Tuesday, August 20, 2019

OFFICIAL: Bond 25 title confirmed as 'No Time To Die'


James Bond Producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli today released the official title of the 25th James Bond adventure, No Time To Die. The film, from Albert R. Broccoli’s EON Productions, Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios (MGM), and Universal Pictures International is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation, True Detective) and stars Daniel Craig, who returns for his fifth film as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007. Written by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade (SPECTRE, Skyfall), Cary Joji Fukunaga, Scott Z. Burns (Contagion, The Bourne Ultimatum) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Killing Eve, Fleabag) No Time To Die is currently in production. The film will be released globally from April 3, 2020 in the UK through Universal Pictures International and in the US on April 8, from MGM via their United Artists Releasing banner.

No Time To Die also stars Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Billy Magnussen, Ana de Armas, Rory Kinnear, David Dencik, Dali Benssalah with Jeffrey Wright and Ralph Fiennes.

In No Time To Die, Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology. 

Other members of the creative team are; Composer Dan Romer, Director of Photography Linus Sandgren, Editors Tom Cross and Elliot Graham, Production Designer Mark Tildesley, Costume Designer Suttirat Larlarb, Hair and Make up Designer Daniel Phillips, Supervising Stunt Coordinator Olivier Schneider, Stunt Coordinator Lee Morrison and Visual Effects Supervisor Charlie Noble. Returning members to the team are; 2nd Unit Director Alexander Witt, Special Effects and Action Vehicles Supervisor Chris Corbould and Casting Director Debbie McWilliams.


Friday, August 16, 2019

'The Bond of The Millennium', a book covering Pierce Brosnan's James Bond adventures, is released

For many of us, Pierce Brosnan was our first James Bond. We loved all of his big-screen adventures long before we heard that four actors have previously portrayed the secret agent and that 16 films have preceded GoldenEye, the 1995 blockbuster that placed agent 007 once again as a popular action hero as critics thought he was no match for the modern action heroes. Nicolás Suszczyk was one of those kids that grew up with Brosnan's Bond and he dedicates this book to defend this era, making a thorough exploration of these four films by analyzing the characters and the sociopolitical background of the time in which these productions were released, much as he did with The World of GoldenEye back in June. There is also a chapter focused on the video game adaptations of the Brosnan films, particularly the three original adventures developed by Electronic Arts: 007 Racing, 007 Nightfire and Everything or Nothing. As you wait for the 25th James Bond adventure to arrive, this may be a good reading to remember such an important era in the timeless world of James Bond.

The first time Pierce Brosnan went to the cinema, aged 11, he watched a James Bond film. At the age of 27, he married a James Bond girl. He had the chance of playing James Bond himself at the age of 33 but lost the role due to contractual obligations. He was 41 when he was formally announced as the fifth actor to play James Bond on June 8, 1994, playing the role for a decade in four productions and three original video games. One could say that it was written that at some point of his life Brosnan would play Ian Fleming’s secret agent, and this happened during a particular time where the world was going through many cultural, technological and political changes.

Featuring interviews with stunt performers Sarah Donohue (The World Is Not Enough) and Jean Pierre-Goy (Tomorrow Never Dies), actor Daz Crawford (The World Is Not Enough), screenwriter Danny Bilson (007 Nightfire, Everything or Nothing) and percussionist Pete Lockett (Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day), among many others, this book offers an in-depth look to the era that took the franchise to new heights from the 1990s to the first years of the new millennium, remarking the importance that Pierce Brosnan’s portrayal of James Bond has had to guarantee the continued success of 007 into the 21st century.

Nicolás Suszczyk became a James Bond fan when he first watched GoldenEye at the age of 7 on his native Buenos Aires. As a freelance writer he has contributed in magazines like MI6 Confidential and Le Bond and sites like Ultimate Action Movie Club, From Sweden With Love, Archivo 007 and The Spy Command. He is the editor of the web sites The GoldenEye Dossier, Bond En Argentina and The Secret Agent Lair, which he co-admins with Jack Walter Christian. In 2019 he published his first book, The World of GoldenEye, also available on Amazon stores.

The Bond of The Millennium is now available on Paperback and Kindle formats on the Amazon store.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

'The Russia House': love in the time of glasnost

Based on a 1989 novel by John Le Carré, The Russia House was directed by Fred Schepisi and released on Christmas Day, 1990. It was, along with Red Heat, the last film to be shot before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in August 1991. The cast had great names: Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer as the leading couple, and supporting actors like Klaus Maria Brandauer, James Fox, Michael Kitchen and Nicholas Woodeson.

It deals heavily with politics, ideals and (of course) espionage, all in the brink of the glasnost led by Mikhail Gorbachov's government in the Soviet Union. Barley Scott Blair (Sean Connery), a British rusophile editor, meets with Dante (Klaus Maria Brandauer) during a writers reunion in Russia, where both agree on the same ideals for world peace, openness and discontent for governments. Some time later, a woman known as Katya Orlova (Michelle Pfeiffer), tries to find Barley to deliver him one of three manuscripts containing sensitive information including nuclear secrets from the USSR. She fails to meet Barley, but hands it in to an associate of him, who -also unable to find him and concerned about the content of the papers- resorts to the British Intelligence. The British find Barley exiled in Lisbon. They convince him to travel to Russia and make contact with Katya in order to get to Dante, verify the information and get the other manuscripts. Barley reluctantly agrees, however things will turn dangerous when he begins to fall in love with Katya.

However, the key of the story relies heavily on love. "Unselfish love, grown up love. Mature, absolute, thrilling love," in the words Barley uses to declare his feelings to Katya. Their story is beautifully written and their love really feels natural, without a sense of adventure or the usual oversexualization that movies have nowadays. In fact, their only sex scene is shown offscreen and both are dressed when they get horizontal. Despite the 28-year difference between Connery and Pfeiffer and not taking advantage of the fact that the Scottish actor was looking impressively good at 60, all the scenes between Barley and Katya have this sense of warmness and caring which gives a sense of authenticity to everything.

Sean Connery convincingly plays the bohemian Barley, an idealist, somewhat anarchist intellectual and jazz lover. The kind of man you would find in a literary club or a library, who enjoys a simple and modest life and has complete disregard for politics or money: "If there is to be hope, we must all betray our countries. We have to save each other, because all victims are equal. And none is more equal than others." Michelle Pfeiffer also did a perfect job portraying a working-class Russian woman, with three children to care for, discreetly dressed and with more sweetness than sex appeal. Likewise, her Russian accent is incredibly convincing and there are a good number of scenes where she talks (dialogue is a big part of the film), so that's an effort deserving a proper recognition. Richard Macdonald's sets for Katya's home showcase how modest her life is: a rather urbane flat with a shower that isn't working properly and she has to fix with a hammer. Those little details also sum up to give a good reflection of the late 1980s Russia which was starting to slowly leave Communism behind. "They just want to be like us," Barley admits to the British agents controlling him.

The Palace Square in St. Petersburg (then known as Leningrad), was one of the scenarios of the film, and director of photography Ian Baker takes full advantage of the wideness of the square and the details of the monuments and statues surrounding the place as Barley meets Dante, another role brilliantly played by Klaus Maria Brandauer who reunites with Connery seven years after the unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again. "You are wearing grey today, Barley. My father was sent to prison by grey men. He was murdered by men who wore grey uniforms. Grey men ruined my beautiful profession, and take care, or they will ruin you too," the hopeless Dante tells Barley concerned that he might been used by politicians and civil servants, which he doesn't trust at all when it comes to delivering the manuscript, and hopes that Barley can make this information be published on his own without spies and governments in the middle.

