Spectre is dropping soon at a theatre near you, so it’s time to talk about Bond, James Bond. Since I don’t know good sprint form from a Moonraker, I brought in special agent Phoebe Wright for this assignment. An 800-meter professional, Wright has acted in some excellent chase scenes herself, knows what various body parts should look like at top speeds, and agreed to apply her expertise to the Bond’s running form.
So as not to wander from the mission, I’d planned to focus on the suave secret agent’s sprint form through the ages, from the original Scottish Sultan of Smooth, Sean Connery, through George Lazenby (who-zenby?), Roger Moore, two-timer Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan, to the current fast-action Daniel Craig.
That’s when we encountered something interesting: Early Bond’s didn’t run. It just wasn’t sexy. They had wonderful driving, martial arts, firearms, and lady-charming skills, but they never ran. You want to get somewhere the 007 way? You take a pimped out speedboat, or a personal jetpack.
Personal jetpack is not code for glutes.
But it makes sense that Sean Connery would say Dr. No to traveling by foot: people just didn’t run in 1962, they drove cars and ate Wonder Bread. And in 1969, when Australian model George Lazenby had his sole turn as Bond in the underrated On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he mostly just smoked.
Next up was Roger Moore, the least athletic secret agent ever. Even amidst the fitness boom of the 1970s, if The Spy Who Loved Me was spotted running, you can be pretty sure it was a Bond aid—a stunt man.
By the time Pierce Brosnan took over as Bond in 1995 (the less we say about Timothy Dalton the better), a reasonably athletic dude could break 40 minutes in the 10k and expected a comparable level of aerobic fitness from his secret agent.
In the clip below from Tomorrow Never Dies, pay attention to Brosnan piercing the air with his full throttle arms.
Here’s Phoebe Wright’s professional assessment of that 20 meter sprint:
Pierce Brosnan relies on his quick shuffling stride to get away from the bad guys. He, unlike Daniel Craig, relies on frequency over power. He has virtually zero knee lift. In his defense, this could be due to the dress slacks. While he prefers the look of a slim fit dress slack, it comes at a high cost—restricted movement. Poor form Mr. Bond. Slim pants look great until you have to run to catch the back of a subway car, and then you look like an idiot and/or an almost dead person, ready to Die Another Day.
Current 007, Daniel Craig, is well-regarded in Hollywood for being extremely fit and doing many of his own stunts, including making 40 miles per hour in dress shoes through Skyfall.
A word about those shoes. British shoe maker Crockett & Jones attends to Craig’s accoutrement, and while the kicks in this scene have an executive calfskin upper, the sole is not slippery leather but rather cobble-gripping, ass-kicking Dainite rubber. I include this important note because I have never hurt myself trying to run in expensive leather-soled shoes.
Impeccably tailored suits and smartly-crafted shoes notwithstanding, Wright is able to discern and discuss Craig’s mechanics in-depth. Take it away Phoebe!
This Bond has good arm carriage and running posture. He gets a lot of power from the rotation in his torso. This can be noted by the slight angle from shoulder to shoulder. He is no doubt able to maintain excellent posture due to impeccable abdominal strength.
He, unfortunately, looks a bit restricted in the shoulder region, evidenced by the bulldog appearance of his arms and neck. Ideally, the arms should be closer to the body, streamlined, like a torpedo—a very attractive torpedo. In his defense, this arm carriage could be a wardrobe issue and not a mobility issue. He clearly values style over functionality in his attire (an effect of spy training, not sprint training.) Or, it’s possible he’s packing some high-tech heat in that arm sleeve—I’m talking a Man With A Golden Gun up his sleeve.
Hips are a point of weakness for Mr. Bond, especially when fatigued, which, when you think about his extracurricular schedule, is not surprising. His leg rotates toward the outside, putting his thigh at an angle instead of directly underneath him, with his knee facing outward. He’s not getting full extension of the leg. In fact, when I trace an outline of the leg, it bows out, like a frog standing on its hind legs. This could easily cost him .007 second when escaping an imploding space station.
The hip weakness could have several causes. He could be overweight, his body struggling to compensate for the extra load (Note to self: Review sexy scenes closely for possible weight gain). He could be neglecting his glute medius exercises. This muscle provides balance and stability in lateral motion of the leg. Some yoga, and possibly twerking, will fix that (bonus—lots of ladies in the weekly Vinyasa class!)
Hip weakness could be due to unstable foot strike. The whole kinetic chain could be off due to an inflexible ankle, maybe sprained too many times, and now arthritic.
Or maybe it’s just that his dress shoes are, in fact, dress shoes and not super spy track spikes optimized for escalator surfaces.
Craig has nearly perfect knee lift. His thigh is at a 90-degree angle from his torso. Runners do thousands of high knees and A-skips to achieve knee lift like that, leading one to assume this Bond drops some drills in his spare time between spying and attracting the ladies.
Craig has excellent foot strike. He lands on the ball of his foot, pulling himself forward smoothly with each foot strike. Smooth with the ladies and smooth with the foot strike could be his new motto. It’s even more impressive that he doesn’t break stride to kick bad guys in the face—must have been a hurdler with rhythm like that.
Craig knifes his way through traffic with palms open, a common fault. You want to be as relaxed as possible; blade hands are tense. He undoubtedly runs with blade hands for a reason, maybe so he doesn’t have to take the time to open his hands to slap people as he dashes past. Or maybe he has a gold knife built into his pinky that he can use to cut open new gadgets that come in hard-to-open plastic packaging. Probably. And he probably calls it Goldfinger.
When running, you want a relaxed face with mouth open to suck in as much oxygen as possible. Mr. Bond’s mouth is closed and his jawline is perfect, sublime in fact, and ... is he even breathing? He must have the VO2 max of a marathon runner, that he can run that fast without opening his mouth.
The same capture illustrates that Craig is a brilliant tactician: Look how he uses his elbows to protect his space! This is what comes from international experience.
James “Daniel Craig” Bond was no doubt a semi-respectable sprinter before becoming a full-time spy. His mechanics are refined, but there are some key points of improvement he may want to work on. Only a GoldenEye could spot these minor flaws. While he’s moving pretty lively at this point, don’t bank on him to Die Another Day. Word on the street is that Daniel Craig is tired, maybe overtrained, and will be taking an extended break after Spectre.
Photos via GettyImages.com; Screenshots via author