: Photo: Richard Bryant/Arcaid/CorbisAs essential as the curvaceous leading ladies and not-so-subtle sexual innuendo, every James Bond villain has an impressive lair. Some are exotic, others chic. All are impressive locations for unsavory types to plot and scheme.
With the release of Quantum of Solace
on Friday, we take a look behind the scenes at the most recent Bond-villain hideouts when they're not housing the criminally insane. Let us know what your favorite Bond lair is in the comments.
A View to a Kill
In Roger Moore’s last turn as Bond, Christopher Walken gives an inspired performance as villain Max Zorin. Bond initially discovers Zorin is cheating at the races by installing steroid-delivering microchips in his horses, but the plot soon turns more sinister. Zorin plans to corner the microchip market by destroying Silicon Valley via subterranean explosives. Zorin plots and schemes from his underground lair, which in real life (at least the façade shown in the movie) is the Renault building in Swindon, England.
Built in 1982 as world headquarters for Renault cars, the structure is a futuristic metal and glass contraption that resembles dozens of bright yellow cranes holding the walls aloft. However, in 2001, Renault moved its headquarters elsewhere and, in 2004, a consortium of Chinese businesses bought it for an import-export center … or perhaps for their own nefarious plans ….
: Photo: Tom ThistlethwaiteTimothy Dalton steps into Bond’s shoes and finds himself in peril thanks to the dubious KGB general, Georgi Koskov. It turns out amoral arms dealer Brad Whitaker, while also dabbling in blood diamonds and opium, is pulling all the strings in a plan to (what else?) get rich quick. Bond tracks Whitaker to his palatial estate, where he is engaged in reenacting the Battle of Gettysburg with tiny lead figurines. Whitaker meets his end under a marble bust of the Duke of Wellington liberated from its base by a well-placed 007 explosive.
In this case the truth isn't far from fiction. Whitaker's stronghold is actually the Forbes Museum in Tangier, Morocco. Built on the grounds of the Palais Mendoub by American billionaire Malcolm Forbes (yes, of the magazine), the museum housed the fruits of Forbes' favorite hobby: collecting miniature lead military figurines — 115,000 of them, to be exact. After Forbes passed away, his kids sold the museum to the government of Morocco and it's still open daily for visitors.
: Photo: Victor Escalona
Timothy Dalton’s exit from the Bond series begins with him losing his license to kill after “going rogue” Palin-style and seeking revenge on Franz Sanchez, a drug baron from the fictitious “Republic of Isthmus” who has killed Bond’s newlywed friends. Trying to get closer to the enemy, Bond poses as an out-of-work assassin looking for a new assignment. Bond frames another bad guy for disloyalty to the boss, thereby winning Sanchez’s trust and being whisked away to his top-secret compound -- a hideout disguised as the Olympiatec Meditation Center.
That compound is actually the Centro Ceremonial Otomi in central Mexico. The center was built by the Mexican government in the 1970s in an attempt to commemorate and preserve the indigenous Otomi culture. Today the site serves as a meeting place for Otomi tribe members, and hosts tourists from around the world.
: Photo: Tomas van Houtryve/APPierce Brosnan brings more critical acclaim (and a consistent British accent) to the role of Bond in GoldenEye. The title refers to a pair of satellites that can be used as weapons by shooting electromagnetic pulses at Earth-bound targets. Villain Alec Trevelyan commandeers giant antennas to control the satellites. But his diabolical plan is foiled when Bond sabotages the giant antenna before Trevelyan can send coordinates to the GoldenEyes.
The filming location is the famous Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico (also featured extensively in the movie Contact). The dish of the giant radio telescope is 1,000 feet in diameter and operated by Cornell University as part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center. Since 1963 it has helped astronomers and climatologists discover planets outside of our own solar system, describe the chemistry of Earth's outer atmosphere, and search for extraterrestrial life.
