Nov 21, 2013

Simon Pegg Returns for Another Mission

We have our second confirmed team member for Christopher McQuarrie's Mission: Impossible 5 (following last May's obvious announcement that Tom Cruise would once again star as Ethan Hunt). When asked by MTV (via Dark Horizons) if he'd be back for a third round as IMF agent Benji Dunn (Pegg debuted in the franchise's third installments), Pegg enthusiastically replied, "Yes, absolutely! I'm looking forward to that. I've already started eating one carrot a day in order to be in shape." Great! I really hope that McQuarrie brings back as many of the team members from Brad Bird's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol as possible. That was the first film in the theatrical franchise that actually did a decent job of capturing the team dynamic that made the TV show so great.

Nov 20, 2013

The Muppets Go Spying

The new Muppet movie, Muppets Most Wanted, has a distinctly spyish flavor. Not only does this UK trailer feature fake James Bond music, but Sam the Eagle plays a CIA agent! (Of course the film is also tipping its hat to the best Muppets movie ever, 1981's The Great Muppet Caper, which featured Diana Rigg.) While we're on the subject of Muppets and spies, it's worth remember than Roger Moore appeared on the original Muppet Show (which was, of course, an ITC series like The Saint and The Persuaders!) and Pierce Brosnan appeared on the Nineties revival Muppets Tonight. In 1999, Brosnan was even attached to a Muppet movie that sadly never came to be. Frequent Kevin Smith collaborator Brian Lynch sold a spec script to The Jim Henson Company which would have seen the Muppets lured to solo Hollywood careers. Gonzo was to replace Brosnan as James Bond, and Brosnan would have played himself. It's a pity that film didn't happen.

Nov 13, 2013

Tradecraft: Olympus Has Fallen Goes Spy for Sequel

Deadline reports that the first of this year's dueling Die Hard-in-the-White House movies, Olympus Has Fallen, will get a sequel. And unlike the first one, the sequel will be a spy movie. According to the trade, "this time around POTUS (Aaron Eckhart) and his trusted Secret Service bodyguard Mike Banning (Gerrard Butler) plus an English MI6 agent are the only ones who can stop a plot to take down London during the Prime Minister’s funeral." Since the threat is within England, I'm assuming they mean an MI5 agent, but then again I doubt accuracy is very high on the producers' list of priorities. "Angela Bassett and Radha Mitchell also reprise their roles in London Has Fallen as the director of the Secret Service and Mike’s wife, respectively, while [Morgan] Freeman is back as Senator Allan Trumbull." The first film's screenwriters, Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger, are also penning the sequel, with filming expected to begin in May 2014. The project is currently out to directors, so hopefully that means that Antoine Fuqua (Shooter) will not be returning. (He's gone on to helm the feature film version of The Equalizer.)

Upcoming Spy CDs: OSS 117: Murder For Sale Soundtrack

While the first four movies in Andre Hunebelle's OSS 117 Eurospy series were scored by Michel Magne, the fifth film, whose many titles include OSS 117: Murder For Sale, OSS 117: Double Agent and No Roses for OSS 117, saw changes both in front of and behind the camera, including the composer. John Gavin (who later signed on as James Bond for Diamonds Are Forever before Sean Connery was lured back) stepped into the lead role, taking over from Frederick Stafford, and joined a dream-team spy ensemble that included Curd Jürgens, Luciana Paluzzi, Margaret Lee and Rosalba Neri. While Hunebelle still produced, Renzo Cerrato and Jean-Pierre Desagnat assisted with directing chores, and veteran Eurospy composer Piero Piccioni (The 10th Victim, Matchless, From the Orient With Fury) took over the scoring. This meant (obviously) that no music from this film was included on the excellent Michel Magne OSS 117 compilation CD from Universal. But this month, as first reported on the Spy Bob Royale website, Beat Records will release Piero Piccioni's complete score for this film as Niente Rose per OSS 117. It's available for pre-order from Amazon and, more reasonably, Screen Archives Entertainment. It will be great to have this elusive OSS 117 music at last! I hope Beat Records follows it up with further complete OSS 117 scores.

Read my review of Niente rose per OSS 117 here.
Read my overview of the OSS 117 Eurospy series here.

Tradecraft: Idris Elba Takes Lead in Bastille Day

We haven't heard about the neo-Eurospy movie Bastille Day in quite a while - in a year, actually. Last we heard, Taken and From Paris With Love director Pierre Morel was attached, but he's moved on to other stuff since then. (Namely, The Gunman, starring Sean Penn.) Now, however, Bastille Day seems to be moving forward once more, with a major star attached: the awesome Idris Elba (who also co-stars in The Gunman). Variety reports that Vendome Pictures and Anonymous Content will produce, and no director is currently attached. According to the trade, "the story revolves around a U.S. operative who is tasked with interrogating and eventually making a young American boy 'disappear' in order to avoid embarrassment to the U.S. government after the boy is linked as the prime suspect to an attack on the Paris metro. After several more attacks, the operative realizes the boy is innocent and may be the only link to the person actually orchestrating the attacks."

