Martin Deer on what we can expect from Spectre…
I’m sure by now there is nary a soul among us who isn’t aware of the announcement today by Sony Pictures that the next and 24th film in the Bond franchise is titled Spectre. Which, of course, for any self respecting fan of 007 you know is a classic villain organisation from the film series and the Ian Fleming books.
Other than the principal cast and the outrageously handsome Aston Martin DB10 being announced the title was all that was declared and no plot details are yet known. But what can we glean from the title and the direction of the franchise?
The Bond films have primarily been stand-alone films with only the faintest hints at a broader continuity. For Daniel Craig’s tenure, however, that has not been the case. Craig’s first outing in Casino Royale, which brought the franchise back to life after the abysmal final efforts in the Pierce Brosnan era, was followed swiftly by Quantum of Solace, which picked up, literally, moments after its predecessor and carried on its themes, ideas and story line. Skyfall then dropped all that, and really is a stand alone film, hinting at and paying homage to all of Bond’s history in the film franchises 50th anniversary year. That said, Skyfall can still be considered in continuity. So with what we have been told by Skyfall’s returning director, Sam Mendes, that Spectre will carry on the themes from Skyfall, I think there’s a lot to be excited about and that we can anticipate.
Going back to Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, the first two films in this current run of the Bond series introduced it’s own villainous organisation, Quantum. Quantum is -was?- a group of individuals with their mitts in everything from introducing terrorists to accountants and buying up all of the worlds water supplies (a plot that was far too ahead of its time and ultimately too uninteresting but which could have had potential had it not been for the writers strike during production ultimately causing a mess of a film).
Quantum, whilst having lots is supposed leader Dominic Greene, was we were told by one of its henchman, ‘everywhere’. Greene did in fact have a meeting with the CIA and order a hit on James Bond, so he wasn’t wrong. That in itself is very SPECTRE like, and in the early days many thought Quantum was this era’s SPECTRE. So for true continuity, Quantum will need to be dealt with, right? Well not entirely, it can be swept over, but it can be dealt with also. In the Fleming books SPECTRE were originally the Communist Russia organisation SMERSH. Fleming evolved the group in to a more apolitical villainy when the Cold War began to come to an end. So perhaps Quantum were/are a part of SPECTRE.
So what about their famous leader? The legendary Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Or Number 1, as he prefers his fellow criminal colleagues to refer to him. Many are, rightly, suspecting that Christoph Waltz will play this part. Sorry, Mendes, you can’t fool us with this Oberhauser nonsense, he’s too damn perfect for a role like this for you to waste it. Blofeld appeared in three novels and six films, his last film appearance being in For Your Eyes Only when the then Roger Moore Bond dropped him to his death. The character has of course been the subject of many a spoof, most famously in the Austin Powers films, but don’t expect any requests for $100millon -or with inflation probably a $100billion now- this time around in my opinion.
What can we expect from his character then? Revenge, financial gain and trying to provoke World War III have all been Blofeld’s motivations in the films, among others, so where can Sam Mendes take the character? What’s interesting for me is the number of possibilities that are available. He could just be the leader of an organisation out for incredible financial gain, or indeed just some nut who enjoys causing havoc and intent on world domination. Probably not likely, though. Quantum were indeed all about the benjamins, and if Quantum were to be the originating form or a branch of SPECTRE then it would stand to reason that Blofeld’s motivations could and would be likely similar.
But, lets look back at Skyfall, and indeed Sam Mendes’ comments that Bond 24 would continue the themes from Bond 23. There is a key scene in Skyfall in which Judy Dench’s character, M -who she played fantastically over the course of her tenure- is in court and justifies to a panel of doubters why her department and agents such as 007 are necessary in today’s world, in which she states: “Our enemies are no longer known to us. They do not exist on a map. They’re not nations. They’re individuals. Look around you, who do you fear? Can you see a face, a uniform, a flag?”.
SPECTRE obviously fall in to this pretty nicely, and given the current state of our world and having touched on an organisation out for monetary gain I can’t see SPECTRE being that way inclined. To me, I feel Spectre has a great opportunity to continue this theme of individual and group terrorists and have SPECTRE be a group led by a man, Blofeld, who has his own ideology, still apolitical, but whom believes in a world that should mirror how he wants it to be. Plots of world domination may seem fanciful, but there are many in our world today with their eyes on that prize. SPECTRE and Blofeld can achieve this and be relevant to our times, whilst keeping the franchise grounded and in it’s current tone -so don’t expect any volcano lairs I’d imagine.
Either way the film has great prospects and seeing these classic elements of Bond brought in to the current fold is very exciting.
Listen to the Flickering Myth Podcast talk about Spectre cast and title using the player below: