Scene Is Believing: SPECTRE

SPECTRE

Rome, Open Throttle

This piece contains minor spoilers

From the brutalist, domineering architecture of a Mussolini-esque mausoleum, to her cobbled narrow streets and expansive piazzas, all Daniel Craig’s James Bond roads have finally lead to the glory of Rome, and SPECTRE. Wherein, at the multi-tentacled head of said criminal enterprise, a face from his past mocks him as “The author of all your pain.”

Escaping from production designer Dennis Gassner’s Kubrickian SPECTRE meeting (actually filmed in Blighty’s Blenheim Palace) and hotly pursued by the terrifying, hulking Mr Hinx (David Bautista), something special was wanted for James Bond’s first ever chase through the city streets. Director Sam Mendes gave the blessing, and decreed Rome, Open Throttle. And so a bespoke silver Aston Martin DB10 and a Jaguar C-X75 concept supercar in metallic orange, or arrancione, as the Italians call this particular hue, shrug through gaps, hug and drift across the cobbles at dead of night, vroom past the Vatican and down 40- foot steps to parallel the Tiber at speeds of over 100 mph. An infallible formula to surely please the faithful.

The Rome street chase took 17 nights to film, supervised by second unit director Alexander Witt and stunt coordinator Gary Powell, with Mendes only a video city confession booth away (enough Catholic analogies – Ed). “Sam’s vision was a pure sense of speed,” according to Powell. “One night we even had to slow the stunt cars down because they outran the camera helicopter. Nothing’s speeded up on film.” Under the aegis of design director Marek Reichman, it took just five months for Aston Martin’s Special Projects team to create the expensive DB10s – eight for the SPECTRE crew of various requirements, as defined by Neil Layton, the film’s action vehicle technical coordinator , and two retained by Aston. For the film there are: two “hero cars” for close-up beauty shots; two stunt cars; two “stunt gadget cars”, with a pneumatic release mechanism in the boot for deploying the hidden rear guns; and two “pod cars”, which are driven by a stunt man on the roof (out of shot), while Daniel Craig takes the wheel below. The action was captured from all angles by a low flying helicopter and the crane-mounted EDGE camera system on another vehicle.

Don’t think you’ll ever be able to emulate James Bond in a matching, shark-like beast – they aren’t going into wider production. Hell, with the turnaround time and basic requirements, the windows don’t even wind down! Much of the hero car’s interior is merely for show. There’s no sound-deadening, the instrument panel is largely non-functioning, and the rain gets in. The steering wheel does have a (fake) fingerprint reader, which begs the question – if it was meant for 009, how can 007 (the original intended) manage to drive it? Unless Q never changed it for 009 in the first place (stop overthinking Bond!).

But boy, does it look gorgeous. Wheel spokes that emulate those blade-spinning originals of the DB5, a sheer drop off boot that calls to mind a hunched pair of shoulders, collar raised, alert and deadly. And those lights! Icy blue, arched, like eyes narrowed in a suit of armour, taking out all obstacles in its path.

Spectre Aston Martin DB10 jumping
Amusingly though, Bond has “borrowed” it without any idea of what special features it has, or even if it’s fully loaded (it isn’t). On the retro embossed labelled panel, “Atmosphere” equals 009’s Spotify list (as compiled by Russ Abbot?). Originally, Dusty Springfield’s “Spooky” was to play, and part-soundtrack the scene as 007 attempts to switch it off. I can really see this working as sound drops out and the DB10 drifts sideways through the spectral nightscape.

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Instead though we got what I presume is another unused Bond title easter egg (like the name of a safe house later on – Hildebrand): James Bond in New York, New York? Incidentally, SPECTRE composer Thomas Newman got a lot of flak for rehashing his work from Skyfall, so how cool is this little sequence? Bond bids “Buona Fortuna, Donna Lucia,” to Monica Belucci’s Lucia Sciarra, before driving off to the SPECTRE meeting, only here, scored by the late, great, John Barry.

With nowhere to go but in the drink, Bond finally finds something Q’s topped up – “Air” (it does what it says on the tin). Masking his escape, he ejects from the driver’s seat and gently floats down to street level, shrugging off his chute with a casual nonchalance and cheeky “Good evening” to the few locals still awake. Gratuitous disregard for office equipment fully restored, Bond searches for the next item of transport to total….

 

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