James Bond's greatest opening scenes
Usually a breathlessly-paced standalone sequence, over the years the traditional opener has given the franchise some of its greatest moments.
With the imminent release of Spectre – whose opening itself features a breathtaking, vertigo-inducing helicopter stunt worthy of a final act – we’ve rounded up the five greatest from the entire Bond canon.
1 | Goldfinger (1964)
The opening that has everything a Bond film needs – all in under five minutes: the floating duck; that white tux hidden beneath the wetsuit; an approaching knife-wielding villain that Bond (Sean Connery) sees reflected in the eyes of a girl he’s kissing (spawning this hilarious homage more than three decades later) – and that’s all before the quip lands (“positively shocking”). Cue the orchestral burst of Shirley Bassey’s classic theme.
2 | License to Kill (1989)
License to Kill in any top five Bond list may be controversial, but bear with us. The opening to Timothy Dalton’s second (and final) Bond adventure contained one of the best stunts of the 80s; a blistering mid-air sequence which saw Dalton jumping out of a moving plane and lassoing – that’s right, lassoing – another one away (a stunt almost identically emulated in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises). When combined with the Florida Keys aerial shots and Michael Kamen’s suspenseful score, what we have, my friends, is one of Bond’s most underrated opening scenes.
3 | The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
If you finish a film and the opening scene is still lingering strong in your mind, you know it was a good one. Such is the case with The Spy Who Loved Me, Roger Moore’s third Bond outing. 38 years on and not only does the ski jump climax hold up as one of cinema’s most impressive stunts, but typifies why the world loves Bond. If any 007 moment will make you jump up and cheer, it has to be the deployment of that naughty Union Jack parachute. Tense, funny and cool as hell.
4 | GoldenEye (1995)
Pierce Brosnan didn’t always have the greatest material to work with throughout his tenure as Bond, but the opening to GoldenEye was an exception. Bungee-jumping off a 750-foot dam into the toilet of a Soviet chemical weapons facility (“beg your pardon; forgot to knock”) and the ensuing stunt (driving a motorcycle off a cliff… onto a flying plane), remains the greatest example of a new Bond proving their chops to a wary audience. Best viewed as a statement of intent.
5 | Skyfall (2012)
It’s hard to deny the audaciousness of Skyfall‘s opener; the motorbike chase that sprawls into a fight atop a speeding train shows Daniel Craig’s incarnation of Bond at his most daringly effective. This opening takes everything we’ve come to expect, revs it up to an ungodly speed before slamming the brakes hard as Bond is seemingly taken out by Moneypenny’s sniper. Now that’s how you freshen up a series in its 50th year.