Sunday, 15 June 2014

20 YEARS OF 007 BROSNAN - Part Two: "The Return of 007"

“You were expecting someone else?”

Pierce Brosnan was probably referring to the many action heroes of the nineties, or maybe he was sharing a sort of in-joke with the audience: the ones that followed him since the days of REMINGTON STEELE and waited for him to become the new Bond, or those who this time knew he was the first choice to portray the role of Ian Fleming’s secret agent.

With a strong cast integrated by Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco,  Famke Janssen, old Bond villain Joe Don Baker (from THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS), and with a new and female M played by Judi Dench, GOLDENEYE was a high stakes bet. It shouldn’t be just a good action film or a good Bond film, it should also aim to establish a new Bond actor to the audience and adapt a well-known character to the new world order: globalization, internet and the end of the Cold War.

Released on November 17, 1995, GOLDENEYE brought a new generation of James Bond fans and pleased the classic Bond audiences craving for a new James Bond film, even when the reviews were good but not terribly overwhelming. And with a gross of 351 million dollars worldwide, it was the most successful film in the franchise since 1979’s MOONRAKER. The film also allowed the return of 007 not only to the new world order, but to the last decade of the 21st century, and its legacy would stand out for almost twenty years with three videogames based on the film’s plot.

By the end of 1995, James Bond was no longer part of a retro club meeting subject.
In 1997, the second film of the Pierce Brosnan era was released: TOMORROW NEVER DIES. While its predecessor flick tried to aim for a deep story and a strong plot, the Roger Spottiswoode film went for a lighter story (written by Dan Petrie Jr, Nicholas Meyer and GOLDENEYE’s Bruce Feirstein) with the classic “world domination” plot, adapted of course to the mass media as a powerful weapon manipulated by a press tycoon played by EVITA’s Jonathan Pryce whose wife, the now popular DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES’ actress Teri Hatcher, had a previous romantic affair with 007.

TOMORROW NEVER DIES pleased many critics and fans too, even when the shooting had some complications and Pierce Brosnan wasn’t too happy with the plot: too much shootouts and poor script development, he claimed then in interviews. Besides, the success of James Cameron’s TITANIC seemed too big even for 007, with Hong Kong being the only country where it could beat the drama film.

Nevertheless, the marketing concerning these two first films of this new era and the new wave of fans cheering up for the return of 007 was enough to establish Pierce Brosnan firmly as the James Bond of the 1990s and the 21st century. And this time, James Bond would dominate another format in popular culture: the videogames, with the release of Rareware’s GOLDENEYE 007 game based on the 1995 film for the Nintendo 64 game systems. It wasn’t of course the first incursion of the secret agent in the world of gaming, but after the success of this 1997 product, the name of GOLDENEYE and James Bond was now firmly part of a new era as it was in the early ‘60s.

Once again, the world belonged to Bond.

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