Evil organizations are all the craze these days on the silver screen, taking center stage in at least four 2015 Major Blockbusters: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, SPECTRE (ha), and the forthcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Nothing like a whole industry of villains and evil doers, often, but not always, operating in the shadows. And though several of the “organizations” chosen are literally companies, they also fit the mold of “Nefarious Organizations.” Not just any company will do, but these certainly more than your simple morally corrupt businesses.
I’ve gone ahead and ranked them, most effective to least.
Let’s start with #8 through #5!
8. Death Eaters from the Harry Potter Franchise
I’m not even a Harry Potter fan (I’ve read 6 and 1/2 of the books, but never made it far enough in the film franchise to see said organization), but my roommate tells me I should look past my own interests, and the Death Eaters were the 1st Evil Organization I could think of outside my traditional Geek World (which would be mostly Marvel Comic Book Evil Organizations…).
Death Eaters definitely qualify as a Nefarious Organization, one that, like the best of them (that follow), have members at every level of government, Hogwarts, and even that weird Magical Bank with the trolls. Not a lot is scarier than a group of zealots awaiting and/or aiding the return of their evil leader: He who must not be named!
7. OSCORP Industries from The Amazing Spider-Man Films
In Sam Raimi’s original films, Oscorp was simply the company that Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) would experiment on himself… and kill… to remain in control and keep profitable. In Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man films, the corporation is responsible for a man-lizard, an electricity man, a mutated head of the company, and a series of enhanced soldier suits based on animals including a rhinoceros, a vulture, and an octopus.
A little hokey, sure, but it actually makes more sense than the original 2002 Spider-Man. Think about the major superhero villains these days. Tony Stark’s genius leads to Iron Monger, Whiplash, Extemis, and Ultron. The Super Soldier serum administered by the same scientist creates both Red Skull and Captain America. Batman’s appearance brings the Joker into the world as a direct response to his theatrical vigilantism. But in Spider-Man, it’s simply a hard to believe coincidence (even if you’ve bought into a man who can stick to walls and swing from webs) that Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) was bitten by a radioactive spider the very same night that Norman Osborn accidentally turns himself into a crazy super soldier to save his company. Ridiculous!
Mending this storytelling shortfall, Oscorp is behind all the foes Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker faces, whether that be an overreaction or not. Certainly qualifying the company that Norman Osborn built a spot on this list!
6. InGen from the The Lost World: Jurassic Park & Jurassic World
InGen didn’t seem like such a bad company when John Hammond was around. But since he hit his death bed, other forces within the corporation have put profits above human safety… and worse.
It starts with Hammond’s nephew in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, who will stop at nothing to grab dinosaurs out of their new “natural” habitat on Isla Sorna, a.k.a. “Site B” and present them to the masses. Even when the star exhibit, a full grown T-Rex, wrecks havoc in San Diego.
Even worse, Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong) and Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofiro) clearly have a real shady deal going on behind the scenes of the theme park, Jurassic World. Hoskin’s obsession with military applications for carnivores and Dr. Wu’s gene-splicing skills offer even more trouble than in the 1st Jurassic World film, paving the way for a trilogy of InGen’s evil doings!
5. S.P.E.C.T.R.E. from the 007 Franchise
No matching tattoos here, but of course Agents of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. have matching jewelry!
S.P.E.C.T.R.E. has been on the big screen longer than any other Nefarious Organization on this list, originating in Sean Connery’s days only to be revived this year in Daniel Craig’s world. S.P.E.C.T.R.E. stands for Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion (like with do-gooder organization S.H.I.E.L.D., someone just really wanted to spell SPECTRE, albeit incorrectly).
Now, if you read my review for SPECTRE, you know the film was lacking… a lot. In fact, S.P.E.C.T.R.E., the supposed ultimate Nefarious Organization of all time, doesn’t get its due in the 2015 007 film. While Daniel Craig’s 007 movies have improved on every aspect of the character from Casino Royale through Skyfall, S.P.E.C.T.R.E. does not live up to the organization Connery built (well, fought) back in the 60’s.
Perhaps if the film SPECTRE was better, this ultimate Evil Organization would have landed on the better half of the list. After all, it is the original shadow group with tentacles in every countries government on all ends of the globe, controlling resources, governments, and intelligence rather than always seeking to start WWIII like later Bond villains.
And that’s a wrap! For now… Check back later when I reveal The Top 4 Nefarious Organizations in Cinema, including H.Y.D.R.A. and The First Order, formally the Galactic Empire!
SPECTRE is a mixed bag; not as well crafted as Casino Royale or Skyfall, but less muddled than Quantum of Solace.
There be SPOILERS ahead, so read with extreme caution.
On the one hand, Daniel Craig’s 007 has finally fully blossomed into the more traditional James Bond we know and love. He is less “Blunt Instrument” and more charming and suave like his predecessors, still not completely losing his more realistic, brutal style that defines Craig’s outings as 007. The world of James Bond is also completely in place, with a new M, Moneypenny, and Q all present at MI6 after three films spent establishing the classic hero’s “origins.”
Yet, we’re not completely done with Bond’s past in SPECTRE, as the film does try to build on what Skyfall started, filling in more gaps in Bond’s upbringing, never explored in the films preceding Craig’s tenure as 007. In this case, Bond was raised by Oberhauser Sr. alongside the man’s own son (Christoph Waltz), a son who will become Bond’s “greatest” foe due to jealousy that his father treated James better than his own flesh and blood.
Whereas Skyfall used Bond’s past extremely effectively to tell a unique story we’d never seen, SPECTRE‘s use of Bond’s past almost feels forced. Does it matter that Oberhauser, aka Ernest Blofeld (duh), was jealous of Bond as a child? Does the head of the organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E. being briefly raised with James Bond add anything to the story? Not really. Blofeld was an effective villain long before this “reboot” of his character and his connection to Bond feels as forced as Sandman’s unnecessary connection to Uncle Ben’s death in Spider-Man 3. Even though the personal element is the key to my favorite 007 villains (Silva from Skyfall and Alec Trevelyan from Goldeneye), it’s simply not necessary to make Blofeld and the organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E. work as effective villains.
Daniel Craig behaving with more class alongside a complete roster of MI6 allies isn’t all that makes SPECTRE feel more like classic Bond than any of Daniel Craig’s other outings as the Super Spy. The movie throws shout-outs to classic Bond scenes and villains even more so than Skyfall, giving us a lot of images 007 fans will eat up, but bringing with it some clunky scenes and plot points.
