The James Bond Formula

You’ve heard of movie formulas haven’t you? What I have compiled is the stock writing technique to any James Bond movie. Practically all of these events happen in every movie. The best example is Goldfinger, which really set the formula standard.

I’ve gathered this list from various sources and do not claim ownership to this idea or the ideas contained within. Frankly, much of this material has been grabbed off the net, from books such as the James Bond Bedside Companion and others. Don’t be too offended if something shows up here that you thought of first. I just think the list is a nice study in how a James Bond movie has traditionally been made.

Traditional Theme, Logo, Single Shot and Blood

The traditional James Bond theme is played as the logo (the inside of a gun barrel) bounces across the screen. The view centers in on Bond walking. Bond then shifts his pose, turns and shoots. Blood drips down the screen. Gun barrel logo staggers on screen and drops to a corner and then expands to the teaser sequence.

Bond Almost Dies/Teaser

His life is threatened by hook or crook and pulls of a fantastic stunt to save himself. This scene introduces key characters in the movie. Sometimes the teaser has Bond in it and sometimes not. Sometimes the teaser has some important information regarding the plot of the movie, sometimes not.

Opening Credits

Lots of silhouettes of naked women prancing around.

Movie Theme Song

This happens during the opening credits. The theme song scored just for this movie is played. It almost always has the movie title in its lyrics. Occasionally, it is played in other parts of the movie considering the mood of the scene.

Briefing of mission

Bond walks into the office of MI-6 and flirts with Moneypenny. Bond meets with M and gets briefed on the situation. The briefing usually occurs in M’s office, but not always. Case in point, Bond is briefed in a car in Tomorrow Never Dies.

Q Branch

Q gives Bond any special gizmos needed for the assignment. Lots of prop jokes. Most of the time occurs after the briefing, but occasionally has come at different points in the films.

After the Bad Guy

Bond goes to the exotic location of where he tries to contact the enemy. Sometime before next step, he gets a Martini that is “shaken not stirred.”

“Bond, James Bond”

This can happen anytime during the movie. He announces his name typically when talking with a lady. Classically, this is how he introduced himself to the Bond Girl but there have been variations in the later movies. When a new actor comes in to play Bond, it’s usually one of his first lines.

Casino Gamble

The casino scenes have been rare in the later movies. They typically happen at the start of the movie for character introduction. Whenever he gambles, he usually loses during the first gamble, but makes a comeback in the second bet. Bond’s most common game in this scene is baccarat, but of course this has been varied.

Fight with Bad Guy’s Henchman

Here is where the stunt men earn their pay. Lots of fights where Bond just barely wins. Makes easy transition into next step.

Meet Bond Girl

James comes into the circle of his female companion for the rest of the movie. The irony of all Bond movies is that Bond cannot complete the mission without the assistance of this lady!  The Bond Girl sometimes is the Bad Girl.

Company of the Bad Girl

Not common in all of the Bond movies, but has become very popular in the last few movies. This one lady is a senior henchman of the Bad Guy. She usually has a tryst with Bond and almost always ends up dead or incarcerated.

Sexually Hinted Female Name

There is a long streak of these going back to the very first Bond movie. Either the Bond Girl or the Bad Girl will have a name with a sexual connotation. Examples: Pussy Galore, Octopussy, Holly Goodhead, Plenty O’Toole (named after her father, I suppose…) and Xenia Onnatop. Even in the Bond parody Austin Powers, there was Lota Fagina as a Bad Girl and in the James Bondian episode “Our Man, Bashir” on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine there was Mona Lovesett (my personal favorite).

Help from Across the Pond

An American Agent, usually CIA, is around to help Bond. It can be the Bond Girl, a separate character of even a henchman working undercover. Felix Leiter has filled this position most of the time.

Enemy Spots Bond

Bond flaunts his presence in an unsecured environment. The Bad Guy and crew discover Bond’s presence following to next step.

Fallen Comrade/Sacrificial Lamb

This can happen anywhere in the film from beginning right to the end. Someone in Bond’s assistance will die at the hand of the Bad Guy’s forces. It affects Bond emotionally, usually to a point of avenging.

Chase Scene

Bond is in some exotic vehicle or location in a chase. Whether he is chasing or being chased or if the Bond Girl is with him or the bad guy’s henchmen (never the Bad Guy) change from movie to movie. Lots of vehicle stunts with theme music.

Bad Guy’s Headquarters Found

Bond finds HQ of the Bad Guy and infiltrates it.

Bad Guy’s Nasty Pet

Most movies have a sinister animal in owned by the Bad Guy. It could be sharks, lions, pythons or a killer attack cat.

Battle Armies

The large group assisting Bond gets into a huge battle royal with the forces of the Bad Guy. Most of the Bay Guy’s forces get killed.  Lots of explosions.

Bond and Company Captured

Bad Guy and crew capture Bond and Bond Girl inside the HQ. Instead of killing them right off, they are placed in some isolated situation where they will die if they didn’t do anything creative. See Austin Powers for a fabulous parody of this. A lot of times, Bond is beaten or drugged out.

Left to Die

Just before they are left to die, the Bad Guy explains his twisted reasoning of his own existence and actions. Occasionally, this happens before the Battle Armies step. Again, see Austin Powers.

Bond Saves Self and Bond Girl

Using a gizmo given by Q, he escapes and starts to screw up the Bad Guy’s plans of destruction.

Final Combat

Bond gets the advantage and a final combat with the Bad Guy ensues. Bond wins.

Destruction of Bad Guy’s HQ

Bad Guy defeated, usually dead, the whole of the Bad Guy’s HQ goes up in a huge explosion.

Secondary Combat

A minor, almost comical, fight ensues with the Bad Guy’s Henchman. Bond wins. Henchman is under his or her own accord now. Sometimes occurs before Final Combat.

Talking the High Road

Bond and Bond Girl are retrieved in some exotic and unusual manner. They never get out under their own effort.

Bond and the Bond Girl/”Ohh, James…”

This sometimes happens before the previous step usually with comical relief for the audience.

Ending Credits

Black and white text scrolls across the screen with the movie score playing.

Coming Soon

The end of the credits has in the text “James Bond will return in…” to start the promotion of the next movie.