Our guest writer examines differences between 007, M:I films

Mission: Impossible-Fallout poster

Guest writer Nicolas Suszczyk takes a look at the differences between the James Bond and Mission: Impossible film franchises in an article on the Spy Command Feature Story Index.

The 007 film franchise has been in operation since 1962, albeit with some interruptions in service.

The Mission: Impossible franchise, starring and produced by Tom Cruise, has six entries, beginning in 1996, with the newest installment coming out late this month.

Some Bond fans on social media have raised the question whether M:I has taken some of Agent 007’s thunder. Others say that ridiculous. Some Bond fans liken the M:I franchise to a vanity project for the star-producer.

Anyway, CLICK HERE to view this examination of the two franchises.

 

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Lego Aston Martin DB5 unveiled

Lego today unveiled its version of the James Bond Aston Martin DB5.

Lego conducted an event at a store in London. It also spread the word on social media, including a post on Twitter.

The Lego car has 1,295 pieces. It costs 129.99 British pounds, according to Gizmodo UK. That’s $169-plus at current exchange rates.

The Lego version of DB5 comes with ejector seat, radar tracker, rear bullet proof screen and front-wing machine guns.

Lego, Eon Productions and Aston Martin have been teasing the licensed product since mid-June. Images leaked earlier this month.

Not everyone was impressed. The Jaloponik website devoted to everything about cars declared July 5 that the DB5’s “handsome and elegant design, does not translate well in LEGO.”

Below is the tweet that Lego sent out this morning. It includes a video.

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UPDATE (1:30 p.m. New York Time): Here’s a video from the event at the Lego store in London this morning. Naomie Harris, who played Moneypenny in Skyfall and SPECTRE, was part of the festivities.

Bond 25: Corbould returns, villain may be Russian

Veteran special effects man Chris Corbould has said he’ll participate in Bond 25 while the villain of the movie may be Russian, according to separate reports on Tuesday.

Corbould was quoted by The Express about working on Bond 25.

“I can’t remember being so excited about going on to a Bond,” Corbould said, according to The Express. “It’s going to be very, very special.”

Corbould has 007 special effects credits going back to 1987’s The Living Daylights.

The newspaper said Corbould spoke at a “roundtable interview” at the opening of 007 Elements. That facility, a kind of James Bond museum in Austria, opened last week.

“It’s still very early days and we’re still kicking ideas around,” The Express quoted Corbould as saying.

The MI6 James Bond website, which has a relationship with Eon Productions, published details of a Bond 25 casting call.

No character names were included. Parts were a “male leading role” (age range 30s-60s) who’s Russian; a “female leading role” (age range 30-45), also Russian; and a “male supporting role” (age range 35-55) who is “Authoritative, cunning, ruthless & loyal.” That character is a Maori.

It “appears that Bond 25 will feature a Russian male villain, a Russian female (likely be the villain’s partner and a ‘Bond Girl’ part),” MI6 said.

Bond 25, to be directed by Danny Boyle, begins filming in December.

Spy fans engage in throwing bricks from glass houses

Mission: Impossible-Fallout poster

Late next week, Mission: Impossible-Fallout reaches theaters. Some 007 fans aren’t happy, feeling the movie is, well, a ripoff.

Specifically, based on trailers, there are at least two segments of M:I-Fallout that seem “inspired” from previous Bond films:

–A villain appears to make an escape similar to the way Franz Sanchez did in Licence to Kill (1989).

–Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt makes a HALO (high altitude, low-opening) parachute jump, similar to how B.J. Worth did one doubling for Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997).

The resemblances are undeniable. In fact, the current Hawaii Five-0 series did an “homage” to the Licence to Kill sequence at the start of its third season in 2012. So Mission: Impossible-Fallout doing it wouldn’t be the first time.

On the other hand, memories may be short. So the following should be noted.

–Live And Let Die (1973) when it was released was seen as inspired by “blaxploitation” movies of the early 1970s. While Ian Fleming’s 1954 novel featured a black villain, the movie utilized a few characters but dispensed with the book’s main plot.

–The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) was seen as 007’s answer to Kung Fu movies of the 1970s. Fleming’s 1965 novel of the same name was mostly set in Jamaica and didn’t have any Kung Fu.

–Moonraker (1979) was seen as 007’s answer to Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Fleming’s 1955 novel concerned a rocket but no space travel was involved.

–Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008) were said to be influenced by the Jason Bourne movies that were popular at the start of this century.

Javier Bardem’s Silva in a Joker-like moment in Skyfall

–Skyfall (2012) was inspired by Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Director Sam Mendes even said so. Javier Bardem’s Silva definitely seemed influenced by Heath Ledger’s Joker.

If fans want to accuse another franchise of copying, it can be a matter of throwing bricks from a glass house.

Filmmakers do this sort of thing all the time. Directors channel their inner-Alfred Hitchcock (or Stanley Kubrick, or whoever) all the time.

Christopher Nolan, who helmed The Dark Knight, channeled 007 films in his Batman trilogy. Example: Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) giving Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) gadgets more than slightly resembled Bond-Q scenes from earlier 007 films.

Chances are, if you see a shot or sequence that reminds you of a famous movie sequence, chances are it’s not a coincidence.

The key difference is what does the director do with it? Does it work? Does it contribute to an entertaining film?

In the case of The Dark Knight, whatever you might think of it, Nolan delivered a memorable movie. With Skyfall, whatever was “borrowed” from Nolan, audiences found it an interesting take on a Bond film.

I can’t judge Mission: Impossible-Fallout. I haven’t seen it, other than the trailers.

The question is where M:I-Fallout writer-director Christopher McQuarrie and his star, Tom Cruise, have delivered a good movie. “Borrowing” happens all the time in film. We’ll see soon.

Actor Robert Wolders dies at 81

Robert Wolders in The Man From Thrush Affair, a fourth-season episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Robert Wolders, an actor who was married to actress Merle Oberon and was the long-time companion to Audrey Hepburn, died last week at the age of 81, according to an obituary published by The Hollywood Reporter.

His roles included playing a guest agent in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode The Man From Thrush Affair.

The episode was filmed in the fall of 1967. In real life, the script was of the episode was revised so series co-star David McCallum could marry Kathy Carpenter and have a short honeymoon.

In the final version, Solo (Robert Vaughn) and agent Andreas Petros (Wolders) infiltrate an island taken over by Thrush. The villainous organization has enslaved the island’s population and has built a device that can cause earthquakes around the world.

Wolders also was a co-star for the second season of Laredo, a Western series that ran from 1965 to 1967.  The series mixed comedy and drama, with Wolders playing Erik Hunter, a worldly addition to the Texas Rangers.

Wolders’ death was first noted by the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund

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Historian takes a brief look at North by Northwest

Cover art for a North by Northwest Blu Ray release

Michael Beschloss, a historian who writes about U.S. presidents, turned his attention over the weekend to North by Northwest.

Beschloss’ Twitter feed (@BeschlossDC) often notes the anniversary of major historical events, accompanied by photos and illustrations. But he also posts tweets about the arts and society.

For North by Northwest, the 1959 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Beschloss had two posts.

One tweet included part of a document from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which would release the movie, to National Park Service concerning how Mount Rushmore would be used in the movie.

“None of our characters would tread upon the faces of the Presidents,” the document reads.

Beschloss also tweeted a photo of a brochure marked up by screenwriter to work out the Mount Rushmore sequence.

You can take a look for yourself.

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NYT column casts Putin as 007 villain

Vladimir Putin, head of Russia

U.S. President Donald Trump has been in Europe and the U.K. the past few days for a NATO summit and a visit to the U.K. Much has been written but one column in The New York Times is evoking James Bond films.

Columnist Michelle Goldberg, writing from Berlin, interviewed Cem Özdemir, described as “a member of the German Bundestag from the center-left Green Party.” He commented about Trump and Vladimir Putin, president of Russia.

Özdemir, the first politician of Turkish descent to serve in Germany’s parliament, according to the column. He brought James Bond films into the conversation.

“It reminds me of a James Bond movie,” he said. “You have a guy” — Putin — “who has a clear plan. Step 1, Step 2. It’s Brexit, it’s President Trump, it’s having Europe stumbling, it’s having authoritarian regimes getting stronger on a daily basis, it’s an escalation in Syria. He gets everything he wants.” But while the world seems to be ruled by Bond villains, he said, there is “no James Bond.”

Disclaimer: I know readers of the blog have differing opinions about Brexit and Trump. This post is to draw the comment to your attention. Any way, at least there was no From Russia With Love pun in the column.