From 1962 to 2012, viewers have enjoyed 50 years of the James Bond film franchise, watching numerous actors fill the shoes of the devilishly debonair superspy also known by MI6’s secretive moniker, 007. On November 9th, the 23rd entry in the series will be released nationwide, once again starring Daniel Craig as the MI6 agent with a license to kill originally created by British author, Ian Fleming. Director Sam Mendes takes the reigns on what looks to be a thrilling new Bond film, and in preparation, Reel Reactions is putting together some articles rating various aspects of the Bond franchise thus far. Last week, we delved into the franchise’s famous title theme songs and this week we tackle another popular commonality of the Bond films: The Villains.
Villainy within the James Bond film franchise has taken many, many forms. From evil madmen to government rogues, vile henchmen, wealthy familial heirs looking to rule the world or a particular industry, terrorists, Soviets (interestingly enough, Arabs or Middle Eastern figures have never been represented as villains in the Bond films – in fact, Bond fought alongside the Taliban in The Living Daylights), double MI6 agents, and drug dealers. Some are titular and memorable embodiments of pure evil, while others are simple mean souls that are rather forgettable or barely any match for James Bond. Regardless of how they resonate with audiences, the Bond villain is a famous aspect of the 22 films within the franchise so far and in Sam Mendes’ Skyfall (opening in the UK this weekend and in the US two weeks later), James Bond chases after a former MI6 member: Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), who is seeking to destroy MI6 and humiliate MI6’s head of operations, M (Judi Dench). Now, while Bardem looks absolutely top notch in the role (and the last time he donned an unattractive hair piece to play a villian, he was awarded with a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for No Country for Old Men), it will be interesting to see where he ranks or how he compares to previous Bond villains. In preparation for Silva’s path of terror in Skyfall, RR reviews all of the previous persons pitted against MI6 agent, 007.
Villain Name: Dr. Julius No
Film Title: Dr. No
Portrayed by: Joseph Wiseman
Bio: The son of a German missionary and a Chinese girl from a good family, Dr. No is a radiation specialist with a Napoleonic complex that escaped to America with $10,000,000 in Tong (Chinese criminal society) bullion and whose specialized scientific skill set was rejected by both the Americans and the Soviets. Vengeful, No joined SPECTRE, a massively destructive criminal organization, and set up a personalized operation on the island of Crab Key in Jamaica. No is unique for his crude bionic metal hands, which replaced his real hands after they had to be removed due to consistent radiation poisoning.
Diabolical Scheme: As a regular protocol within the circles of SPECTRE, Dr. No plans on destroying the integrity of the contemporary world by rerouting American missiles that are being tested through use of radio waves that would interfere with the missile guidance systems (a process referred to as “toppling”). When he learns of James Bond’s presence in Jamaica, he plans to have him murdered but his henchmen fails so he takes matters into his own hands when he captures Bond – trespassing on No’s island with Honey Rider – and locks him in a ventilation shaft and her in a room that slowly fills with water
Plan Failure/Demise: Bond’s tenacity allows him to get the jump on No. He disguises himself as one of No’s scientists and allows the American test missile to launch correctly by sabotaging the nuclear reactor, which is constructed in a pool-like fashion. Bond and No then have a climactic fight on an elevator platform that slowly descends into the reactor. Bond manages to escape, but No sinks into the reactor and fails to hoist himself out because of the lack of dexterity his metal hands possess. No boils to death in the reactor while his laboratory explodes.
Review: As the series’ first villain, Joseph Wiseman explores the persona of Dr. No, uniting the very qualities that are inbred into the character (specifically the ethnic backgrounds of his parents) and mastering them. He dresses and operates, both socially and professionally, like a Nazi commander and comes up with a creative way to leave Bond and Rider to helplessly and slowly perish (an additional bullet point on the to-do list of every body villain that always ends up blowing up in the villains’ face), but No’s individual scheme lacks horror. While SPECTRE would eventually seek to employ worldwide destruction, and No may have inferred that he desired to take over the world, the task SPECTURE had given No seems mostly like taunting by screwing up the American missile system and simply destroying them on liftoff. However, No’s mark of villainy – his strong, replacement hands – are visually effective and wonderfully come back to haunt him in the end.
Final Grade: B
Villain Name: Red Grant/Rosa Klebb/Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Film Title: From Russia With Love
Portrayed by: Robert Shaw/Lotte Lenya/Eric Pohlmann
Bio/Diabolical Scheme: Infuriated by the death of Julius No at the hands of James Bond, ex-SMERSH operative Rosa Klebb, now working for the heads of SPECTRE, participates in a plot to steal a Russian Lektor cryptographic device and use cipher clerk Tatiana Romanova as a pawn to lure James Bond back to Russia in order to extract revenge. Romanova pretends to defect to England along with the much-coveted Lektor, but will only defect to James Bond personally. Once in Russia, Romanova will be used as a sexual element to the ploy as well for photos of Bond and Romanova together will be leaked to the press creating a government scandal. Once trapped in Russia, assassin Red Grant will then kill Bond and humiliate MI6.
Plan Failure/Demise: Having seduced Romanova and now aboard the Orient Express, Bond encounters Red Grant, who proceeds to overcome Bond. However, Grant demands to know the contents of Bond’s attaché briefcase (a gadget provided by Major Boothroyd, a.k.a Q), which is booby-trapped with tear gas. In the following struggle, Bond stabs Grant with a knife hidden in the case and strangles the assassin to death with his own garrote wire. Infuriated, SPECTRE Number 1, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, executes his assignment’s original coordinator and makes Klebb in charge of the entire operation from here on out. After Bond eliminates the boats of henchmen that Klebb sends after him and Romanova (literally, a spectacular boat chase ensues where Bond uses a lethal combination of oil barrels and a flare gun), Klebb impersonates a gun-wielding maid at the hotel where Bond and Romanova seek refuge. Bond provokes a physical altercation and Klebb comes at Bond with a poison-dipped knife hidden in her shoe, but Romanova grabs Klebb’s pistol and shoots her in the chest.
Review: Criticized as one of the slower Bond films, the plot intricacies and less explosive (until the third act) and action packed nature of the film actually make it one of the more interesting, and better, entries in the franchise with some devilishly evil villains. Klebb, though more behind the scenes for the majority of the film, possesses an evil Russian accent and is rather frightening in her powers of manipulation and persuasion, like in scenes where she employs Romanova into the plot or shows off Red Grant as a prime assassin. She’s also far more developed in the sense that we actually see her become frightened, like when she witnesses her former operation chief murdered at the hands of Blofeld. She’s also the inspiration for Frau in the Austin Powers films. Red Grant, excellently portrayed by Robert Shaw, is one of the more memorable villains of the franchise, probably even more memorable than Klebb, even though he’s only considered this entry’s henchman. His reserved performance makes him a loathsome figure and the scene on the Orient Express between him and Bond is nail-bittingly tense. Plus, this is the first appearance of Bond’s arch-nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, even though we never see his face.
