The name’s Brosnan… Pierce Brosnan.
Today (Tuesday, 16th May) marks the 70th birthday of Pierce Brosnan, the beloved star of movies including Mamma Mia, Mrs. Doubtfire, and a little film franchise about Britain’s suavest super spy.
Yes, to celebrate Brosnan’s milestone birthday, we’re looking back to his time as 007 and picking out ten of his most iconic moments in the role. Do you agree with our picks?
10. Die Another Day – Prison Camp Breakout
The Bond movies have always been ridiculous, but for many fans, Die Another Day became a step too far with its invisible car chases and a villain who changes race. However, even its biggest detractors would struggle to take against its pre-credits prison break.
After being captured by the North Koreans, 007 devises a prison camp breakout that leads to a tense hovercraft chase. Everything and the kitchen sink is thrown at the screen in Brosnan’s final outing – but this early stretch is the moment where it all lands perfectly.
9. Tomorrow Never Dies – Remote Controlled Car
Every James Bond movie has an eye watering amount of product placement, but it’s seldom been integrated as well into the plot to drive an action sequence forward than in this tense Tomorrow Never Dies moment.
Eschewing his Aston Martin for a BMW, Bond attempts to make his escape from a German car park where the baddies are hot on his trail. But Brosnan’s Bond, typically cocky, decides to have some fun in the tense moment, sending them round in circles as he controls the car via remote control – a perfect demonstration of the humour that underpins the best 007 set pieces.
8. The World Is Not Enough – Final Elektra Confrontation
Brosnan is usually bracketed alongside the likes of Roger Moore and Sean Connery as a quippier, more traditional Bond – but his films all have the dramatic weight that many wrongly claim was a new addition in the deadly serious Daniel Craig era. Just look at his arc with villain Elektra King, who even after revealing herself to be a baddie, leaves Bond suffering due to his feelings for her (and, well, the torture she makes him endure).
It’s one of the more emotionally complex sequences in a Bond film, and Brosnan manages to sell it perfectly.
7. The World Is Not Enough – Nuclear Submarine Fight
Anybody who has seen Trainspotting knows Robert Carlyle can be one of our most terrifying screen presences if called upon, and as The World Is Not Enough‘s villain Renard, he brought that unsettling energy firmly into blockbuster territory.
As an adversary for 007, he’s tougher than most – quite literally, as he has a superhuman ability to not feel pain. This increases the stakes when it comes to his final confrontation with Bond, who quite literally blows him out of the water.
6. GoldenEye – Tank Chase
Brosnan’s debut outing as Bond isn’t short of memorable action sequences, which is why the St Petersburg tank chase in the middle of the movie tends to get overlooked, even though it provides exactly the kind of shot-on-location spectacle fans love about this franchise.
The work that went into pulling it off was particularly daunting too; two crew members had to spend a week opening and emptying 90,000 bottles of Perrier water for the brief moment Bond bumps into a lorry carrying the drink. Now that’s commitment to pulling off a scene, right down to the minute details.
5. Tomorrow Never Dies – Printing Press Death
One of the more comically gruesome kills in Brosnan’s second Bond movie occurs as 007 fights back against the media minions helping to start WWIII for the sake of making headlines. One of them gets crushed to death by a printing press, fake news headlines imprinted across their body, and we get the best quip in the movie: “they’ll print anything these days”.
It’s Bond 1, Fake News 0.
4. The World Is Not Enough – Thames Boat Chase
An action sequence which doubles up as a tourist commercial for London, taking us everywhere from the Houses of Parliament to the yet-to-be-opened Millennium Dome, this speedboat chase was the longest Bond cold open at the time of the film’s release.
It ultimately proved that you didn’t need to send 007 abroad to provide spectacular action thrills.
3. GoldenEye – Killing 006
Sean Bean is a human spoiler warning: you know if you see him in a movie, his character isn’t living to see the end. GoldenEye went one further than most of his acting credits by offing him twice; first in a faked death mourned by Bond, the second by being dropped by 007 from a giant satellite dish after he discovers he’s been double crossed.
The sequence culminates with one of the more satisfying Bond quips, responding to being asked if he’s killing him “for England” with “No… for me”.
2. Tomorrow Never Dies – Handcuffed Motorcycle Chase
Michelle Yeoh is one of cinema’s great action stars, and her character Wei Lin couldn’t be described as a typical Bond girl – refreshingly for this franchise, she’s every bit his equal as a secret agent.
This high-octane set piece quite literally straps them both together, The 39 Steps-style, as they are chased through Saigon shortly after realising they’re working the same case. It’s one of the most underrated sequences in the franchise, especially as its rooftop carnage sets a template for the jaw-dropping foot chase in Casino Royale nearly a decade later.
GoldenEye – That Opening
Is this the most perfect opening to a Bond movie ever? GoldenEye immediately sets the tone for the Brosnan era; the grit of Timothy Dalton is still there, but the quipping of Connery and Moore is back in place.
In nine minutes, we get a death defying bungee jump down the Contra Dam, a quip-heavy takedown of various Soviet bad guys, and an explosive climax which brings us neatly to Tina Turner’s theme tune. This is Bond movie heaven, immediately establishing Brosnan as one of the great 007’s faster than any other inaugural outing in the franchise.