The whole production design seeks to recall classic Bond, from the White Tuxedo Craig stole from Sean Connery’s shriveled old body to sets that really recall S.P.E.C.T.R.E. bases and meetings of the old. You’ve at least seen the trailer: the film nails the classic look of cultish S.P.E.C.T.R.E. meetings from the Connery films. Blofeld’s secret hide-out also looks like today’s version of an old set, nailing what we expect from a Bond villain’s lair.
Some of these classic elements and images are great! Dave Bautista plays a baddie who would feel right at home fighting Connery; one of the film’s strengths! Likewise, before the reveal that Oberhauser has renamed himself Blofeld, we get to see the classic white cat jump right on James’ lap! How’s that for classic S.P.E.C.T.R.E. imagery?
The 1st half the film’s weakness is that the pace and action scenes feel “classic” as well. Gone is the realism and brutality of the action sequences that made Casino Royale, Skyfall… and even Quantum of Solace memorable. The opening action scene with an impressive helicopter stunt is exciting, but it’s not as original as Casino Royale‘s parkour chase, not as intense as the opening car chase from Quantum, or as perfectly over-the-top as Skyfall‘s most impressive 007 film opening ever. In fact, there does come a car chase in the 1st half of the film which feels sluggish compared to the visceral brutality of the aforementioned chase that opened Quatum of Solace.
Thankfully, the 2nd half the film brings the action back to Daniel Craig quality, starting with the very impressive fight between the mismatched James Bond and Buatisa’s giant character on the train. From this scene the film pivots into higher quality scenes all around, from much improved action sequences in comparison to said car chase or the plane chase in Austria, to better use of Christoph Waltz’s talents when he finally reveals himself fully to Bond.
Though just as talented as Javier Bardem who played Silva in Skyfall, Waltz seems underutilized in the very same way Sean Harris was in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Bardem was given plenty of screen time to establish him as a fantastic, eccentric yet dangerous villain of legend, while Bautista is a flat, albeit effective placeholder so that Waltz’s character can lie in the shadows. But, like I said, he spends too much time in the shadows to be truly effective.
There’s actually quite a bit in common with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation that doesn’t do SPECTRE any favors. In addition to villains that deserved more screen-time but ran shadow organizations (Rogue Nation’s “The Syndicate” is more or less S.P.E.C.T.R.E.), both films hinge on the plot point that the hero’s spy organization is being shut down with 00 Agents being put out of work in SPECTRE just as Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Crusie) IMF being shuttered in Mission: Impossible. Simply bad timing on SPECTRE’s part.
Look, it’s not all gloom and doom! Though I’ve cut SPECTRE down a peg, it’s still an enjoyable James Bond movie, even if it doesn’t live up to Skyfall or the story you could tell based on the film’s namesake organization. Andrew Scott (Moriarty on BBC’s Sherlock) is brilliant as a sort of secondary villain hidden in plain sight. Blofeld and his organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E. still make for great villains, even neither hits their full potential. And, though forced, it is a cool idea that Waltz is behind all the villains Daniel Craig has faced previously (even if Quantum‘s villain is only mentioned once… barely). Plus, how many 007 films let the villain live? Besides Mr. White? We may be seeing Blofeld again (please!).
Definitely see SPECTRE if you like Daniel Craig’s Bond films… or any of the others for that matter! Though SPECTRE fails to reach its full potential, there is still a lot for a Bond fan to love!
Goldeneye was my favorite 007 movie until the age of Daniel Craig. Oddly enough, I’d seen several Bond movies before Goldeneye, including the more recent Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough, and it was the Nintendo 64 game of the same name that lead me to the movie. And though Gamers can all agree Goldeneye is a great game, it’s an even better movie!
Goldeneye was released in 1995, the 1st 007 movie following the collapse of the Soviet Union… who had served as the main Bond villains since SMERSH in Sean Connery’s days. The franchise had laid dormant between films for the longest period on record, returning with a new M played by Judi Dench and a new 007 for the 90’s, Pierce Brosnan.
The movie doesn’t age as well as Connery’s films, laced with cheesy 90’s music in a few ridiculous scenes; especially the car race (not chase) between Bond and Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen). Look, another great, cheesy “Bond girl” name!
All that taken into consideration, Goldeneye is my 3rd favorite Bond movie due to it’s amazing villain (either my favorite or second favorite 007 villain… it’s hard to lock it down) and just as incredible plot.
Sean Bean plays 006, Alec Trevelyn, left to die by Pierce Brosnan in the 1st scene only to return as head of a master-plan to use the Goldeneye weapons satellite with an EMP device that could cripple a city. No world domination here. As James suggests, Trevelyn is a common thief, though the former 006 has something bigger planned; erasing all the bank records and the like by turning the Goldeneye satellite on London.
Similar to Robert Shaw in From Russia With Love, 006/Alec Trevelyn is the ultimate doppelganger, a former partner of Bond’s, with his skill-set, charm, and even the very same gadgets (though his watch provided by Q branch is a slightly older model). Sean Bean is one of my favorite actors due to this role and he’s the perfect man to play the ultimate anti-007 (Bean was on the shortlist to play 007 when Brosnan got the gig).
2. Casino Royale
Casino Royale reinvented 007 in a way that no other new Bond actor ever did. Borrowing heavily from the Bourne franchise, Daniel Craig wasn’t just the 1st blond Bond, he was the most brutal. M calls Craig’s 007 “a blunt instrument,” not the sophisticated Bond we were accustomed to. This darker, more realistic take on 007 was a direct response to how cheesy the Pierce Brosnan movies had gotten by Die Another Day.
In an era of dark reboots, including Batman Begins, the ruthless Daniel Craig 007 was a welcome change. We get to see James Bond become the 007 we know and love today… and get to see again on November 6th! Take this exchange for example of where Daniel Craig’s Bond starts:
“Shaken or stirred?”
“Do I look like I give a damn?”
The Vesper (Eva Green) origin tale is the 1st time the franchise had dabbled in 007’s past (the 1st book of the franchise, Casino Royale could only be made into a movie through a partnership with Sony) and boy-howdy did it make the decades old character more interesting than ever before! We get to see why he treats women like playthings and trusts no one. Though he is not fully the 007 we know by the end of the film, he does earn the words:
“The name’s Bond, James Bond.”
The movie’s plot is simple, but great; again, we’re not talking about starting World War III or using a Nuclear Device. Plus, the idea of a shady organization that will become Quantum… and the SPECTRE is immediatly introudced and wonderfully explored: Bond doesn’t even get a chance to kill Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), who is an interesting villain in his own right as he “cries” blood. Instead, Mr. White cleans up his own mess.