Nov 12, 2013

Tradecraft: Spooks Feature Film Cast Expands

Deadline reports that Kit Harington (Game Of Thrones) and Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty) have joined the previously announced Peter Firth in Spooks: The Greater Good, the feature film continuation of the popular and long-running UK spy series Spooks (known in the U.S. as MI-5. According to the trade, "Harington plays an ex-MI-5 operative brought back in by Ehle’s deputy chief to uncover how a terrorist escaped custody during a routine handover." The feature, directed by frequent series helmer Bharat Nalluri, is scheduled to shoot early next year. Further cast announcements are expected soon; it's still unknown if any other series cast members whose characters survived will be joining Firth. I have yet to see Game of Thrones (I know, I know...), but I saw Harington on a panel at Comic-Con and he exuded leading man charm. Ehle is always good (and especially in Zero Dark Thirty), so I have no doubt she'll make a good addition to the Spooks team too.

Read my review of MI-5: Volume 1
Read my review of MI-5: Volume 2
Read my review of MI-5: Volume 3
Read my review of MI-5: Volume 4
Read my review of MI-5: Volume 5

Spyship Finally Sails Onto DVD

Spyship, the critically revered 1983 BBC Cold War drama from (in part) Callan creator James Mitchell, is finally available on DVD for the first time next week in the UK courtesy of distributor Simply Media. I've never seen this series, but as a huge fan of Callan (and of 1980s UK spy dramas), I've long wanted to and happy that now I finally can. Here's how Simply Media describes the plot:
Enter a nightmarish world of political cover-ups of international consequence in the last decade of the Cold War in this six-part BBC drama. 
When an ordinary British fishing vessel and its 36-man crew mysteriously disappears off the coast of Norway, journalist Martin Taylor (Tom Wilkinson) is determined to find out why. His father was on board, and is now missing. 
His investigations soon lead him to run up against the twin barriers of Royal Navy stonewalling and an impenetrable Soviet Politburo.
The notorious finale shocked audiences when it was first aired in 1983. 
Spyship is based on the fictional novel by Brian Haynes and Tom Keene, former reporters who researched the real life sinking of the FV Gaul in 1974 which was shrouded in mystery.
The Region 2 PAL 2-disc set is available to pre-order from Amazon UK for £15.82; it comes out on November 18.

Steve Coogan Shows Off His Bond Impressions on The Jonathan Ross Show

In The Trip, we saw Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden attempt to outdo each other with their hilarious Michael Caine impressions, and we saw Coogan do a terrific Roger Moore. On The Jonathan Ross Show last week, the British actor/comedian showed off his impressive impressions of other Bond actors. Coogan's Dalton leaves a lot to be desired (and sadly he doesn't do a Lazenby even though he claims to have every Bond actor but Craig in his repertoire), but his Moore and Brosnan are particularly spot-on. Check it out:

Coogan can currently be seen starring opposite former M actress Judi Dench in the Oscar-touted dramady Philomena. At one time he was linked (along with Ben Stiller) to play the Roger Moore role in a feature film remake of The Persuaders!, but sadly that never came to be. Coogan's career is littered with Bond reverence and references. His signature character Alan Partridge is obsessed with Roger Moore, and it's a running joke on the premiere of Coogan's first Partridge-centric series Knowing Me, Knowing You, that Moore fails to show up for an interview on Alan's chat show. In one of the most memorable episodes of the subsequent series, I'm Alan Partridge, Alan hilariously re-enacts the entirety of The Spy Who Loved Me for his friends when the VCR breaks.

Sterling Archer Teaches Gun Safety

I love Archer's viral video campaign leading up to the January premiere of the fourth season of the hilariously irreverent animated spy spoof. We've already seen an Archer remake of Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone" music video (it makes sense if you've watched the series) and an HR film on conflict resolution featuring Pam Poovey and her puppet. The latest video promoting the FX series is another Dharma Iniative-like ISIS training film with Archer himself teaching gun safety to new recruits. Check it out:

Nov 1, 2013

Tradecraft: Spooks/MI-5 Revived For Theatrical Movie

BBC's Spooks, known in America as MI-5, ran for ten seasons and concluded in 2011, making it one of the longest running spy series in television history. Now it looks like the show may find a new life in feature films. Variety reports that series star Peter Firth, who played spymaster Harry Pearce, will star in the theatrical feature Spooks: The Greater Good for Shine Pictures and Kudos. Series producers Jane Featherstone and Stephen Garrett will team up with Ollie Madden (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) to produce the film, from a script by series writers Jonathan Brackley and Sam Vincent. Bharat Nalluri, who helmed both the series pilot and the series finale as well as lots of episodes in between, will direct the movie as well. The producers are seeking international distribution partners at the American Film Market. According to the trade, "In the film, a terrorist escapes from the custody of MI-5, the British intelligence service, during a handover. The head of counter-terrorism is blamed, and then disappears himself. His protege is called in to help uncover what happened." So far Firth is the only actor attached, but I'm sure a few more familiar faces from the series (well, from the few who survived all the way through anyway) will turn up, probably joined by some heavy-hitting guest stars. Personally, I'd love to see Hugh Laurie reprise his Season 1 role as Firth's condescending MI-6 counterpart Jools Siviter!

Read my review of MI-5: Volume 1
Read my review of MI-5: Volume 2
Read my review of MI-5: Volume 3
Read my review of MI-5: Volume 4
Read my review of MI-5: Volume 5