10 James Bond Action Scenes That Don’t Make Sense
Some of the best action sequences ever committed to film have appeared within the 50+ years of James Bond films. The British superspy can skulk about hidden fortresses and woo exotic women, but fans mostly look forward to the amazing fist-fights, car chases, and general cinematic mayhem.
Dozens of examples of the best 007 action comes swiftly to mind - the ski chase in The Spy Who Loved Me, the helicopter flight in For Your Eyes Only, any of the fistfights in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service - but here we’re focusing on some of the worst action scenes in the Bond canon.
10 Over Inflated Villain
In Live and Let Die, Roger Moore’s Bond is battling the evil drug-lord Kanaga (Yaphet Kotto) in his secret lair when he defeats him by forcing him to swallow a pellet of compressed air. The average moviegoer doesn't know what would happen in real life - don’t try it at home - but the on-screen inflation and balloon-like explosion seem highly unlikely.
Audiences know by now not to expect complete realism from Bond films - but after one of the best boat chases ever, it was a disappointing, comical ending to an otherwise solid cinematic outing.
9 Spectre Car Chase
The term “car chase” needs to remain in quotes here, since during the pursuit of Bond (Daniel Craig) in his hi-tech sportscar by the vicious henchman Hinx (Dave Bautista) in Spectre, very little happens.
Both high powered cars race through the streets of Rome, almost hitting other vehicles - but there are no machine guns, no stunts, and no real thrills until Bond ejects from his car, airplane-style, undetected by Hinx. It makes you wonder if Spectre director Sam Mendes has ever actually seen a car chase before.
8 Rooftop Battle
It may be a bit unfair to call-out some of the action sequences on You Only Live Twice, as it was apparent by Sean Connery’s fifth outing that some aspects of the film were “mailed in”. Director Lewis Gilbert shouldn't be overly criticized for trying to spice up another mob fist-fight, in this case by setting it on a rooftop with the camera half a mile away.
On the big screen, it may look ferocious and thrilling, but even now, it's obvious Bond - or likely his stuntman - barely touches his victims, who fall like a house of cards. Later, in You Only Live Twice, there’s a climactic battle in a volcano rocket base with ninjas, monorails, and submachine guns that’s as good as it sounds, but first, we need to get past this misguided sequence.
7 Bond-less Kitchen Fight
One of the best fist-fights of Timothy Dalton’s two Bond films came in The Living Daylights - the only problem is that Dalton wasn’t there. Would-be defector General Koskov is hiding in an M16 safe-house in England when Russian killer Necros sneaks in to reclaim him.
When an older looking waiter stumbles upon him in a commercial kitchen, he and Necros battle it out with a variety of household tools, with Koskov eventually whisked away by helicopter. Maybe the filmmakers were trying to establish how resourceful and vicious baddie Necros could be before he battles 007 later in the film - but at its worst, this sequence just looks like the Bad Guy beat-up a senior citizen in his own crib.
6 Bond Tries To Drown Two Women
James Bond has been portrayed as a sexist philanderer in a number of his films, particularly in the Connery era, but that’s the way he was written by author Ian Fleming, and recent films have made strong efforts to reverse that caricature.
Nonetheless, in 1971’s Diamond Are Forever, 007 gets into a gymnastic battle with henchwomen Thumper and Marie while rescuing their hostage, the reclusive millionaire Willard White. Diamonds Are Forever started with a great elevator fight and some of the best stunt-driving in the series - but the scene where Bond wrestles these two women, and “comically” tries to drown them in a nearby pool, was neither funny nor exciting.
5 Boat Battle On Fast Forward
If there’s one aspect of a good action sequence that makes them more exciting, it’s speed - as Bond has discovered with sports cars, airplanes, and even bobsleds. But the challenge of making a yacht rush recklessly through the Caribbean must have stymied the makers of Thunderball, who chose to fast-forward the footage to add some speed to the chase.
It starts as a perfectly good battle - Bond accosts supervillain Largo aboard his souped-up cruiser and they battle for control of the vessel as it races about the coast of Bermuda. But the sped-up film distracts from the battle and tells the audience unequivocally that what they’re watching isn't real.
4 Bond Knows Karate
In an obvious attempt to capitalize on the martial arts craze of the 70s, in The Man With the Golden Gun, Moore’s Bond somehow finds himself deposited in a Thai dojo, coerced into a karate battle with the henchmen in training.
The scene is comical at first - Bond dishonorably levels his first opponent - but it devolves into a karate exploitation film for a few scenes. Other cringe-worthy moments with a flying car, the southern-fried sheriff from Live and Let Die, and clumsy, bikini-clad associate Good Knight are difficult to watch. But what could have been a well-choreographed battle of hundreds (e.g. The Spy Who Loved Me), mercifully peters out quickly.
3 Frozen Lake Car Chase
Die Another Day is the most cartoonish of Bond’s films, from the invisible car to the ice palace to the giant space laser. This aesthetic was underlined with a car chase in the snowy climes of Iceland, where Pierce Brosnan’s Bond was pursued by the villainous Zao for no apparent reason.
The jump-cuts setting the scene have a hard time hiding the fact there’s no discernable reason for them to be out there - it's like watching a cut-scene from a video-game. Audiences could accept the melting ice castle, the hovercraft escape, even the CGI tidal wave that Bond surfs with an old parachute and a hunk of metal, but when it comes to car chases, the filmmakers should have known better.
2 Firetruck Follies
007 has often found himself in dire situations, thanks to a pilotless helicopter, a pool of piranhas, even an industrial laser threatening to slice him in two - but in A View to A Kill, his greatest nemesis is a novice fire engine driver.
Trying to escape from the police, Bond and paramour Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts) steal a San Francisco fire truck - only Sutton doesn't know how to drive and destructive hijinks ensue. Basing the heart of your chase on the premise that large vehicles make for goofy destruction is the same idea behind the Keystone Cops in the 1920s (Google it), and when a car chase from the era of silent films is more entertaining and crafty than yours, something has gone wrong.
1 Escape By Hot Air Balloon
Let’s just think this through - you’re fleeing the most dangerous and resourceful spy in the world, and you think your best plan for escape is a hot-air balloon? This was the conclusion of the villain's chief assassin, who commandeers said balloon at the start of The World is Not Enough.
These passenger balloons travel 20 miles/hour at best, can be seen for miles, and are completely unmaneuverable - it would be better if she fled by camel. Bond pursues her fervently across London to the Millenium Dome, but he also could have had stopped for tea or gone shopping, given her inability to get away. Perhaps the producers thought this vehicle would make for a dangerous escape because they’re as volatile as the Hindenburg blimp. They’re not and our chase intelligence is similarly insulted.