Cars and crashes have al­ways con­trib­uted to the Bond ap­peal, writes PAUL POT­TINGER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Special Report -

WHEN the cred­its run on the new James Bond flick, Quan­tum of So­lace, a dis­claimer will state no an­i­mals were hurt dur­ing pro­duc­tion.

You won’t see this — you’ll have left by then for the car park. But to­day, movie cred­its al­ways show it.

As you climb into what is al­most cer­tainly a far hum­bler form of trans­port than those you will have just seen on screen, you might won­der at the lack of a Royal So­ci­ety for the Pro­tec­tion of Cru­elty to Au­to­mo­biles.

As you can see from th­ese exclusive im­ages of the se­quel to Casino Royale — the flick that re­booted the flac­cid Bond movie fran­chise and gave it 21st-cen­tury balls — Quan­tum of So­lace would have out­raged au­to­mo­bile-rights pro­test­ers.

Ev­i­dently, the pro­duc­ers were not con­tent with es­tab­lish­ing a Guin­ness record for achiev­ing seven bar­rel rolls in a gor­geous $466,600 As­ton Martin DBS in Casino Royale. For Quan­tum, seven of the sumptuous DBSs were var­i­ously bru­talised for the chase se­quence that be­gins soon af­ter the cur­tain rises.

The story be­gins an hour af­ter the close of Casino Royale. New-age 007 Daniel Craig stands, a si­lenced Heck­ler & Koch pis­tol smok­ing in his hand, over the writhing form of Mr White, whom he has kneecapped by way of in­tro­duc­ing him­self as ‘‘Bond, James Bond’’.

Stunt co-or­di­na­tor Gary Pow­ell, the third gen­er­a­tion of a leg­endary English clan that has taken the falls and rolled with the punches on ev­ery Bond flick since Dr No in 1962, when Sean Con­nery starred, wanted to top his Casino roll­out for the new 007 romp. That meant some spe­cial work on Bond’s DBS Bri­tish coupe.

‘‘We stiffen the sus­pen­sion, push out the wheels at an an­gle and use spe­cial tyres for each sur­face,’’ Pow­ell says.

‘‘We take all the trac­tion con­trol off the cars so when we want to do a big wheel­spin, the car will al­low you to do it. That way the stunt­man con­trols the car rather than the car con­trol­ling the stunt­man.

‘‘We put a hy­draulic hand­brake in the As­ton Martins so the stunt­man can skid the car round cor­ners. It’s fit­ted be­tween the driver and the door so it’s easy to reach without looking down.’’

Some­one must have taken their eyes off the road, though.

One pris­tine As­ton plunged — con­trary to the di­rec­tor’s plan — into north­ern Italy’s usu­ally placid Lake Garda. The car was de­stroyed, but some­how the driver — a trusted pi­lot who was freight­ing the car from Bri­tain — sur­vived without se­ri­ous in­jury.

For a while, Quan­tum looked jinxed. In ad­di­tion to the scripted

car­nage vis­ited upon a clutch of Alfa Romeo 159s, an­other had a se­ri­ous ‘‘ac­ci­den­tal’’ ac­ci­dent.

Quan­tum of So­lace’s di­rec­tor is Marc Forster, but it was Dan Bradley who spent two months with the sec­ond unit shoot­ing the se­quence near Garda, a favourite set­ting for Euro­pean car­mak­ers with prod­ucts to launch. It also served as a back­drop for some scenes in a re­cent Star Wars movie.

Bradley has a favourite action se­quence, one that will not be pop­u­lar with peo­ple who en­joy the form and func­tion of the DBS.

‘‘I love the bit where Bond loses the driver’s door of the As­ton Martin,’’ Bradley says. ‘‘It’s like ev­ery car that comes past him, ev­ery shot that is fired at him, the po­ten­tial for Bond’s sur­vival withers. I love what it gives us in terms of sto­ry­telling and the threat to Bond.’’

As Bon­dophiles buzz about the re­turn to the new film of the 007 gad­getry that was notably ab­sent in Casino, this is one re­fresh­ingly un­so­phis­ti­cated touch.

Whereas Con­nery’s orig­i­nal 1964 As­ton Martin DB5 was stuffed with such hi-tech op­tional ex­tras of the day as re­tractable ma­chine guns, Craig fires his Heck­ler & Koch at the pur­su­ing Al­fas through the gap­ing door­frame of his As­ton.

If you’ve for­got­ten that a Bond film is fic­tion, Boy’s Own stuff of the high­est or­der, the last sen­tence is a re­minder. Can you re­ally imag­ine Al­fas har­ry­ing an As­ton Martin any­where out­side a movie set?

The Fiat group has not re­vealed what it cost to be in­volved in a Bond fran­chise that has been dom­i­nated by Ford in re­cent times (re­mem­ber the As­ton ver­sus Jaguar shootout on the ice for Die An­other Day and the cute teaser with the Mon­deo in Royale?) but the ku­dos of be­ing the vil­lains’ ride of choice in Quan­tum can hardly hurt flag­ging sales of the 159.

As­ton has a very long-term com­mit­ment to the Bond pro­duc­tion team, de­spite sev­er­ing its ties from Ford, but Alfa has done well by fea­tur­ing a 159 Ti 3.2 JTS V6 Q4 that sells lo­cally from $76,990— a snip com­pared with $466,600 for the DBS.

Ac­tu­ally, we’d rec­om­mend the al­most vis­ually iden­ti­cal 2.2 JTS from $54,990.

And if you’re looking for a still more af­ford­able bit of Bondage, Ford’s all-new mi­cro Ka (which may or may not come here) makes a cameo ap­pear­ance in a reprise of the Mon­deo’s world de­but on film.

Of course, soon af­ter be­ing seen in the placed Mon­deo prod­uct, Daniel Craig won an ex­am­ple of the iconic DB5 used by Con­nery in a card game, a po­tent sym­bol of his tak­ing the 007 man­tle.

This and the bravado open­ing of Quan­tum re­mind us that for all the girls, guns and gratuities, the car re­mains a cen­tral and vi­tal el­e­ment of this long­est-run­ning movie fran­chise.

AS­TON MARTIN DBS PRICE $466,600 EN­GINE 6L/V12; 386kW/ 570Nm CON­SUMP­TION N/A 0-100km/h 4.3 sec­onds ALFA ROMEO 159Ti V6 PRICE $76,900 EN­GINE 3.2-litre V6; 191kW/ 322Nm CON­SUMP­TION 16.2 litres/ 100km (tested) 0-100km/h 7.2 sec­onds

Suf­fer­ing for its art: (clock­wise from far left) James Bond (Daniel Craig) takes aim; a pur­su­ing Alfa Romeo 159 fails to fly in Quan­tum of So­lace; a truck threat­ens; Bond’s As­ton Martin DBS stonewalls; Bond loses the door of his bul­let-scarred car; a gun­man in a bat­tered Alfa closes in.

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