Final Grade: A-
Villain Name: Auric Goldfinger/Oddjob
Film Title: Goldfinger
Portrayed by: Gert Fröbe/Harold Sakata
Bio: A red-haired German native with British citizenship, Auric Goldfinger is an incredibly wealthy businessman who owns Auric Enterprises, AG in Switzerland and Auric Stud Ranch in Kentucky, but specializes in gold smuggling, branching from his obsession with gold bullion. Goldfinger constructs cars that are made with gold castings and when it arrives in the scheduled location, after being transported via airplane, the car is re-smelted so that the buyer can obtain the gold itself. Oddjob is Goldfinger’s Japanese American henchman who dons a black top hat fitted with a razor brim, which can be used for decapitations or other violent means of murder and destruction.
Diabolical Scheme: ‘Operation Grand Slam.’Goldfinger, being in the possession of billions of dollars in gold bullion, plans on having Pussy Galore and her team of flyers use an airborne gas to knock out the people in the surrounding area allowing him to easily break into Fort Knox and use a cobalt and iodine ridden atomic device to render the bank’s gold useless for nearly sixty years, thus forcing the price for gold to increase astronomically. This will allow Goldfinger’s own personal reserve to become the main access point for gold, plus the Chinese will be given an advantage due to the resulting economic crisis. When Bond pursues, after the Bank of England raises concerns about Goldfinger’s smuggling, Goldfinger also decides that Bond’s death is essential to the completion of his plan as well
Plan Failure/Demise: Having revealed his entire plot to James Bond during a planned torture sequence, Bond is eventually freed and put in the hands of Pussy Galore, whom is lustfully smitten by Bond’s charm. Galore and her flyers replace the gas in their planes to a type that has zero effect thus allowing the army to intervene. Goldfinger brings Bond along for Operation Grand Slam and leaves him to die at the hands of Oddjob. During a fistfight, the powerful and seemingly indestructible Oddjob is electrocuted to death by Bond, who then disarms the atomic weapon. Once aboard the plane with Pussy Galore, it is revealed that Goldfinger has stowed away in order to finally kill Bond. They fight aboard the plane and a window is shot out causing severe depressurization. Bond and Galore escape via parachute while Goldfinger is sucked out of the window and plummets to his death.
Review: One of the most memorable and most sinister villains in the entire franchise, Goldfinger is the quintessential Bond villain. He has outrageous plan that’s still based primarily in reality and his hatred for Bond growing with each successive scene throughout the film. The aforementioned torture sequence is the highlight, when Goldfinger reveals his entire plot (stupidly, like most Bond villains) and threatens to cut Bond in half with a laser beam. There has never been a Bond-Villain interaction in the rest of the franchise that reaches the level of excellence within Goldfinger. Fröbe’s performance is masterful and frightening, and provided a perfect opportunity for an Austin Powers parody. As for Oddjob, he provided the template for all future Bond henchmen, but none are nearly as brooding or as threatening.
Final Grade: A+
Villain Name: Emilio Largo
Film Title: Thunderball
Portrayed by: Adolfo Celi
Bio: A ruthless black marketer who once smuggled from Tangiers and the French Riviera specializing in big jewel thefts. Neapolitan-like in nature, Largo moved on to far riskier business ventures and eventually became second to Ernst Stavro Blofeld within the SPECTRE organization. He possesses two primary headquarters locations, both close in proximity within the Bahamas, that he purchased from his endeavors and a rather large inheritance he received as the last member of a prominent Roman family.
Diabolical Scheme: Largo intends on stealing two nuclear warheads and holding them hostage thus extorting NATO and threatening to detonate the warheads in both England and in the United States if he is not paid a demanded ransom of 100 million British pounds.
Plan Failure/Demise: In the Bahamas, Bond encounters Domino Derval, Largo’s mistress, who confides in Bond that Largo killed her brother, François. Domino tells Bond how to infiltrate Largo’s underwater mission to retrieve the warheads from a submarine and he learns that Largo intends to use one of the warheads to destroy Miami Beach. Bond alerts Felix Leiter and the Coast Guard engages in a fight with Largo’s men, but Largo escapes aboard his private yacht: the Disco Volante, which has one of the bombs onboard. Aboard the Disco Volante, Bond and Largo fight to which Largo nabs the upper hand, but is ultimately shot with a harpoon gun by Domino, who was assisted by defected henchman, Ladislav Kutze. The ship rockets toward a rocky shore and Bond, Kutze, and Domino all jump overboard just before the ship runs aground causing the warhead to erupt and the ship to explode entirely.
Review: As the first to utilize the “stolen warheads for ransom” scheme, Largo gets extra points. This plotline becomes heavily recycled throughout the franchises as conflicts with various countries arise in the real world. As for Largo individually, he’s an accented, menacing villain who possesses a classic villainous appearance, mostly resulting from the eye patch he wears so charismatically. He’s also a very violent man who sees both disappointment and task failure to be punishable by death. By staying close to water, most of his torturous or deathly ploys all involve water to a degree, like a pool of sharks that is utilized to a decent extent. While not the joyous or showy kind of evil like Goldfinger, Largo still is a fine early franchise villain well-played by Adolfo Celi, and I’ve always found their final physical altercation to be one of the most gripping and original (the climax of Phillip Noyce’s Patriot Games is taken directly from Thunderball)
Final Grade: B+
Villain Name: Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Film Title: You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, For Your Eyes Only (pre-credits sequence only)
Portrayed by: Donald Pleasance, Telly Savalas, Charles Gray, Eric Pohlmann
Bio: Of both Polish and Greek descent, a genius in engineering and radionics, Blofeld positioned at the Polish Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs where he began buying and selling stocks at the Warsaw Stock Exchange. He established an intelligence organization in Turkey after he sold top-secret wires to the Nazis just prior to World War II and destroyed all evidence of his existence in Poland. He sold information to both sides during WWII, and then backed the Allied effort after Rommel was defeated. He then moved to South America and founded SPECTRE. After multiple transitive interactions with MI6 agent 007, James Bond, the two became archenemies and encountered one another personally in four films.
Diabolical Scheme: In each film, Blofeld’s intent is drastically different forcing Bond to adapt to the new plan and the new ‘face’ of Blofeld. In You Only Live Twice, Blofeld intends on using the ‘Bird-1’ spacecraft to capture spaceships from both the US and the Soviets in order to provoke a potential third world war between the massive countries on the behalf of a third party: An undisclosed Asian country. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Blofeld decides to cripple the world of its natural and fertile land by feeding viruses into the crops and livestock thus rendering them useless and holding the entire world hostage. In Diamonds Are Forever, Blofeld fuses his previous two plans by creating a massive laser magnified by diamonds attached to a satellite. This laser has the power to destroy any nuclear target on the face of planet allowing him to extort money from all nuclear countries, again holding the world hostage. Supreme authority will be awarded to the highest bidder. In the very beginning of For Your Eyes Only, Blofeld’s scheme is strictly to kill Bond as a final act of revenge by hijacking the helicopter that is serving as his transport.