The groundwork is laid for great characters that carried over to Quantum of Solace (as discussed last time), including CIA Agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), ally Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini), and Mr. White. Of course, M is back as well, but she remains Dame Judi Dench… for now. Q and Moneypenny are absent, but that’s why Skyfall exists!
Casino Royale also brings back the detective element from Dr. No in a way it hasn’t been explored in 50 years. Though the film has excellent action set-pieces, it’s really about 007 following a series of clues that lead him to a poker game with only the highest of stake. He’s a true detective in this one.
I reuse this joke from Pineapple Express too often, but if Goldeneye had a baby with Casino Royale, then you’ve got Skyfall. (Whew, didn’t have to use the part about “the result of baby fucking.”)
Simply put, Skyfall is the best written, directed, and acted 007 film. It even includes a bunch of winks to old-school Bond; the film being released on the 50th anniversary of the film franchise.
Right off the bat we’re treated to the greatest pre-credits sequence yet; Bond chasing down a villain with MI6 secrets, first with a motorcycle on building rooftops and ending up on top of a train with 007 being shot by Moneypenny (Naomie Harris). The movie continues at a pace somewhere between the slower Casino Royale and the non-stop action of Quantum of Solace.
Silva (Javier Bardem) is the villain I said earlier I can’t decide if I like more or less than Alec Trevelyn. In fact, Silva and 006 have a lot in common; both are former agents who worked for M, though Silva never worked with Bond, so he has less in common with 007 than 006 did. Regardless, his hatred/obsession with M, a mother of sorts that betrayed him and left him to die, drives his madness, even causing him to compare 007 to himself as the other “survivor” or “rat.” In fact, Silva’s speech about how his grandmother rid her island of rats is one of the strongest villain monologues in recent cinema.
His rat metaphor is the delicious glue (I know… you’re not supposed to eat glue…) that holds the story together. Again, we have an incredibly small plot when compared to the days of Pierce Brosnan; Silva just wants to kill M… and himself… at the same time. 007 is just the man in the way.
Through his protection of M, we learn more about Bond’s past, which of course is one of Casino Royale‘s strengths, taking us to Skyfall, James Bond’s childhood home. We get to see the grave markers of his parents including “Andrew Bond,” putting to rest the silly fan theory that James Bond is a code-name like 007, not each actor’s character’s actual name. How silly!
by the end of the Skyfall, the final pieces of the James Bond universe fall into place with a new Q (Ben Whinshaw), the aforementioned Moneypenny, and a brand new M (Ralph Fiennes).
My only gripe, and it’s a small one, is that there is no mention of Quantum or any mysterious organization, something that is present in the three other Daniel Craig starring films. But, honestly, that would have muddled the film’s perfect plot and pacing
Besides, the trailer for SPECTRE suggests that Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) and Quantum/SPECTRE have been behind all of 007’s pain. So, when SPECTRE drops on November 6th here in the states, we’ll know exactly what pain Oberhauser and SPECTRE have wrought!
It’s mid-October, so we are merely weeks away from what will likely (hopefully?) be one of the greatest Bond movies, SPECTRE.
Don’t count my chickens before they hatch, you say?
Let’s start counting anyway! You have Daniel Craig, the best 007 (don’t crucify me for that, just because Sean Connery played James Bond 1st, doesn’t automatically make him the best), director Sam Mendes hot off Skyfall, and Academy Award Winning villain actor Javier Bardem replaced by an equally (if not more) enjoyable double Oscar Winner Christoph Waltz. What could go wrong? Hell, SPECTRE has Dave Bautista of Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy fame playing a very classic feeling henchman with some flavor.
Again, I’m counting unhatched Indominus Rexs… err… chickens before they hatch. But at least I have these seven hatch-lings: The 7 Best 007 movies from Dr. No through Skyfall.
In order to keep this post a manageable length, we’ll cover my 7th favorite through 4th.
7. Dr. No
The very 1st 007 film, Dr. No sets most the pieces in place for a franchise that has gone strong (mostly… mostly) for 50 years. Sean Connery clearly establishes the tone for all the James Bond actors that followed (even Daniel Craig’s less-sophisticated, more “blunt instrument” portrayal).
Dr. No‘s real strength is showing us the super-spy/detective side of 007, with less gadgets but a perfect Bond Girl in name and body – Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder – as well as a villain that sets the tone of all the SPECTRE and SMERSH eccentric agents that follow – Joseph Wiseman as the title character, Dr. No.
The focus on 007’s skills as a spy and detective aren’t featured as front-and-center again until Casino Royale. My favorite scene, which really sets up Bond’s skill-set, comes when he places a hair on the door to his hotel room, allowing him to tell if his room was entered and tampered with. No film that follows has shown cool spy techniques in the same way as Dr. No, instead focusing on faster paced stories with more action, gadgets, and sexy women.
The franchise is still finding it’s footing at this point, almost a rough draft of the franchise before Goldfinger established the franchise’s more popular and enduring elements.
6. Quantum of Solace
I know, I know, Quantum of Solace is a pretty dumb Bond movie when it comes to the writing and overall plot; nearly a phoned in 007 film like all but one of Pierce Brosnan’s adventures. I blame the writer’s strike for that, though the film is still enjoyable as hell, even with its faults.
I argue Quantum of Solace is the perfect companion piece to Casino Royale; the latter serving as a slower story re-introducing the character and his origin with Vesper (Eva Green) and the former balancing it out with full-on action in every scene and the continuation of whatever Mr. White’s organization was in Casino Royale. Quantum is also one of the only “direct-sequels” that references and builds off the previous Bond film, giving it an extra element of intrigue. That means we also get more character/actor carryover from one film to the next with Jesper Christensen back as the aforementioned Mr. White, Jeffrey Wright back as Felix Leiter, and even Giancarlo Giannini as Rene Mathis.
Spoiler Alert (not), the shady organization is called Quantum (hence one of the franchise’s worst titles) and will eventually become SPECTRE (the studio making 007 films didn’t have the rights to the name SPECTRE at the time). I love the set-up for this organization that has infiltrated every government, starting with Mr. White escaping and continuing with the reveal of Quantum at the Opera (one of the franchise’s most artistic scenes).
Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene (yes, apparently all Quantum agents have colorful last names… literally) is an underrated villain with his eccentricities and role within the Quantum organization. The final action scene is the film’s 2nd best, with Greene showing the rodent he is in the sloppy/angry battle with 007 that has him slicing his own foot with an axe. Plus, there was something weird going on between him and his #1 henchman, that was never unnecessarily explained.
