Movies

Mexico Helicopter Chase Just Wow..!

Unveiling the Biggest Opening Sequence in James Bond History

Prepare to be thrilled! In the world of James Bond, the anticipation for “SPECTRE” is reaching new heights. With the principal location filming in Mexico now completed, this film is poised to deliver the most spectacular opening sequence ever seen in the EON James Bond franchise. Both the EON producers and the suave leading man himself, Daniel Craig, have expressed their excitement, hinting at the grandeur and intensity that awaits us. From the bustling streets of Mexico City to the heart-stopping helicopter fight scenes, “SPECTRE” promises to be an electrifying cinematic experience like no other.

Key Takeaways

  • SPECTRE” is expected to feature the largest opening sequence in the history of the James Bond franchise, as confirmed by the EON producers and Daniel Craig.
  • Filming the pre-credits sequence in Mexico City took nearly three weeks and involved complex chase sequences, breathtaking helicopter shots, and intense action scenes.
  • The helicopter fight sequences were filmed using traditional techniques, with Daniel Craig’s stuntman wearing a prosthetic mask for authenticity.
  • Charles ‘Chuck’ Aaron, an accomplished stunt pilot, maneuvered the helicopter during the exhilarating airborne fight scenes.
  • Additional filming in the Palenque area allowed for capturing more stunning shots and enhancing the visual appeal of the helicopter sequences.

The Biggest Sequence Yet

Michael G. Wilson, co-producer of EON, recently expressed his anticipation to Empire movie magazine, stating, “It is maybe the biggest sequence we’ve done.” Daniel Craig, in an interview with the UK’s Mirror newspaper while still filming in Mexico, echoed this sentiment, affirming that “it’s one of the biggest opening sequences I think the Bond franchise has ever done.” These statements only heighten the excitement surrounding the film.

Filming in Mexico City

Extensive preparations preceded the main unit’s filming of the pre-credits sequence in Mexico City. After a special press call held on March 18, the shooting began promptly under the watchful eye of director Sam Mendes. Over the course of nearly three weeks, the team captured footage of a complex chase sequence against the vibrant backdrop of the annual Mexican Dia del los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities.

The filming involved captivating helicopter shots over the renowned Zocalo square, featuring a large Messerschmitt Bolkow Blohm B0105 helicopter. Approximately 1,500 locally-recruited extras, dressed as ‘Day of the Dead’ revellers, brought the scenes to life. The sequence also included high balcony stunts with Daniel Craig, interior and exterior shots at a hotel, and intense chase scenes between Craig and Alessandro Cremona, who portrays the white-suited Marco Sciarra.

Bond’s pursuit of Sciarra leads him through crowded streets teeming with ‘Day of the Dead’ revellers, adorned as skeletons and zombies. The parade was further enhanced by the presence of massive Catrina figures, known as ‘Dapper Skeletons’ and ‘Elegant Skulls,’ adding an extra visual punch to the exhilarating foot chase.

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The climax of the chase saw Bond as a ‘kite dancing on a hurricane,’ an apt analogy for the breathtaking scenes that unfolded. The final week of principal photography in Mexico City featured spectacular stunt work, involving the helicopter used earlier and a pair of daring stunt doubles standing in for Craig and Cremona.

Sky High Action

Eyewitnesses and reports, including a detailed account by John Hiscock for the UK’s Mirror newspaper, shed light on the thrilling airborne fight sequence. After chasing assassin Sciarra through the crowd of revellers, Bond finds himself faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle: Sciarra makes a daring leap into a waiting helicopter, initially evading Bond’s grasp. However, our beloved secret agent manages to seize the opportunity and jumps onto the departing helicopter, initiating a heart-stopping mid-air confrontation.

Remarkably, the filmmakers opted for traditional filming techniques instead of relying on CGI to replace the Bond stuntman’s face, as seen in “Skyfall.” Daniel Craig’s stuntman wore a prosthetic mask during the helicopter action sequences. Such attention to detail made it challenging to discern the actor from his double when they stood among the film crew, observing the preparations.

Chuck Aaron photo
Chuck Aaron photo

The helicopter fight sequences, primarily shot on March 28 and March 30, witnessed the B0105 soaring high above Zocalo square, executing breathtaking vertical climbs, daring falls, and nerve-wracking acrobatic maneuvers near the surrounding buildings. At one point, the helicopter narrowly avoided scraping a high flagpole, leaving onlookers in awe.

