Saturday 4 January 2014

The Bond memes in Cars 2

Apart from eating turkey, drinking eggnog, opening presents and paying family games (Scrabble included), my Christmas was spent as usual catching up on the numerous films on TV. Looking through the listings, I was pleased to see Pixar's Cars 2, which I was curious about when it was released in 2011, as one of the characters in the film, Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine), is a spy car obviously based on James Bond and his Aston Martin DB5. Sitting down to watch the film, I noticed that the Bond references didn't stop with the car.
Finn McMissile
The film opens with action – accompanied by Bondian music – that recalls the pre-titles sequences of the Bond films. British spy Finn McMissile infiltrates a secret meeting on an oil rig somewhere at sea using his front bumpers that shoot out as grappling hooks, recording equipment hidden in his front lights, and wires that extend from the underside of the car to allow him to be suspended above the meeting without being detected. There he learns that a fellow agent already on the platform has been discovered and been crushed into a cube, a nod, perhaps, to the crushing of a car - and Mr Solo inside it - in Goldfinger.

Soon McMissile is himself discovered, and a car chase ensues. He deploys all his tricks to escape, including an oil slick released from the rear of the car (oil is ejected from the rear panel of lights on the Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger), mines that are fired out from the hubcaps (a device not seen on Bond's cars, although the McMissile's hubcaps also include tyre slashers, which are present on the DB5), and machine guns fixed to the side of the car (a standard feature on most of Bond's vehicles, though the positioning on the guns in this case is closest to the location of the machine guns on the Aston Martin Vanquish in Die Another Day).

Forced off the oil platform into the sea, McMissile jet skis on the water in the manner of Roger Moore's Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me, although the appearance of the skis under the car is more reminiscent of the outriggers on Bond's Aston Martin Vantage in The Living Daylights. McMissile is not yet safe, however, as the villains torpedo McMissile and he sinks into the sea. Fortunately, he converts himself into a submarine in the style of Bond's Lotus Esprit in The Spy Who Loved Me.

Finn McMissile's number plate provides another reference to Goldfinger; while 314 FMCM doesn't match the plate of the DB5 (BMT 216A), both comprise silver lettering and digits on black arranged in a group of three and a group of four.

In another nod to Bond, McMissile's colleague, who also works for British intelligence, is called Holley Shiftwell, a name clearly inspired by the suggestively named Bond girls, Mary Goodnight, Holly Goodhead, Penelope Smallbone, and Molly Warmflash. If I recall it correctly, when McMissile tells Miss Shiftwell that “You never feel more alive than when you are nearly dead”, I was reminded of The World Is Not Enough and Elekra King's phrase, “There is no point in living, of you can't feel alive,” and indeed Tracy's words uttered in On Her Majesty's Secret Service: “People who want to stay alive play it safe.”

I expect my list of Bond references in Cars 2 is far from complete, but even so it is a reminder of the depth to which the Bond films are embedded in popular culture. It is especially remarkable that aspects or memes from the film of Goldfinger retain sufficient cultural currency to be referenced in a major plot device in a children's film nearly fifty years after the film was released.


  1. Even the tokyo police disguise used by finn at the airport is much like the adaptive camouflage in aston martin vanquish from die another day.

    Inside Siddeley, finn tells mater that his cover is the import-export business, probably inspired from "Universal Exports" which bond uses as a cover.

    And not to miss the underwater breathing device which finn uses while escaping from the oil platform.

    1. Well spotted! I forgot about those references. Thanks for commenting!

    2. You're Welcome. but i guess there are some more similarities too !


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