Composed by Jerry Goldsmith, the film's soundtrack is a character on itself. A beautiful mix of piano, strings, floute and saxophone which gives the story a special gravitas. In fact, given that there is much talking going on the movie and that at times the pace is quite slow, it is Goldsmith's score that saves it. The main motif of the score, which in the soundtrack album serves for "Alone In The World", performed by Patti Austin (lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman), works beautifully during a scene where Barley takes a train from Moscow to Leningrad and different panoramas of Russia are shown through the window, from the city itself to rural regions and other sights. 

The biggest flaw in The Russia House is perhaps the pacing and structure. There is too much talking and so many words generate confussion. Other things aren't quite clear: the "Russia House" is the informal name of the section of the British Secret Service devoted to watch the actions taking place in the country, basically to spy them, but there is never a satisfactory explaination of this. However, considering the overall beauty of the movie, this can be forgiven. If you want to watch a meaningful romantic movie with elements of espionage and Russian politics involved, this one is certainly recommended.

Nicolás Suszczyk 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Goodbye, Felix - remembering David Hedison (1927-2019)

The week has started on a sad note for many James Bond fans, and for those who spent entire afternoons watching many TV series. We learnt that, at the age of 92, David Hedison passed away. He was the fifth actor to play Felix Leiter in the James Bond films.

Described by Ian Fleming as “the Texan with whom he had shared so many adventures”, Hedison portrayed this idea perfectly in Live And Let Die and Licence To Kill. With his appearance in Bond 25, Jeffrey Wright will break the record playing the role for the third time after Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, but Hedison concluded his life being the only actor who could express that friendly link with James Bond that went beyond work with two different actors that played the same role: Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton.

He was also the one who had to represent one of the tensest moments written by Fleming on his second Bond novel, Live And Let Die, when Leiter is thrown to a pool full of hungry sharks that mutilate two of his extremities, something dramatically adapted in Licence To Kill and the catalyst of 007’s desire of revenge that would take him to resign to the Secret Service to avenge his friend and his wife Della, killed by the assailants that were after him.

A descendant of Armenians, Ara David Hedistian was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on 20 May 1927. He initiated his artistic career under the name Al Hedison on a number of TV series before reaching fame after playing the mutant star of The Fly in 1958. He later had a role in the original 1960 version of The Lost World and in The Greatest Story Ever Told in 1965, as he played important roles on TV series of that decade like Voyage To The Bottom of The Sea, playing Captain Crane, and the episode ‘Luella’ of The Saint, forming his first friendship bond with Roger Moore.

After an occasional encounter with director Guy Hamilton, the role of Felix Leiter was proposed to him for Live And Let Die, where his friend would be Bond for the first time. There was instantaneous chemistry: Hedison was the Felix who assisted Bond after a “little problem” (the mysterious and surprising assassination of his chauffeur) and had to tolerate the name-calling of the furious Mr Bleeker when Bond destroyed his aeroplane to evade Kananga’s hitmen. He was also the Felix Leiter who shared a tragic destiny who was similar to those of 007: due to the disgraceful consequences of his profession as a CIA and DEA agent, his wife is killed hours after the wedding.

“He was married once, but it was a long time ago”, he had told Della when she was surprised when Bond disregards references to a possible second marriage in a future.

Stripped of one of his legs, bruised and solace-less, Leiter manages to raise a smile when listening to his friend on the phone to inform him that he’ll recover his job at MI6, even after his rebellious attitude of hunting down drug kingpin Sánchez and his criminal empire without the proper authorization, when the US justice didn’t dare to confront him.

Besides his participation in series like Wonder Woman, Charlie’s Angels and Perry Mason, Hedison teamed up with his friend Moore in the films North Sea Hijack and The Naked Face. In 2018 he wrote the foreword for the new edition of The 007 Diaries, which the new Bond had written in 1973 and remained out of print for years: “Roger welcomed me into the wonderful fold of his life. He hosted my life for Christmas in Switzerland and summer in the South of France, always eager to share the spoils of his stardom yet never one to act with exception or snobbery,” he said remembering the actor who passed away on 23 May 2017, the day Hedison turned 90.

