Apr 26, 2016

SPECTRE Returns in Warren Ellis' Second James Bond Comics Arc

According to the solicitation copy for Dynamite's James Bond 007 #7, in stores June 15, Warren Ellis's second 007 arc will see the return of the villainous organization SPECTRE to the pages of comics. Indeed, as the comics are licensed from Ian Fleming Publications and based on the Fleming novels rather than the films, the storyline "EIDOLON," also marks the first appearance of SPECTRE in print (in the world of the literary Bond) since John Gardner's tenure as the official continuation author back in the 1980s! Here's the description:
After World War Two, army intelligence groups created ghost cells called "stay-behinds" across Europe in the event of a Warsaw Pact surge. “EIDOLON” is the story of a SPECTRE stay-behind structure – ghost cells of SPECTRE loyalists acting as sleepers until the time is right for a SPECTRE reformation and resurgence. The time is now.
Ellis gave an interview with Comic Book Resources, revealing slightly more about the story. "SPECTRE is over as a threat at this time in Bond's life, and Blofeld is gone," he tells the website, promising, "This is something new." The inspiration for "EIDOLON" (a Greek word meaning "ghost," "phantom," or... "specter"), he reveals, draws as much upon current events as it does on those WWII stay-behind units. "I'd been looking for a way to introduce asymmetrical warfare and modern combat conditions into Bond without being too clunky about it -- AQ, Daesh, the movement of money, all the stuff that didn't necessarily pertain when Fleming was writing," he told CBR.

And while we might not be seeing Ernst Stavro Blofeld rise from the ashes, Ellis does promise one figure from Bond's past. Fans can look forward to CIA agent (or former CIA agent, depending on which part of Fleming's timeline Ellis ends up drawing from) Felix Leiter popping up in "EIDOLON."

Meanwhile, Ellis's first James Bond 007 storyline, "VARGR," will be collected in hardcover this summer, in stores June 28 and available for pre-order on Amazon.

Apr 25, 2016

New Trailer and Posters: Le Carré's Our Kind of Traitor

We saw the British trailer a couple of months ago; now we get our first American trailer for Our Kind of Traitor, courtesy of Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions—along with the rather uninspired U.S. (above) and UK (below) posters for the John le Carré adaptation, based on his highly entertaining 2010 novel. Ewan McGregor (Stormbreaker), Naomie Harris (Skyfall), Damian Lewis (Homeland), Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) and Stellan Skarsgård (The Hunt for Red October) star. Our Kind of Traitor opens July 1 in the United States, and May 13 in the UK.

New Poster: Jason Bourne

Here's the second teaser poster for Jason Bourne, the fourth movie starring Matt Damon as Robert Ludlum's amnesiac superspy, and the third directed by Paul Greengrass. Jason Bourne opens July 27, 2016 (two days earlier than previously announced). Watch the latest trailer here. View the first poster (same slogan, full body) here.

Apr 21, 2016

Trailer: Jason Bourne

We got our first glimpse in nine years at Matt Damon in action as Jason Bourne during the Super Bowl spot for the eponymous new movie. Today, Universal has released the full trailer, and it looks pretty spectacular! Damon re-teams with his Bourne Supremacy, Bourne Ultimatum and Green Zone director Paul Greengrass, and the results are exactly what you'd expect of that team. Jason Bourne (which bodly abandons the traditional Robert Ludlum title structure) opens July 29.  Alicia Vikander (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), Vincent Cassel (Agents Secrets), Tommy Lee Jones (Criminal) and Julia Stiles (reprising her role from previous Bourne movies) co-star.

Read my review of Paul Greengrass's The Bourne Ultimatum here.
Read my review of Tony Gilroy's The Bourne Legacy here.
Read my review of the 1988 miniseries of The Bourne Identity here.
Read my review of Robert Ludlum's novel The Bourne Identity here.
Read my review of Robert Ludlum's novel The Bourne Supremacy here.
Read my review of Robert Ludlum's novel The Bourne Ultimatum here

Apr 19, 2016

The Night Manager Debuts Tonight in America

I've been covering this miniseries with much excitement since it was first announced in 2014, and tonight it is finally here! After it aired in the UK last month and in various other territories since then, American audiences at last get to tune in to the six-part BBC/AMC miniseries The Night Manager, based on John le Carré's 1993 novel, starting tonight. Hugh Laurie (House), Tom Hiddleston (Marvel's The Avengers), Olivia Colman (Broadchruch) and Elizabeth Debicki (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) star in Susanne Bier's contemporary take on le Carré's much loved thriller. Laurie has long been a fan of this novel, having attempted to secure the rights back in his Jeeves & Wooster days hoping to play the role Hiddleston now takes on, and written his own fantastic parody of it (and the spy genre at large) in The Gun Seller. (And according to Adam Sisman's recent le Carré biography, Laurie has actually known the author personally since the Nineties, having met him through Stephen Fry.) Attempts to film The Night Manager date back nearly to its original publication. As recently as 2009, Brad Pitt hoped to star in a feature version. But in many ways le Carré works best on the small screen, where there is plenty of room to explore all the nuances, twists and turns of his complex plots. (The BBC's miniseries versions of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People starring Alec Guinness remain high water marks of the genre to this day.) Amazingly, it's been 25 years since the last small screen le Carré adaptation, 1991's A Murder of Quality (review here). After the success The Night Manager has already enjoyed in Britain (where, like the Guinness miniseries before it, it was a bona fide cultural phenomenon), it's unlikely we'll have to wait so long again. The Ink Factory, the production company founded by two of le Carré's sons behind The Night Manager, is already cooking up a three-part adaptation of the author's 2003 novel Absolute Friends.

The Night Manager debuts tonight, Tuesday, April 19, at 10/9c on AMC.

Apr 4, 2016

Blue Ruin Director to Helm Robert Littell's Defection?

This project was first reported back in 2014, but things have been quiet since then. I'm glad to learn it's still progressing! According to The Tracking Board (via Dark Horizons), Jeremy Saulnier, who helmed the acclaimed 2014 indie feature Blue Ruin and the upcoming Patrick Stewart white supremacist thriller Green Room, is in talks to make his studio debut with 20th Century Fox's Defection. As previously reported, Defection (scripted by Black Hawk Down's Ken Nolan) is based on The Defection of A.J. Lewinter, the first novel by spy stalwart Robert Littell, whose works have also served as the basis for the TNT series The Company (with Michael Keaton) and Legends (with Sean Bean). Here's how The Tracking Board describes the project:
Cut from the same cloth as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy but set in an Edward Snowden era, Defection tells the story of Leo Diamond, a broken down CIA case officer who uses his calculated Cold War training to go after a mid-level CIA intelligence contractor who has defected to North Korea and has taken a mysterious suitcase with him.
Littell's novel is a bona fide classic, but very, very much seeped in the Cold War period in which it was written. Relocating it to North Korea wouldn't be nearly as simple as doing a find/replace swapping "Pyongyang" for "Moscow;" it would require considerable research into the ins and outs of North Korean politics and power structures (which I'm presuming are just as internecine as they were in the Soviet Union in the Seventies). And changing the defector from a scientist to an intelligence contractor, while timely in the wake of Snowden, will also create major ramifications in the novel's plot—possibly even affecting one of the all-time great final twists in spy fiction. Just making the very play-like, talky novel cinematic would be a major challenge, so I look forward to seeing how Nolan pulls it off. Saulnier is an expert at creating tension, so I have no doubt he'll pull off this difficult page to screen transition.

At one point Brad Pitt was attached to star in and produce Defection. He's not mentioned in this report, so I'm not sure if he's involved any longer.