We start in Bilbao, Spain, with plenty of glamor shots of its then-new Guggenheim Museum. Bond is meeting with a Swiss banker in a scene notable only for his exchange with the curvy financial assistant who hands Bond a cigar. Asked to check her figures, he replies, “I’m sure they’re perfectly rounded,” earning one of the great eyerolls in modern cinema. Cigar Girl then turns out to be a fairly skilled assassin, and kills the banker with a knife to the neck before making her own escape.
On, then, to London, and the gleaming ziggurat of MI6’s new headquarters on the Thames, where Bond nearly foils a booby trap involving money soaked in urea (a volatile organic compound found in fertilizer and, among other things, urine) and detonated via lapel pin. (Again: urine.)
Guess who’s overseeing all the urine trouble? Who else but Cigar Girl, who leads Bond on a high-speed boat chase down the Thames until the two finally face off in front of London’s Millennium Dome, the last stop on our architectural tour. Cigar Girl runs the boat aground and escapes into a conveniently placed hot-air balloon, but the authorities are closing in. “I can protect you!” Bond promises, clinging to one of the balloon’s guy wires. Cigar Girl replies, “Not from him,” and shoots the balloon’s fuel tanks, blowing herself up and sending Bond plunging, painfully, onto the roof of the Dome below.
There’s plenty of fat to cut from this sequence — at 15 minutes, one of the longest in the franchise. We’d start with the part where Bond’s jet boat leaps out of the water, through a boathouse, across a road, down an alley, through a fish market, into a restaurant and out the back of the building before splashing safely into the Thames. Still, in about 45 more minutes the film will introduce Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist, so we suppose all bets are off.
Next Moonraker, 1979