We just have to hope both of them are enjoying two Sazeracs watching a choir of angels playing a version of that Paul McCartney song that marked a generation and attracted an even bigger audience to that 1973 film, where Bond was turning into the field of comedy but wasn’t becoming less popular just for that. “Where’s your sense of adventure, James? This is Heaven, relax!” he would say.

Those who have met him, like actor Robert Davi, talked about his sympathy and sense of humour. There are others who didn’t share that luck, but it just takes watching a few seconds of any of his performances to perceive that warmth and kindness that went through the screen. He made us feel that, besides being a friend of James Bond, he was almost a friend of ours. Maybe this is why, despite his advanced age, we are still surprised and saddened for his departure.

So long, great man!

Goodbye, Felix.

Nicolás Suszczyk

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Bond 25: Rejected Title Revealed

It's been two months since the synopsis and cast of Bond 25 had been announced in Ian Fleming's Goldeneye estate in Jamaica, but there is still no title. The thing is... there was one until April 24, the day before the announcement.

Far from being Shatterhand or Eclipse, the fifth Daniel Craig 007 movie was going to be titled A Reason To Die, but Universal and United Artists Releasing decided it wasn't strong enough for a James Bond film. Meanwhile, shooting of the movie continues at Pinewood Studios after shooting in Jamaica and Norway. Later this year, the production will move to Matera.

Agent 007 will drive the classic Aston Martin DB5 and the Aston Martin V8 Vantage from The Living Daylights, and the Aston Martin Valhalla will aslo make an appaerance. Enjoying a retirement in Jamaica, Bond will be back in action to assist Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) on a CIA operation to rescue a kidnapped scientist from a man who can handle a dangerous technology. Léa Seydoux will return in the role of Madeleine Swann from SPECTRE, while Ana De Armas and Lashana Lynch will be the new incorporations with Oscar winner Rami Malek, David Dencik and Dali Benssalah. 

Last week, Prince Charles visited Pinewood Studio to greet Daniel Craig, Naomie Harris, Lashana Lynch and Ralph Fiennes as they were shooting the scenes on M's office. The film, directed by Cary Fukunaga, will be released on April 8, 2020.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Book Preview: 'The World of GoldenEye', by Nicolás Suszczyk

As the silver anniversary of GoldenEye is around the corner, Nicolás Suszczyk, co-editor of this site, gives you a unique tribute to the 17th James Bond film. Set for June 8, 2019, the 25th anniversary of the day where Brosnan was officially announced as the fifth James Bond actor in London, the book will cover the generational impact of the 1995 film and the huge success of its many official and unofficial video game adaptations, starting with 1997’s GoldenEye 007 for Nintendo 64. At the same time, the filmmaking process of the film and the relation of the story with many historical events as the Cold War, the betrayal of the Cossacks at Lienz in World War II and the 1991 coup against Mikhail Gorbachov will be thoroughly covered.

GoldenEye was much more than the debut of Pierce Brosnan in the role of James Bond. It was the film that saved the series after facing six years of an uncertain future, and the title is now a popular legend among gamers thanks to the huge success of the Nintendo 64 video game adaptation. In the eve of its 25th anniversary in 2020, this book offers a comprehensive analysis on one of the best Bond films ever released and the impact in popular culture that brought a new generation of Bond fans, in a craze that was very reminiscent to the waves of Bond mania from the 1960s. The creative process behind the film, the emergence of a relatively unknown international cast, and the influence of the Cold War in the story are just some of the themes this comprehensive analysis of the 1995 film will address to prove GoldenEye is, many times, an overlooked classic.
The book is set to be released on June 8, 2019, by Amazon Publishing, to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Pierce Brosnan's announcement as James Bond. Print and ebook versions will be available.