Plan Failure/Demise: In You Only Live Twice, Bond self-destructs the ‘Bird-1’ spaceship from inside Blofeld’s volcano lair. Moments before executing Bond, Japanese ally, Tiger Tanaka, throws a ninja star right into Blofeld’s hand causing him to drop his weapon and frantically flee from the scene and his lair, thus surviving. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond welcomes assistance from Marc Ange Draco (father of Bond’s future wife, Tracy) and they destroy Blofeld’s laboratory in which all of the viruses were being developed. The premature viruses are annihilated and Bond chases Blofeld down a bobsled chute. Bond forces Blofeld upright and he gets caught in an extended tree branch which sprains his neck. After a brief recovery, and still in a neck brace, he finds Bond and has his associate, Irma Bunt, kill Bond’s new wife Tracy just hours after their wedding. In Diamonds Are Forever, Bond begins to dismantle Blofeld’s oil rig lair forcing Blofeld, yet again, to flee. However, Bond gets a hold of Blofeld’s mini-sub with a crane and hoists it into the air proceeding to smash it into the control room of the rig like a wrecking ball. The control room explodes thus destroying the laser and dropping the charred submarine into the ocean. Though believed to be dead and absent for years and numerous films, in For Your Eyes Only, Blofeld returns and Bond finally, once and for all, kills his nemesis by regaining control of the compromised helicopter and scooping up Blofeld (he has been relegated to a wheelchair by this point in the Bond timeline) and dropping him into the interior of smokestack.
Review: For the first in the franchise, Bond’s villain did not perish in the film in which he was introduced and therefore served as the major antagonist for three films (after being just an ominous figure in From Russia With Love and Thunderball) before making one final appearance in in the days of the Roger Moore bond. What always made Blofeld such an intriguing villain was the fact that he was never portrayed by the same actor more than once (outside of Eric Pohlmann’s voice-only work) which played into the theme that Blofeld was determined to keep his anonymity, no matter the cost. In the films, it is inferred that Blofeld goes through some heavy plastic surgery on his face to excuse for the consistent change in actors. He has one of the greatest dramatic reveals in the history of screen villainy, let alone the Bond franchise, when Donald Pleasance’s Blofeld spins around to face Bond for the very first time revealing his baldhead and dueling scar around his right eye (the obvious physical inspiration for Dr. Evil), until he becomes the earlobe-less Telly Savalas, and the complete lunatic portrayed by Charles Gray. He became the multi-faced calling card for evil in the Bond franchise, before he cleverly returned for one final outing at the very start of For Your Eyes Only where Bond finally put him down, literally. He’s a nasty, mental villain who is responsible for the death of James Bond’s wife, creating one of the most heartbreaking endings in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Within the entire pagoda of James Bond, Blofeld may not be every viewer’s go-to favorite villain, but to James Bond himself there is no one more deleterious.
Final Grade: A
Villain Name: Dr. Kananga (Mr. Big)
Film Title: Live and Let Die
Portrayed by: Yaphet Kotto
Bio: Dr. Kananga works as both the heavily influential and savvy political ambassador, and as the infamous drug mobster, Mr. Big, who orchestrates throughout New York City. He possesses a drug empire that is controlled by his Dr. Big alter ego, while he keeps appearances as a UN diplomat working to get his homeland of San Monique put on the political map. To lead his double life successfully, Kananga has employed gifted tarot card reader, Solitaire, incorporating her future foresight powers to instill fear in his enemies, and even his employees. He incorporates Voodoo superstition and taboo as well, enforced by henchmen Tee-Hee and Baron Samadi.
Diabolical Scheme: As Mr. Big, Kananga distributes his stockpiled hoard of highly addictive heroine through restaurants in New York City with hopes of monopolizing the drug market and flooding out the subsidiary competition. As kingpin, Dr. Kananga will, at the very least, triple the number of addicts throughout his empire and will rack in the profits cementing his place within a crippling business empire.
Plan Failure/Demise: Kananga learns of Bond’s affair with Solitaire, who is also his mistress, and he decides to have Baron Samadi sacrifice Solitaire and murder Bond. However, Bond saves Solitaire from Samedi, but they’re captured by Kananga when they enter his lair and he decides to lower the two of them into a shark tank just as Quarrel, Jr. (descendent of Bond’s former ally, Quarrel, from Dr. No) destroys all of Kananga’s coveted poppy fields with explosives thus eliminating the future cultivation of heroine. Bond frees himself from his restraints and tackles Kananga into the shark tank forcing a pressurized gun pellet in Kananga’s mouth. Kananga inflates, levitates out of the water, and explodes like a balloon, allowing Bond and Solitaire to escape the San Monique lair unharmed.
Review: Live and Let Die’s undeniable Blaxploitation influences are what make it particularly individual and uniquely enjoyable. It’s era-specific genre additions are definitely questionable for this kind of franchise, but in the end it works fairly well for this highly entertaining series entry. With a laundry list of henchmen, Kanaga is definitely a powerful man who likes to keep his hands out of the actual dirty work (he even wears a mask to operate within his own empire), but Yaphet Kotto’s performance is definitively diabolical; his wide smile and intense hatred for Bond’s meddling is characteristic of the best kind of Bond villains, but Kotto delves into the role fantastically. Unfortunately, Kananga’s banal scheme is too superficial and leaves for little plot originality or surprise turns. It all plays out exactly to formula, and Kanaga’s eventual demise is simply ridiculous. I admire Kotto’s performance in the film, but his scheme leads to little substance. As one of my higher rated Bond films, I’ve always had a soft spot for Kananga, but there is no doubting the lack in quality of Kananga to the previous villains from Connery’s flicks.
Villain Name: Francisco Scaramanga
Film Title: The Man With the Golden Gun
Portrayed by: Christopher Lee
Bio: The British-born marksman was born into a traveling circus and by age 15 was a KGB-employed assassin-for-hire. After leaving KGB, he became an independent assassin and became renowned as the finest and most dangerous in the world, charging up to a million dollars per assignment. There is not a single photograph of him that exists and he has remained anonymous very well, but his anatomical oddity – a third nipple – is the one aspect about Scaramanga that has come to light. A wealthy man, Scaramanga resides on a personal island that utilizes a number of modern technologies and even possesses its own self-sufficient power plant, even though Scaramanga says that he was never that strong or knowing of science. Scaramanga’s henchman, dwarf Nick Nack, hires other assassins from around the world to attempt to kill Scaramanga in order to keep the infamous assassin on his toes.
Diabolical Scheme: Nick Nack steals the Solex Agitator, a British invention that is key in the completion of a device that will solve the solar energy crisis, from its murdered creator and brings it to Scaramanga so that he can sell it to the highest bidder. The man with golden gun’s secondary objective is to lure famed MI6 agent James Bond to his private island so they can face off in a decisive duel proving which of them is the better assassin; Scaramanga believes Bond is the only man that could potentially be named Scaramanga’s equal.
Plan Failure/Demise: Mission partner/Bond girl Mary Goodnight is taken by Scaramanga, forcing Bond to pursue them both to his private island home. Scaramanga proposes a duel between himself and Bond on the island’s beach, which eventually moves into Scaramanga’s twisty and unnerving funhouse where Scaramanga had kept a mannequin of James Bond. Before Scaramanga realizes his mistake, he puts himself out in the open and is shot in the heart by 007 who is posing as the dummy version of himself. Meanwhile, Goodnight throws a Scaramanga henchmen into the liquid helium pool and the solar plant begins to implode and self-destruct. Before it erupts into a fireball on the island beach, Bond retrieves the Solex Agitator and escapes with Goodnight.
