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Pretty Boy Bond: Reflections on the Pierce Brosnan Era

To quote John Waters: “Sometimes, stupid and cute ARE enough.” Or are they? The Bondathon duo is back for an investigation into the legacy of Pierce Brosnan’s 007.
Tomorrow Never Dies Pierce Brosnan James Bond
By  and  · Published on September 30th, 2020

Goldeneye James Bond Pierce Brosnan

Which of these films should a non-Bond fan see?

Bond Beginner:

Is there an echo in here? Yeah, it’s GoldenEye again. It’s a spirited attempt to yank Bond into a new age with big enough swings to feel promising, and big enough villains to distract from how vacant and placid this new Bond is. At one point, turncoat Alec Trevelyan asks Bond if the vodka martinis silence the screams of all the men he’s killed or if he finds forgiveness in the arms of “all those willing women, for all the dead ones you failed to protect.” This is a very contrite entry in the Bond franchise and while the novelty of this guilty self-awareness wears off fast, for its initial impact, GoldenEye is worth a watch.

Bond Veteran:

GoldenEye. Absolutely GoldenEye. It’s quintessential Bond while still possessing some daring moments. You’ve got some world-class baddies, a smart Bond girl, fun gadgets, Russian accents, and Brosnan possibly at his most handsome. Director Martin Campbell excels when it comes to Bond, and with GoldenEye he delivered a home run. It boasts a level of coolness that harkens back to classic Bond while also being a genuine thrill ride that can hold its own with any modern action movie.

Goldeneye James Bond Alec Trevelyan

What element from these films would you like to see come back in future Bonds? What do you want to see left in the past?

Bond Beginner:

The villains in this era are uniquely compelling. And I think what I like so much about them is that they’re all uniquely banana pants. We’ve got vengeful ghosts from Bond’s past, powerful women, and damaged madmen with chips on their shoulders the size of dinner plates. I don’t want to see any more Blofelds. I don’t want to see any more S.P.E.C.T.R.E. operatives. And I definitely don’t want to see any more high-rolling industrialists raising the stakes so high their threats stop meaning everything. I adore these petty, personal villains: they’re whacky and memorable and none of them have boring, avant-garde lairs, or henchmen round tables. They have personality and they’re not just the same old nemesis wearing a different face. Well except Tan-Sun Moon, he is literally wearing a different face. But you get the picture.

Bond Veteran:

One of the best decisions this franchise ever made is the inclusion of Dame Judi Dench as M. Since then, we’ve seen other classic characters reintroduced or reinvigorated, from Moneypenny working as a field agent to rumblings of Lashana Lynch playing another agent with the codename 007 in No Time To Die. The Bond franchise seems eager to prove itself as an old dog learning new tricks, and I think any praise for these developments must be done with appropriate credit towards Dench’s M. What works so well about this development in 1995 is that it doesn’t just feel like a move designed to award the film brownie points for inclusivity. It’s treated as a genuine opportunity to explore new dynamics and acknowledge the shifting workforce around Bond. It also doesn’t hurt that Dench and Brosnan are electric together. While this isn’t to say I want Dench back — how would that even work? — I would love to see this dynamic and this attitude toward new characters flourish in future films.

As far as what can stay, I know saying the CGI-heavy sequences is a bit of a cop-out because, obviously, they don’t look great. But I have very little else to criticize, so I’ll take the easy way out: the bad CGI can stay here.

Tomorrow Never Dies James Bond Pierce Brosnan

What’s your favorite so far? Least favorite?

Bond Beginner:

Favorite: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Least favorite: You Only Live Twice

Bond Veteran:

Favorite: GoldenEye
Least favorite: Thunderball

The End.

But Meg and Anna will return in Bondathon Part Four: The Craig Era!

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).