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''Old Dog, New Tricks'': James Bond's Digital Chaos


Christopher Holliday


This article focuses on the ambivalent relationship between the James Bond films and digital VFX imagery, plotting the franchise’s progressive application and integration of computer effects technologies across both the Pierce Brosnan (1995-2002) and Daniel Craig (2006-present) eras. The 007 series’ frequent stylistic turns to CGI that parallel an increased narrative “technicity” – culminating in the heavily “computerized feel” (McCarthy 2002) of Die Another Day (Lee Tamahori, 2002) – did, however, ultimately appear to cede to more physical effects practices for Craig’s debut in Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2005). But despite the anchoring of Casino Royale to the franchise’s longstanding traditions of practical models and miniatures, Craig’s debut nonetheless combined digital imagery with live-action shooting in a discreet, yet chaotic, ontological layering of times, spaces, and environments. Examining the place of Bond cinema within popular effects journals, alongside Matthias Stork’s writing on the formal style of “chaos cinema” (2013), this article explores the franchise’s increased deployment of computer-generated elements from the mid-1990s to Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace (Marc Forster, 2008), Skyfall (Sam Mendes, 2012) and Spectre (Sam Mendes, 2015). It identifies how sporadic moments of technological excess have been understood as a rigorous aestheticization of 007’s encroaching neuroses (Binotto 2013), before turning to the digitally-assisted four-minute long take that opens Spectre. As a posthuman or “chimeric” (Ayers 2015) amalgam of digital and pro-filmic components, this sequence exemplifies the series’ veiled inscription of its digital VFX imagery, if not the kinds of technological processes that define the contemporary media environment.

How to Cite: Holliday, C. (2021). ''Old Dog, New Tricks'': James Bond's Digital Chaos. International Journal of James Bond Studies, 4(1). DOI:
Published on 01 May 2021.
Peer Reviewed


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