Pretty much all James Bond villains over the last 52 years have been perverse European elitists with the usual compulsions and gourmet savorings. Joseph Wiseman‘s Dr. No was “Chinese,” of course, and Yaphet Kotto‘s Dr. Kanaga/Mr. Big in Live and Let Die was Caribbean-born, but they were cut from the same cultivated cloth. So now we have Christoph Waltz, Hollywood’s definitive, all-purpose, highly mannered 21st Century villain, playing yet another classic Bond baddie — the Ernst Stavro Blofeld-like Oberhauser — in the just-announced Spectre. Again. When the real malignant baddies of 2014 are the Islamic nutters. Plus 1% jackals looking to exploit the misery of others caught up in shrinking or stagnant economies, corporations involved in same, fossil-fuel burners, etc.
Spectre cast (l. to r.) Naomi Harris, Lea Seydoux, Daniel Craig, Monica Bellucci and Christoph Waltz.
The Bond films have never been about realism but they’ve always inserted political and cultural ingredients so that the 007 realm will bear at least some resemblance to the real world. Going with a standard, super-slinky, European-born baddie is lunacy in this day and age.
On top of which I’m sick to death of Waltz playing another unctuous villain who delights in his sinister silkiness. Something in me just snapped when he picked up his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained, after winning the same trophy for more or less the same kind of character (loquacious, “ironic” attitude, self-amused) in Inglorious Basterds. My personal mantra became “enough of the meddlesome Waltz.” I watched Big Eyes last night at the Aero, and Waltz’s “ooooh, tee-hee…look at how icky I can be!” routine pretty much smothered whatever enjoyment I might have otherwise gotten from this moderately okay, half-decent film.
The only Waltz performance I’ve really enjoyed was in Roman Polanski‘s Carnage, mainly because he was dry and subdued and not up to his usual tricks.
Spectre is a nice, safe, old-shoe title…53 years old, first heard from in Ian Fleming’s “Thunderball.” I suppose it may not be about an organization also known as Special Executive for Revenge, Counter-Intelligence, Revenge and Extortion and…you know, could be something else entirely. It’s all bullshit, all about marketing and “the sell” and reaching the dumbest, biggest audience.
Specter will begin shooting amidst the usual scenic backdrops (London, Rome, Mexico City, Tangier, Erfoud, Austrian Alps) and open on 11.6.15. Daniel Craig, Waltz, Rory Kinnear, Ben Whishaw. The dp is Hoyte Van Hoytema (Interstellar, The Fighter).
Bullshit logline: “A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.”