Review: Scaramanga is an immortalized villain of the James Bond franchise because of Christopher Lee’s casting. The ideal cast choice for a franchise villain, Lee provides an alluring performance and dangerous aura to the character of Scaramanga and perfectly embodies the titular firearm-wielding assassin. In addition, Scaramanga’s overall plan directly includes the desired murder of James Bond, a secondary evil scheme that had not been on any villain’s agenda since From Russia With Love. The dynamic created between Moore’s Bond and Lee’s Scaramanga benefits from Lee’s insecurity around the secret agent, fearing he to be the one man that could successfully duel him. I’ve also admired the simplicity of Scarmanga’s death, unlike some previous Bond villain demises (especially Dr. Kananga ‘popping’ in Live and Let Die), because Bond simply puts a bullet in his heart and this shows that no man, regardless of how trained or deadly, will survive a bullet piercing the heart. Scaramanga is a solid villain with a perfunctory main objective (stealing and reselling the Solex Agitator) that resides in a very average Bond film.
Final Grade: B-
Villain Name: Karl Stromberg
Film Title: The Spy Who Loved Me
Portrayed by: Curt Jürgens
Bio: An oceanic-obsessed self-employed businessman who spearheads a shipping firm whom owns and resides in his own underwater city, Atlantis, that can support itself and anyone aboard for an infinite amount of time. Located just off the coast of Sardinia, Italy, Stromberg also possesses a massive tanker, the Liparus, which manages to be a mobile Atlantis and is operated by a small army of soldiers employed by Stromberg. He has webbed hands due to a congenital condition that makes him even more similar to the aquatic beings he loves, as opposed to the human race, which he absolutely despises.
Diabolical Scheme: Stromberg strives to create a brand new civilization underwater after instigating an all out global nuclear war. He intends to use a captured Soviet nuclear submarine and a United Kingdom submarine to fire on each other’s major cities: Moscow and New York City, thus framing the opposite’s government and working toward destroying all living humans on Earth.
Plan Failure/Demise: Bond is taken aboard the Liparus as a hostage, but he manages to escape his soldier captors that have been left in charge after Stromberg returns to Atlantis and frees the captured Russian, British, and American submariners. A battle ensues within the Liparus and soon enough Bond gets hold of the plan’s controls and has the two submarines destroy each other instead of the major cities. Bond returns to Atlantis and encounters Stromberg who attempts to kill him, but Bond is quicker and plugs Stromberg four times in the dining room of Atlantis leaving him on the floor to die. Bond escapes from Atlantis just before it is destroyed.
Review: The immediate criticism of Stromberg is the carbon copy connection to Ernest Stavro Blofeld in terms of evil plan. Blofeld, in You Only Live Twice, was intending on starting a third world war and in The Spy Who Loved Me, Stromberg wants to destroy the human race and begin a new thriving civilization in the depths of the ocean. Outside of the scheme plagiarism, Stromberg’s plan is somewhat laughable in comparison to the better of previous Bond baddies. Starting a civilization underwater is an impossible goal to seek, thus Stromberg’s plan is far less likely to carry out as hoped because of its lack of being grounded. Even when Bond villains have epically risky plans, their reasoning is based on some exaggerated belief, but Stromberg wants to create a society reminiscent of The Little Mermaid with a new race of people. How will he create a new race of people? That was always my biggest question. Yet, Curt Jürgens’ slow and meticulous delivery and piercing Austrian accent add class to the villain, he was one of the few villains that it felt appropriate for him to creepily say, “Farewell, Mr. Bond.” Jürgens alone is what makes Stromberg the best he could possibly be. Interestingly enough, Stromberg was the first original Bond villain created specifically for the screen and not based on an existing novel character, so in that respect, Jürgens is excellent in creating the character of Stromberg for book-reading audience members who had usually known what to expect with the previous Bond films.
Final Grade: B
Villain Name: Hugo Drax
Film Title: Moonraker
Portrayed by: Michael Lonsdale
Bio: A French billionaire who resides in a California château and is the owner of the Eiffel Tower and Drax Industries, a space shuttle crafting business, who pretends to be a highly accomplished pianist by posing behind player pianos to impress his guests. A vicious man with massive power, Drax owns a space station lair that orbits the Earth and serves as the base of operations for his ruthless plot
Diabolical Scheme: Using a toxin derived from the Black Orchid, Drax intends on using 50 individual chemical weapon spheres containing enough gas to kill 100 million people to destroy the population of the Earth allowing Drax to rebuilt society on his own. With a relatively small group of hand-picked men and women, Drax will return to the Earth with the founders of the new race and can begin the Earth again from scratch.
Plan Failure/Demise: Bond and CIA-partner, Holly Goodhead, embark on a journey into space toward Drax’s space station where three of the fifty spheres are launched at the Earth. Bond notices that Jaws – former Stromberg henchmen who works for Drax in Moonraker – and his new girlfriend do not fit Drax’s ‘perfect’ parameters for the origins of his new race and this forces Jaws to defect and fight again Drax and his men. When numerous American space soldiers attack Drax’s space station, the businessman flees and pursued by Bond. Drax nears the airlock but whips around to hold 007 at gunpoint before Drax leaves the space shuttle. While Bond raises his hands, he fires off a poison dart from a device wrapped around his right wrist. The stumbling and dying Drax is pushed into the airlock by Bond and the madman dies as he floats away from the space station. The weapons, including the three that had already been released toward Earth, are all destroyed.
Review: Despite having one of the coolest death scenes of any villain in the franchise, Drax has always been one of my lesser favorite Bond villains. He is too stereotypically crafted in every respect, from his physical appearance to his evil plan. Donning a dark black goatee and a calm presence, Lonsdale doesn’t add too much individuality to Drax outside of making his visibly appear to be the villain. Plus, attempting the same plot as Stromberg’s plan in the film just previous, Moonraker shows that the writers are getting lazy and the franchise is getting repetitive. Like with Stromberg, I never saw how Drax alone could successfully create an entirely new society and civilization on the planet Earth. A great deal of the technical and aesthetic departments within the production of Moonraker are just subpar and Hugo Drax is a simply developed and narrowly complex character. In my least favorite Bond outing, it would make sense for there to be a very lackluster villain.
Final Grade: C
Villain Name: Aristotle Kristatos
Film Title: For Your Eyes Only
Portrayed by: Julian Glover
Bio: A well-connected Greek smuggler and opium-processor, Kristatos poses as an intelligence informant to Bond before it is revealed that he is the main antagonist. He sinks the British spy boat St. Georges in order to get a hold of the ATAC (Automatic targeting Attack Communicator).
Diabolical Scheme: Kristatos plans to steal the ATAC so he can sell it to the Soviet Union. With the device, Kristatos or the KGB would acquire the power to hijack all British Polaris missiles.
Plan Failure/Demise: When Bond and Bond girl, Melina Havelock, discover that Kristatos has rerouted to his abandoned mountaintop monastery, St. Cyril’s, they scale the mountain with ally Columbo and defeat all of his henchmen. Melina aims a crossbow at Kristatos, who is attempting to escape, but he surrenders. When Melina and Bond are not looking, Kristatos attempts to murder them both with a hidden switchblade, but Columbo lobs a throwing knife at Kristatos and it impales him in the back, killing him. When the KGB officers arrive on the scene looking to take the ATAC, Bond throws it off the cliff and it erupts into an unfixable mess to never be in the complete possession of any government power.
Review: Though Julian Glover is a talented actor and would eventually plan the warped Nazi sympathizer, Walter Donovan, in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,Kristatos is one of the least threatening villains ever, let alone in the James Bond franchise. The reveal that he is actually the main antagonist as opposed to a foreign ally takes place far too late into the film to make him a fully developed villain. He enacts one poorly planned form of torture and execution by pulling Melina and Bond through the coral reefs and his cowardice makes him one of the physically weaker villains. Though more Bond villains than many viewers remember are killed at the hands of someone else or some other destructive force, instead of Bond himself, Kristatos’ demise is fairly anticlimactic as he almost has the jump on Bond and is taken out at the last minute by a throwing knife. No James Bond villain death has ever come off a bigger example of Deus Ex Machina than the death of Artistotle Kristatos, the least diabolical villain in the franchise and the most disappointing part of the pretty decent For Your Eyes Only.
Final Grade: D+
Villain Name: Kamal Khan
Film Title: Octopussy
Portrayed by: Louis Jourdan
Bio: Exiled from his kingdom, Kamal Khan lives like a prince within the heart of India hiding his exuding arrogance behind a mask that has been embraced by the criminals and terrorists he associates with. Based in International Law studies, Khan specializes in how to cheat, rob, and steal and never get caught and teaches his methods to muse, Octopussy, who runs a jewelry smuggling operation. Khan is bribed into involvement with Russian General Orlov who desires to wage a violent war with the superpowers of the West by defying his government; Khan shows no care for those who may be harmed for he will hurt and undermine anyone to continue the intake of his wealth.
Diabolical Scheme: With clear knowledge that he will betray his partner, Octopussy, Khan and General Orlov plan for a nuclear bomb to be placed in a US Airforce based in Germany. Forgetting sex and looking only for infinite wealth, Khan intends on Octopussy and her circus troupe to bring the hidden weapon right into the belly of the air force base when she goes to perform there.
Plan Failure/Demise: Bond convinces Octopussy that Khan has double-crossed here and she assists 007 disarm the warhead in the middle of the circus performance. They return to Khan’s palace just as he is fleeing his home and taking to the sky with ready cash and extra jewels. He nabs Octopussy in the escape process and Bond pursues, holding on for dear life atop his place and slowly, but surely, making his way inside the aircraft. Khan’s plane begins to descend in a landing attempt and when it touches down, Bond and Octopussy leap onto the desert ground just as Khan’s plane rolls over a cliffside and dives head first into the canyon wall exploding on impact.
Review: In his old age, Louis Jourdan’s physical appearance, particularly his scheming slit eyes, are paramount qualities of a Bond villain. He’s suave and conniving, but not as menacing as franchise bests. In a decently nasty performance, Jourdan is a good Kamal Khan, but Kamal Khan just needs to be of a higher caliber of villainy. While Gobinda, Khan’s number one henchmen, is reminiscent of Jaws and Oddjob and effectively shows his strength and brute force (before being cast off the top of an airplane), Khan is a weaker villain who proposes a possible evilness, but is nothing more than a silky creep who cheats at Backgammon and double crosses his brilliant thieves. Octopussy, as a whole, is a far more self-deprecating look at Bond (Tarzan scream while swinging through trees, the clown outfit, etc.), Kamal Khan could have added the right amount of seriousness that the film deserves if he was a more rounded and personally affecting villain. Barely acceptable.
Final Grade: C-
Villain Name: Max Zorin
Film Title: A View to a Kill
Portrayed by: Christopher Walken
Bio: The product of a Nazi medical experiment during World War II where pregnant women were given massive steroid injections so that their children could become ‘special,’ Zorin became a leading businessman in the microchip industry within France. While brilliant, a number of the children from the Nazi experiment, including Zorin, ended up possessing psychopathy, and Zorin grew up in the hands of Dr. Carl Mortner, who was behind the medical experiment. Zorin and Mortner fix horse races and have been affiliated with the KGB, even though Zorin has stated, to Russian representatives, that he no longer views himself as an employee of the KGB.
Diabolical Scheme: ‘Project Mainstrike.’ Zorin is looking to destroy his competitors in the Silicon Valley by creating an earthquake at the San Andreas Fault during high tide causing a tragic and destructive flood in the valley. All computer companies would be wiped out making Zorin the undeniable leading supplier of microships and the murder of millions of innocent people.
Plan Failure/Demise: Zorin watches his plan’s destruction by MI6’s James Bond and Zorin’s former lover, and henchwoman, May Day. May Day defects to Bond’s aid after Zorin attempts to kill her and she sacrifices herself just outside of the Zorin-created mine within the San Andreas Fault when Zorin’s bomb explodes and he watches her get blown to pieces. Vengeful, Zorin attempts to kill Bond and Bond girl, Stacey Sutton, and leaves them both dangling from his Zorin Industries blimp hoping that they will collide with the framework of the Golden Gate bridge and die. However, Bond moors the blimp to the Golden Gate bridge and a hand-to-fight transpires between an axe-wielding Zorin and a defenseless Bond atop the bridge. Unfortunately, Zorin loses his footing and Bond watches him struggle to hold onto the framework before he plummets into the Bay and dies upon smacking into the waves.
Review: In Roger Moore’s final take on James Bond, he faces off against major Hollywood player, Christopher Walken. Walken’s Zorin is exactly what Bond villains are supposed to be made of. Derived from a crazy medical experiment created by insane warring scientists, Max Zorin’s line between brilliance and psychopathic murderer is very, very blurry which is what allows him to remorselessly end lives and selfishly take control of businesses and locations. His mass destruction of Silicon Valley is reminiscent of the early films’ SPECTRE plots, where evil geniuses and operatives were looking to annihilate major landmarks and human life in an attempt to better their own outreach and this is exactly what Zorin is planning. While A View to a Kill is a solid entry and fitting ending to the Moore era of Bond, Christopher Walken, as a performer, is a scene-stealer as Zorin. That classically unique voice of Walken’s works proficiently as Zorin’s delivery and just hearing him talk civilly to Bond is hair-raising and unsettling. Walken is fantastic as one of the best Bond villains the series has seen in years.
Final Grade: A-
Villain Name: General Georgi Koskov/Brad Whitaker
Film Title: The Living Daylights
Portrayed by: Jeroen Krabbé/Joe Don Baker
Bio: General Koskov is a Soviet general who specializes in deceit and a sociopathic mentality. He pretends to be an anxious and wary defector between the Soviet Union and the West, but he is actually a conniving genius who has actually played both sides into his evil plan. American Brad Whitaker works within the international black market selling various firearms. He’s obsessed with warfare and uses the profits from selling weapons to finance his personal militia to make up for his failure of a military career. In his home, Whitaker has a war table where he recreates various historical battles having them occur in the way he would have fought them, he also owns statue representations of historical war figures with faces all fashioned to look like Whitaker’s.
