While it seemed hard to top the initial success that was the first Austin Powers, trying to one-up The Spy Who Shagged Me is going to be even more daunting. As the swinging sixties move further away and the disco-tinged 70s taking up the same spot. Now equipped with a time machine, Austin can go anywhere, at any time, opening a whole host of parody potential. In 2002, Powers went back in time and to Japan to stop, to put this hilarious theory to the test. In Austin Powers in Goldmember.
After being captured by Austin Powers, Dr Evil and Mini-Me are tried for crimes against humanity and sentenced to jail. Austin is to be knighted, yet his absent father still has not shown up. He has been kidnapped by Dutch gold fanatic Goldmember, hell-bent on destroying the world with a gold-magnetising laser. Sending Austin on a trip to the Funky 70s and then on to the shores of Japan, Austin and Foxxy embark on a wild adventure to save the world, from the man with a lust for gold.
Despite the long gap, Goldmember continues right where the previous film left off, unafraid to expand the cannon, and experiment with new situations. We get some secondary-school-based awareness for how Evil, Powers, and their contemporaries have met (contradicting the first film but eh, continuity does not matter in the world of espionage). Taking the franchise to Japan works on many levels, emulating the steps (Bond took) while providing a new venue for comedy and lampshade of the 70s focus on fad-exploitation films. Doubly so is the introduction of Austin’s dad, played obviously by Michael Caine (no stranger to espionage with The Ipcress File), although here looking like he stepped out of the Kingsman franchise. His parenting gives the audience insight into why Austin is the way he is, and the two make a fine double act. With no mention of Shagwell, the
Bond Power’s girl here is Foxxy Cleopatra: A 70s Blaxploitation pastiche with Beyonce giving a disco singing review before going into a dynamite performance that is very era-appropriate. Goldmember being another Myer’s character: Dutch, with a fascination with all things gold, and a penchant to announce his weirdness. He is an interesting character, feeling like the result of a more liberal attitude of comedic experimentation.
As represented in the film (to mirror real-life) Powers and Evil have both realised the cinematic potential of their tales literally, with some fun cast choices to pick from. Austin himself has adjusted to the new millennium. Now the shagadelic superstar takes up singing in an (era-appropriate) alt-rock band and is well acquainted with the internet. Though Goldmember is not just about adjusting comfortably to new situations; The struggle between Mini-me and Scott Evil is also exemplified leading to some conflicting loyalties, and the meta-mockery does not stop there. For example, I like how the film flashes back to its previous two instalments As well as calling out the jokes they have made before (some instances with the help of The Osborne family) basking in the confidence of a successful audience hit.
While a fourth Powers film is supposedly in the works, Goldmember still feels like a fitting end for the character and the franchise. I am certainly not saying it is bad, far from it. However, with moles (literal and otherwise), changes in alliances, and carefully casting and call-backs, and more meta mockery than you could muster, it is going to be hard to top. Goldmember enjoys the confidence that comes from having two successful attempts under its belt, and channels that feeling into experimentation. It shows that the superspy can shag his way through any decade, and as its title alludes to, it is a gold-standard member of the continuity.
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