Goldfinger is the 1st Bond film to have ALL the elements in place. Q-branch gadgets like a car with an ejector seat. A Bond girl with a not-so-subtle name, Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman). Another title super-villain – Gert Fröbe as Auric Goldfinger, with a strange obsession with gold, a laser, and a ridiculously amazing evil-plan. The 1st amazing henchman, Oddjob (Harold Sakata), who throws a sharp hat (no, not a shoe… that was Random Task in Austin Powers). And that classic dialogue.
“Do you expect me to talk?”
“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”
Everything we’ve watched for the last 50 years that wasn’t established in Dr. No, was put in place by Goldfinger; the ultimate Bond formula to stick to.
Those Goldfinger Fans looking forward to SPECTRE will likely recognize Daniel Craig’s new getup on the poster is borrowed from Sean Connery in the above photo.
4. From Russia With Love
From Russia With Love has one of the greatest SPECTRE agents 007 has ever faced, Robert Shaw (of Jaws fame) playing Grant, 007’s perfect doppelganger. And there is not archetype of villain I enjoy more than a doppelganger; a villain that reflects the hero in nearly every way. Robert Shaw’s character really is the opposite side of the Sean Connery coin. Dashing, brutal, and just serving his “country” (or, rather, organization).
No scene in the film sticks out in my mind like the train sequence between Sean Connery and Robert Shaw, one of the most classic showdowns in 007’s history.
So that’s a start; my 4th through 7th favorite 007 films.
Well, here’s my jam until November 6th when SPECTRE comes out in America!
Like Adele’s theme for Skyfall, titled “Skyfall,” Sam Smith’s “Writing’s On The Wall” sounds like a traditional Bond theme right off the bat. Those strong horns, some sensual singing, and catchy spy-type lyrics. And the undercurrent of the Bond theme interwoven.
Even more than “Skyfall,” Sam Smith’s “Writings on the Wall” sounds like an old-school 007 song from Connery’s era… the last time the super spy had to deal with the evil organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E.
The song follows the two Bond themes preceding ‘Skyfall” in not naming the song after the film (a recent, but not just current, irregularity for the franchise); like Casino Royale‘s “You Know My Name” and Quantum of Solace‘s “Another Way To Die.” “SPECTRE” isn’t even a lyric.
Listen to it now! And keep listening ’til November 6th (if you’re stuck in the U.S.).
Earlier this week we were introduced to “The Syndicate,” a terrorist organization that is “The Ant-IMF” (Impossible Mission Force) in the trailer for ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.’ In an effort not to be forgotten as the OG terrorist/anti-spy organization, the first teaser trailer for ‘007: SPECTRE has arrived.’
Watch it now below.
This does seem to be the follow up to Bond’s greatest adventure, ‘Skyfall,’ that we deserve. From the start we follow up on the event that took place at Bond’s childhood home, introducing a secret that seems to suggest Bond had a brother or was raised with another boy. From there, things get chilling and epic as Bond is introduced into the belly of S.P.E.C.T.R.E., his destiny, as told by Christoph Waltz, possible Blofeld of the new age S.P.E.C.T.R.E.
Why do I believe classic 007 baddie Blofeld was raised with Bond? Let’s look at the evidence.
First, the film’s official synopsis a la IMDB:
“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.”
That photograph. Two boys, one adult male figure. That seems to be at least our MacGuffin leading to said cryptic message from Bond’s past. This secret, the trailer clearly posses, is why did Bond hide this childhood relation?
Also on IMDB, Christoph Waltz is credited as Oberhauser. Why is this important. Read the below excert from the James Bond Wiki:
“Hannes Oberhauser taught climbing and skiing in Kitzbühel before World War II. He even taught James Bond during his youth while he was on term breaks while attending Fettes College. He formed a very strong paternal relationship with James, to such an extent that he later referred to him as his second father. After the annexation of Austria and outbreak of war with Great Britain he was drafted into the Gestapo, probably due to his ability to speak English.”
I believe Christoph Waltz’s character to be Hannes Oberhauser’s son, raised side-by-side with James Bond after the death of Bond’s parents in this update of the original material. Of course, Waltz’s character is the man in the shadows at the head of SPECTRE and he’s been waiting. Waiting for Bond.
This teaser is a strong first look at SPECTRE, Bond’s latest adventure. We see cool locales, the third appearance of Mr. White who obviously is an agent (or former agent) of SPECTRE, and the cult-like room where SPECTRE meets.
I’m pleased to see that all the Bond movies in the Daniel Craig era are interconnected. It makes it all a more fun ride.
I’ve been worried Javier Bardem in ‘Skyfall’ would be impossible to top as a villain, but Academy Award winner having Christoph Waltz playing practically the ant-Bond looks like it has a shot to be a fair followup.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… 2015 is going to be fucking ridiculous… when it comes to the year’s movie slate.
There’s a lot to gush about; new movies in classic franchises like ‘Jurassic World,’ ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ ‘Mad Max: Fury Road, ‘ ‘007: SPECTRE’ and ‘Terminator Genisys.’ Following Marvel’s most successful year, when it came to quality of movies, we have a sequel to 2012’s ‘The Avengers’ as well as the origin story of a new Avenger in ‘Ant-Man.’ Even 20th Century Fox is shilling a non-X-Men Marvel property in the form of their ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot.
But what looks the best? What are the 7 movies I really can’t wait to see (couldn’t narrow it down to 5…)? Can I put them in order?
Yes I can, other Nick. Yes I can.
7. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
While several of the titles I used in my intro don’t make the list at all, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ (formally ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’) gets the bottom spot.
We haven’t seen much footage at all, I work at the movie theater and have seen the trailer a dozen times in 3D and the final scene still makes me nauseous, and it’s so damn far away in comparison to most the titles on my list.
Plus… we’ve all played this ‘Star Wars’ anticipation game before and it backfired, horribly.
I’m actually a fan of the new lightsaber! And I know the trailer is supposed to showcase new characters in classic vehicles and uniforms (the stormtrooper armor), which were fun to see, but I want to see Han Solo, dammit!
Great trailer, but still a hard sell. The trailer jumps back and forth from a darker tone akin to that of ‘Captain America: Winter Soldier’ to the comedy stylings of Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man (but still not ‘Guardians’ funny).
The trailer does look awesome; only those flying ant scenes seem questionable, even though it’s an image straight from the comics. I like the mostly serious tone of the trailer, anchored by a pretty great speech by Michael Douglas as Hank Pym.
What’s the most unique thing about ‘Ant-Man’ when compared to the other Avengers in the MCU? He’s the only every-man in the group of billionaire science genius, another scientist who turned himself green, an every-man who leaves that life behind when he gets a super-soldier serum, and a God.
