Welcome to an extra edition of 007(x3) Weeks of 007! I will absolutely have a “Live and Let Die” full discussion later in the week (maybe Friday this week), but as I’m doing this entire thing in lead-up to “Spectre” it feels right to spend some time talking about today’s new trailer (just below this paragraph).
As a way in to this talk, it’s important to note that the early Daniel Craig films play with the idea of him becoming the secret agent we all know and love, but rather than truly breaking the mold, they pay lip service to breaking it. Some of this really is a discussion for when we actually get to “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace,” but as should be apparent from the Connery and Lazenby films, Bond has gone–regularly goes–off half-cocked, pursuing his vendetta against Blofeld around the globe. It is something with which M is unhappy but he allows Bond to pursue it anyway. M is even unhappier with Bond’s extracurricular activities in “Licence to Kill” with Dalton (non-Blofeld, but still off the reservation). So, while we are too believe that one of the things that MI6 wants from Craig Bond is to learn to fly the straight and narrow, that’s never something the character has done.
Put another way, it isn’t breaking the mold to have Bond conceive of and execute his own missions. M yelling at Bond about a Mexico City assassination (or apparent one) as he does in the “Spectre” trailer isn’t Craig Bond still being young Bond, it’s Craig Bond being the Bond we’ve always known. It fits perfectly with the character and his history. Just as Bond being warned by a femme fatale in the trailer about “crossing over to a place where there is no mercy” is really just him being warned about hopping over a line he has traversed many a time.
Building SPECTRE back into the story of Bond is returning to the classic Bond mold and eliminating even the lip service about Craig Bond being young Bond. But, that too is in keeping with the idea I posited the other week about how every time a new actor comes in to the play the role, the whole thing gets deconstructed before being built back up again. So much of “Skyfall” was Mendes putting the Bond pieces back into place, the ones that had been stripped away in “Casino Royale,” and SPECTRE feels like the perfect final piece of the puzzle.
The truly interesting thing about this new trailer isn’t Bond, isn’t the car, isn’t the henchman, the Bond women, or M yelling, it’s Christoph Waltz’s appearance. Waltz is playing Franz Oberhauser… or is he?
That is what people have been trying to figure out since he was first cast. Waltz has been asked about it over and over and over again (and that was just by me, see embed). In this trailer, as with the last one, Oberhauser is sitting at the head of the table, presumably the SPECTRE table, of bad guys. That is where Blofeld ought to be positioned.
Then there’s the suit. Oberhauser is seen in here wearing what appears to be a Nehru suit. It isn’t a match for the Nehru (or Mao) suit we’ve seen Blofeld wear before, but it’s certainly a play on it and there is no way that’s not a calculated decision – Mendes and the producers are well aware of the talk surrounding the Oberhauser character. The suit mimics the old one on purpose.
Ah, but a nod isn’t the same thing as confirmation – so is the suit just nodding to villains’ past (do remember that Dr. No also wore a Nehru suit), or is it a signaling of Oberhauser’s true identity? I’m pulling for the latter, but to suggest that I know with authority would be foolish.
And what about what Oberhauser says to Bond in the trailer? He explains that he’s been in the shadows for years, pulling the strings. He says, “It was me James… the author of all your pain.” To me, that spells trouble.
With that statement, as much as I want Oberhauser to be Blofeld, I bristle. Hannes Oberhauser, in the books, is an instructor from Bond’s past. That, combined with the fact that the synopsis for “Spectre” telling us that Bond goes on this mission after getting a message from his past makes one assume that Oberhauser is someone Bond once knew. If that’s the case, I hope that he isn’t Blofeld. It would be too boring if these men once knew each other and their paths diverged to the point where they became exact opposites – Bond the supreme fighter for good, and Blofeld/Oberhauser for evil. There is just too much pandering towards an idea of destiny about it.
Wow, okay, I went very specific very quickly there with that discussion. So let me end with the general.
Whether or not Oberhauser is Blofeld and whether this is iconic or iconoclastic, the trailer does get your blood pumping, does it not? This new look at “Spectre” is outstanding. It has everything you want from a Bond trailer from action to drama, hints of the set pieces and locations, the new car, and more. It makes one want November to get here very, very quickly.
007(x3) Weeks of 007 will be return with our discussion of “Live and Let Die” later this week.
photo credit: Sony Pictures