Nicolás Suszczyk has been a James Bond fan since the day he first watched GoldenEye, aged 7, on his native Buenos Aires. A freelance writer, he has contributed for many Bond and movies related web sites and publications like MI6 Confidential and Le Bond, from the French 007 Fan Club. In 2011, he founded The GoldenEye Dossier, a tribute for his favourite James Bond film, which is set for a major update in 2020. He also manages Bond En Argentina, a site dedicated to the releases of Ian Fleming's fictional hero in his country, and co-admins The Secret Agent Lair, a blog dedicated to the fictional spies of cinema and literature, with Jack Walter Christian. The World of GoldenEye is his first book.

The book will be primarily promoted on The GoldenEye Dossier's Twitter account (@gedossier007), the official hashtag to be used is #GoldenEyeWorld.

Visit the book's official site at: https://goldeneyedossier.wixsite.com/goldeneyeworld

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Daniel Craig is joined by Rami Malek, Ana De Armas, Léa Seydoux and Jeffrey Wright in the yet-untitled Bond 25


JAMAICA, APRIL 25, 2019 – GoldenEye in Jamaica. James Bond Producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli today confirmed the start of principal photography on the 25th official James Bond film begins on 28 April 2019. From Albert R. Broccoli’s EON Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios, the film is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and stars Daniel Craig, who returns for his fifth film as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer will release the 25th James Bond feature film domestically through their United Artists Releasing banner on April 8, 2020; through Universal Pictures International and Metro Goldwyn Mayer in the UK and internationally from April 3, 2020.

Director Cary Joji Fukunaga confirmed the returning cast, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Jeffrey Wright and introduced Ana de Armas, Dali Benssalah, David Dencik, Lashana Lynch, Billy Magnussen and Rami Malek.

Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.

The 007 production will be based at Pinewood Studios in the UK, and on location in London, Italy, Jamaica and Norway.

Wilson and Broccoli commented, “We’re thrilled to return to Jamaica with Bond 25, Daniel Craig’s fifth instalment in the 007 series, where Ian Fleming created the iconic James Bond character and Dr No and Live And Let Die were filmed.”

Written by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade, Scott Z. Burns with Cary Joji Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, other members of the creative team are; Director of Photography Linus Sandgren, Editor Tom Cross and Elliot Graham, Production Designer Mark Tildesley, Costume Designer Suttirat Larlarb, Supervising Stunt Coordinator Olivier Schneider, 2nd Unit Stunt Coordinator Lee Morrison and Visual Effects Supervisor Charlie Noble. Returning members to the team are; 2nd Unit Director Alexander Witt, Special Effects and Action Vehicles Supervisor Chris Corbould and Casting Director Debbie McWilliams.

Spectre, the 24th James Bond film, was a global box office hit, opening #1 in 81 territories around the world, including the U.S., and earning $880 million at the global box office. The film broke a new all-time box office record in the UK with the biggest seven-day opening of all time at $63.8 million. Skyfall, the 23rd film in the series, earned $1.1 billion worldwide.

The start of production launch of Bond 25 was streamed live on the official James Bond channels: 007.com, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and the video is now available on demand on all of these sites.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

INTERVIEW: Jeff Kleeman, former United Artists VP, on GoldenEye's success and Bond 25

Graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in English, Jeff Kleeman has actively worked on the relaunching of the cinematic James Bond as United Artists’ Vice-president in the 1990s, conducting the difficult task of installing Pierce Brosnan as the new Bond on his first three movies. 
In this interview, Jeff talked with us about the uncertainty of GoldenEye’s release, the way in which Titanic affected Tomorrow Never Dies’ box office numbers and the treatment of spoilers in the promotional campaign of The World Is Not Enough. He also gave us his professional point of view on the two delays suffered by the Bond 25 release date.
First of all, thank you Jeff for allowing us to interview you. How did you become involved with United Artists and what are your fondest memories on working with the first three Pierce Brosnan 007 films?
I’d previously worked for Francis Coppola at American Zoetrope under a deal he had with Sony that led to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  When the Sony deal’s term ended, Francis decided not to renew and moved Zoetrope back to Northern California.  Gareth Wigan, a wonderful executive who oversaw the Zoetrope deal for Sony, suggested I meet John Calley who was coming out of retirement to oversee a new incarnation of United Artists.  I met with John and he offered me a job in the room which I enthusiastically accepted, especially because I knew UA controlled the rights to James Bond. I could write a lengthy book detailing amazing memories of my three Bond experiences.  For now, I’ll it to one...
GoldenEye had a Royal Premiere in London.  Before the screening started, a group of us were offered the honor of meeting Prince Charles.  We were instructed on proper behavior and arranged in a semi-circle.  Prince Charles began on the left end and one by one shook our hands and had a brief conversation with each of us.  I was approx four people in from the left side.  Opposite me, approximately four in from the right side, was Tina Turner.   We looked directly into each other’s face.  As Prince Charles held out his hand to me, Tina, like a mischievous kid, stuck her tongue out at me.   The Prince had his back to her so he was completely unaware.  He asked me about my work on GoldenEye and as I attempted to answer Tina began making a series of increasingly silly faces that only I could see.  What a surreal moment, the premiere of a Bond movie, talking with the Prince of England (who was incredibly charming) while Tina Turner tries to crack me up!

Internet played an important part in the promotion of GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough. How did you and the team deal with these new dynamics, like, regularly posting updates on the production online and the fact that people on the other side became much more impatient with a Bond release?

Did the Internet play an important role in their promotion?  GoldenEye came out in 1995.  Handheld screen devices were still to come and when we released Hackers around that same time many people were initially confused by the premise because the desktop (dial-up) online experience was still not well understood by mainstream audiences. Which isn’t to say there wasn’t an important online component to promoting those films, there might have been, but I wasn’t directly involved in it. However, the biggest new factor, the one that differentiated GoldenEye release from previous Bond films, was the Nintendo GoldenEye game.  It was a huge success and brought a new generation of kids into the Bond fold, something that the subsequent Bond films massively benefited from. The escalation of Bond releases to one every other year was a result of GoldenEye success.  MGM/UA realized Bond was its most bankable asset so they pushed for more films as quickly as possible.  We dealt with that the only way we could, by coming up with new methodologies that allowed us to write, shoot and navigate post-production more rapidly. Many of those methods have now become the norm for most studio franchises.

This leads ut a bit to Bond 25 and not only the internet but social networking. As you probably know, the upcoming Bond film had a change of director (Danny Boyle for Cary Fukunaga) and the release date has also changed three times between November 2019 and April 2020. Many Bond fans felt a bit disappointed, worried and even angry for these things. Would you say the immediacy of communications now causes these sort of feelings or it also happened in the 1990s?

The immediacy of today’s communications has led to a very different filmmaking environment, especially for high profile projects like Bond films. With GoldenEye MGM/UA questioned whether the public would have maintained an interest in Bond and it was only deep into production when the teaser trailer (“You know the name. You know the number”) was released in theatres that we were able to gauge any kind of response. Today, we often have audience reactions long before we’ve begun work on a script.

The three Bond films you worked on were released between November and December, a trend also followed by Die Another Day and the Daniel Craig movies, which were all released in the last trimester of their production years. Now Bond 25 is set for the beginning of 2020 (first February, then changed to April). Would you tell us it will impact differently to have a tank like Bond early in the year than closer to the Christmas season?