Sure, Capt. did start an every-man, but even with the suit and powers of Ant-Man, Scott Lang seems grounded, even leaving his super-suit hanging in the shower.
Oh, and he has a daughter; a first for nearly any superhero franchise. The only exception I can think of is Sandman in ‘Spider-Man 3.’ A similar situation is going on here (and will hopefully go better) with criminal Lang stealing for his family and becoming the hero his daughter thinks he is. Ant-Man is not saving his world, he’s saving ours.
5. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 5
We haven’t seen any footage yet, but Tom Cruise’s new stunt is ko-ko-bananas, even in comparison to his scaling the tallest building in the world in the last installment, ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.’
3 out of the 4 films in this franchise have been better than good; theeeeeey’re GREAT!
While the first is the best, ‘Ghost Protocol’ was a very strong entry that revitalized the franchise and introduced us to team members Benji (Simon Pegg) and Brandt (Jeremy Renner). Joining them this time is Luthor (Ving Rhames) who has been on Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) task force every film except ‘Ghost Protocol.’
Only reservation is the director: Christopher McQuarrie. Though he wrote ‘Usual Suspects’ and last year’s ‘Edge of Tomorrow,’ he also directed ‘Jack Reacher’ which was a terrible Tom Cruise thriller.
4. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Tom Hardy is Mad Max! The trailer is glorious! There’s more stunt-work than you can shake a stick at, something very rare in Hollywood. Boom!
Sure, there’s plenty of CGI as well, but most that exploding carnage is done the old fashioned way with stuntmen and actual pyrotechnics!
3. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
You would think this would be at the top of my list (I thought so! Especially after the first trailer…), but my excitement has waned and worry has found a foothold in my brain.
Let’s be honest here, ‘The Avengers’ is in my top 3 MCU movies (with ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Winter Soldier’) mainly because it was literally a game-changer. It was the first cross-pollination of superheroes, part of a shared universe, coming together after each carried their own franchises. Everyone else is still trying to pull this off, including DC Entertainment. The plot wasn’t that great, action scenes were few and far between, but the movie will always be remembered for bringing Earth’s Mightiest Heroes together.
‘Age of Ultron’ will need to step up its game to reach the quality of movies Marvel Studios put out in 2014. Likewise, it better be bigger and better, which it appears to be, but I hope that a great storyteller like Joss Whedon can avoid the movie from becoming a jumbled mess; cause there is A LOT going on between the two official trailers.
I also hope it’s good enough to avoid the fate of ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ (which I personally love) where most people were disappointed by the film, mainly because it had to follow the incredibly beloved ‘Dark Knight.’
In James Spader I trust.
2. 007: SPECTRE
This may be blasphemy, but ‘Skyfall’ is my favorite Bond movie… ever. It was so fucking good, bringing in the best 007 baddie of all time (Javier Bardem), and shaking up the 007 universe a bit.
The writers and director, Sam Mendes, from ‘Skyfall’ return and the title promises the revival of the terrorist organization SPECTRE (formally ‘Quantum’ in the D. Craig movies), as classic to the franchise as Vesper Martinis, shaken, not stirred.
Better yet? The villain cast is unbelievable with Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’) as a henchman, the incomparable Christoph Waltz (whose villainy can only be matched by Javier Bardem), and my personal favorite, Andrew Scott whose portrayal of Moriarty on BBC’s ‘Sherlock’ is perhaps the greatest TV villain of all time.
1. JURASSIC WORLD
It’s just too damn nostalgic. While I’ve watched the ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ trailer a million times and have had enough, I can still watch the ‘Jurassic World’ trailer anywhere, anytime.
We’re back on Isla Nublar! The movie is sticking close to the original and ignoring the sequels! Chris Pratt gets to hunt a new hybrid-dinosaur! There are child siblings in peril! Velociraptors!
And those notes from John Williams’ classic score… magic. Lightning in a bottle, at least as far as we can tell from the trailer!
EXTREME SPOILERS AHEAD FOR AVENGERS, DARK KNIGHT RISES, AND SKYFALL.
Possible SPOILERS for any other films referenced.
We’ve finally reached 2012, a year full of great villains! Perhaps the best year for antagonists in this modern age!
All of 2012’s “Terrible 3” fit the mold I discussed in previous posts of “A Better Class of Criminal” (Part II, Part III). All 3 deserve to be on the list of 100 greatest villains ever; any other year, each would be the highlight due to less steep competition from the other 2.
Loki (Tom Hiddleson), THE AVENGERS
Loki is the weakest of the 2012 “Terrible 3,” yet he is still fan-diddily-tastic and miles above most antagonists on the silver screen (technically, billions of miles above, since he is from Asgard…).
Let’s tick the boxes off for the traits we’ve already covered ad nauseum…
1) Loki has a mastermind of a plan. The demi-God is always on step ahead of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers, and even his own brother, Thor. More specific, like great villains past (think the Joker), his plan involves being captured in order to destroy the Avengers from the inside. In his case, he wants a shot at the monster S.H.I.E.L.D. brought on their own Hellicarrier, Bruce Banner aka the Hulk.
Even past his capture and escape, Loki is a step ahead of Captain America and team, setting up at Stark Tower before even Tony Stark realizes it.
2) Loki loves his work. He smiles so often, with such evil and glee, even when things look there worst for him. My personal favorite is the smile Loki pops off while “removing” a man’s eyeball before he first encounters Captain America in Germany.
He smiles when he arrives on our planet, as Thor threatens him, as he watches Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America clash, as he passes Banner’s lab in cuffs, as he threatens Black Widow, and even when Tony Stark taunts him in the third act. Loki’s having so much fun he can’t contain himself.
As a result, so do we! A lot of credit has to go to the actor, Tom Hiddleson, on this one. As written, Loki could be played more seriously, but Hiddleson nails Loki’s playfulness.
3) Speech! Speech! – Loki may not have a unique voice like his predecessor, The Joker, or his successor, Bane, but he can still deliver quite the evil speech.
To the people of Germany:
“Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity, that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.”
To Black Widow:
“I won’t touch Barton. Not until I make him kill you! Slowly, intimately, in every way he knows you fear! And then he’ll wake just long enough to see his good work, and when he screams, I’ll split his skull! This is my bargain, you mewling quim!”
“Enough! You are, all of you are beneath me! I am a god, you dull creature, and I shall not be bullied by…”
4) Loki is unique. Sure, we’ve seen many super-villains over the years, but Loki is a God/Alien. He considers himself a fallen king, driven mad by the power of the Tesseract and envy of Thor. He sees the human race as ants, something very few to no villains mentioned previously feel. After all, even those like Norman Osbourne aka the Green Goblin, who sees himself as above regular people, was human himself before experimentation.
