Cool cars, nifty toys and plenty of action. There's something for everyone in James Bond movies. When it comes to gadgets, Bond always seems to have what he needs.
This ranges from the ridiculous (a submarine shaped like a crocodile) to the painfully boring and practical (radio). A lot of those quirky machines and life-saving gadgets have crept into everyday life and you barely even noticed.
Decades before Ross Rebagliati was tearing up the slopes at Whistler-Blackcomb, James Bond was snowboarding on behalf of Her Majesty's Secret Service.
In the opening scene in A View to a Kill, Bond is on the run. He's on skis and is pursued by other skiers and several snowmobiles. One of the snowmobiles gets trashed at about the same time Bond loses a ski. He straps the snowmobile hood to his feet, and with California Girls playing the background, he snowboards to safety.
People laughed at it then, but today it's an Olympic sport.
7 Parkour and Free Running
Casino Royale did a lot to bring the Bond franchise back to life. One major factor was the thrilling opening pursuit scene in which Bond chases a suspect through a construction site.
It looked like a series of clever, choreographed stunts and it is, but it's also a bona fide sport. Parkour and free-running already existed at the time, inspired by military-style obstacle courses, but the exposure in Bond made it fashionable. Today there are classes, groups and instruction manuals dedicated to the sport.
6 Freefall Style Skydiving
James Bond has jumped out of a few planes, but that's not the skydiving we mean. At the beginning of The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond skis off a cliff and parachutes to safety.
A View to a Kill is another Bond film with a freefall style skydiving scene, but it's Mayday that jumps from the Eiffel Tower and not Bond.
It was a daring stunt for a movie at the time, but now it's an extreme sport and not that uncommon. There are recommended travel destinations for ideal venues and training is available. It's closely related to paragliding and hang gliding, of which Bond also seems to do a fair amount.
5 Smart watches
The watch in James Bond movies used to get people excited. Even the most hardened and sloppy man can't help but drool a bit at the Rolex Seamaster. Villian Alex Trevalian actually pokes fun at this phenomenon in Goldeneye.
Not so much anymore as the technological equivalent - the SmartWatch - is on millions of wrists around the world. It's not thrilling to see James Bond get messages, take pictures or tape record conversations via his watch anymore.
Still, we have yet to see a SmartWatch like in From Russia with Love equipped with a handy garrotte. This deadly timepiece didn't even originally belong to James Bond. He took it from a potential assassin and kept it as a souvenir.
4 Portable Microfilm Reader
The Spy Who Loved Me has more cool devices than other films, mostly because the point is watching Russia, the United States and England compete for who has the best spy network.
In the first part of the film, James Bond views microfilm on a screen using a portable reader. He takes it out of a small, palm-sized box and assembles the small device on his lap. Very clever, but not as useful as Agent XXX and her sleep-inducing cigarettes.
A modern equivalent would be a portable projector. Modern versions are so small that they're often built right into the laptop or smartphone. The app for your phone that scans QR codes is also similar.
We don't use microfilm anymore because data has been mostly digitized. A View to a Kill actually uses the transition from vinyl film to computer chip as part of the story.
3 Miniature Cameras and Microphones
Well, miniature everything, really. The small cameras that were common in Bond movies used to be unique. They were sold online and at auctions as collector's items.
Everything has a camera now. It's difficult to even find a phone without one. Now that everyone seems to have a secret camera and microphone hidden in their phone or tablet we can all play spy versus spy.
Octopussy has a miniature homing device and microphone as a central part of the plot. A tiny listening device was hidden in a carriage in a Fabergé egg. Q put it through the window with a pair of tweezers.
2 Smart Phones
Watching Bond use a Sony Erikkson to control his car in Tomorrow Never Dies might have been the best scene in that whole movie.
It's hard to imagine now, but once upon a time, not everyone had a smartphone. This was 1997, well before touch screens and cameras were the standard issue and nobody knew what an app was. It was amazing that it was even a flip phone.
Audience reaction to this was so dramatic that Eriksson released a line of phones based on the design. It included a larger screen and more sophisticated video capabilities. It was basic, but it was the first smartphone as we now know them.
1 GPS and Police Band Radio - For the Car
The cars of Bond have their own claim to fame. A few of the gadgets that made them famous eventually evolved into standard features.
The Aston Martin of Goldfinger is famous for its more outrageous tricks, like an ejector seat and missiles. So it's easy to miss the GPS tracker on the dashboard.
Of course, Q never actually calls it that and it looks different from what we have now. The 1960s version looks more like something you would see in an airplane cockpit and it beeps as radar would. This would have been the audience's closest frame of reference at the time so it's not surprising that the set designers would utilize that motif.
The Living Daylights also features an Aston Martin with a few extras. Never mind the weapons and spiked tires, it's the radio that's the most useful. Bond uses it to listen in on private stations that are normally encrypted. In the early 1980s, it was almost impossible to find such equipment unless you were working for the government or in the security sector.
Radios that decipher encrypted channels aren't the standard issue in every car today, but if you have some extra cash it's fairly easy to find one. Certain dealers do have it as an option which would have been unheard of in Timothy Dalton's era.
In a time when everyone is a spy, it might come in handy.