Feb 25, 2011

Tradecraft: Ethan Hawke's Spy Team Comes Together

Deadline reports that two more members of Ethan Hawke's Mission: Impossible-like team of specialists-cum-spies have been cast on Fox's Exit Strategy.  British Elyes Gabel (a veteran of UK series Identity and The Dead Set) will play the Iranian-born Tarik, whom the trade blog describes as "an expert in vehicular transportation" (I don't know if that's their phrasing or the show's, but it sure beats "driver!") and Lina Esco (Heroes) will play "sassy South Boston girl Mia, an MIT graduate and computer expert." In other words, this team's Barney Collier. Hawke plays team leader Erik Shaw (filling the shoes of the late, great Peter Graves), and Megan Dodds was already cast as the team's doctor (filling the shoes, I suppose, of young Sam Elliott). Antoine Fuqua directs the pilot.

Exit Strategy unfolds in real time and follows this team of specialists as they clean up the CIA's worst messes and extract agents in very bad (dare I say... impossible?) situations week after week.  Right now, it looks like the CIA could use Erik Shaw and his people in real life to extract Agency contractor Ray Davis, currently sitting in jail in Pakistan on murder charges facing a possible death penalty, despite his diplomatic credentials. There's an interesting article on The Washington Post's excellent Spy Talk blog wherein former spooks discuss possible exfiltration scenarios to rescue Davis. All the non-diplomatic possibilities sound pretty preposterous... just like the stuff of Hollywood.  (One source even tells reporter Jeff Stein, "The more you think about it, the more it seems like Mission Impossible silliness.”) Presumably Exit Strategy producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and writer David Guggenheim are taking notes!

Exit Strategy is shaping up to be the new spy series I'm most looking forward to. I love the Mission: Impossible team dynamic, and if the actual Mission: Impossible franchise isn't going to use it in the Tom Cruise movies, someone else might as well do so.  The only thing I'm apprehensive of is the real-time aspect. Thankfully it will be different from 24 because each hour will occur on a totally different day and place rather than connecting together to form one long, very bad day, but it still might come off as less than original following that show's eight-season run. More worryingly, it could also become creatively limiting in later seasons, as it did on 24. Hopefully not, though...


Archer Fan said...


Have you ever seen the 1976 movie "The Sellout" starring Richard Widmark? If so, is it worth my $20 from WB shop?

Tanner said...

I'm afraid I haven't seen that one, Archer Fan, so I can't help you there. Sorry! (I have been curious about it, though, and somehow missed that it had gotten a Warner Archive release!)