Monday 15 August 2011

From Russia With Love

Sean Connery’s second outing as 007 is considered by Bond aficionados to be the best film in the series. And given that there are many excellent critiques of From Russia With Love already out there on the interweb, Exploding Helicopter will instead focus its attention on the chopper fireball action.   

We pick up the action with Connery trying make his escape pursuing SPECTRE agents in a lumbering truck. Unfortunately, the villains pick up his trail and start to buzz the truck in a small Hiller UK-12 helicopter. They try to kill Bond by dropping grenades on the truck but succeed only in disabling it. 

Grabbing a rifle, Bond takes cover behind some rocks and begins taking pot shots at the copter. Big Tam shoots the co-pilot in the shoulder causing him to fumble a grenade he’s about to drop. The clumsy co-pilot scrabbles around the cockpit for the grenade, but he’s too slow. The grenade explodes blowing up the helicopter in a delicious orangey fireball. 

The flaming whirlybird plummets from sky before crashing into the ground where it explodes twice more. As Connery scuttles back over to the truck the helicopter explodes again nicely silhouetting our hero against the inferno.  

Artist merit 

A humdinger of a helicopter explosion. You must salute director Terence Young and the special effects team for their gusto with which they set about destroying this helicopter. Have Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay ever blown up the same helicopter four times? No sir, they have not. 

Exploding helicopter innovation 

Nothing particularly innovative, but the sequence does help establish the trope where the occupants of an exploding helicopter realise their fate moments before consumed in a conflagration.  

Sadly, as these are Russian agents no-one says: “What the?….” before being immolated. Unless of course they’re muttering it in Russian. 

Do passengers survive? 

They really should have if the klutz in the co-pilot hadn’t spent so long fumbling about for the grenade in the cockpit. 


I doubt any fictional character has been responsible for as many exploding helicopters as 007 and Connery gets Bond off the mark in fine style. 


None. A faultless exploding helicopter sequence. 


  1. The gauntlet has been laid down to find an older exploding helicopter scene.

    I hear there is one in Casablanca.

  2. It might be a bit left-field, but the 1980 film The Final Countdown (where's the crit?) involves a US aircraft carrier travelling back in time to December 1941. A Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King helicopter explodes (cause: flare gun fired in cockpit). Surely this is the earliest example of an exploding helicopter? Although the film was made in 1980, they DID travel back in time ....
    Martin Hill-Jones, Torrevieja, Spain

  3. Martin - thanks for the tip-off about The Final Countdown. I think you could be correct. Whilst From Russia With Love is the earliest produced film with an exploding helicopter in, it's also interesting to consider the question from the point of view of the earliest year depicted in a film that a chopper blows up in. Where Eagles Dare - which includes a chopper fireball - is a good example. Made in 1969, it is set during WW2 probably around late 1943 or early 1944. However, The Final Countdown is clearly set some years earlier so this is the new holder of that title. However, I am aware of another time travel film which could knock both these films out the park. Samurai Commando 1549 sees modern armed forces travel back to the 16th century. Helicopters are in the film, but I don't yet know if one explodes. I mean to get round to it soon.

  4. Update - I've just watched Samurai Commando - Mission 1549 on YouTube. There are TWO exploding helicopters! So I suppose I'll have to hand over my crown. Ho Hum ...