The latest script draft for the next Bond film, Spectre, leaked this past weekend, and holy crap did it reveal a lot about the movie (including some major issues with the ending). Major, major spoilers obviously, but if you don’t care, here are X thing we learned about the story, as well as some related production details.
The script was leaked as part of that giant Sony hack that resulted in a huge amount of stolen data. While some of these details may have changed in between the leaked draft and production (which began last week), it does give us some clues into the film’s overall direction, as well as some of the behind-the-scenes issues it’s been having.
1. The projected budget for the film has spiked to over $300 million.
This is due in large part to the fact that they can’t seem to get the script right. It was already an expensive movie to begin with (as any tent-pole blockbuster with a big-name star is going to be), but the fact that the script has been rewritten over and over again over the past year is not helping.
2. It opens with James Bond on the verge of retirement.
In the aftermath of Skyfall, the British Government has decided to merge MI-6 with MI-5. During this transition, James Bond, being his James Bond-y self, finds himself in hot water after embarking on a rogue operation in Mexico that results in a lot of property damage.
Faced with a possible forced retirement, he goes AWOL in pursuit of a mission that was assigned to him posthumously by M (Judi Dench’s character).
3. Monica Belluci is one of the love interests.
No surprise there, but there is a twist to this romance. Belluci’s character is the wife of a man that Bond assassinates, and he needs her in order to acquire information on a shadowy group of terrorists he’s tracking.
4. There’s a lot of drama during the MI-6/MI-5 merger.
While Bond is doing his thing, M (Ralph Fiennes, who took over MI-6 in Skyfall) is butting heads with the head of MI-5, C (Andrew Scott’s character).
They’re clashing over something called “Nine Eyes,” an intelligence sharing program whose policies they do not agree on.
5. Mr. White returns, then dies.
Mr. White, one of the villains from Casino Royale, shows up again and is killed off. This is important, at least in terms of the Daniel Craig trilogy’s over-arching narrative, because White was the head of Quantum, the big bad in the first two films.
It’s also worth noting because White’s daughter shows up in this movie. She’s named Madeiline Swann, and she’s played by Lea Seydoux. She’s another love interest for Bond, and the two meet in Austria before heading to Morocco, making plenty of adult business during their time together.
6. Bautista is a bad guy named Mr. Hinx…
At this point, we’re pretty deep into the second act of the film. On a train through the desert of Morocco, Bond and Swann run into one Mr. Hinx, played by Dave Bautista. They fight, with Bond eventually killing Hinx.
7. … But Christoph Waltz is the real villain.
Here’s where things get really messy. Christoph Waltz apparently plays the main villain of the movie, but he isn’t introduced until very late in the movie. He’s playing a guy named Henrich Stockmann, who goes by the alias of Franz Oberhauser.
Bond officially meets him after he’s captured. Over dinner, Stockmann reveals two things: one, he’s the leader of the terrorist organization, and it’s called Spectre. And two… he’s Bond’s older foster brother. Whaaaat.
Bond is subsequently tortured for reasons, but manages to trick Stockmann into returning to London, where it’s revealed that C (head of MI-5) was working for Spectre all along. Bond then escapes, and Q is there for some reason, so the two of them return to London and kill Stockmann.
If that sounds super anticlimactic, by all accounts it is.
8. So no Blofeld?
Well… it’s hard to say. Blofeld’s name doesn’t appear once in the entire script. However, he does appear in the script notes.
For example, a memo attached to an August draft states:
Also, there needs to be some kind of a twist rather than a series of watery chases with guns. This is Blofeld after all. What does he have up his sleeve?
And here’s another (that also critiques the action setpieces):
the “meanwhile” action for bond is simply fighting henchmen in many overblown and familiar sequences – helicopter, elevator shaft, netting. he’s trying to save the girl but there must be a more dynamic set piece to come up with that doesn’t involve myriad henchmen and irma while BLOFELD is in another location.
So clearly the people behind the movie consider Waltz to be Blofeld, even if they aren’t calling him that by name. It’s very possible that in a move worthy of Nolan or Abrams levels of paranoia, that the name was cut from the official script in order to combat any potential leaks, but that Waltz will actually be revealed as Blofeld in the actual movie.
That’s just speculation though, and maybe Waltz’s character is more of a call-back to the classic character, rather than an entirely new version of him.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about here, Ernst Stavro Blofeld is arguably the most iconic villain in the Bond series’ history. Even if you’ve never seen one of the movies he’s appeared in, you’ve almost certainly seen him parodied somewhere. He looks like this:
9. The entire third act is a catastrophe.
As late as November, the screenwriters and studio were still struggling to fix the ending of the film.
The big issue the script notes keep mentioning is that there just doesn’t seem to be a twist or reveal worthy of Spectre or its leader. Here’s what one note read:
Can we plot out what details Bond uncovers and what he thinks he’s found so that the end truly feels like a twist?
And here’s another referring to a lack of set-up for the climax:
I agree- third act needs a bit more set up so audience understands what is at stake and what is “supposed” to go down before Bond disrupts it.
And one more that comments on the fact that the final showdown is a big let-down:
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.
10. The ending leaves room to conclude the Daniel Craig era.
The Daniel Craig-led Bond films were interesting because unlike a vast majority of the rest of the series, all of them were connected (albeit some more than others). So if the studio is exploring the possibility of a new Bond, they’ll likely need to actually come up with a satisfying ending for this one.
The end of Spectre seems to set that up, or at least leaves the door open to that possibility. It concludes with Bond, having completed the last mission that M left him, throwing his gun into a river and walking away with his new love interest (perhaps signaling he’s finally over the death of Vesper).
Unfortunately, and pretty much like the rest of the third act, it sounds like this ending still falls flat. Here’s one of the producer’s notes on the end, and the idea that Spectre wraps up the storylines set up by the first three films:
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.
11. Whether any of this got fixed is still up in the air.
With the script looking so flimsy so soon before shooting was set to commence, it’s certainly easy to see why everyone involved would be very, very concerned.
A few leaked emails from November revealed that they were still working through new drafts of the third act, just weeks before production.
Some of the emails do sound more positive than others though. One has Jonathan Glickman, president of MGM’s film division, stating that he was “thrilled” with the creative changes in a recent outline, although more “streamlining” was still necessary.
All in all though, it sounds like a big mess, which is a real shame considering how good Skyfall is. It is worth noting though that a bad script does not necessarily mean a bad movie (although it certainly can).
After all, movies ranging from Lawrence of Arabia to Iron Man all started filming without even a completed script in hand; so maybe the fact that Spectre has an ending at all counts for something.
We’ll see when the film hits theaters on October 23, 2015.