‘Skyfall’ Bulletgate: One Wound or Two?

“There’s only one bullet wound!” screamed ‘Skyfall’ detractors. This alleged continuity mistake seemed to be the catalyst for countless criticisms thrown at the movie. So, how many times was James Bond really shot, once or twice? (Some plot spoilers to follow.)

‘Skyfall’ isn’t my favorite Bond movie, but it’s close. After the dismal display of shaky-cam in ‘Quantum of Solace’, which transformed the once-smooth espionage operator into a Jason Bourne lookalike, ‘Skyfall’ felt like a return to form, like we’d finally gotten back to who James Bond is.

After walking out of the theater, I remember being happy with what I’d seen. Fellow Bonus View writer Luke Hickman walked out right behind me. I was surprised that he didn’t like the movie at all.

“He was shot twice, right?” Luke asked.

I answered, “Yeah, I think so.”

“Then where was the other bullet hole?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did the bullet from the rifle go through the same hole?”

I shrugged.

Clearly, this gaffe was a big deal to Luke. It didn’t matter too much to me. I’ve seen so many action movies that I’ve learned not to question the finer points of reality. I mean, Bond fell hundreds of feet into what appeared to be a shallow rocky river and survived. That seemed more unbelievable to me, but I went with it.

The bullet controversy is all over the web. Explanations range from “He was faking so he could run away and retire” to “He was shot in the ribs, but he was wearing a bullet-proof vest.”

After Luke made mention of the wound, this issue did bug me a little, mainly because I’d have to wait for the Blu-ray to find out if he was right. With all the problems that people had with ‘Skyfall’, the bullet wound seemed to be the jumping-off point. How could we be expected to like a movie if the filmmakers can’t be bothered to get tiny details right?

When the Blu-ray was finally released, I promptly took it home and ripped it backed it up on my hard drive. Then I queued up my media player, hoping to get a perfect shot of Bond with two bullet holes. I skipped through the first part of the movie to get to the part where Bond digs the shrapnel from his shoulder with a knife.

The evidence is below. I’ve added arrows for emphasis. What do you think? Does Bond have one bullet wound or two? I clearly see two entry wounds. The one on the left is where he was shot in the excavator on the train (because that’s where he digs out the bullet shards), and the one on the right is from Eve’s rifle.

That's an ouchy.

(Click on photo to enlarge.)


  1. Alex

    I had always just assumed that Eve (only passably competent field agent that she was) had actually missed, that Bond’s surprise at M giving the order had actually caused him to take a dive specifically because he expected Eve to kill him dead.

      • Sam Calvin

        But when Eve first sees Bond after his return, she asks him about her shot and he says something about how it broke a couple of ribs. So I don’t see how this visual explanation holds up.

        • Aaron Peck

          You don’t think that falling hundreds of feet into the river is what caused the rib breaking? She shot him, he fell into the river from a few dozen stories up, and broke bones. Seems pretty logical.

          • Sam Calvin

            Well, Bond also says that Eve’s shot didn’t damage any major organs. So I’d say the implication is that there was indeed a second shot that inflicted damage to his side… damage that we don’t see onscreen.

            This is starting to sound like a riff on Kennedy assassination theories…

    • Bastian Hylle a

      what i then don’t understand is how they talk about it later. the first shots from the goons pistol cleary went through. as you can see him bleeing on the back of the shoulder. so the gun lodged in the still was the one fra Penny’s rifle shot. but isn’t that their own gun? why do they then trace the bullet and stuff. or did she take it from the bad guys and thats why they use it as a lead?

  2. Drew

    It has been clear to me, since first seeing the film, in 70mm IMAX, that there were two bullet wounds. Perhaps the increased resolution is necessary to give that little detail the clarity it needs. 😉 Just a little bonus as part of ‘Skyfall’ – An IMAX Experience. 🙂

      • Mastered in 2K?

        I don’t expect everybody here to be experts, but 2K would be barely above HDTV. Pretty sure that if Bond was shot digitally (my bet is it’s still shot on film for the moment) it would be using Red or equivalent at 4K or even higher. The Blu-Ray has definitely been mastered at 4K as far as I can tell.

        But will be a number of years before i have 4K equipment, my new 27′ iMac will have to do arriving in a couple of weeks.

        • Tim, Skyfall was the first Bond movie shot digitally. It was also cinematographer Roger Deakins’ first digital production. After testing numerous cameras, he chose the Arri Alexa, which is a 2k model.

          There’s more to good photography than pixel count. Deakins specifically cited the Alexa as having tonal range, color space and lattitude that exceed the capabilities of film. The Alexa is highly favored among many cinematographers.

          The majority of digitally photographed movies are still shot in 2k. 4k production is still a minority.

  3. Arthur Taylor

    This may have been discussed already but I’ll mention it again. I couldn’t understand why, when Bond was surrounded by an army of assassins why didn’t he phone for back up instead of tackling them almost single handedly.

  4. Michael

    I was watching Skyfall tonight and this same question bugged me. Then I read this post and was watching out for the two bullet holes in very near the same place. It is indeed the case. I couldn’t personally see it clearly for most of the movie, but when Bond’s tied to the chair and the Raoul is opening his shirt, he specifically checks out the bullet wounds. And in an extreme close up, you clearly see that there are indeed two bullet holes.

  5. Ben

    I was thinking the same thing when watching it, I think what happened is he had a kevlar vest on, the uranium shell shot by the bad guy pierced it but not fully, a few bits of shrapnel got through and tore his chest up a bit but the whole shell penetrate and cause major damage. The shot from Eve is answered when he first sees her again at the new MI6 building. He says “only a few ribs and some organ damage… nothing major” this implies to me that the bullet didn’t go.through.but the force broke his ribs and knocked him out. The reason he didn’t go.back straight away was because he felt bad about M not having faith and telling Eve to take the shot. I think he was considering everything that happened and if he wanted to.go back.or stay dead. He obviously wasn’t enjoying it and when the attack.happened it made his mind up for him.

  6. Ben

    I meant in my above comment that the whole uranium shell shot by the bad guy DIDNT penetrate the vest fully and cause major damage, only a few bits of shrapnel from it got through the vest.

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