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GoldenEye's spectacular tank chase scene

Updated: Jan 13, 2022

Art by Femi Henry-Chia

I am woken up by the sound of a shuffling around me. The kitchen is always awake before me, the bustling noise of pots and pans have become a constant in my life. When you are upstairs from a restaurant, this kind of thing is to be expected. Life goes as normal: I drag myself out of my bed and slowly begin my morning routine. CRACK. A life-shattering noise overwhelms me as I am slammed into the floor. I feel the world shaking around me as I slowly gather my surroundings. I hear a soft ringing in my ears, the noise slowly subsiding. The strange thing is the noise in the kitchen has stopped. In 20 years of living here, the noise in the kitchen has never stopped. I spring to my feet and rush downstairs to see what has happened, but as I do, the horrible noise comes back, only louder. I feel as though I am being torn in the depths of the underworld, the floor caving in and I hear screams from below. My eyes dash to the source of the noise and through the dust and rubble. I can see something shining. Its large metal plates are painted a dark green, and it emits a deep rumbling sound from its center: a tank has broken through my house.

The James Bond tank chase scene from the GoldenEye is amazing, beautiful, and breathtakingly exciting. My jaw dropped when I first saw the tank barreling through the Russian city, pummeling everything in its path. If you haven’t seen it already, I strongly recommend giving it a watch. If you have ever found yourself wanting to watch a tank barrel through a Russian city leaving a path of bricks in rubble in its wake, then this is the scene for you.

What Makes a Good Chase Scene?

In my mind, there are three different criterias to meet what makes a good action scene. The cinematography, how the chase interacts with the environment, and the constant escalation of action throughout the adrenaline filled scene.

The Cinematography

A large portion of the scene is spent with nail-biting closeups of the villain and his apparent stress growing as a giant hunk of metal barrels towards him, juxtaposed with more distant shots of our hero appearing cool and collected. Most of the other shots are spent watching the tank destroy everything it comes in contact with.

Interaction with the environment

This one is pretty self-explanatory to those who have context of the scene, but a large part of the action is ultimately seeing how much damage the tank can give. A scene of the movie showcases how It smashes through various buildings, cars merely parked in the side with no way out, the pedestal of a statue, and just about everything that is within a 2-mile radius of the set.

Escalation of action

At the beginning of the scene, the tension is built through the sewing James Bond drives through the city in the tank, hoping he can make it in time to save the day. The next section is filled in with the tank breaking through all the obstacles put in place for it with brute force. The last part is when all hell breaks loose, the scene consists of Bond taking out all the car chases with what can only be described as tank melee combat. The tank uses a giant Pegasus statue to take out 4 cars in one move. We then see the tank running over more cars and breaking everything in its path. Tension is built at the beginning of the scene through the excellent use of discordance in the music. Later on, when Bond is doing all the heroic stuff, the music picks up, with hints of the infamous James Bond score. When all hell breaks loose, the music does too, contributing to a truly exciting experience.

Image credit Eon Productions

All of these elements combine to make an absolutely incredible scene. The true excitement I experienced when they were setting up the scene was unfathomable, and this scene has almost single-handedly turned me into a James Bond Fan.

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