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