5) Loki makes it personal. He attacks the Avengers “where they live” (according to Tony Stark), killing friend of the team Agent Phil Coulson.
Bane (Tom Hardy) , THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
I argue that Bane is an even stronger Nolan Batman baddie than Joker… and most people call me a fool.
Joker may have tested Batman’s one rule… and corrupted Gotham’s White Knight, Harvey Dent… but BANE BROKE THE BAT! And held Gotham hostage for months, keeping the entire US government at bay.
My favorite scene in Nolan’s entire DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY is Bane and Batman’s initial fight in the sewers. Not only is the action perfectly brutal, leading to the destruction of Batman – the final moment true to the exact panel from the comic – but every line Bane utters during the fight is gold; instantly classic. Both the writing, and the all important delivery by the extraordinary Tom Hardy make the scene the best of the comic-book-movie crop:
“Not as serious as [your mistake], I fear…
Let’s not stand on ceremony here, Mr. Wayne.
Peace has cost you your strength. Victory has defeated you!
Theatricality and deception. Powerful agents to the uninitiated. But we are initiated, aren’t we Bruce? Members of the League of Shadows. And you betrayed us!…
I am the League of Shadows! I’m here to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny!
You fight like a younger man with nothing held back. Admirable, but mistaken.
Oh, you think the darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man. By then it was nothing to me but blinding!
The shadows betray you, because they belong to me!
I will show you where I have made my home whilst preparing to bring justice to Gotham… Then I will break you.
Your precious armory, gratefully accepted. We will need it.
Ah yes, I was wondering what would break first… your spirit… or your body?!?!”
CLICK “READ MORE” BELOW FOR MORE BANE GOODNESS! NOW WITH SILVA FROM SKYFALL!
While surfing the web on this all-nighter, transistioning me from a closing shift to an opening one at AMC, someone on reddit, I came across a post where a fellow geek believe M and Silva to be James Bond’s biological parents. Which spurred me on to finally write another one of my ideas about the film…
If anything, Bond and Silva are metaphorical brothers.
Trust me, I’ve seen the film 5 and 1/2 times.
Silva is the older brother who couldn’t understand mother’s “call” aka his punishment for playing it too loose with the Chinese. Bond is the similarly disobedient younger son, though when he step outside “mother’s” wishes it is always for the good of Queen, Country, and MI6.
007 is put through a similar trial as his “older brother” – one that tests his faith in MI6 and M – yet he comes out the other-side as loyal as ever.
M trusts Bond due to this loyalty. She can have him shot, leave him in North Korea to be tortured, let him disappear and disobey orders, send him into the field when he is not at his peak… all because Bond will do ANYTHING to complete the mission. He’s the “son” who always returns.
Silva’s trials warped him, just as the arsenic tablet burned his insides. He was not the agent M thought him to be.
“At least I did something right,” M says this (or something similar) before she dies. Silva may (or may not) have ever been her favorite (she won’t admit it… aside the subtext of the final line), but now Bond has grown from an orphan into the best agent (“Orphans always make the best recruits.”). Her best “son.”
Silva obviously thinks of her as “mother,” he says it one way or another, many times. A mother who needs to be punished for betraying her “favorite” son, only to find a new favorite in Bond (after all Silva makes a point when 007 is tied to the chair, that it is about the three of them, not just he and M).
They are brother “rats” as mother “made” them.
Silva simply has fun playing with his younger brother while chasing his main prize. He even offers his “brother” a chance to join him, make his own missions. But Bond becomes less fun and more than just a silly annoyance when he stops Silva one too many times.
Bonds thoughts as M as surrogate mother are always hinted at, but made real when Bond mourns her passing. Very unlike this colder, new age 007. Even Vesper didn’t get that much grief.
SKYFALL is about two bothers, competing to save/murder their not-so-beloved mother.
Have you noticed a trend in your favorite blockbusters of late (well… “of late” meaning “the past 5 years or so…”)?
Are your villains more interesting? Do the actors portraying them have past Oscar nominations and/or can they overcome the action-movie stigma to achieve at least pipe-dreams of one? Are these bad guys crazier than normal? You know, more unique with a funny voice or passion for mayhem?
If you answered yes to any of those absurd questions, perhaps you, like me, feel that the past decade has produced some of the most memorable and unique villains in the history of cinema. (No, not just memorable because they’re recent, memorable because they’re so good it feels like they have some real staying power.)
2012 alone has been particularly giving, including last weekend’s SKYFALL, anchored by villain Javier Bardem. I’d like to take this time in “movie villain history” to recall past favorite villains of mine and compare them to the current crop that catch audience’s eyes for their originality (like Bane… that is some really bizarre shit).
Patterns will quickly emerge, suggesting that these modern villains we love to love for their originality, actually share quite a bit in common with one another. It’s less that each breaks the mold, more that each fits the current mold; a mold that itself has evolved from what came before. Even the mold is not original, it has simply built on our past, perfecting the traits of a great villains past rather than inventing them.
My personal favorite antagonists from decades past range from those widely-considered classics to a few lesser appreciated gems (especially recently)*:
*I am a lover of film, but I am also only 24 years old, so I apologize if my naturally limited knowledge of films before the 70s cause me to leave out an obvious villain for this list. Likewise, I am writing this all in one night (instead of sleeping); I’m confident that later today I will be like “oh fuck, I can’t believe I forgot ___________!”
*Also, to set up some sort of limits as to what qualifies as a villain/antagonist/bad guy, I’ve decided to draw the line at live-action man. No sharks a la JAWS, dinosaurs a la JURASSIC PARK, no machines a la 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, and no animated baddies like Gollum. After all, though many (including myself) would argue three of the four preceding examples are incredibly emotive/iconic in their execution, are they really the same as an actor doin’ their thang’?
*Finally, to simplify shit even further, I eliminated any characters who may be imaginary, a la FIGHT CLUB.
TOP CLASSIC BADDIES
1964 – Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) – Really set the mold for the classic Bond villain better than DR. NO and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE had established before. Besides keeping a light and witty rapport with the hero, Goldfinger seems to take great pleasure in his own eccentricities, something we will see time and time again in the Bond universe and elsewhere.
It is this pleasure in action I am trying to drive home today, this aspect that is essential for an interesting antagonist today.
1977, 1980, 1983 – Darth Vader, uhhhh I’m not even gonna say what movie he’s from cause I’m insulted – Obvious choice. No one is more ruthless than him. None more iconic. He’ll death grip the shit out of his own men. And look great doing it. The guy to imitate when it comes to getting results from your henchmen.