It should not have an impact.  When we originally began work on GoldenEye it was slated for a summer release - the kind of big June summer movie we see every year. We ended up postponing our start of production and that pushed us to Fall/Winter.  Some folks were very concerned by this change.  But as we now know, things went splendidly.  So well, that we got into the habit of releasing future Bond films then.  GoldenEye release date was happenstance, not strategy.  In general, I don’t think that one particular month is better than another, what matters most is what’s also happening at the time you release your movie.  Tomorrow Never Dies was released on the same day as Titanic (December 19, 1997 in the US). It would probably have performed even better if it had been held until February or April the following year having allowed Titanic to come and go.

Our final question is related to certain marketing techniques concerning spoilers. The trailers of GoldenEye revealed Bond's friend agent 006 as the main villain, while The World Is Not Enough hid the fact that the main villain was Elektra King, the woman he fell for. How is more or less the process of dealing with things like that? Is it completely an EON decision or does the studio have an important say? 

EON was always very collaborative.  Whatever the contractual rights of any of the parties, we all made decisions as a team.  With GoldenEye, we felt the idea of 006 vs 007 was a selling point.  It was a way to bring people back to Bond and introduce new audiences to Bond.  It’s a tiny spoiler that we felt didn’t ruin the experience of watching the movie.   However, we’d intentionally cast and scripted The World Is Not Enough, so as to mask Elektra King’s villainy for a while.  In that case it was important to us to keep that reveal out of the early marketing.  While there are some movies that rely on a plot twist to define the entire film’s experience, much like a punchline defines a joke, that doesn’t tend to be the way Bond films work.  The best are a consistent experience from beginning to end that can be enjoyed over and over again, no matter how aware you might be of the plot before you start watching.

We thank Jeff Kleeman once more for his very interesting insight that helps us to rethink the cinematic James Bond phenomenom on the big screen and to understand the interesting creative process behind the layout of these films from its commercial point of view. We also thank Phil Poggiali for contacting us with Jeff to make this interview possible.

Nicolás Suszczyk

Friday, March 22, 2019

“I Used To Be a Spy”: Revisiting ‘Burn Notice’

Created by American screenwriter Matt Nix and broadcasted by USA Network, Burn Notice was a TV series with seven seasons running from June 2007 to September 2013. It followed the story of Michael Westen, a CIA agent played by Jeremy Donovan who is “burned” from the secret service in the middle of a mission in Nigeria. Miraculously surviving, he is dumped on his hometown Miami and under strict FBI surveillance. Out of a job, he spends his days helping people with problems like blackmail, kidnappings or robberies at the same time he follows the few leads on the organization that burned him.

Westen is assisted by his ex-girlfriend, former IRA operative Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar) and his old friend Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), a former Navy SEAL member whose “origins” story was told in the 2011 TV film The Fall of Sam Axe. At the same time, Michael has to deal with his mother Madeleine (Sharon Gless) and his brother Nate (Seth Peterson), both at first strangers to his suspicious activities and job but later informally introduced to the spy business when a few things go awry. From season four onwards, Jesse Porter (Coby Bell), another CIA burned agent, also joins the team.

I came across Burn Notice back in 2007, yet I was unable to see all the episodes properly until very recently, where I watched all seasons in about a month. My memories on spotting it on TV were good enough to think the series deserved a full watch and I wasn’t disappointed at all now that I could finally go through it.

Burn Notice is highly attractive, innovative, funny and addictive during the first five seasons, with the latter two being so gritty and dramatic that at parts it looks like a different series. I’m not saying the six and seven seasons are bad, but there are quite a few things that make it repetitive, unnecessarily extended and the character of Michael Westen feels closer to an out-of-control disgraced operative, more akin to Jason Bourne than the sort of mix between Ethan Hunt and Simon Templar he was during the first seasons. Without getting into spoilers, there’s a nice nod in the very last chapter to the dialogues we hear in the introduction of every episode.

What I found fascinating was the leading character and the fact he uses spy and special ops techniques to be one step above the petty thieves, kidnappers or drug dealers threatening his clients or relatives. Most of the techniques have Westen getting the trust of his enemy, befriending him and then beating him in his own game – ending in their arrest or their death due to the given misdirection.

