This post contains SPOILERS for Spectre
After Sam Mendes’ first James Bond film, Skyfall, earned widespread critical acclaim and became the highest-grossing franchise installment ($1 billion worldwide), expectations were sky high for the followup. Mendes returned to direct Daniel Craig as 007 in the sequel, Spectre, but the results were considered diminishing returns. The critical reception was not nearly as enthusiastic (read our review), and Spectre is way behind its predecessor in terms of box office gross ($197 million domestically; $864.8 million worldwide).
Among the film’s perceived disappointments was the underused Christoph Waltz as the main villain Franz Oberhauser. Having the two-time Oscar winner lend his talents to that kind of role was a tantalizing proposition, but few would call his performance (or character) memorable, especially when compared to some of the other evildoers featured in Craig’s tenure. However, if things break EON Production’s way, they’ll have plenty of time to flesh Oberhauser out in upcoming films.
The Mirror is reporting that Waltz is signed on for two more Bond films, but there is one major condition. He’ll only come back into fold if Craig reprises 007. Craig’s future in the franchise is very much up in the air, as the actor spent much of his pre-release press tour expressing his desire to move on following Spectre. At the same time, series producer Michael G. Wilson has stated he thinks Craig will return for Bond 25.
It’s unsure how fans would respond to that scenario. The handling of Oberhauser was one of Spectre‘s shakiest points, and the film did not leave moviegoers clamoring for more. In a (not so) shocking twist, Oberhauser is revealed to be classic Bond foe Ernest Blofeld, the head of the SPECTRE terrorist organization (recalling Star Trek Into Darkness‘ Khan). Additionally, certain aspects of the character did not have the intended effect. Him being Bond’s foster brother in youth was an emotional beat that largely fell flat, and the retcon of having SPECTRE be the mastermind behind everything Craig’s Bond dealt with from Casino Royale to now was puzzling more than anything. Coming on the heels of Skyfall‘s Silva, Blofeld was a botched opportunity.
On the other hand, there is an argument in favor of retaining Blofeld. Waltz is still one of the finest actors working today, and audiences know what he’s capable of when he’s working with a great script. It was the screenplay, and not so much the acting, that was considered the weak link in Spectre. A better story could certainly do the character justice, and the current Bond writing team has shown they have what it takes to deliver a compelling villain. Giving Waltz a shot to further develop the iconic evildoer in more movies could be beneficial and rewrite the entire legacy of the Craig era, which has been uneven.
But Craig is the big question mark here, and it might be for the best if EON starts with a clean slate when piecing together Bond 25. The leading man appears uninterested in another go-around, suggesting that his passion for playing the character is no longer there. And while Waltz is a fan-favorite, his Blofeld did not make a strong first impression, meaning his return would most likely inspire a lukewarm reaction. Combine that with the way Spectre ended, and the producers seem to have a clear out for a fresh start. If Bond is to get back on top (again), they might be smart to retool and move on from this current iteration entirely.
Spectre is now playing in theaters.
Source: The Mirror