No Time To Die is on the horizon, and the trailers have built excitement for the 25th James Bond adventure. It’s Daniel Craig’s final movie as iconic spy 007, and it pits him against the nefarious Safin, played by Bohemian Rhapsody Oscar winner Rami Malek.
But what is it that makes the long-running series so special? Aside from Martinis, fast cars and beautiful locations, it’s often the jaw-dropping stunts that help make a Bond movie memorable. Pack your parachute and think of a clever one-liner, because we’re running down the best Bond stunts.
8. Connery’s car flip (Diamonds Are Forever, 1971)
This may not be the most spectacular of 007’s feats, but Sean Connery was known more for his physicality than death-defying stunts during his time in the role. Here, he defies physics by flipping from one side of a car to another while in a tight alleyway, during a hectic car chase.
The reason? Well, the production made an error, filming the Ford Mustang going in tilted on its left side, and coming out tilted on its right. An interior scene was added to make the change seem intentional, however improbable.
7. "Changing carriages" (Skyfall, 2012)
The pre-credits sequence of Skyfall ended with the shocking ‘death’ of James Bond. However, before that comes this impressive moment where Daniel Craig’s 007 jumps from the top of a crane, leaping through the hole it is ripping in a train carriage to land on his feet, walking off while delivering a classic Bond quip.
In a Bond movie that shakes up many of the conventions of the series (one of many reasons why director Sam Mendes was acclaimed), here’s a moment that is very much in keeping with the past, combining action with some cheeky wit.
6. The Thames speedboat chase (The World Is Not Enough, 1999)
It’s 1999, and pre-Millennium London is the star of this memorable sequence. The British capital has played a big role in many Bond films, but rarely so prominently as this chase around the Thames, which takes in the new Millennium Dome (now O2 Arena) and begins Pierce Brosnan’s third Bond movie in bold fashion.
The sequence ends with Bond diving from a flying speedboat and grabbing on to a rope dangling from a hot air balloon. Pretty impressive considering a beleaguered Q (Desmond Llewelyn) warned that the vessel wasn’t finished yet.
5. Mountain chase (The Living Daylights, 1987)
A complicated opening to Timothy Dalton’s tenure as 007. Starting innocuously enough with a training exercise, something is up when the fake bullets turn into real ones, resulting in the death of Bond’s comrades. A mountain-side chase ensues, with Dalton clinging to the roof of the rogue intruder’s getaway car, before veering off into the ocean, escaping via parachute in the nick of time.
Ending with Bond landing in a rich lady’s yacht, it sums up the action and glamour that makes the series so appealing, propelled by an orchestral/electronic John Barry score that announces the arrival of an exciting new 007 actor.
4. Crane parkour (Casino Royale, 2006)
What better way to introduce a new, modern Bond than have him perform parkour, the free-running technique that was just entering the public consciousness around the mid-2000s.
Daniel Craig pursues a bomber played by Sébastien Foucan, considered by many as the founder of Parkour, to the top of a crane, engaging in a fight that will give even the most stoic viewer a case of vertigo. While the sequence ends ‘the old fashioned way’ (gun shots and an explosion), it was a signal that the series was going in a new direction, once again under the auspices of director Martin Campbell.
3. Plane escape (Quantum of Solace, 2008)
While not considered the best of Craig’s Bond movies, Quantum of Solace raises the action stakes significantly. With his plane shot out of the sky and crashing towards Earth, Bond’s quick thinking saves both his and Camille Montez’s (Olga Kurylenko) skin in the nick of time.
It's a fast and thrilling stunt that features some terrific effects, utilizing a vintage Douglas DC-3 aircraft to seat-gripping effect. Little wonder this remains one of the most expensive Bond movies, with a whopping budget of $230 million.
2. The dam jump (GoldenEye, 1995)
Simple. Elegant. Breathtaking. A young Pierce Brosnan takes Bond into the 1990s with director Martin Campbell’s grittier interpretation, which begins with this incredible leap from the top of a dam.
Coming just before the widespread use of CGI made stunts more intricate, this near-silent plunge into the abyss, shot at Switzerland’s Contra Dam and performed by Wayne Michaels, is a fantastic way to open the new era of 007, signaling what was to come. In a 2002 Sky Movies poll, it was voted the best movie stunt of all time.
1. The Union Jack parachute (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977)
Arguably the stunt that set the standard for all James Bond set-pieces. Performed on the remote Mount Asgard in Baffin Island, Nunavut by Rick Sylvester, not only is it spectacular to watch, but it also exemplifies everything we love about the character of James Bond (played in this instance by Roger Moore).
His back is against the wall (or, in this case, mountain top), and everything looks hopeless – until he defies the odds to the blaring horns of the James Bond theme. The combination of the Union Jack parachute with the opening bars of Carly Simon’s classic theme is the perfect ending to a stellar moment. Truly, nobody does it better.
James Luxford is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team. Follow him on Twitter.
- Hans Zimmer: 5 reasons why he's a strong choice to score No Time To Die
- No Time To Die: revisiting the James Bond movies in order of release
- Billie Eilish debuts new James Bond theme No Time To Die