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How New James Bond Film is Going From Grotesque to Merely Awful

Daniel Craig draws down as James Bond. Is he aiming at a villain or the screenwriters for his new movie, Spectre (Photo: ScreenCap)

Daniel Craig draws down as James Bond. Is he aiming at a villain or the screenwriters for his new movie, Spectre (Photo: ScreenCap)

James Bond movie “Spectre,” starring Daniel Craig, is shaping up to be one of the worst Bond films ever–and the most expensive– according to newly leaked Sony Pictures emails that reflect an air of desperation over the script, and worse (for Sony), the cost.

If this is how movies are made, then it’s a lot like making sausage; it’s something you don’t necessarily want to see.

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The emails provide a revealing behind-the-scenes look at how so many awful movies find their way onto the big screen. At the center of escalating costs, said to be near $300 million, is one of the worst Bond scripts ever.

As filming got underway this week, Sony had yet to finalize the ending, according to the emails.

Spectre Plot Synopsis (Warning: Spoilers!)

Here’s a plot synopsis published by Defamer.

Bond, having destroyed part of Mexico City on a rogue operation, and facing forced retirement as MI-6 merges with its sister agency MI-5, escapes across Europe on a mission posthumously assigned to him by his late boss, M (Judi Dench). He seduces the wife (Monica Bellucci) of a man he assassinated, and, using information from her, attends a meeting of a sinister group of masked terrorists led by a man who knows Bond from his past. Meanwhile, Bond’s current boss, M (Ralph Fiennes), battles his likely successor and the head of MI-5, known as “C” (Andrew Scott), over the future of an intelligence sharing program called Nine Eyes.

Bond witnesses the death of Mr. White, a villain from “Casino Royale,” and finds White’s daughter Madeiline Swann (Lea Seydoux) in Austria. The pair head to Morocco, get drunk, screw, have stilted conversations, take a train to the desert, and kill a henchman named Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista). Bond meets the villain, Heinrich Stockmann, who also uses the alias Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). In an irritating expository monologue, Stockmann confesses over dinner that he is Bond’s older foster-brother and also the head of a terrorist organization named S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Bond is tortured; and then for unclear reasons manages to bluff Stockmann into rushing back to London, where it has become clear that C has been working for Stockmann the entire time. Bond, accompanied by Q, who was in the next cell the whole time, follows Stockmann to London, where he kills him.


The initial script apparently flunked all the way around. So Sony called in a couple of fixit writers, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who saved the last Bond movie, “Skyfall.” But even they couldn’t work their magic.

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Screenwriter Jez Butterworth, was pulled into the project only two months ago to begin “rewriting” and “tweaking story lines.” The rewrites continued for at least a month, according to the leaked emails obtained by Defamer.

Now, it’s pretty much comes down to the ending, which seems to be defying a solution.

“For what it’s worth, I think first 100 pages are fantastic,” writes MGM’s film division President Jonathan Glickman in an Oct. 9 email. “It’s fun, emotional and the major logic issues have been rectified.”

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But the upbeat Glickman shares everyone else’s sentiment about the ending. “You guys set me up for a let down on climax,” he writes. “So I was not surprised.”

The biggest problem appears to be the character, Heinrich Stockmann, aka Oberhauser, played by Christolph Waltz. He’s supposed to be the chief villain and head of a shady organization known as SPECTRE.

According to the emails, Stockman doesn’t surface until the final third of the movie and he’s poorly integrated into the plot. The script calls for an extended dialogue with Bond over dinner, just to explain who he is. It grinds the action-packed movie to a halt.

Apparently Sony considered cutting at least 20 pages from the end of the script and pondered changing Stockman to a Bond villain called Blofeld from an earlier movie in order to give the plot a “twist” at the ending.

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Glickman frets that reality has trumped art. He writes:

“We’ve already witnessed many horrible acts of terrorism, the finale should be about the biggest one yet that allows SPECTRE to profit the most. They should need the combined resources of all the intelligence agencies to pull it off. Surely there is something more pressing than suppressing one document.

Apparently the plot according to the original screenplay revolved around one piece of paper, according to Gawker.

Judging from the leaked emails, it seemed like every Sony employee with an executive title was weighing in on the problems. Hannah Minghella, co-president of production at Columbia, trashed the film.

If this is the movie that resolves the last three films then the emotional significance of that idea for Bond seems only lightly served at best. He finds the Vesper tape but never watches it. He appears to fall in love again for the first time since Vesper but there’s no real emotional vulnerability there – why this girl? Why now? When he leaves with her at the end of the movie and throws his gun in the river has he gone for good or is this just a well earned vacation as is so often the ending of a Bond film. Does he feel some sense of completion that he finished the last mission M/Judy left for him? It’s hard to know what significance any of these final gestures carry.

As the film’s production date neared, the nit-picking continued. Glickman raised new concerns that the movie’s finale isn’t properly set up so the audience will understand it and what’s at stake.

Elizabeth Cantillon, identified as a an ex-Columbia executive turned producer under an exclusive contract to Sony, takes apart the ending for being too cliched, calling it “overblown and familiar.”

Oddly, she objects to the way Bond eliminates the villain with a clean shot to the head. “i dont’ know. seems brutal even for bond,” she wrote.

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This is the 24th film in the Bond series, so it just may be that it’s impossible to come up with a completely novel script while still remaining true to the characters and premise of the Ian Fleming novels.

On the other hand, we’re available for script rewrites… for a small fee of course.

In the end, whatever crap Sony throws into the picture probably will not deter its success. Bond fans have been watching the same movie through 23 previous iterations and almost as many Bonds.

What makes them think this one will be any different?

Let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest insights and analysis of major motion pictures.


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