An unearthing of secrets using high-tech gadgets, fast getaways on a huge motorcycle and a no-holds barred punch up in a subway followed by a daring escape that involves sliding down the centre of an escalator.
Early action sequences for the latest Bond movie Skyfall?
While these scenes are certainly from a film starring Daniel Craig, he is nowhere near the centre of the most violent action. That is left to a slip of a girl.
After his exertions as the alpha male in the Bond movies and the recent Cowboys and Aliens, Craig was happy to go along with the role reversal in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which sees Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth Salander literally riding to his rescue.
“I really loved it. That’s what was one of the big appeals.
“But it’s also one of the big appeals about the books I think. What’s interesting about that relationship, how he allows it and is quite happy for her to thump people around for him.”
If the name of the film sounds familiar it is because it follows fairly swiftly on the heels of an already successful adaptaion of Stieg Larsson’s best selling Millennium Trilogy – The Girl....With The Dragon Tattoo, Who Played With Fire and Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest.
In those the role of crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist was played by Michael Nyqvist, who has become almost as closely associated with the role as Noomi Rapace has with the part of Lisbeth Salander.
But, used to being the sixth actor to play James Bond, Craig says he did not feel pressured about stepping into what has become something of an iconic role.
“Not when I’m working with people like this,” he says with nods towards the director David Fincher, screenwriter Steve Zaillian and co-stars Mara and Stellan Skarsgard.
“Having the chance to work with material like this, to work with these people, they make my job easy. They know what they’re doing, so it helps.”
He commenced filming shortly after finishing work on Cowboys and Aliens, the western/scif-fi hybrid based on a graphic novel.
Playing a gunslinger who had spent much his life in the saddle, Craig had adopted a lean and leathery look, working off the pounds to look like a suitably hardened man of the prairie and the saloon,
Blomkvist, however, has spent most of his life riding a desk. He is a man of the indoors and the coffee house, pale from being bundled up against harsh Swedish winters or sitting round dinner tables, drinking wine and talking.
He evens wears a fetchingly geekish pair of glasses to underline the fact that Blomkvist is a middle aged man with the spread to match.
“I was very skinny when I started this job,” Craig admits. “David just sent bowls of pasta to my room and bottles of red wine. Which I sat and ate and drank. And I ate the chocolate in the fridge. That was basically it.
“It’s not that I wanted to be a fat journalist, nobody needs to take that personally. It’s just I didn’t want to look like I did in the previous movie, that was all there was to it.”
Once filming had wrapped he had to turn his attention to Bond, and, as anyone who witnessed him walking out of the sea wearing a pair of skimpy blue bathing shorts can attest, 007 does not weigh himself down with extra pounds any more than he does with emotional baggage.
“I wish I had more time (losing and gaining weight). I came straight off the back of shooting Cowboys and Aliens into this. If I had a month I wouldn’t have even had to think about it, I could have just relaxed and eaten what I wanted.
“The problem I had was stopping this and then starting the next one, when I spent 16 weeks trying to lose it again. That’s the hard part. But it’s the job.”
With the exception of Mara, whose role called for her to be androgynously skinny – the fact she could be mistaken for a teenage boy a form of self-protection for a girl who has suffered a life of abuse – the rest of the cast welcomed the extra padding as insulation against the bitter cold of Sweden, where most of the filming took place.
Even Stellan Skarsgard, a Swedish native, said he struggled with the extreme temperatures
“They probably coped even better than I do because I don’t even have winter clothes. I refuse to go out in the snow, I live in taxis from October to May,” he laughed.
Craig says that the characters’ reaction to the cold involved very little acting, and at times even interfered with shots as the stars had to be given a chance to try and thaw out.
“In cold places you get a little bit of breath coming out. We had to stop filming because there was so much breath.
“And there was difference between starting the scene and ending the scene where it had dropped below minus 10 or whatever. Mara’s lips were going blue and my teeth were chattering.”
Director David Fincher recalls being bothered by interference from a mysterious sound.
“Someone kept saying there was something wrong with the radio mikes because there was this clattering sound
“Then they said ‘that’s Daniel’s teeth’.
‘We did a re-shoot on a soundstage of some of the wide (exterior) shots.
“The script supervisor came to me and said ‘I think this moment is when he takes a puff of his cigarette,’ I said ‘I don’t think he’s smoking in the scene,’ but they said there was smoke coming out of his mouth.
“That was his breath.”
Although the English language version of the film remains set in Sweden, most of the cast are British or American, some of them adopting slight accents.
Craig chose to keep his voice deliberately neutral.
“I went for something very plain. I didn’t want the accent getting in the way of the character.
“Many Swedes speak incredibly good English, both with and without accents. Blomkvist is well travelled, he’s been all over the world, he’s been listening to the BBC since he was six and I think this is the person he is.”
The first TGWTDT was followed up by two sequels (although the adaptation of the books had originally been done for TV then reshaped for cinema release).
If this version is successful, it’s likely Craig and Mara could be called on to do more.
Craig, who has been very outspoken about the frustrations of working on Quantum of Solace, when a writers’ strike left the script unfinished which meant he and the director had to cobble scenes together, has certainly hinted that he would be open to the idea.
“I said to David when I saw this, it’s the first time in a long time that the movie I was watching was the movie we set out to make. It’s a rare thing to feel that. More often than not the process itself breaks down or something doesn’t happen or something has to change.
“It’s very difficult watching yourself, you ask any actor. Because what you’re doing is being hypercritical of yourself. I managed to forget about myself for a little bit and actually watch this.”