A space shuttle is stolen right off the back of a 747 transport plane, which sounds like a job for Bond — although as Moneypenny tells M, he’s still returning from a job in Africa and is “on his last leg now.” Cut to Bond making out with a miniskirted flight attendant on board a private plane. “Any higher, Mr. Bond, and my ears might pop,” she whispers as he strokes her thigh. Or, she might pull a gun on him.
While Bond is dealing with this entirely foreseen development, the captain emerges from the cockpit, wearing a parachute and a mustache so preposterous it’s a wonder 007 doesn’t wrestle the gun away from the flight attendant while she’s doubled over laughing. “This is where we leave you, Mr. Bond,” he says, shooting out the plane’s controls. But 007 kicks the gun away, and after some hand-to-hand grappling forces the pilot out the airplane’s open door.
Then suddenly, Jaws — the massive, steel-toothed killer from The Spy Who Loved Me — appears and sends 007 hurtling, parachute-less, out the door himself. Over the next five minutes Bond, in free-fall, catches up with the pilot and fights him for the single parachute. The lack of CGI is apparent and impressive, and makes for one of the greatest stunt set-pieces in the series. Keanu Reeves basically made an entire movie out of this scene.
Sure, I have reservations — Jaws actor Richard Kiel is seven feet tall; where exactly was he hiding on that plane, in one of the overhead bins? — and the rest of the movie descends into dreck. But Moonraker‘s opening sequence wins on breathtaking stunts and sheer entertainment value.
Next Thunderball, 1965