Diabolical Scheme: Whitaker gets involved with General Koskov to secure a massive shipment of Afghanistan-imported opium from the Snow Leopard Brotherhood, which he will pay for with diamonds he obtained from the Soviets in an arms deal. Along with Koskov, they plan on having MI6 agent James bond eliminating General Pushkin, a Soviet head of operations, by implementing him in the ongoing “Smert Shpionam” (“Death to Spies”), even though it is actually their own men, specifically Koskov’s, that are knee-deep in the operation killing British secret service agents.
Plan Failure/Demise: When Koskov arrives in Afghanistan to carry out the plot alongside his Soviet comrades, Bond rides into the Soviet base supported by the Mujahedeen and destroys the plan carrying all of Whitaker’s opium. Bond revisits Whitaker in Tangiers and indulges in a frightening game of cat-and-mouse where Whitaker uses an automatic rifle complete with a blast shield and Bond uses nothing but his Walher PPK. Whitaker believes he has the jump on Bond, but Bond places a “whistle-controlled” keychain on the side of a Wellington bust and it self-destructs causing the bust to fall over and crush Whitaker. Ultimately, Koskov returns to see Whitaker and finds him dead and James Bond standing in the room alongside the supposedly dead General Pushkin. Koskov fakes loyalty and gratitude to see his general alive, but Pushkin sees through him and sends Koskov back to Russia in “diplomatic bag.”
Review: The James Bond films that attempt to split the villainy more than one way have a big job to do, and sometimes it works much better than in other instances. In From Russia With Love, the villainous duties of Red Grant, Rosa Klebb, and even the unseen Blofeld are nicely divided, whereas in The Living Daylights I always found Whitaker to be underused and underdeveloped. We get the idea that he is an insane, war-obsessed failure of a military man that finds more pleasure in illegal activities than patriotic ones, but in comparison the utilization of Koskov, the battle between Whitaker and Bond at the end always felt somewhat empty. It’s exciting, but Whitaker’s development and time within the film never warranted an explosive shootout, and Koskov is only involved in the climactic Afghanistan battle before being killed off screen. Koskov wonderfully presents his true nature when he switches from helpless defector to plan mastermind, but I always hoped that Bond would destroy Koskov himself instead of him just having an armed escort back to the motherland. This is a Bond film where the villains are definitely not the highlight, but they’re not necessarily bad villains.
Final Grade: B-
Villain Name: Franz Sanchez
Film Title: Licence to Kill
Portrayed by: Robert Davi
Bio: An infamous Miami drug lord who is arrested by MI6’s James Bond and CIA agent Felix Leiter just before they both head to Leiter’s wedding. Sanchez’s transportation to prison is interrupted by henchmen Ed Killifer and Dario who crash the prison transport truck into the water swimming Sanchez to safety and capturing Leiter while leaving his new wife dead in their home, respectively. Sanchez drops Leiter into a shark tank where Leiter loses one of his legs swearing that he will have revenge on Sanchez. In the hospital, Bond comes to visit his friend and promises to have revenge on Sanchez.
Diabolical Scheme: Utilizing the major control he has of Petrol tankers, Sanchez intends on creating an international drug cartel that seeps into nearly every country from South America to Asia by dissolving his cocaine in Petrol and transporting them in waves of trucks.
Plan Failure/Demise: Bond infiltrates Sachez’s base of operations, disguised as a meditation retreat center, and starts a fire in the laboratory causing the base to break down. Dario places Bond on a conveyor belt headed to a grinder, but Bond frees himself and throws Dario into the grinder. Sanchez flees the base with four tankers but Bond pursues via plane. After destroying three of the four tankers, Bond and Sanchez violently fight aboard the final petrol/cocaine tanker which eventually loses control and tumbles down a sandy hill. Both heavily injured, Bond is attacked by a Petrol-soaked Sanchez who wields a machete. The only thing Bond has to defend himself is the lighter than Felix gave him after Felix’s wedding. At first Sanchez laughs, but soon he realizes that Bond actually has the upper hand. Bond lights Sanchez on fire and he tumbles back toward the rolled over tanker, Bond runs from the scene as Sanchez collapses into the ruins of the Petrol truck which immediately explodes in a wondrous ball of fire.
Review: Honestly, I’ve always found Sanchez to be one of the most sinister and ruthless villains of the franchise and I’m shocked at how forgettable he has become within the pantheon of Bond villain. Not only does he have Felix Leiter’s new wife murdered in cold blood, but he has one of the most reoccurring characters in the franchise get his leg eaten off by a shark. Sanchez is an incredibly violent, and unsympathetic person and his anger only fuels his violence. Bond continue to cripple his drug ring and find a way to pin every dismantling effect on a various member of Sanchez’s crew, and Sanchez brutally murders every single one of them. His lack of care for human life, even for those closest to him, is what makes him frightening and his rage-induced final fight against Bond is wildly intense. And, personally, I’ve always found his explosive demise to be one of the most surprising in all of the films.
Final Grade: B+
Villain Name: Alec Trevelyan, ‘006’
Film Title: Goldeneye
Portrayed by: Sean Bean
Bio: Trevelyan’s Lienz Cossack parents survived the repatriation to the USSR having been sent to the gulags of far northern Russia and Siberia before Nikita Khrushchev’s death in 1953 and the parents gave birth to Alec in 1959. Sadly, Alec’s father murdered Alec’s mother and then committed suicide claiming that he was unable to live with the shame of what they had both endured. Alec became an MI6 agent, pretending to not know the truth about his past and subduing his hatred for the government that betrayed his parents. While on a mission with 007 in Russia (Bond is also an orphan), Alec stages his own death and narrowly escapes death from Bond’s shortened fuse times set to destroy the Soviet Arkhangelsk chemical weapons facility. In the time since, Trevelyan renames himself Janus and creates a criminal organization hell bent on extracting revenge on Britain.
Diabolical Scheme: By hijacking a Soviet space weapon, labeled with the codename GoldenEye, Trevelyan plans on stealing money from the Bank of England and then erasing all of the financial records with an EMP generated by the GoldenEye weapon thus masking the theft itself and crippling Britain’s economy beyond repair.
Plan Failure/Demise: Having traced Trevelyan’s Earth control center to Cuba, Bond and Natalya Simonova are captured and brought to Janus. Alec’s henchmen, Boris, a technical wizard, is attempting to right the interference that Simonova has sent to the GoldenEye satellite while Alec casually disarms Bond’s charges. However, Boris has been fumbling with a pen that is actually a gadget of Bond’s and hides a powerful explosive within it. Bond casts the pen into a well of fuel tankers and a massive diversion allows Bond and Simonova to escape. Alec heads to the exterior satellite dish to try and activate his plan manually, but Bond pursues and they fight right above the dish on the dangling antenna hundreds of feet in the air. When Trevelyan loses his footing, Bond holds him by his left leg before letting go and watching him plummet toward the dish. Bond returns to the base and destroys the entire structure sending it too falling into the dish crushing Alec Trevelyan once and for all.
