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Friday, November 13, 2015

The SPECTRE Spectacle

SPOILERS HO for SPECTRE, the latest James Bond film. 

The latest Bond film has a number of weaknesses that hamper its entertainment value:

  • Monica Bellucci and Christoph Waltz are underused
  • Bond escapes from SPECTRE twice, and does so with unbelieveable ease
  • Bond and his latest Bond girl fall in love far too quickly, even for a Bond film
  • The big Blofeld reveal doesn't work because everyone knew it was coming, and those who didn't know have no reason to care
  • Once again, lazy writers tie a villain's origin to that of the hero, undermining Bond's backstory with tired cliche

Were I the man in charge of SPECTRE (the film), I would have retained Bellucci's character as the primary female lead; I`d make her Mr. White's widow (and naturally make Mr. White the target of Bond's opening assassination in Mexico). I`d keep Judi Densch's mission from beyond the grave, but have her suggest that killing White and showing up as his funeral could lead Bond to Quantum, the evil organization of the second Craig film. But have her hint that Quantum's reach may have been even bigger than they inititally suspected.

I would also have re-titled the film and kept SPECTRE's return entirely out of the news. It wouldn't be possible to keep the final resolution of the SPECTRE rights issue a secret, but you could deflect a lot of interest with some boilerplate to the effect of "We're very pleased to have the rights back, but we're not in a rush to bring SPECTRE back to the films. We have to wait until we have the perfect story for their reappearance." You could hint that perhaps SPECTRE would return in the fifth or sixth Craig Bond film.

But of course, you'd actually introduce them in this film, which I would re-title Property of a Lady - a double entendre that speaks to Bond's attraction to the Bellucci character and her possession of a diamond broach containing a holograph of a black octopus - a strange work of art that hides world-changing secrets. Furthermore, I'd make Bellucci more of a femme fatale in the classic noir mode, but with a genuine desire to mitigate her husband's crimes. And Bond would be drawn to both her dark side and her attempts to reform.

Bond and Bellucci would wind up on the run from Quantum (and MI6; I would keep the Nine Eyes plot as Quantum's supposed evil scheme of the week). I'd keep the "Welcome James" scene of the real movie, but Bond's escape would be far more intense, and this is how they'd wind up on the run, trying to get back to London with the broach so that Q can unlock its secrets. They would eventually do so, and with the information in the broach M can put a stop to the Nine Eyes plot. Bond's mission now is to tie up the big loose end that is Quantum itself; the information in the broach points him to the desert base that would have been Quantium's evil intelligence hub. He goes in with a team of British commandos; they mop up Quantum foot soldiers while Bond himself hopes to capture the group's leadership, which would have been there to witness the Nine Eyes activation. Bond does, in fact, manage to shoot up a bunch of Quantum executives in the control room, but Christoph Waltz leads him on a merry chase through the base as it falls to pieces around them in the best Bond fashion. There's a stunt setpiece in which Waltz' character makes it across a collapsing catwalk to an escape pod; the catwalk collapses just before Bond can follow. Waltz taunts Bond, which gives Bond time to take a photo of Waltz, much to his consternation. He snarls: "You think you've won? Quantum is nothing, James. Nothing." He escapes, and Bond returns to London.

He shows M the photo, and M files it away for future use; one day they'll identify him.

In a romantic coda, Bellucci and Bond are relaxing together, perhaps on a yacht, perhaps at some sunny resort. By happenstance, Belluci's character sees the photo of Waltz' character and responds with horror: "James - do you know who that is? It's -"

And then she's shot in the back by an assassin hidden in shadows. Bond holds her as she gasps out her last breath: "B-blofeld. Ernst...Stavro...Blofeld."

Roll credits, and end with "JAMES BOND WILL RETURN IN SPECTRE."

In other words, Spectre's central premise would have been far more effective had the film's producers behaved a little more like SPECTRE itself. Longtime Bond fans would have been thrilled by the reveal, and more casual audiences would enjoy a more effective thriller, or at least I like to think so.

1 comment:

Jeff Shyluk said...

Blofeld shooting Tracey Bond to death was unforgivable. If Blofeld shot Monica Bellucci too, I think I'd become unhinged.