In Skyfall, when the villainous Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) had James Bond (Daniel Craig) in his clutches, he asked 007 what his hobby is. Bond’s reply: “Resurrection.” After Craig’s fourth outing as James Bond, Spectre, failed to match the $1.1-billion global box office tally of Skyfall and garnered a withering critical response, James Bond is on the cusp of requiring yet another resurrection.
To be fair, with an $880-million worldwide gross, Spectre is the second most financially successful film of the franchise, and therefore can hardly be deemed a failure. Still, Spectre is considered a disappointment after the dizzying highs reached by Skyfall. Craig offering up surly quotes like “I’d rather slash my own wrists [than return as 007]” helped create a problematic cloud over Spectre and the future of the franchise even before critics came with their knives out and audiences were left largely underwhelmed.
Spectre was a rushed and troubled production where the franchise’s perennial writing team, Neil Purvis and Robert Wade, were brought onboard to brush up the earlier script draft by John Logan; which hadn’t ironed out the kinks in the story before director Sam Mendes rolled cameras to make the November 2015 release date. Craig was also injured during production, requiring surgery on a torn meniscus (this surely contributed to his bitter feelings about portraying the world’s most famous secret agent). The end result featured a spectacular pre-title credits opening sequence in Mexico, followed by a bland (yet Oscar-winning) title track by Sam Smith that set up a bloated, messy adventure. If Spectre was to be Daniel Craig’s swan song as 007, then the man who redefined James Bond and took him to all-time highs deserves a better sendoff.
Craig will reportedly get his chance at redemption, as he’s expected to return for one last mission as James Bond. The untitled Bond 25 was formally announced for a November 8, 2019 release. This is troubling as, once again, a Bond movie has to meet a set date even before a director has even been officially named. A rumor Bond 25 will be titled Shatterhand and based on the Raymond Benson novel Never Dream of Dying has been debunked. Regardless, James Bond fans agree that if Daniel Craig is returning for one more outing, he deserves to go out on a high note. For this to occur, Bond 25 cannot be a redux of Spectre.
THE SINS OF SPECTRE
Silva taunted M (Judi Dench) in Skyfall with an ominous warning: “Think on your sins.” While Spectre features splendid action and some memorable moments, fans of 007 certainly hope the James Bond brain trust has had ample time to reflect on the mistakes they made with that movie. Mendes decided to pay homage to earlier Bond films throughout Spectre, but this resulted in placing Craig in awkward scenarios more suited to Roger Moore’s cavalier 007 – including slapstick comedy during a car chase through Rome and Craig gracelessly seducing a widow played by Monica Bellucci. However, the most egregious failures of Spectre center around the titular villainous organization and their leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz).
In the 1960s James Bond films, as it was in Ian Fleming’s novels, the original SPECTRE was a cartoonish criminal organization whose primarily goal was to outlandishly blackmail the world for money. Mike Myers’ Austin Powers films brilliantly and perfectly satirized this classic version of SPECTRE – which was an acronym for Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. Mendes wisely shed the acronym and re-imagined Spectre as a vast global network collecting intelligence from all of the world’s governments and espionage agencies for nefarious purposes. However, the first two Daniel Craig Bond movies – Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace -had already introduced a different global criminal organization: Quantum, which operated exactly like Spectre.
Mendes’ solution was to retcon all the prior Craig Bonds so that everyone and everything – including Quantum, Silva, and even Bond’s lost love Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) – turned out to be operating under the umbrella of Spectre. This was deeply problematic and nonsensical. It created a scenario not unlike The Amazing Spider-Man films where the plan was for Oscorp to be responsible for creating Spider-Man’s super villains all at once, had the Sinister Six movie not been deep-sixed. Somehow an organization as vast and diabolical in scope as Spectre operated without anyone’s knowledge – anyone except Dench’s M, who decided to tell no one, and she only planned to inform 007 in the event of her death.
One of Skyfall‘s most successful aspects was how it made Bond confront his origins, the death of his parents, and literally forced him to burn down his past in the form of his childhood home. Craig’s reckless and unrefined “blunt instrument” was deconstructed and then rebuilt into the classic that James Bond fans wanted him to become. In addition, Silva’s beef with M was a deeply personal vendetta of a wayward “son” being abandoned by his “mother.”
With Spectre, Mendes decided to double down on a family’s personal vendettas by revealing that Blofeld is Bond’s adoptive brother. They grew up together because Blofeld’s father took the young Bond in after his parents’ death, and Blofeld resented Bond so much he killed his own father (but not Bond, for some reason). The filmmakers also attempted a fakeout like Star Trek Into Darkness’ infamous John Harrison/Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) reveal, with Spectre’s leader introduced as Franz Oberhauser, before he drops the bombshell he’s actually Ernst Stravro Blofeld. By the time Blofeld gleefully admits he was personally responsible for all the death and tragedy in Bond’s life, what was meant to be a shocking and heartbreaking revelation became a bitter pill for fans to swallow.
Page 2: JAMES BOND'S RESURRECTION
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