For over 50 years James Bond movies have been renowned for their many unique elements, from exotic locations to cool gadgets, to over the top villains and crazy world-domination plots. Bond films have long been the benchmark for action films the world over.
For me, the most enthralling elements of the Bond formula is the incredible fight sequences, for their inventiveness, excitement and thrills. But mostly because almost all the stunts are real.
Early great action sequences included the Lotus Esprit submarine car and skiing off a cliff in The Spy Who Loved Me, the helicopter battle over the volcanoes of Japan in You Only Live Twice, and the bobsled battle with Blofeld in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
However, my preferences lean towards the later movies, with runners up including the Dead of the Dead sequence in SPECTRE, the exercises in Gibraltar in The Living Daylights and the petrol tanker chase in the desert in Licence to Kill.
Here are my top five.
5. Tomorrow Never Dies: Hamburg Backseat Driver
Pierce Brosnan’s second outing as James Bond includes the most creative sequence with a Q Branch hyped-up Aston Martin. In this carpark-confined chase sequence, Bond escapes his foes by driving his car remotely, via an app on his mobile phone while bouncing around the back seat, all to the tune of pumped Propellerheads track.
4. Goldeneye: Tank Chase in Saint Petersburg
James Bond has always been reckless and irresponsible. In Saint Petersburg, Brosnan’s Bond commandeers a Russian tank, wreaking havoc on the beautiful architecture of the European city to rescue Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco) from the clutches of the Russian mafia. When this scene was being filmed, locals believed the crew were destroying real buildings and not sets, and complained to authorities.
3. Quantum of Solace: Roof and Tunnel Pursuit in Siena
Daniel Craig brought intensity to every element of the James Bond character, including the action sequences. Here Bond pursues an MI6 traitor through the tunnels and then roofs of Italy’s picturesque city of Siena. The frantic action is fast with short, clipped scenes that perfect match Bond’s controlled rage, shot in shaky cam for dramatic effect.
2. The Living Daylights: Hercules Fight highabove Afghanistan
While filmed in Morocco, this scene is set in Afghanistan where Timothy Dalton’s Bond teams up with the precursors of the Taliban, to take out a Russian drugs-for-arms plot. Here, Bond has commandeered (again) a Russian (again) Hercules transport loaded with heroin. He battles with one of the series’ best henchman, Necros (Andreas Wisniewski), suspended outside the plane on a cargo net high above the Hindu Kish. Necros was a worthy foe because he got things done, and matched Bond with his skills and inventiveness.
1. Casino Royale: Madagascar Construction Site Chase
When I first watched this scene I knew no one would ever again question Daniel Craig as James Bond. One of the most thrilling scenes in the series, with a chase involving heavy construction equipment, cranes, scissor lifts, explosions, gun battles and an embassy shoot out in Madagascar. Mollaka Sebastien as Foucan, Bond’s foe, is world-renowned for his skills in parkour, leading to some incredible stunts. Bond’s action was brutal in comparison, but equally impressive.