Directed by: Jim Miskell
Written by: Jim Miskell
Starring: Martin Harris, Mark Edmonds, David Doak, Karl Hilton & Duncan Botwood
Indie Film Review by: Dean Pettipher
Few groups are as misunderstood as gamers. No medium has been misjudged quite like videogames. Jim Miskell’s spectacularly hilarious mockumentary, Going for Golden Eye (2018), achieves top scores in shedding light on two beautifully real truths. The first is that gamers are human. They have thoughts, passions, desires and anxieties like everyone else. The second is that videogames have power to entertain and inspire people in a manner that rivals and indeed at times exceeds the other gigantic storytelling avenues of movies and literature. Movies that adopt the features of a documentary are rare. Fortunately, features like District 9 (2009) illustrate that such a style of storytelling can be remembered for more than just being different. Going for Golden Eye is an essential summer comedy that does just that. By consistently hitting the target with golden precision when it comes to the notes of humour and sincerity especially Miskell has crafted a picture that deserves far more than remaining a top secret as far as mainstream entertainment is concerned. While it might not win over those who live far beyond the world of the gamer to a new-found love of videogames, Going for Golden Eye will certainly remind gamers that they are not alone in the joys and pains of their experiences, both in the real and virtual worlds.
The dialogue is phenomenal; the writing is underpinned by remarkable authenticity that showcases the highs and lows of life as a gamer. Miskell’s wittiness just about penetrates the fortresses held by great British comedies A Fish Called Wanda (1998), television shows including The Inbetweeners (2008-2010) and of course the finest funny moments of the Bond Universe from stars like the late Sir Roger Moore. Those who have lived through them personally will best appreciate the jokes. However, even those who feel far removed from the gamer world will undoubtedly chuckle not on too few occasions.
Character development for the protagonist, Ben, is soothingly satisfying. Observing his growth during his mission of self-discovery, in ways that audiences can painstakingly empathise with, leads to a heart-warming payoff, which made sweeter still by the laughs enjoyed along the way. Too go into greater detail would alert the spoiler radar. Suffice it to say that audiences have an unexpected treat awaiting them, which will not betray them, for instance, with any unexpected rushing of the story towards an array of frustrating loose ends.
The mission is never without its setbacks. Here, the stakes during the build-up to the pleasantly surprising climax could have felt much higher. While strong enough to withstand the call to boredom, elements including the music and the camera presentation of videogame footage to have provided much more suspense than what was ultimately delivered. Those familiar with the videogame at the core of the film may not be deterred at all. On the other hand, those who have never known the game may remain forever unconvinced over what all the commotion was about, left wondering why the key conflicts mattered so much to the characters, with thoughts like, “it’s only a game” springing to mind. Still, one can just about comfortably believe that the struggle is real, even if one cannot truly feel encouraged to comprehend why.
That ‘why’ would have been made clearer if time had been allowed to explore in greater depth what it was that made this game stand out and go on to stand the test of time. Based on Pierce Brosnan’s first outing as James Bond in 1995, the GoldenEye videogame was released in 1997 and sold more than eight million units worldwide. Moreover, the game grossed over two hundred and fifty million US dollars globally. Frequently cited as one of the greatest videogames of all-time, it has enjoyed a reception over the last two decades that many game designers and indeed filmmakers can only dream of regarding their own pursuits in the arts. Even more fine dialogue might have illustrated to the casual gamers sat amongst cinema audiences why this game was such a big deal and remains a popular talking point to this day. Yet, perhaps any lover of art, in whatever form it may takes, will understand that the game must have been something truly special to warrant such an overwhelming reception. Moreover, expecting a book to convey the same sentiments as a videogame with total accuracy is like expecting a film to do so regarding a great novel. In the end, they must be respected as uniquely different forms of storytelling. Thus, to truly comprehend the videogame behind Miskell’s film, one simply must play it.
Going for Golden Eye will not leave behind a legacy even close to the one left by the videogame that inspired it. Not one tear need be shed, though, as this reality provides no warrant for disappointment. The mission has been accomplished as far as the execution of the superb film is concerned. The final feature gleams with golden attributes throughout, leaving one hoping with delight that the artists behind this movie will, like the spy at their latest work’s centre, return. The world remains in dire need of filmmaking that is this good.
Watch the official movie trailer below...