Review: Alec Trevelyan was the first James Bond villain I ever encountered being that GoldenEye was the first James Bond film I had ever seen. In that respect, Trevelyan has always had a special place within my ranking of Bond villainy, but at the same time 006 is a pretty interesting villain. Intelligently, Bond is pitted against a former friend who had he thought, for nearly a decade, had been murdered. Learning that Trevelyan’s death was fake, he is immediately faced with the fact that Trevelyan has been a vengeful baddie all along and used the MI6 training to further him to his ultimate goal: Destruction of Britain. The parallels that are created by Bond and Alec, those that built their relationship as MI6 operatives, make them wonderful character foils as well and performances of Sean Bean and Pierce Brosnan make for one of the better Bond-villain dynamics since the early days of Sean Connery and George Lazenby facing off against megavillain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Those final moments during the climactic battle atop the dish in Cuba where Trevelyan hangs helpless, his life in the hands of his former friend, and he just looks up and asks, “For England, James?” to which Bond replies, “No, for me” and just drops him to death is practically unreal. Bond has killed a handful of the villains he has faced off against, but he has never so brutally let someone, who had had a major impact on his life years ago, die until now. It is the character connection between Trevelyan and Bond that make 006 one of the better villains serving the role in one of the better Bond films.
Final Grade: A-
Villain Name: Elliott Carver
Film Title: Tomorrow Never Dies
Portrayed by: Jonathan Pryce
Bio: Inspired by a combination of Rupert Murdoch, Robert Maxwell, Bill Gates and William Randolph Hearst (and, transitively, Charles Foster Kane), Elliott Carver is a massive media mogul determined to bring his huge franchise into the next century by any means necessary. His wealth and power is used to control lives which he believes are hooked on the new media, which is very true to the time of the late 1990s.
Diabolical Scheme: Working with General Chang, Carver is looking to provoke the United Kingdom and China into war by leading a British warship into the territorial water of China before forcing it to sink. Following this, a nuclear missile will be fired on Beijing forcing a new regime in China. In the end, Chang will then manage a cease-fire with the UK cementing his position as the new leader of China while Carver will be permitted to expand his media hierarchy into China for the next century.
Plan Failure/Demise: Bond and intelligence agent Wai Lin compromise Carver’s stealth boat and they contact a British Navy ship which fires on Carver’s ship destroying the nuclear missile being held in the bay and destroying the ship in its entirety. Moments before destruction, Bond and Carver fight; the satisfaction in Carver’s face when he realizes that he has the life of James Bond in his hands. Unfortunately for the media mogul, Bond activates Carver’s sea drill which is being supported by a crane near the missile. Bond sends it forward, driving toward the two of them. Taken off guard, Bond poises Carver right in front of the sea drill and jumps out of the way at the last second before Carver is drilled into pieces.
Review: The slimy Jonathan Pryce makes for an excellent Bond villain, with his prickly white hair and wire-rimmed glasses. Carver’s introduction is fabulous as well: He watches his henchmen, Mr. Stamper, execute the entire crew of a British ship and he creates the devastating headlines of the next morning’s newspaper in a giant room lined with screens. We only see Carver’s eyes and occasionally hear his voice, but the satisfaction we see in his eyes when he writes the word, “murdered,” in the headline of the Tomorrow’s front page is spine-tingling. Also, Carver would probably be good friends with Karl Stromberg and Blofeld who were both intending on watching the world cripple itself by initiating a third world war. It’s hard to miss the fact that Carver’s plot aligns so closely with previous Bond villains, but he makes for a cold-hearted and twistedly evil character (he even has his own wife murdered after she spends a night with her former lover, Bond). With some devilish henchmen, Carver is a fine interpretation of how Charles Foster Kane would act in the current world and how he would fight against the tenacious James Bond.
Final Grade: B+
Villain Name: Renard/Elektra King
Film Title: The World is Not Enough
Portrayed by: Robert Carlyle/Sophie Marceau
Bio: Renard is a mentally unstable former KGB agent who rerouted himself toward terrorism, extortion, and kidnapping after he had been expelled by the Russian government. Elektra King is the daughter of Sir Robert King and her mother is of Azeri descent and fled her home country after the Soviet Union was established. She was kidnapped as a teenager by the terrorist, Renard, and she became Renard’s lover after her own father refused to pay the ransom, despite pushes from his friend, MI6 head, M. She mutilated herself so that Renard could toy with Sir Robert and she pretended to have been traumatized by her experience in Renard’s care. During her captivity, Renard was shot in the head by MI6 agent, 009, and though Renard survived the bullet had to remain lodged in his brain. The bullet will eventually kill him, as it slowly creeps through his brain, but in the time until, he has lost a number of his senses including his ability to feel pain. A decade later, she collaborated with Renard in a massive domination plot.
Diabloical Scheme: After murdering her father and sleeping with Bond to throw off suspicion that was immediately aimed toward her, King is looking to inherit the entirety of her family’s oil business. Renard, meanwhile, wants to destroy Istanbul with a nuclear submarine in the Bosphorus which will allow her lover, Elektra, to monopolize the oil market with her new business.
Plan Failure/Demise: Elektra succeeds very early in murdering her father with a surprise attack within the confines of MI6, but her toying with Bond’s heart leaves him emotionally compromised. She believes that Bond’s weakness for women makes her stronger in a face off and as she yells to her lover Renard to dive the submarine into the depths of the Istanbul waters, Bond plugs Elektra in the stomach killing her instantly. Bond pursues Renard onto his submarine and they fight extensively forcing the submarine to plunge into the ocean floor. Here, Bond prevents Renard from triggering the reactor core meltdown because of the flooding from the cracks in the submarine’s hull. Before escaping, Bond shoots the plutonium rod, that is critical to the plan’s completion and success, at high speed out of its socket directly into Renard’s stomach thus impaling him and killing him.
Review: This is one of the better divisions between villainy in the franchise due to Elektra King’s surprise turn toward the end of the film. She already has her beauty as a powerful weapon allowing her to take control of James Bond, but her true intentions are not revealed until the film’s third act making her ability to cover her tracks early on rather impressive. Unfortunately for Sophie Marceau, who’s not a particularly talented actress, Elektra could have even been better, as opposed to Robert Carlyle who is fantastically villainous, horrifying, and heinous as the terrorist, Renard. His appearance, immediately, is notably unattractive and the barely healed bullet wound on his forehead is very, very off-putting. Carlyle is terrific as well; his vulnerability, and rage, come from his deep affection for Elektra and the actor plays it all really well. As a result, I’ve always highly admired Renard as a Bond baddie and Elektra is a fine accomplice, but Merceau’s poor acting is aggravating because we get far more of Elektra throughout the film than we do Renard.
Final Rating: B
Villain Name: Gustav Graves
Film Title: Die Another Day
Portrayed by: Toby Stephens
Bio: Gustav Graves, also know as Colonel Tan-Gun Moon, is a dealer of hi-tech weaponry and has taken part in illicit diamond smuggling in order to fund a private North Korean army. When Bond goes to North Korea to assassinate Moon, Bond’s cover is compromised and a fight aboard a hovercraft ensues leading to Moon’s supposed death and Bond’s fourteen-month captivity. The Colonel, however, did not die and became the billionaire Gustav Graves after facial reconstructive surgery altered his appearance entirely.
