The Best Stunts the James Bond Movies Ever Dared


Show-stopping stunts have long been as important to the James Bond movie formula as gadgets, villains, and the appropriate amount of workday martinis. While the early Connery movies didn’t emphasize such stunts quite as much as future installments did, audiences soon came to expect in the 1970s to see Bond put his life on the line in some incredible stunt sequence for queen, country, and our entertainment.

While other action franchises (most notably, the Mission: Impossible movies) have certainly raised the bar for film stunts since then, there is a charm to the best Bond stunts that can’t easily be replicated. They’re conceptually creative, they’re often done practically, and they have gradually helped shape the considerable mythology of the world’s greatest spy. They’re as stylish as an expertly tailored suit and as dangerous as an assignment from M. These are the best James Bond stunts ever.

10. The Big Dam Bungee Jump – GoldenEye

The first stunt on this list is the one that introduced us to the Pierce Brosnan Bond era. It was the moment when Martin Campbell reached through the screen, put his arms around our shoulders, and assured a legion of fans that Bond was undoubtedly back. 

While this stunt is conceptually simple so far as absurdly dangerous bungee jumps go, that simplicity is a virtue in this instance. Campbell and the camera crew trusted the stunt team, including the daredevil who made the jump, Wayne Michaels, to make this thing look good and let it play out in glorious wide shots that are scored only by the sounds of the wind blowing and cables rustling. The temptation to use the classic Bond musical sting at that moment must have been overwhelming, but they were wise to resist. If anything, the more absurd (and often digitally sweetened) Brosnan stunts that followed make this scene all the more impressive. 

9. The Circus Train Fight – Octopussy

Octopussy isn’t just a lesser James Bond movie; it’s one of those Bond movies that is so dreadfully dull and irredeemably outdated that people often struggle to remember it. Sadly, that means that this incredible train fight sequence often gets lost in discussions about the best James Bond stunts.

This scene that sees Bond navigate a moving train filled with circus attractions is conceptually fantastic. Watching someone confidentially stroll atop a barreling locomotive while occasionally punching some overly confident goon is a guaranteed good time. What makes this scene special, though, are those shots of Bond hanging off the side of the train and dodging incoming obstacles. That’s stuntman Martin Grace putting his body on the line during those practically shot sequences. Grace was seriously injured during one of those shots when a miscommunication between the coordinators sent him crashing into a concrete post. The timing required to eventually get this scene on film is nothing short of incredible.

8. The Crocodile Run – Live and Let Die

This is one of those stunts that is certainly fun to watch but elevated by the realization that someone actually did it. Yes, that’s stuntman Ross Kananga running across that bridge of crocodiles like he’s Pitfall Harry. Granted, this probably wasn’t a great experience for the crocodiles, but the results speak volumes. The only thing more impressive than the final shot is the outtake footage which shows Kananga’s failed early attempts at pulling this scene off. You can’t fully appreciate how dangerous this was until you’ve seen a man sink into the water and find himself suddenly surrounded by the perturbed and uncooperative crocodiles he just tried to step on. 

7. The Truck Chase – Licence to Kill

Even if you’re not a fan of the Timothy Dalton Bond movies (a blasphemous take), it’s hard to deny that Licence to Kill and The Living Daylights include some of the most impressive stunts in the entire Bond franchise. License to Kill‘s existence is arguably justified by the audacity and spectacle of this semi-truck chase sequence. 

This chase scene along a cliffside road features all the close calls, explosions, and expert maneuvering any Wages of Fear-loving film fan could ever want. However, it is highlighted by the moment stunt driver Rémy Julienne manages to get an 18-wheeler on nine of its wheels and effectively drive it sideways to avoid an incoming rocket. While there is still some debate about how, exactly, this stunt was pulled off, it has been noted that Julienne was able to pull off this seemingly impossible bit of driving with little (or no) external assistance required.

6. The Cable Car Brawl – Moonraker

How good is this cable car sequence in Moonraker? It’s the arguable highlight of a movie that also features an incredible skydiving scene, a laser gun battle in space, and a pigeon doing a Looney Tunes-style double take. Whatever buried fears you may have had about riding in a cable car are likely brought to life in this stunning scene that sees Bond battle notorious henchman Jaws across two cable cars. Reportedly, stuntman Richard Graydon lost his footing during this scene and was forced to hold on for dear life without the support of any immersion compromising support cables. Having to fist-fight Jaws sounds preferable to enduring that nightmare. 