And even back in his day we were using tricks like interesting voices and masks (again, see Bane) to give villains identity in a world full of ’em.
1981 – Dr. Rene Belloq (Paul Freeman), RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK – Rene Belloq is my favorite type of villain, the doppelganger; that is, a baddie who is very similar to our hero/nearly the mirror opposite. Belloq and Indiana Jones are both archaeologists, peers in their field, but they differ in methods. As Belloq tells Jones, “I am but a shadowy reflection of you, it would take only a nudge to make you like me.”
1982 – Khan (Ricardo Montalban), STAR TREK II: WRATH OF KHAN – It never hurts to make it personal, not for the audience at least.
Not JAWS 3 or TAKEN-I-want-my-daughter personal. More like the villain feels as though the protagonist has personally wronged them, personal. So, rather than the good guy going on a rampage limited by what makes him a good guy, you have a sadistic madman who don’t give a shit ’bout no’body out to settle a score, and no one will stand in his way. When this happens, there are no Innocent and the world (and/or the universe) burns.
So is the case with Kahn who seeks revenge on Kirk for marooning him on a baron planet, and so will be the case with one of the top villains of 2012.
1987 – Joshua (Gary Busey) with an assist by Endo, LETHAL WEAPON – Joshua is perfect parts crazy and loyal as proved by the classic flame-to-arm scene. Besides, it’s hard to forget that crazy cop on crazy mercenary beat-down with Riggs (Mel Gibson). Joshua would also be considered a doppelganger for Riggs (noticing some patterns here?).
And as far as Endo goes, one need only quote Mr. Joshua, “Endo here has forgotten more about dispensing pain than you and I will ever know.”
Live or die by that reputation, Endo.
Live or die.
1988 – Hans Gruber, DIE HARD – Fine, I admit that so far, very few of my choice are controversial or unknown. Don’t worry, that comes later, like in the 90s where nostalgia clouds my judgement.
Characters popular in the 80s are in-proportionality represented on this list because it’s a personal favorite time period in cinema. Like today, villains were quirky and took great joy in their “work.” Gruber didn’t just have a killer, well thought-out master-plan; he also had fun! (Sound familiar?)
1989 – The Joker (Jack Nicholson), BATMAN – Really, who has more fun killing people than the Joker? The Joker is supposed to be having the time of his life, even when things don’t go according to plan. Jack doesn’t disappoint, though his version still pales in comparison to that of Mark Hamill. Goddamn it though if the man doesn’t commit.
1989 – The South African Consulate’s Minister of Affairs and his Henchmen, LETHAL WEAPON 2 – “Diplomatic Immunity,” really says it all, don’t it?
(Answer: “Yes, it don’t. It really don’t.”)
A little advice, don’t kill the hot South African chick Riggs is fucking AND THEN tell him you murdered his wife. That is, unless you want your house pulled down a mountain.
That shit’s just super personal, and Riggs goes the appropriate amount of ape shit, like 007 post-Vesper.
NOSTALGIA SETS IN: VILLAINS FROM MY FORMATIVE YEARS
1995 – Alec Trevelyan aka 006 aka Janus (Sean Bean), GOLDENEYE – There’s a reason 006 was/possibly is still my favorite Bond villain. Again, everything’s super-personal (he’s Bond’s old friend, plus Bond scarred him by “setting the timers for 3 instead of 6.” He knows MI6 and is another perfect example of a doppelganger (perhaps the most perfect as Bean was nearly hired as Bond). All the correct chips are in play, driven home by all the witty banter between “006” and 007, up until the end.
millennium006 shares quite a few similarities with the still to be discussed Silva from SKYFALL, and is certainty a precursor for the new villain. His past drives him a different direction than “For Queen and Country” Bond, feeling a similar need for revenge to that of Javier Bardem’s character.
1995 – John Doe (don’t wanna spoil the surprise), SEVEN – He’s certainly one of the most quirky/sadistic killers on film. And he knows how to deliver an unbelievable third act, important for any villain worth his salt (if that is even a saying).
Returning our attention to 006, while he’s always great, but it’s the combo of an incredibly strong introduction action scene and the finale showdown that cement his role in 007 history. Likewise, with an ending like that of SEVEN, I doubt we’ll forget this serial killer soon.
1997 – Edgar (Vincent D’Onofrio), MEN IN BLACK – Really, unlike anything else I’ve ever seen, D’Onofrio’s performance of a space roach in an “Edgar” suit still astounds. Certainly one of the most “out there” threats. Again, fun work with the acting and voice make for fun times at cinemas.
1998 – Don Rafeal Montero (Stuart Wilson) & Captain Love (Matt Letscher), THE MASK OF ZORRO – Double the doppelgangers, double the fun!
With old Zorro facing his old arch-nemesis (who just happened to accidentally murder his wife then intentionally -d’uh – steal his daughter) and new Zorro facing his brother’s killer, after years of training and dreams of revenge. Really, Nick Doll’s wet-dream.
From the director of the aforementioned GOLDENEYE and CASINO ROYALE, Martin Campbell, I like to think of MASK OF ZORRO as the movie Campbell made simple because he couldn’t, at that juncture, make a 007 movie. ZORRO follows all the rules of 007 from the detective work, to the “Bond” girl, to a madman with a country changing plot, Don Rafeal Montero, his lead henchman, Captain Love, and an epic, explosive finale.
2002 – Norman Osbourne (Willem Dafoe) aka The Green Goblin, SPIDER-MAN – “Work was murder”
Now, there’s an actor who chewed the scenery in the best way possible. Whether realistic or not, Dafoe’s approach to the over-the-top Green Goblin set the standard for modern comic book movie villains like those of the AVENGERS and DARK KNIGHT.
Limited by an expressionless mask, Dafoe does a lot with a little. His conversation with “the Goblin” is thing of super hero movie legend, making it ok for mechanical arms, black goo, sand, and lizards to talk to mad scientists in SPIDER-MAN sequels for years to come.
Talking to yourself is a unique place to go with your villain, and comics like Spider-Man nearly demand it. What is most important and fun about the character though is, again, the extreme joy felt by “Gobby” whilst terrorizing Spider-Man and New York. This really laid the groundwork for silver screen villains like Loki.
If they were to cast Norman Osbourne in the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 tomorrow, I’d insist it remain Willem Dafoe. He embodied a comic character perfectly even before RDJ ever became Tony Stark.
We’ll continue this analysis of the modern blockbuster villain as derived from his aforementioned history next time on BREAKING GEEK in “A Better Class Of Criminal: Part II” including the final era of movie villains, “Adult” Life: Nearly Modern To Today… And Beyond!