According to reports, the B0105 was expertly piloted by Charles ‘Chuck’ Aaron, a seasoned Texan stunt pilot. Aaron holds the distinction of being the only helicopter pilot licensed in the USA to perform 360-degree rolls in mid-air, joining an exclusive group of just three such pilots worldwide. The German-built Bo105 helicopter used in the film is known for its exceptional aerial agility, which was vividly displayed during the stunning stunt sequences. Perched on the landing skids, the stunt doubles engaged in a dramatic struggle, bringing additional intensity to the pre-credits sequence. The footage captured is expected to leave audiences breathless.

Shoot Another Day

Following the departure of the SPECTRE main unit from Mexico City back to London, a second unit remained in the Palenque area, located in the state of Chiapas, for a few additional days. This decision was made to ensure safety and to capture additional spectacular background shots for the helicopter sequences. By April 6, the supplementary work was successfully completed.

The Mexican leg of production for SPECTRE is widely regarded as a triumph, with the EON producers expressing deep gratitude for the cooperation and support they received. Barbara Broccoli, the Bond producer, conveyed her appreciation to the press in Mexico, stating, “We’ve had tremendous cooperation.” She acknowledged the inconvenience caused to local citizens but praised their understanding and good-natured acceptance of the disruptions caused by the filming.

Meanwhile, media reports surfaced on April 5, revealing that Daniel Craig had flown from Mexico to New York for surgery to repair a knee injury sustained during the filming of scenes for the new 007 movie.

EON Productions confirmed that Daniel had undergone a “minor procedure” during a scheduled break in production over the Easter period. Contrary to some media reports, a spokesperson for EON clarified that Craig did not miss several days of filming and would rejoin production at Pinewood Studios on April 22.

According to an unconfirmed UK report, the injury occurred in the Austrian Alps and worsened while filming a fight scene at Pinewood Studios in the UK. Despite Craig’s full commitment to performing stunts during the Mexico shoot, it was deemed necessary for his knee to receive specialized treatment.

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FAQ

1. Is “SPECTRE” expected to have the biggest opening sequence in the James Bond franchise?

Absolutely! According to the comments made by the EON producers and Daniel Craig himself, “SPECTRE” is set to deliver the biggest opening sequence ever seen in the history of the James Bond franchise. The anticipation is high, with Michael G. Wilson, the co-producer, describing it as possibly the biggest sequence they have ever done. Daniel Craig, who plays James Bond for the fourth time, has also expressed his belief that it is one of the most substantial opening sequences in the Bond series.

2. How long did the filming of the pre-credits sequence in Mexico City take?

The main unit’s filming of the pre-credits sequence in Mexico City lasted just under three weeks. Extensive pre-shooting preparations were carried out, and after a special press call, the filming commenced under the direction of Sam Mendes. The team captured various scenes during this period, including a complex chase sequence set against the backdrop of the vibrant Mexican Dia del los Muertos festivities. The shoot involved helicopter footage over Zocalo square, balcony stunt sequences with Daniel Craig, interior and exterior shots at a hotel, and intense chase scenes between Craig and Alessandro Cremona. The filming schedule was meticulously planned to ensure the successful execution of the action-packed sequence.

3. Were CGI effects used in the helicopter fight scenes?

No, the filmmakers decided to go back to traditional filming techniques for the helicopter fight sequences in “SPECTRE.” Unlike in “Skyfall,” where CGI was used to replace the Bond stuntman’s face, the production team opted for a more authentic approach. Daniel Craig’s stuntman wore a prosthetic mask during the helicopter action sequences, allowing for a seamless integration between the actor and his double. By utilizing practical effects, the filmmakers aimed to capture the genuine intensity and physicality of the mid-air fight between Bond and his adversary, enhancing the realism of the scene.

4. Who piloted the helicopter during the filming of the pre-credits sequence?

The helicopter used during the filming of the pre-credits sequence in Mexico City was piloted by Charles ‘Chuck’ Aaron, a highly experienced stunt pilot. Aaron, a Texan native, holds the distinction of being the only helicopter pilot licensed in the USA to perform 360-degree rolls in mid-air. He is renowned for his aerial skills and has been involved in various blockbuster movies, including “The Rock” (1996). With his expertise and precision, Aaron maneuvered the German-built Bo105 helicopter, showcasing its exceptional agility and executing impressive climbs, falls, and acrobatic maneuvers. His contribution ensured that the helicopter sequences in “SPECTRE” were nothing short of breathtaking.

