While Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels began to drive Bentleys, the film version of Britain’s most famous spy has been an Aston Martin man since Sean Connery drove a DB5 in the 1964s. The golden finger. Of course, Bond has had other auto banter since then, including the underwater Lotus Esprit in The spy who loved me and that unfortunate BMW period, which began with a four-cylinder Z3. But in No time to die– finally released after long delays linked to the pandemic – 007 honors its roots on the big screen with a chase in a 1963 DB5.
This posed two problems for producers. A pristine DB5 is now worth seven figures, and just as importantly, Aston’s frequent flyers of the early 1960s lacked the athleticism to perform stunts for a modern Bond film. The solution was both simple and extremely complicated: build eight replicas with modern mechanics that could be used (and depleted) in crash-and-bash rooms.
We visited the film set in the Italian town of Matera in the summer of 2019 while filming one of DB5’s main action sequences. As, indeed, was one of the stunt cars. For this scene, the DB5 was surrounded by a murderous mob and subjected to withered automatic gunfire as cameras filmed multiple takes and angles. Our interviews took place against the backdrop of the sound of gunfire and amplified instructions from the crew’s megaphones.
Stunt coordinator Neil Layton prepares replicas for the demands of different sequences, a job made easy by the vehicles’ removable carbon fiber bodywork and mounting points that allow cameras to be transported. But Layton, a former rally engineer at Prodrive in the UK, says the suspension design – a pair of control arms at each corner and rallycross springs and shocks – is the most important detail. “You have to maintain a standard ride height or the car will look bad,” he explains. “The challenge is the big jumps. We have a huge amount of droop on these vehicles. That’s what we use to stop the car and control it.”
Mark Higgins, a former British rally champion and one of the world’s renowned talents for high-precision tricks, is behind the wheel for most of the stunts, which weren’t planned or scripted before the crew arrived. . “We had a few ideas, but we wanted to walk around and see what was possible,” Higgins tells us. The team quickly discovered that the roads in Matera were not gripping enough. “In places it was like ice,” he says. “Rear grip isn’t a problem. You want it to look exciting, so we don’t mind going sideways. But front grip is key; if you don’t have speed, you can’t do anything. ” To increase grip, the crew sprinkled the corners with several hundred gallons of fully sweetened cola.
Higgins says he’s learned not to make the ride too smooth or repetitive. “What the director is looking for and what I think is cool can be totally different,” he admits. “You can have a nice drift scene and it feels good, but it doesn’t look real. You have to make it look disjointed, not fluid.” The rally champion’s driving skills are fully on display on the DB5’s big stage. Hostelo time to die, the Aston has been significantly improved over the original The golden finger auto. Instead of twin Browning machine guns that deploy from the turn signals, the new DB5 features multi-barreled miniguns that pass through the headlights. “The idea was to pay homage, but also to move on, to give it a little facelift,” explains Chris Corbould, special effects supremo, a 15 Bond film veteran. And how better to distribute the firepower of the DB5 against baddies on all sides than with a huge donut smoking tires?
You can see a bit of it in the movie trailer and in the official blueprint above, but it didn’t work on the day we visited because the guns malfunctioned, disgorging hundreds of rounds while the barrels refused to turn. The good news is, you’ll be able to see the entire stunt at a movie theater near you, as the movie hits the US on October 8.
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