Find out what Bane, Joker, and Silva all have in common!
Find out which villainous strategy is hot, hot hot! (clue: Joker, Bane, Loki, and Silva all recommend it!)
Even Switching Actors, Bond is Getting Too Old For This Shit
I know it’s been touched on before in other Bond films, but never has 007’s age been as discussed so often as in SKYFALL.
Bond is not in his 90s as he should technically be (ignoring the partial reboot), as the late thirties/early forties character celebrates his 50th anniversary this year. Yet the fact he is an aging star on MI6’s roster is still a concern to M’s boss, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes). Mind you, Mallory seems set on punishing M after she loset the “knock list” (at least that’s what it is called in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE); a list of every NATO undercover operative in the field.
The truth we find, is that 007 has indeed “lost a step,” allowed back into the field despite the fact he failed all his examinations; physical and mental. Perhaps his age, but more likely the physical/emotional wound he carries as a result of M’s call that got him shot (including his drinking problem), Bond is off his game and he is sent into the field by M for one simple reason… he is James-Fucking-Bond.
It’s the same reason a single government authority character always, often secretly, unleashes an agent that “doesn’t always respect authority and play by the rules” to get the job done: think Jack Bauer, Ethan Hunt, John McClain, Murtaugh and Riggs, etc. He may be unstable or even off his game, but he’s still the only man for the job.
Bond is M’s favorite, her prized stallion who has prevented World War III numerous times, as we’ve watched over the decades.
Honestly, who can blame her? Like I said, 007’s saved the world at least 22 times even before SKYFALL fades in.
But, what’s in it for Bond? The man is loyal to Queen and country (what you’d call a “modern day boy scout” here in the US), but how can all MI6 agents remain as valiant, especially those who feel abandoned by M?
They can’t all be 007 – The Villain
Silva (Javier Bardem) combines aspects seemingly inspired by the terror and meticulous planning of the Joker, the excitement, faith, and overall joy of Loki during his own unfurling plot, the relationship/doppelganger-status of 006; all this while wielding some classic Bond villain eccentricities (one of which is rather progressive in its blatancy, yet not new to the franchise). Bardem is, simply, my 2nd favorite Bond villain behind my long favorite, 006.
Silva’s way cooler, scarier, and more sadistic than a man with a Golden Gun (also with million dollar bullets), a glorified banker/terrorist who weeps blood, a homicidal media mogul, or a fat man with a gold fetish and an assistant named Pussy. Though it’s a 360 from NO COUNTRY’s Anton Chigurgh, Bardem’s SKYFALL antagonist is goddamn perfect and instantly classic.
Once Bond finally uses his detective skills (highlighted in D. Craig’s CASINO ROYALE and QUANTUM OF SOLACE) to track the mad man down, he finds him to be from M’s past; her favorite agent prior to 007. Agent Silva was reckless like Bond, too reckless, so he too ended up a casualty of espionage.
Captured (or traded even, I can’t remember), Silva suffered various tortures for M and MI6, even using his cyanide capsule to die rather than talk. Trouble is, his capsule malfunctioned, horribly scaring him instead of killing him. So, he has a brace that gives him Jaws-esque teeth and un-smushes his melted face. Hence, the eccentric villain trait a la scar, or crying-blood, or not feeling pain, yada, yada, yada. Combine that with the interesting choice of a scene between Bond and Silva where Silva nearly puts the moves on the fly superspy; making him blatantly homosexual unlike QUANTUMS’s more ambiguous, possibly gay Frenchman and henchman duo.
Like 006, Silva is personal. He has simply set his sights on M, not 007. Personal is best. It… makes things… more personal……Just trust me on that! And see LETHAL WEAPON 1 & (even more so) 2, TAKEN, and the third act of CASINO ROYALE for proof how fun personal really is.Also like 006, he is the shadowy reflection of Bond, the super talented MI6 agent gone rogue.
Silva is scary yet a lot of fun, Joker style. Even more so, he takes great joy in his work, a trait he also shares with Loki; a trait that I love seeing in “super”-villains. The scene in which he is incarcerated reminded me very much of Loki in the Hulk’s cage in AVENGERS. The baddie is just having too much of a laugh for us to be comfortable.
Of course, it is easy to be cocky when everything is going exactly to your months-in-progress, perfectly thought out, intricate to account for the last detail plan, another fun villain trick shared with the Joker.
It doesn’t hurt that academy-award winner Javier Bardem is acting the shit out of the role, earning this Bond villain a place alongside one of my lifetime’s other top tier baddies, Javier’s Anton Chigurgh from NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.Really, it’s hard for me to think of a more perfect storm of villainy than this Joker, Loki, 006, Chigurgh cocktail of crazy, which is why he is an instant favorite, at least second (but possibly better than) to my personal fav Bond baddie, the much aforementioned 006, played by the delicious Sean Bean.
And besides (again folks, BIG SPOILERS), Silva gets some pretty damn nasty things done; things that alter the Bond universe as it has been for nearly two decades.
BATMAN BEGINS = Skyfall
So, what, after all this time, is Skyfall? To what does the title of Bond’s 23rd adventure refer?
Is is a master plot? A super satellite weapon? The name of a villain?
(AGAIN, FUCKIN’ SPOILERS PEOPLE)
Skyfall is Bond’s childhood home. Though not nearly as fancy, it’s essentially his Wayne Manor. His father’s house. He even has his own Alfred!In some ways, SKYFALL shares more in common with BATMAN BEGINS than the reboot CASINO ROYALE did. It’s really the first time we see any sign of Bond’s childhood or non-MI6 possesssions/holdings. We get a better idea of where this orphan has come from, while having to endure far less exposition than in the introduction of other special cinematic childhood orphans (like Harry Potter, or Peter Parker, or Bruce Wayne).Really, it is simply a taste a of Bond’s past we’ve never see before, besides several references to his being orphaned throughout the franchise, such as in GOLDENEYE where 006 mentions Bond’s parents died in a skiing accident.
SKYFALL is a fun title for Bond fans then, as it sounds like an odd name for a house, just as Bond author Ian Fleming himself resided in Goldeneye (the name of which was taken for the feature film).
Fitting that Ian Fleming, who has written himself into the character of Bond in his novels. Now the two have history or living in manors named after what sound like villainous plots and/or villains themselves.
I have a lot more to ponder and discuss from today’s SKYFALL, including fun winks the 50th Anniversary Film allows itself at earlier chapters as well as the universe changing events of the third act.
But, alas I’m off to see the film again now, so I’ll have to dissect it more following another viewing.