Aston Martins. Vodka Martinis. Women with exotic accents, and terrorists hell-bent on destruction of the world. These are the staples of every James Bond film. But more than the girls, the cars or the pussy-stroking supervillains, 007 is most associated with action. Thrilling, high-octane action sequences on land, on water, on snow, in cars, on top of trains, in helicopters, and hanging from planes.
So whilst Spectre in most respects looks like a sequel to Skyfall, this time director Sam Mendes and the team set out to create a truly iconic action sequence, or two, something which some critics thought Skyfall was missing (personally, I can't remember an action sequence more tense or thrilling than the epic climax at Skyfall Lodge, but each to their own, I guess).
You might remember a couple of questionable uses of CGI in Skyfall, like the clearly unreal helicopters circling above when MI6 come to capture Silva on his island, or Daniel Craig's face superimposed onto the stuntman during the Grand Bazaar rooftop bike chase. Or the tube train crashing through the walls of the underground. Or those weird ass komono dragons in the casino in Macau...
Not that any of that is a big deal - all of those scenes were pretty great. But this time around, director Sam Mendes and the team are being quite vocal about their preference for real SFX over CGI. The latest featurette released by MGM and Sony, The Action of Spectre, takes a more in-depth look at the way the film's action sequences were shot.
Doing things for real in Spectre
The clip teases a number of action set pieces, some of which weren't featured in the full-length trailer released earlier in the Summer.
Besides the day of the dead festival scenes, which make up the pre-credits sequence and see Craig doing his own stunts on the rooftops of Mexico City, we can also expect a pretty epic one-on-one chase between Bond's Aston Martin and Hinx's Jaguar in the night-time streets of Rome, which is something we haven't had from a Bond film since the decidedly un-thrilling chase sequence in Quantum of Solace. The fact that neither of these cars is one we'll ever have seen on the road should give this set piece additional thrills. (The below featurette has more about the making of the Rome chase.)
As if that wasn't enough, the behind the scenes footage also teases a sequence filmed in Austria in which a low-flying plane piloted by Bond is fired at by Hinx. Given that 007 also hits the slopes with Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) in the Alpine segment of the film and the crew spent three months filming there, it looks like this could be the snowiest Bond adventure in decades. And finally, some kind of large-scale explosion in the desert is briefly glimpsed, making a total of at least five huge action sequences to look forward to in Bond 24.
So what's the gold standard when it comes to Bond and action? Well, Live and Let Die, which Spectre seems to be at least partially modelled on, sets the bar pretty high with a truly unforgettable speedboat chase through the backwaters of Louisiana (aped later by the Thames boat chase in The World is Not Enough), but this scene on Tee Hee's drug lab-masquerading as-crocodile farm (seriously) is a masterpiece, and a reminder that sometimes less is more.
There are no cars or planes, just Bond, on a rock, surrounded by a bunch of hungry crocodiles. It might be asking a bit much of Spectre to create something so simple but so genius, but if the day of the dead festival or the car chase in Rome create even half as much tension, Mendes will have got it right.
And here's one action sequence which you won't see when you go to the theater, except perhaps during the adverts: Daniel Craig's exclusive new Heineken ad, in which his bacon is thoroughly saved by a woman who gets caught up in a chase between Bond and an assailant, and ends up serving 007 an ice-cold Heineken. It's a pretty fun twist on the "Bond saves girl" status quo, even if Craig's haircut is a little disconcerting.
Nice nod to Goldfinger with the hat. And finally, the latest international TV spot features a few more seconds of fresh footage from Spectre - nothing especially revealing, but a few shots of Bond and Swann on board a luxury train, and the Alpine shootout with Hinx. We Bond fanatics take what we can get.
What's your opinion of CGI in the Bond films? Will the action sequences in Spectre live up to their billing as classic 007? And are you simply dying to consume a refreshing Heineken? Leave a comment or write a post...