the envelope, this adventure dared to show Bond at the mercy of the North Koreans. Tortured and held in captivity for over a year and growing an enormous shaggy beard, he had never been so vulnerable. He was also, unbelievably, shown surfing into action. It seemed that Brosnan’s Bond had finally gone too far. Aside from the above, Die Another Day strayed from the formula in other ways. The directing style was very different, quick edits, fast pans, reflecting the modern, hyper kinetic action film. As before, trying to make Bond fit into the modern trends seldom works.

There is an over reliance on special effects and daft gadgets here, the invisible car representing an all time low. To bring it up to date the villain of the piece is a younger man than normal, the Bond girl (Oscar winning Halle Berry) more hip and the music reflective of the more modern pop groove. That said, the theme by Madonna is perhaps the most divisive of them all. It was starting to look like Brosnan was being left behind, he was struggling to keep up with the changes that had to be made to keep the formula fresh. Brosnan would become the first Bond who was effectively sacked; he felt he could carry on, the producers thought otherwise. It was time to go back to the drawing board and implement the biggest changes to the series yet.

Memorable scene: Bonds fencing duel with Graves is terrific, showing Brosnan at his best

This is the first Bond film to show 007 actually having sex. The scene had to be edited to gain a PG13 rating in the States.

 

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