Preview of 2015’s ‘Year of the Spy’

Taken 3 poster

Taken 3 poster

We’re just a few days away from 2015, which will be the “Year of the Spy” in theaters. It might not be 1966 all over again but fans of spy movies will have choices in the new year.

What follows is a preview of five notable entries, listed by U.S. release date.

Taken 3, Jan. 9: This is the poster child for how studios like to take successful movies and turn them into “franchises.”

2009’s Taken was a modestly budgeted $25 million, according to Box Office Mojo, which generated almost $227 million in worldwide box office. It concerned a retired CIA agent (Liam Neeson) who springs into action after his college age daughter is kidnapped in Europe. It helped make Neeson, now 62, an action hero.

A sequel, Taken 2, came out in 2012. The budget went up, at $45 million, but worldwide box office also increased to $376 million. Thus, a trilogy was inevitable. Whether the saga of Bryan Mills is worth a third installment remains to be seen.

Kingsman: The Secret Service, Feb. 13: For more than a decade, grim and gritty has dominated the cinema spy scene. The Bourne films, the rebooted James Bond franchise and other films set a serious tone.

Kingsman, directed by Matthew Vaughn, draws upon more escapist spy entertainment of the 1960s.

The film is based on a comic book, The Secret Service, that was about MI6. The movie’s organization is a mysterious, international group, a la The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series (it even has a secret entrance similar to U.N.C.L.E.’s) In July, at the massive San Diego comic book convention, principals of the film mentioned ’60s style Bond movies and The Avengers television series as influences.

Kingsman may be a test whether the spy pendulum swings back toward escapist. In the U.S., the movie opens opposite the anticipated Fifty Shades of Grey, which will provide a test of a different sort.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Aug. 14: A more accurate title for the Guy Ritchie-directed film might be The Man Without U.N.C.L.E.

Ritchie’s film is an origin story. There is no U.N.C.L.E. at the start of the tale. Instead, CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) are required to join forces. It’s a Solo-Kuryakin story that won’t have many of the memes of the original 1964-68 television series.

U.N.C.L.E. originally was slated for a mid-January release date, but got put back to mid-August instead. The move came after Warner Bros. conducted test screenings in June. The optimistic interpretation is it’s a sign the studio is higher on the movie than previously. We’ll see.
SPECTRE, Nov. 6: The 24th James Bond film produced by Eon Productions has had more public intrigue than usual because of the hacking of documents at Sony Pictures.

Because of the hacks, details about the movie’s budget and script development have become public. Thus, it’s possible to see some of the sausage making associated with movie production in the case of SPECTRE. Even before the hacks, Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail had reported how screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were summmoned to revamp John Logan’s original draft.

Still, Bond is Bond. The film is Daniel Craig’s fourth turn as 007. Sam Mendes, the director of 2012’s Skyfall, is back as well. This will be the first time the same director has helmed consecutive Bond films since John Glen’s run in the 1980s, when he directed five in a row.

Mission: Impossible 5, Dec. 25: The latest Tom Cruise M:I film hasn’t gotten as much attention as you might expect for a Cruise project. The star-producer’s last M:I entry, in 2011, was a hit. This time out, M:I will come out just a week after Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. So it’ll be interesting to see if Cruise’s Ethan Hunt can still find an audience.

5 Responses

  1. this article above. see’s next year 2015 as’ the year of the spy’
    in the cinema. and rightly so to. with the spy related movies coming
    out. the liam neesom film titled ‘taken 3’ is a growing spy franchise

    with his popular character bryan mills former cia operative. it depend’s
    how far you can carry his exploit’s as a professional one man band
    tactic’s. however I like his style. neesom was also considered as
    a possible james bond we see in these films where it would of been possible if he was younger.

    the kingsman I reserve my comment until I’ve seen the movie.

    the mission imposslble 5 installment I think the public are little
    weary of seeing tom cruise actually doing nearly the same stunt
    in every movie. the franchise need’s rebooting to a more drama
    type film like the tv series of the 60s era.

    and finally the icening on the cake, yes the new james bond film
    titled ‘spectre’ this one will bring back memories of the old bond
    films of yester years. Daniel craig as bond and a brand new m
    head of m I 6.

    oh before I forget ‘the man from u.n.c.l.e ‘ film version
    with henry cavil and armie hammer a film that need’s more
    media exposure especially to a new generation of young people
    that haven’t a clue of the genenis of this classic 60s era spy
    yes next year 2015 is truly the year of the spy. happy new year
    when it comes.

  2. [“the mission imposslble 5 installment I think the public are little
    weary of seeing tom cruise actually doing nearly the same stunt
    in every movie. “]

    I don’t recall Tom Cruise doing the same stunts in every MI movie.

  3. 2015 is most definately “The Year Of The Spy”. Just have a look at this topic I have created:

    So to complete the above list from the wunderful editors of HMSS Weblog, one should also add these films ;-):

    16.01.2015: “Blackhat” (espionage, thriller) –> with Chris Hemsworth
    20.03.2015: “The Gunman” (espionage, thriller) –> with Javier Bardem
    03.04.2015: “Furious 7″ (action, thriller) –> with the late Paul Walker
    22.05.2015: “Spy” (spy spoof) –> with Melissa McCarthy as Susan Cooper
    31.07.2015: “Grimsby” (spy spoof) –> with Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong and Penélope Cruz (!)
    28.08.2015: “Hitman 2: Agent 47″ (action, thriller) –> with Zachary Quinto
    02.10.2015: “London Has Fallen” (action, thriller) –> with Morgan Freeman
    16.10.2015: “St. James Place” (espionage, thriller) –> director Steven Spielberg
    12.11.2015: “Survivor” (espionage, thriller) –> with Pierce Brosnan, director James McTeigue

  4. […] “Year of the Spy” got off to a strong start as Taken 3 ruled the U.S. box […]

  5. […] a year ago, this blog christened 2015 as the “Year of the Spy.” As the year draws to a close, this post looks back on that year with some final […]

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