5. The Parkour Chase – Casino Royale

After kicking the Brosnan Bond era off with a bang, director Martin Campbell returned to outdo himself in Casino Royale. Anyone who went to see Casino Royale with bated breath was forced to hold it just a little bit longer as they watched Bond pursue a suspect (played by real-life parkour master, Sébastien Foucan) across a variety of locations that includes a show-stopping walk across a crane. 

Though arguably inspired by the action scenes of the Bourne franchise (as much of Casino Royale was), this chase scene sometimes feels closer to a Jackie Chan movie in terms of its scope and execution. The relentless pacing of this chase scene would soon set a standard that only the best Craig stunt sequences came close to equalling. Through it all, we are told everything we need to know about this version of James Bond’s style and unflinching resolve without anyone needing to utter a single word.

4. The Rock Climb (and Fall) – For Your Eyes Only

Both this scene and For Your Eyes Only deserve a lot more love than they tend to get. Granted, this stunt includes a painfully obvious dummy shot that dilutes its intended impact somewhat, but the rest of this scene is as painfully practical as Bond movie stunts come. So when Bond suddenly drops a few hundred feet while climbing a cliff, that’s stuntman Rick Sylvester taking the kind of tumble most of us wouldn’t be brave enough to have a nightmare about. The only thing better than the fall is the glorious wide shot that dares us to take it all in while perfectly preserving this “thanks, but let’s never do that again” moment. 

3. The Cargo Net Fight – The Living Daylights

We should all aspire to be as bold as the coordinator who suggested this scene in which two men do battle while holding onto a cargo net suspended some 6500 feet in the air. The scenes of Dalton and Andreas Wisniewski duking it out were shot elsewhere and spliced in, but those incredible aerial wide shots? It turns out they found two stuntmen who were willing to say “yes” to the ultimate “nope” scenario.

Reportedly, this scene was made possible by the presence of a safety coordinator who was ready to jump into the action and deploy specially designed parachutes should either of these stuntmen fall. I’m not entirely sure what that would have looked like and I’m thrilled that those involved seemingly never had to test the validity of that backup plan. 

2. The Car Jump – The Man With The Golden Gun

The infamous slide whistle sound effect in this scene is superfluous at best and ruinous at worst. In some ways, though, that inexplicable sound design decision perfectly captures the Roger Moore era of Bond films in which world class stunts and previously unfathomable levels of corniness often traveled hand-in-hand. 

For this scene, stunt driver Loren Willert was asked to drive an AMC Hornet across a broken bridge, complete a mid-air spin, and land the car on another twisted bridge on the other side of a river. He not only did it; he reportedly did it on the very first try. The logistics of this stunt instantly earn it a place on this list. The fact they managed to make this thing look so damn smooth makes it one of the most impressive movie stunts ever.

1. The Parachute Ski Jump – The Spy Who Loved Me

As I mentioned in the intro of this article, the best Bond stunts are often as much about their style and how they contribute to the mystique of James Bond as they are about the technical difficulty of the stunt itself. Well, meet one of the stunts that is the nearly perfect example of both those qualities. 

Yes, we’ve seen more exciting James Bond skiing sequences that rely less on rear projection cutaway shots. Yes, Bond’s yellow ski suit is a particularly regrettable bit of ‘70s fashion (though I will defend the sex jazz soundtrack to the death). However, all of that is worth it for the climatic moment that sees stuntman Rick Sylvester ski off of a glacier, free fall for a long bit, and then open his Union Jack parachute as the iconic Bond music fills our hearts and souls. Oh, and all of that occurs before we even get to the opening credits song which triumphantly begins with the words “Nobody does it better.” 

This isn’t just the best stunt scene in the history of James Bond movies; it’s arguably the definitive James Bond scene. It’s the scene you would put into a time capsule to show some far-off alien civilization why James Bond is an irreplaceable part of cinema history. Nobody does it better, indeed. 

The post The Best Stunts the James Bond Movies Ever Dared appeared first on Den of Geek.

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