THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS.... OBVIOUSLY....
Spectre, the latest entry into the James Bond saga, has been out in the US now for almost a week, and with the Australian release today, I thought it was about time I got around to discussing that film in a little more depth. Be warned, this article is going to spoil everything from the latest Bond film, so if you don't want to know anything, stop reading now. Or if you'd prefer to hear my spoiler-free thoughts on the film, you can read my review here.
For the most part, I really enjoyed Spectre. While it wasn't nearly on the same level as Casino Royale or Skyfall, my two favourite Bond films, it was an entertaining spectacle, full of action and humour, including one of the funniest lines from all of the Craig Bond films. "STAY!" I don't know why, but that line is just perfect. It works so well. In my review for the film, I tried to cover as much as I could, but of course, there are things you just can't discuss when you're trying to avoid spoiling the whole thing, and since I have a lot of things I still wish to talk about, this article exists. Let's start by discussing Christoph Waltz, and what his character means for the rest of the Bond films.
As many fans guessed, Christoph Waltz is in fact playing Ernest Blofeld. For those unfamiliar with the classic Bond movies, Blofeld is a reoccurring villain, making appearances in both the Sean Connery and Roger Moore Bond films (and now the Craig ones as well). He's a bald headed villain who's constantly seen stroking a white cat, which was famously parodied in Austin Powers. Blofeld is the head of Spectre, the organisation which, again, reoccured in the original movies. Whether he's planning on staring another world war or if he's not too busy being dropped down chimneys, Blofeld always served as a worthy opponent for Bond.
With Spectre, Christoph Waltz gives a phenomenally sinister performance. Or at least he did to begin with. His character, while short on screen time, is shown to be this big, villainous presence, watching as everything unfolds. Waltz is tremendous, and I praised him in my review. The problem is, once his character is revealed to be Blofeld, the writers of the film really do fuck him up. They don't give him any depth or motivation, relying on the character's identity to provide a sense of danger. For the casual Bond fans, ones that aren't familiar with the character of Blofeld, this twist means nothing, and so the reliance on his name just isn't good enough.
Audience members only familiar with the Craig Bond films, or even the Pierce Bronson ones, won't have a clue as to who this guy is and why the twist was treated as such a big deal. It's just another name of another villain. In the context of this movie, ignoring the continuity of the earlier films, Waltz plays a rather undeveloped character. He invites Bond into his base, yet there's no reason why. It's established that they're adopted brothers and I liked this aspect of the movie, but that's literally the only explanation as to why Blofeld acts the way he does. He wants to cause as much pain to Bond as he can, yet he never does.
Blofeld goes from trying to kill Bond to trying to torture Bond to straight up playing a game of cat and mouse with him, ending with Blofeld begging for Bond to shoot him. It just doesn't make sense. Like I mentioned in my review, during the scenes where Waltz is not present, he has the potential to be one of the most fleshed out and devious Bond villains of all time, even giving Skyfall's Silva a run for his money. Then he starts to get a lot more screen time, and it's here that his character lost me. He's a villain for the sake of having a villain, and unfortunately, I don't think this is the last we've seen of him, but I'll get to that very shortly.
As for the actual reveal of Blofeld, I wasn't really a fan of that, either. The reveal, which takes place just under two hours into the movie, is not handled well. Bond has been knocked out and tied to a chair, and when he opens his eyes, the first thing he see's is...... a cat. A small, fluffy, white cat sitting on the floor. It's Sam Mendes dangling the name Blofeld right in front of your eyes, and I let off a sigh after seeing this. Was the cat necessary to the film? Absolutely not. Did it improve the impact of the reveal? It took away from it, as a matter of fact. It's there as homage to the originals, yet it felt so random and out of place.
After we get this reveal, Bond is then tortured, and boy does it look painful. It's a simple, yet ferocious way of causing pain, although it didn't look nearly as painful as the torture sequence in Casino Royale..... that scene is still difficult to watch. But enough comparing torture sequences. What really baffles me about this scene is that Blofeld apparently drills into an area in Bond's face that will cause memory loss. He won't remember a single person. Yet he does this and it doesn't affect Bond in the slightest. I mean, obviously he's in pain, but there's no impact after the drill has been removed. It's not a major complaint, but it's a small moment that just took me out of the film a little bit and I figured now was as good a time as any to bring it up.
In typical Bond fashion, he obviously finds a way to escape captivity, along with Madeleine (Léa Sedoux). We then get to witness what is officially the largest practical explosion in film history, and the video explaining that is linked below. While the explosion is cool to look at, it raises some more questions about Spectre's finale and about the character of Blofeld. Well, the only real question I have is one I honestly can't answer. How the hell did Blofeld get out of that with only a cut to his face? Like, seriously, dude. How? Is he immortal? I don't know. There is no explanation. The explosion clearly blows up the entire building, yet Blofeld and his men make it out unharmed.
The finale takes the film down a notch, attempting to make it a more personal attack on Bond. Madeleine is abducted, Blofeld tying her up somewhere in a building that's about to explode. This really pisses me off. I'm not mad at the lower scale or that Blofeld managed to survive the explosion. I'm mad at the treatment of Léa Seydoux's character. She's a kick ass woman who knows what to do and how to handle this deadly and action packed environment (something I do not know about. I would be dead five minutes into starting my job as an MI6 agent), yet she's put into a hostage situation, in need of Bond's rescue. It just takes away from her character. She doesn't get a lot to do in the finale, although this wouldn't be the first time women haven't been represented well in Bond movies. Except it's not that she's represented poorly. Until that point, she's a pretty kick ass character. She doesn't just serve as an object for Bond to sleep with, unlike Monica Bellucci's character.
Unsurprisingly, Bond and Madeleine both make it out of the trap alive, and so does Blofeld. There's an exciting boat chase through London before Blofeld is finally crippled, which I'm going to presume is foreshadowing for his return. Now, is a return something I'd like to see? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, the character of Blofeld was completely wasted in this movie and seeing another attempt to bring him back to the big screen just doesn't seem like a good idea. Craig's Bond films have always been something different. Something new. There's no need to keep returning to plots of the old movies. I'd like to see them tackle something original, much like they did with the last three instalments.
On the other hand, however, I'm curious to see Blofeld's return. I'm interested to see where they take this character as there's so many possibilities. Let's hope none of these possibilities involve going to the moon, though. If he were to return, hopefully the writers are capable of fleshing him out some more, and perhaps making him more than just an evil face. Blofeld is so much more than that. Seeing him wasted like this is such a disappointment, although Spectre is far from a perfect movie. There's so many places the Bond story can go from here. Maybe the best option is to let the Blofeld story dry out and return a few movies down the line. Or even have him make a surprise appearance at the end of the next film. Whatever way they go, I'm still going to be there opening night.
SPECTRE IS IN THEATRES NOW AND MY REVIEW CAN BE FOUND HERE