Capturing The Iconic Aston Martin For ‘No Time To Die’
James Bond is back. The 25th movie in the 007 franchise was supposed to be released in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic had other ideas as the world went into quarantine and theaters shut down. Now it is finally here. “No Time To Die,” premiers in theaters today.
Different actors have filled the role of James Bond over time, and it seems like everyone has their favorite. For me, the first James Bond movie I saw was “For Your Eyes Only,” so Roger Moore is cemented in my mind as the quintessential Bond. I love the whole franchise, though, and I appreciate all of the various actors and what they have brought to the character.
If I had to pick a second place, it might very well go to the current Bond actor, Daniel Craig. Some of the credit, however, goes to the creative team and production company. Most Bond movies are relatively standalone. There are running themes and recognizable characters, but each is a separate adventure with no direct links. A decision was made when Craig assumed the role to create a more unified storyline. The result has been a deeper, and more engaging story. Daniel Craig has done an excellent job of bringing emotional depth to the role and portraying Bond in a way that shows the human side of the super spy.
There is a lot going on with the storyline in “No Time To Die.” The story picks up immediately where the last movie, “Spectre,” ends, and eventually pits Bond against SPECTRE once again as he races to prevent a diabolical weapon from getting out into the world.
That is all I can really say about that. Partly because I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone, but mostly because I haven’t seen it myself yet. I was invited to attend a screening of “No Time To Die,” but personally I think it’s premature to be going back to theaters—especially in Texas where our governor seems to be actively trying to enflame the pandemic. I have every intention of seeing “No Time To Die,” but it will most likely be in a month or two when it becomes available to stream.
What I can talk about are the epic cars and chase scenes in the movie.
Filming Aston Martin Chase Scenes
I had an opportunity to speak with the Visual Effects Supervisor for “No Time To Die,” Charlie Noble. Noble has over 30 years of experience in the visual effects industry. He has played a part in bringing movies like “Wonder Woman 1984,” “Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Batman Begins,” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” to the screen. Clearly he is not a stranger to capturing action and presenting it to an audience in a compelling way.
I spoke with Noble specifically about the cars and chase scenes. The vehicle featured in “For Your Eyes Only” was a Lotus Esprit Turbo. After getting indoctrinated into the rest of the Bond franchise, though, I quickly learned that the vehicle that truly defines Bond is the Aston Martin. It is as James Bond as introducing yourself by saying your last name, followed by your full name, or having a martini “shaken, not stirred.”
The Aston Martin DB5 features in “No Time To Die” from the opening scene—picking up where “Spectre” left off with James Bond and his love interest Madeleine driving along the Italian coast. Of course, this is a Bond movie, so that quickly turns into an epic car chase through the narrow streets of Matera, in southern Italy.
Intentionally destroying such a beautiful machine seems sacrilegious—so how do they capture those car chase and action sequences without harming the car? The short answer is that the car has its own stunt double(s).
To shoot the Matera sequence, the filmmakers used two classic DB5s, which have an identical finish. All the stunt work, meanwhile, was shot with eight bespoke DB5 stunt replicas built specifically for the production by the engineers at Aston Martin.
Two of the eight vehicles were built as gadget cars to house the smoke screen, the mine dispenser and the machine guns. Of the remaining six, two more were fitted with pods that allow the stunt drivers to control the car while sitting on the roof. This ensured that the actors could be filmed inside the car when it drives at high speed.
That last part sounds a bit crazy. They literally engineered a stunt replica that allowed a stunt driver to drive the vehicle from the roof while Daniel Craig and other talent sat in the vehicle so they could capture real-world footage of the actual actors in the vehicle during the chase.
Noble explained, “The overall, overarching ambition was for us to achieve as much as possible in camera—which was very successful.”
So we dug into that a bit more. Knowing that he has also worked on blockbuster superhero movies, which rely heavily on CGI to deliver the finished action scenes, a movie like a James Bond movie uses more physical effects and less dependence on computer imaging.
More Aston Martins
The DB5 is not the only Aston Martin in “No Time To Die.” Three more Aston Martins feature in the film, including Bond’s classic Aston Martin V8, one of Aston Martin’s latest hyper-cars, the Valhalla, and the latest DBS Superleggera—a 700bhp, 8-speed V12.
James Bond could drive a used Yugo and I would still watch the movies, but it doesn’t hurt that Bond is almost always driving something amazing. I can’t wait to see “No Time To Die” to find out what happens next in the world of James Bond, and to see how these action scenes with the Aston Martin’s come together to immerse the audience into the high speed chases.