Daniel Craig’s James Bond first rode a motorcycle in Quantum of Solace and will complete an epic No Time To Die motorcycle jump in his upcoming final film. But one of the most memorable James Bond motorcycle chases was during Skyfall. Rick English is a stunt performer who appeared in the 2012’s Skyfall. He said of being a stuntman, “The pinnacle is working on a Bond movie.” He also discussed several of the technologies and tricks of the trade that made the iconic James Bond motorcycle chase through Istanbul, Turkey, possible.
Riding a motorcycle through crowds and up stairs: surprisingly easy
At Skyfall’s opening, Agent 007 is pursuing a mercenary named Patrice through the streets of Istanbul, Turkey. During a shootout, Patrice commandeers a police motorcycle. Bond jumps on a nearby off-road motorcycle to catch the bad guy.
English explained that both motorcycles were identical Honda CRF250R dirt bikes. The film crew painted Patrice’s bike to look like a police motorcycle. They also roughed up Bond’s bike, then hung hard saddlebags off it.
In the first part of this James Bond motorcycle chase, 007 chases the bad guy through a crowded outdoor market, between cars, and down narrow alleys.
English added that stunt performers play much of the crowd in the chase scene. Vehicle drivers are stuntpeople too, each with a carefully planned route they repeat during each take. So what appears to be a chaotic series of near misses is actually an orchestrated dance.
To escape James Bond, Patrice eventually rides his motorcycle up a set of stairs and onto a rooftop. English said the off-road bikes could ride up a flight of stairs with “no modifications at all.”
Riding across rooftops: very difficult
In one of the most memorable parts of the Skyfall James Bond motorcycle chase, Patrice and Agent 007 emerge onto the terra cotta roof of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. They ride along the catwalks on the roofline, jumping from one roof to another to pursue each other.
English pointed out that many parts of the roofs were too weak to catch a leaping motorcycle. For this reason, stunt coordinators painstakingly planned every inch of the route across the building.
English said of the stunt doubles who rode motorcycles across the rooftop, “these guys are two of the most skilled riders in the world.”
One of those riders is Daniel Craig’s stunt double: Robbie Maddison. Robbie Maddison also completed the infamous Red Bull news years jump in Las Vegas. The professional rider revealed that riding on the roof required holding “really tight lines with no helmets on.” He said that of the entire chase scene, “going to the roof was probably the scariest thing for me.”
Technologies used in Skyfall
Skyfall debuted in 2012. According to English, most movie crews had not yet adopted filming by drone. For this reason, Skyfall required a third motorcycle rider to keep pace with the stunt actors. The film crew rigged a camera on the third bike to capture moving shots of the chase scene.
One technology Eon Productions used during this James Bond motorcycle chase was CGI face-replacement. Therefore, stunt riders completed sections of the pursuit wearing motion-capture dots on their faces. Then, the film crew captured footage of Daniel Craig and digitally swapped his face onto the stunt footage.