: Photo: U.S. NavyIn Brosnan's second Bond movie, media baron Eliot Carver is trying to gain a monopoly on the Chinese market, but the government keeps blocking his progress. Instead of hostile takeovers of the competition, Carver decides to use a GPS encoder stolen from the U.S. military to send bogus commands to the British and Chinese militaries. All this in hopes of starting a war so the Brits will take out the uncooperative Chinese government.
Unlike most Bond villains, Carver plots and plans from a mobile lair in the form of a tricked-out stealth boat. The boat was filmed in the waters around Thailand and modeled off two prototypes being built for the U.S. Navy. One was Northrop Grumman’s DDG 1000; the other (more poetically named) Sea Shadow (left) was a Lockheed Martin prototype that was actually used and tested quite thoroughly by the Navy, but never officially commissioned.
: Photo: Tolga "Musato"/FlickrMadman and anarchist Renard imperils Istanbul and a Russian oil pipeline in The World is Not Enough. Victim of a previous assassination attempt from a Bond co-worker, Renard has a bullet lodged in his brain that is slowly killing him. Unfortunately for Bond, the injury is also dulling his senses of pain and fear, making him a tough guy to bargain with.
Renard plots to melt down a nuclear submarine reactor in the Caspian Sea and, on the way to save the day, Bond gets tied up in Renard’s lair, located in Kiz Kulesi. The hideout is actually the Maiden’s Tower that rises from the waters near Istanbul.
The tower dates back to 408 BC, but was relocated to its current site in 1100 AD by a Byzantine emperor who used it as a fortress. The Ottoman Turks refurbished and restored it over the years, and it served as a lighthouse for centuries. Today it serves food and drink to tourists who come to its café.
: Photo: Jose Gonzalez
British billionaire Gustav Graves appears to just be in it for the money in Die Another Day, Brosnon’s last role as Bond (and an end to the tongue-in-cheek sexcapades). But all is not as it seems. It turns out that Graves is actually Col. Tan-Sun Moon, a North Korean arms dealer Bond had supposedly thrown to his death. Moon survived and had his appearance altered by a Cuban gene-therapy clinic. His true aim is to use the Icarus satellite to blow up land mines in the DMZ, clearing the way for his North Korean compatriots to overrun South Korea.
Bond tracks one of Moon’s henchmen to the gene clinic and stumbles onto Graves' true intentions (and identity). Although portrayed as a Cuban location, the scenes at the gene-therapy center are actually in Cadiz, Spain, at the Castillo de San Sebastian. Built in the early 1700s, the castle was initially only accessible at low-tide and used to protect Cadiz from seafaring attackers.
: Photo: Como Property ManagementCasino Royale reinvents Bond with Daniel Craig as the steely eyed spy caught in a gritty thriller. The villains this time are more pedestrian — essentially high-stakes investors who short sell companies then stage terrorist attacks to sink their stocks. After Bond foils one such scheme, Le Chiffre, who works for the nearly omnipresent Mr. White, stages a poker tournament in Montenegro to recoup his losses. Bond wins the tournament but is captured by Le Chiffre and is tortured. He is saved when the powerful Mr. White offs his own henchmen for their failure to perform.
But not even Mr. White is safe from justice. At the end of the movie, Bond tracks White to his palatial villa on Lake Como in northern Italy's lake district. Bond lures White outside, shoots him in the leg and then arrests him.
This time the movie jibes with reality — White's villa is indeed an opulent spread on Lake Como. In fact, if you want to experience the life of a debonair villain, the villa rents out a four-bedroom apartment for the reasonable price of 1,000 euros a week
: Photo: European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern HemisphereNot a lot has been leaked about the latest installment of Bond. Word is, though, that an interrogation of Mr. White will lead Bond to a bad guy named Dominic Greene, whose off-the-grid South American hideout will be filmed in a building called the Residencia in Chile's Atacama Desert. The compound is a giant residence hall for astronomers working at Chile's Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory.
The digs are mostly underground, but a glass dome rests on top and lets in light for the swimming pool and tropical gardens. The Residencia has been compared to a Bond-villain lair before, a fact that was apparently not lost on the new production.
Check out Wired.com's review of Quantum of Solace
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