Diabolical Scheme: With double agent Miranda Frost, who many believed had worked for MI6, Graves plans on invading South Korea with the help of his orbital weapons satellite, nicknamed “Icarus,” that fires a concentrated burst of the Sun’s energy on to any target.
Plan Failure/Demise: Miranda Frost lures Bond to bed only to betray him and hand him over to Gustav Graves, but Bond escapes thanks to Q’s gadgets. Bond and Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson make their way onto Graves’ cargo plane where Bond renders Icarus harmless by destroying the control device. Bond fights Graves while Jinx fights Frost in the cargo hold. The two women fight with extensively with swords until Jinx puts a dagger in Frost’s heart. In the main cabin, Bond pulls the chord on Graves’ parachute, which pulls him out of the place directly into the plane engine. The plane engine goes up in flames which causes the plane to explode just after Bond and Jinx escape in a helicopter.
Review: Both Frost and Graves are incredibly lame villains with very poor intentions. Graves’ facial reconstruction story is a far out reach for story sensibility and Frost’s betrayal of Bond and MI6 is seemingly out of the blue. It doesn’t help that both actress Rosamund Pike and actor Toby Stephens are so talentless and play their characters so blandly that whether they are good guys or bad guys they are nearly unwatchable. Graves’ plot is beyond ridiculous as well, and this becomes apparent when we watch a giant fire beam destroy fields in South Korea. It’s so unbelievable and outrageous that it’s no surprise Eon Productions was looking for a reboot immediately following the release of Die Another Day.
Final Grade: D-
Villain Name: Le Chiffre
Film Title: Casino Royale
Portrayed by: Made Mikkelsen
Bio: An Albanian, yet officially stateless, banker for world terrorism who has been linked to numerous terrorist attacks, including the September 11th attacks. He is a mathematical wizard and prodigal at chess, which have allowed him to profit even more through games of chance and probabilities, specifically poker. He suffers from haemolacria, a condition that damages his left eye and causes him to weep blood, he also uses a Salbutamol inhaler and dresses in all black suits.
Diabolical Scheme: By shorting airline stocks and then destroying a prototype mega-jet liner, Le Chiffre will make his clients, the Lord’s Resistance Army, immensely wealthy. When plans go awry, he must recoup his clients’ lost funds by winning a Texas Hold’em tournament at the Casino Royale in Montenegro.
Plan Failure/Demise: In a spectacular sequence, Bond stops the prototype jet liner from being destroyed and then is sent to Montenegro to face off against Le Chiffre directly and stop him from making back the money that he now owes his clients. In a marvelous show of gamesmanship, Bond defeats Le Chiffre at the poker table and sends him fleeing, but not without kidnapping Bond’s partner, Vesper Lynd. In hot pursuit, Bond crashes his vehicle and is taken captive by Le Chiffre who tortures him. Just before he passes out from the pain, Bond witnesses a man, named Mr. White, enter the torture room and hold Le Chiffre at gunpoint. Le Chiffre frantically attempts to apologize to the man, but his words do him no justice and Mr. White fires a round directly into Le Chiffre’s head.
Review: Though fantastically acted by Danish actor, Mads Mikkelsen, Le Chiffre suffers as an all around villain by being completely absent from the film’s third act. He is a nasty looking villain with terrible intentions, but since the last forty-five minutes of the film occur without the presence, whatsoever, he seems to be a wasted opportunity. Though Casino Royale is indubitably complex and the last forty five minutes transpire just as they rightfully should, it is simply shocking that the film’s main antagonist is taken out only two thirds into the movie. Still, Le Chiffre is great in the time that he is given and the poker sequence between him and Bond is excellently executed by director Martin Campbell, plus Le Chiffre’s plans are grounded in reality. Yet, I just can’t help but wonder what a few more minutes of Le Chiffre might have been like.
Final Grade: C+
Villain Name: Dominic Greene
Film Title: Quantum of Solace
Portrayed by: Mathieu Amalric
Bio: Alongside Le Chiffre and Le Chiffre’s killer, Mr. White, Dominic Greene holds an elite position within the terrorism group, Quantum, though his exact position title or status is never explicitly stated. He is a jealous, unstable, greedy, and violent man with little care for human life. He is also the CEO of Greene Planet, an eco-friendly company supposedly devoted to preserving large areas of land, but this is actually a front for the control of valuable commodities like oil and water. It is inferred that Greene is also a paranoid schizophrenic.
Diabolical Scheme: Greene manufactures a twisted deal with the exiled dictator of Bolivia, General Medrano, planning to have Medrano restore his power so that Greene can secure a large piece of land in Bolivia. With 60% of Bolivia in their control, Greene and Quantum will suck up all of Bolivia’s water and take control of the surplus. The Bolivian aquifers will be dammed and then Greene will stage a coup d’état and the terrorist group will be selling the water supplies back to the new government at outrageously boosted prices.
Plan Failure/Demise: With the vengeful Camille Montes, who has been planning on murdering General Medrano since she watched him murder her family when she was very young, Bond infiltrates Greene’s headquarters in the Bolivian desert and sets the building on fire. In the frenzy, Montes shoots Medrano thus preventing Greene’s planned coup to occur within Bolivia. Angered, Greene attacks Bond atop a catwalk suspended above the bursting flames with a fire ax. Luckily, Bond is well-trained and Greene is a terrible fighter, so Greene axes himself in the foot and Bond jumps for stable ground when the catwalk descends into the flames. However, Bond saves Greene’s life and pulls him to safety and the trio leave the headquarters before it explodes entirely. Bond and Montes speed out of the desert leaving Greene alone with only a can full of oil, no food or any way of contacting anyone, let alone Quantum, for assistance. M later informs Bond that Greene was found in the desert with two bullets in his head and a full can of oil in his stomach.
Review: In the shortest and most disappointing entry in the Bond franchise, Quantum of Solace attempts to continue the story from where Casino Royale left off by expanding the evil terrorism group that Le Chiffre was the banker for into the SPECTRE-esque criminal organization, Quantum. And, like SPECTRE, Quantum intends on stealing one country’s treasure or valuable commodities and attempting to sell it back to that country in order to extort the foreign government for large sums of money. Since Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace were looking to be a franchise reboot, Quantum was definitely intended to be the franchise’s new SPECTRE, unfortunately not enough time is dedicated to Quantum (or Greene) to make the company villainous enough to warrant franchise longevity, which is why Quantum will not be involved in the upcoming Skyfall. Greene, while played by naturally unattractive and eerie Mathieu Amalric, is a weak villain because of his insecurities and timidity. He is a key member of Quantum, but whenever faced with danger, especially facing Bond, he visibly looks fearful and unstable and as a result the climactic mano-e-mano altercation is underwhelming and borderline laughable. Bond merely moves out of the way of the swinging ax and Greene almost singlehandedly takes himself down. In fact, if it weren’t for Bond, Greene would have been incinerated as opposed to being taken out by Quantum off screen. Like mid-Moore era villains, Greene is a merely acceptable villain, and in this case he is affected by a below average, embarrassed-to-be-called-Bond 007 actioner.
Final Grade: C
Raoul Silva will be facing off against Daniel Craig’s agent 007, James Bond, in Sam Mendes’ Skyfall, being released nationwide on Friday, November 9th.