By the time GoldenEye was released, it had been six years since the last Bond film — the longest interregnum in the history of the franchise — and filmmakers knew that they had to come back big.
And come back big they did, with an opening shot that a 2002 poll of British film fans called the best stunt in movie history. Bond bungee jumps from the top of a massive dam (in real life, the 750-foot tall Verzasca Dam in Locarno, Switzerland) in order to infiltrate a Soviet chemical weapons facility. It’s a stunning leap, expertly shot, and at the time it set the record for the world’s highest bungee jump from a fixed structure.
Once inside, Bond (Pierce Brosnan this time, making his first appearance) meets up with 006, Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) and the two of them set about sabotaging the facility. Things go wrong, however, and 006 is captured and shot in the head by a Soviet general (Bean would go on to get very good at this.)
Bond, meanwhile, makes his escape to a nearby airfield, where he commandeers an airplane about to take off by chasing it to the end of the runway and — once it falls, pilotlessly, into a deep valley — leaping into the void to catch up with it. It’s one of the craziest ideas in Bond filmmaking — Hey, let’s have 007 try to catch a falling plane on a falling motorcycle! — but we’ve just seen him jump off that gigantic dam so we’re pretty sure he can handle this. Still, putting those two stunts together — and letting Sean Bean squeeze in one of his patented death scenes — makes for one of the most dramatic opening sequences in the franchise.