Sweaty Spice, the other Spice Girl

I had always thought that the Pierce Brosnan episodes of N=the Bond universe was a black hole. I was pretty sure I hadn’t watched any of them, because they were not something that I remember. Running from 1995 - 2002, it was sandwiched between the short Timothy Dalton era and the Daniel Craig Bond’s.

I had seen Brosnan in Remington Steel (my mother loved that show) and in a couple movies. Not really my cup of tea.

Yesterday I had a quiet day during my holiday week off, and the Brosnan Bond’s are on Amazon Prime, so I watched a couple of them.

Golden Eye

The premise is shaky. A former colleague of Bond fails to make it out of a mission (006, it so happens) and is “dead”. Later, a Soviet space based nuclear weapon is shanghaied by some ex Soviet general, and used against a Russian facility to some dramatic effect. Before it is used, the baddies break into this Russian facility, take the keys to the system, and then kill everybody but their inside man (aka mole). They also miss a level two programmer, a woman (naturally) who also escapes under pretty implausible conditions.

Standard fare so far.

The weapon - “GoldenEye” - fires a focused EMP (electro magnetic pulse) that disables and destroys all electronic devices within a pretty narrow (50 mile radius) area. The “test” was on the site the keys were stolen from, to obliterate the evidence of their theft.

Turns out that the saved Russian programmer (aka the “Bond” girl) is essential in pinpointing the baddies, and helping Bond save the day.

It turns out that I had seen this, but had largely forgotten it. As I will forget it after this binge.

Tomorrow Never Dies

This is a different sort of Bond movie, and in a way a throwback to the Dr, No/Blofeld vintage. The movie starts with Bond investigating a terrorist weapons sale at the Russian border. The surveillance highlights that a GPS “key” is being sold. There is so much bad hardware on display that the military takes over to just obliterate the scene with a cruise missile.

As if they would really start a shooting war skirmish on the border of the newly minted Russian Federation (in real life, there was tons of risk that the military technology and weapons of the former USSR would find their way into malefactors around the globe. Thus, this is not a terrible premise). But after the missile is launched, the video surveillance shows a jet fighter with 2 nuclear missiles. That would be bad to blow up, but it is too late to recall the cruise missile. Bond saves the day flying the jet out.

That was the shot. The chaser is the sinking of a British warship in Chinese waters. The commander of the boat (with nuclear tipped missiles no less) is assured that he is in international waters. Confirmed by GPS after all.

(I bet you can see where this is going…)

A couple of Chinese MIG fighters fly by and warn the boat, and the real baddies fire a gnarly drill torpedo that reminds me of those terrible moving about tunneling to the center of the earth. The drill ventilates the boat, and is deftly controlled to open a clear channel to the missile room. The stealth boat that caused all the mayhem then murders all the survivors using Chinese army issue ammunition.

Turns out that the big baddie in this one is a media mogul, Elliot Carver, who has built a globe-spanning empire, and is using his empire to manufacture sensations news items to drive more sales. Carver is played by Jonathan Pryce, whom you might remember as the protagonist from “Brazil”, and I will admit he is a spectacular evil dude.

Turns out that Carver’s organization engineered the sinking of the British warship using the GPS encoder purchased at the arms bazaar to trick them into thinking they were in international waters, when they were really in Chinese territory. Oops.

Thus begins an escalation of military tensions between the Brits and the Chinese, and it is up to Bond to save the day.

The Bond girl in this movie is a Chinese secret service agent, and together they take down the evil Carver, and avert nuclear war. Yawn.

Overall Impressions

It turns out that I had seen these movies. Just that I didn’t remember them. Sure, I remembered snippets. Q (Desmond Llewelen) is persnickety as usual. Somewhere after the Roger Moore era, the official watch sponsor changed from Rolex to Omega. And the cars (and motorcycle) were BMW’s. Clearly, the sponsorship sales were helping the brand and funding the development of the movies.

Brosnan is not terrible, but he isn’t iconic. I guess he is less dirty bathwater than Timothy Dalton, but unlike the titans, Connery, Moore, and Craig his performance just don’t “Pop”.

Between GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies the long time producer, Ablert Broccoli passed away, handing the reigns to his heir, Barbara Broccoli, and Tomorrow Never Dies is a beginning of a new generation. She does find her footing as all 4 (that i have seen, will watch the final Craig Bond movie shortly) Danial Craig bond movies regain the edge, and focus.

Overall, I found the Brosnan era filler, extending the so so era beginning with Timothy Dalton. Bond was finding his way in the post cold war world, and it was a tricky time to put together compelling story lines. Like the Moore era, Bond relies on technical gadgetry, and clever quips, to navigate the roiled seas. By the time that Brosnan picked up the reins, it was a tired trope.

These movies will not be added to my collection.

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