“FOR ENGLAND, JAMES!”
A lone figure bungee-jumps off the top of a dam, attaches himself to the bottom and blow-torches his way into the Arkangel Chemical Weapons Facility, somewhere in the USSR. It is, of course, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan), who hooks up with comrade-in-spydom Sean Bean. “Ready to save the world again?” asks Sean. “After you, 006,” quips Bond.
The pair waste no time in decoding their way into the facility’s vast storage unit, where Bond dashes about planting explosives onto lethal-gas containers while 006 fends off trigger-happy Soviets. Until he’s captured. And shot in the head. In a bit of a predicament, Bond inches across the room using a trolley of gas canisters as a shield, before hopping onto a conveyor belt and opening fire, bringing a shower of heavy drums down in a skull-cracking hail of metal.
Once outside, 007 sprints to a single-propeller airplane taxiing down a runway, wrestles with the pilot, then hurtles headfirst with him out of the plane and into the path of an oncoming motorcycle. Unscathed, Bond nicks the bike and rides off in hot pursuit straight over a cliff. Defying the laws of physics, he freefalls faster than the plane’s powered dive, hauls himself inside and regains altitude just in time to witness the Arkangel facility become a seething fireball. Hurrah!
“GAME’S UP, MATE. YOU’RE DEAD!”
THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS 1987
Three double-0 agents skydive from a plane over Gibraltar on a MOD training exercise, but four agents land on the rock. The goal of the three: evade the paintball-firing SAS and penetrate the Rock’s radar installations. For the fourth, cause mayhem and destruction and fire real bullets. The first double-0 agent is paintballed as soon as he lands; the second sent spinning down a cliff when the assassin cuts his rope.
Cue James Bond (Timothy Dalton), who hears his colleague’s death cry. When the hitman hijacks a military Land Rover, 007 scampers aboard as well in a feat of secret agent derring-do. Avoiding a hail of poorly-aimed gunfire from directly below, Bond knifes his way through the canvas roof, while SAS men spray paintballs and bullets, smothering it in pink smoke and igniting explosives in the back. As assorted onlookers and Barbary apes dive out of the way, Bond wrestles with the killer for control of the vehicle, which finally sails over a cliff. Fortunately (but inexplicably), the British super-spy ‘just happens’ to have an extra parachute on his back, so he’s pulled to safety as the car – henchman screaming inside – explodes and showers down onto the sea.
Landing his smouldering ‘chute safely on the yacht of a bored Eurotrash babe, 007 utters the introduction that a thousand bimbos before have heard: “Bond, James Bond”.
“TELL HIM TO PULL OUT IMMEDIATELY!”
THE SPY WHO LOVED ME 1977
While a British nuclear sub encounters an unseen enemy and vanishes, Bond (Roger Moore) is up in an Austrian ski chalet paying lip service to a buxom blonde. His state-of-the-art clunky ‘70s digital watch prints out a message from HQ, forcing him to spring up from the bearskin rug, slip into a bright-yellow ski outfit and hit the slopes. But his treacherous Teutonic shag radios a warning to four Cold Warriors, and the chase is on.
With full-on wacka-wacka guitar, the skiers drift through unspoilt deep powder while, back in the studio, Moore bobs along in front of a blue screen and looks occasionally alarmed for the close-ups. A superb chase ensues down the mountain, incorporating death- defyingly precipitous slopes and icy canyons. At a crucial juncture, 007 spins and skis backwards, guns down one of his adversaries with an explosive ski pole and then flips forwards again over a hump before heading straight for the world’s tallest cliff. For breathless silent seconds, Bond sails out into the cold blue, spinning and dropping his skis before, eventually, releasing a gloriously patriotic Union Jack parachute. Back in the studio, Moore hangs onto his straps with the look of an extremely satisfied man. Out in the sky, stuntman Rick Sylvester thought of the $30,000 he was being paid for one incredible, heart-stopping stunt.