5. Where did the second unit of filming take place after the main unit left Mexico City?

Following the main unit’s departure from Mexico City, a second unit remained in the Palenque area, situated in the state of Chiapas, for a few additional days. The decision to keep a second unit was primarily for safety reasons and to capture additional captivating background shots for the helicopter sequences. Palenque provided a picturesque setting with its natural beauty and archaeological ruins, allowing the filmmakers to incorporate stunning visuals into the film. By taking advantage of this extended filming period, the team ensured that they captured all the necessary footage to enhance the overall cinematic experience of “SPECTRE.”

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6. How did the EON producers express their appreciation for the assistance received during filming in Mexico?

During their time in Mexico, the EON producers conveyed their sincere appreciation for the support and cooperation they received. Barbara Broccoli, the Bond producer, acknowledged the inconvenience caused to the local citizens due to the production disruptions but praised their understanding and good-natured response. She specifically stated, “We’ve had tremendous cooperation.” The producers recognized the importance of collaboration with local communities and expressed gratitude for the willingness of the Mexican people to embrace and accommodate the filming activities. The positive reception and assistance provided by the locals contributed significantly to the success of the complex Mexican leg of production for “SPECTRE.”

7. Did Daniel Craig miss filming due to his knee injury?

Contrary to media reports, Daniel Craig did not miss several days of filming due to his knee injury. EON Productions confirmed that during a scheduled break over the Easter period, Craig underwent a minor procedure to repair his knee injury. However, he did not miss any significant filming days, and it was clarified that he would rejoin the production at Pinewood Studios on April 22. Craig’s commitment to the role and the film’s production remained steadfast, even though he needed specialized treatment for his knee to ensure his full participation in the action-packed scenes.

8. Where did Daniel Craig have his knee surgery?

Daniel Craig underwent surgery to repair his knee injury in New York City. Following his filming in Mexico, he traveled to New York to receive the necessary treatment from medical professionals specializing in orthopedic procedures. The surgery aimed to address the injury he sustained during the filming of scenes for the new 007 movie. Craig’s dedication to his role and his willingness to undergo surgery to ensure his full recovery and return to the production exemplify his commitment to delivering a top-notch performance in “SPECTRE.”

9. How did the filmmakers obtain the spectacular aerial shots for the helicopter sequence?

The filmmakers of “SPECTRE” managed to capture incredible and death-defying aerial shots for the helicopter sequence. During the filming in Mexico City, the helicopter, piloted by Charles ‘Chuck’ Aaron, performed daring maneuvers high above Zocalo square. The team obtained remarkable footage by utilizing the skills of Aaron, who is known for his ability to execute challenging aerial acrobatics. The helicopter flew in close proximity to the surrounding buildings, creating a sense of exhilarating danger. The filmmakers successfully obtained visually stunning images that showcase the scale and intensity of the mid-air fight, ensuring an unforgettable experience for the audience.

10. How did the additional work in the Palenque area contribute to the film?

The second unit’s extended stay in the Palenque area served multiple purposes. Firstly, it allowed for the completion of additional work on the helicopter sequences, ensuring the highest level of safety and capturing more spectacular shots for the film. Secondly, the picturesque backdrop of Palenque, with its archaeological ruins and natural beauty, provided a visually striking environment that added depth and richness to the film’s overall aesthetic. By taking advantage of the unique features of the Palenque area, the filmmakers further enhanced the visual impact and immersive experience of “SPECTRE.”

Conclusion

As the principal location filming in Mexico draws to a close, the excitement surrounding “SPECTRE” continues to build. With promises of the most thrilling and visually stunning opening sequence in the James Bond franchise, fans can’t help but eagerly await its release. The intricate preparations, the dedication of the cast and crew, and the breathtaking aerial stunts all point towards an extraordinary cinematic experience that will leave audiences on the edge of their seats.

With the pre-credits sequence capturing the vibrant atmosphere of Mexico City’s Dia del los Muertos festivities, including jaw-dropping helicopter shots and exhilarating chase scenes, “SPECTRE” sets a new standard for action and spectacle. The decision to use traditional filming techniques and the expertise of stunt pilot Chuck Aaron adds an authentic and heart-pounding touch to the helicopter fight sequences.

As we eagerly anticipate the release of “SPECTRE,” it’s clear that the film is poised to be a true spectacle that will take audiences on an adrenaline-fueled journey alongside James Bond. So fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a thrilling ride as 007 returns to the big screen in what promises to be the most dazzling and captivating opening sequence in James Bond history.

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