Jeffrey Donovan is a fantastic actor and it’s easy to sympathize with his character. Michael Westen isn’t as striking or stylish as James Bond or as determined as Ethan Hunt. His activity, tough, involves techniques used by many cinematic spies like the improvisation of guns and the impersonation of people from different nationalities, where Michael has to adopt the accent of a foreigner in the same way Val Kilmer did in the 1997 film adaptation of The Saint. This and the fact that he has a family (unlike Bond, Hunt, and Templar) generates a connection between the audience and the leading character, as well as his narration of different spy techniques throughout the episodes which felt to me as if he was giving us some basic lessons on how to be a spy. Top marks go to the research for these tidbits in every episode, which was very detailed.

The supporting cast is also very good, particularly the characters of Fiona and Sam and the incredible dynamic the trio have on the job in hand, dealing with last minute changes and having to improvise quickly to achieve their goals. This dynamic is sadly broken when Jesse Porter joins them, as the four tend to usually separate into two groups of two people, each of them handling either the “burn notice” business or solving the current client trouble. Sharon Gless also gives an effective performance as a chain-smoking mother who reprimands her son for “disappearing” plus other typical mother-and-son clichés which work very nicely at first give us the impression that even spies have domestic problems as everyone else.

While primarily set in Miami, later seasons move the actions to Washington and Central America, and the action scenes become more overdeveloped in the sense of a cinematic blockbuster: most of the sixth season has the team with a capture or kill warrant by the government, which detaches the story from the usual humoristic cloak-and-dagger techniques to more of a pure action production with recurring car chases and shootouts. Still, the series manages to attract and be completely addictive, and the 40 minutes of each episode flow in a very appealing way.

Despite the overloaded drama from the last two seasons, which is kind of a setback in comparison to the first ones, Burn Notice deserves a watch if you are a fan of the spy genre and enjoy a pinch of humor. The production makes great use of the usual secret agent clichés and while being very modern in terms of style and scripting they also have a room for escapism and entertainment from the old film and TV productions.

Nicolás Suszczyk

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

'I.G.I. - Origins' Announced!

Every glory has its beginnings. Every victory is achieved by climbing up the ropes and ladders. Every legend has its origins. And therefore comes the time those roots are explored.

Almost two decades after its last release, today the fans of the Project I.G.I. franchise can celebrate the announcement of the third entry in the series which Swedish video game studio Toadman Interactive is developing, aiming for a 2021 release.

I.G.I. - Origins takes us back in time when the organization was seeking its foundations to counter terrorism across the globe. When warlords and criminals were profiting off of civil and national unrest, protected by diplomatic immunity no law enforcement institution could've touched, someone had to step up to execute what others won't. No resources, no backup, an underfunded and nonexistent black ops unit was formed to prevent worldwide chaos before it is triggered.

Other than the reveal teaser trailer, we haven't been informed of much about the project other than its being in early development so far. The game was originally announced back in May 2017 as Project I.G.I.: We're Going In, five months after Artplant purchased the intellectual property from Square Enix. Only last year, Toadman Interactive bought Artplant in full, and now they've taken over the project.

Without revealing much, it was stated the title will feature "the freedom the series has become known for." However, as the current branding suggests, the game is set before the previous entries, serving as a prequel. The period piece wasn't specified by the reveal. But, it seemingly is set either during the 1970s or the early 1980s by the looks of it. Speculations are all over the place. Whether David Jones is going to be featured in the game or not, that is yet to be clarified.

While the project is said to include members who worked on the original two video games in the series, specifics aren't made yet on who's recurring and who isn't. The fans of Project I.G.I. for instance, highly expect the return of composer Kim M. Jensen who was instrumental in orchestrating the atmospheric soundtrack to the previous titles. But, those inclusions and exclusions are yet to be confirmed.

I.G.I. - Origins Reveal Trailer

For more information, visit the developer studio's official website here.

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