A Bond 25 possibility

Rami Malek

No actual spoilers unless you consider a plot summary from a press release to be a spoiler. If so, move on.

So we don’t know a whole lot about Bond 25. Actor Rami Malek said he was going to be the villain but not much else. There was also a plot summary in a press release last week. One portion of that summary read:

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.

What follows is strictly speculation. But it’s well known that Eon Production never throws anything away.

One of its unused story lines was a 1990 treatment co-written by Eon’s Michael G. Wilson for Bond 17, which would eventually become 1995’s GoldenEye.

That treatment also featured technology as a McGuffin, specifically robots.

“The robotic devices refered (sic) to in this outline are complex and exotic machines designed for specific tasks and environments,” according to the treatment. “They are to be designed especially for the film for maximum dramatic and visual impact.”

One robot even masqueraded as a woman. “Nan is a lethal security robot!” is an actual line in the treatment.

Now, in the case of the Bond 17 treatment, the villain’s main plot was to take over Hong Kong from the British and Chinese. The British gave Hong Kong back to the Chinese in 1997, so that’s pretty much off the table.

Collaborative robots work in close proximity with humans.

However, robots have gotten ever more sophisticated since the Bond 17 treatment was written. New, so-called “collaborative” robots (known as cobots) are designed to work in close proximity with humans.

Today’s factory floors, besides having robots, have  artificial intelligence, “connected” devices that communicate with each other and tons of automation.

So there are a lot of possibilities if you want to make robots and other automation systems as part of some menace. Warning: I’d still avoid putting in a fembot into the plot.

Again, strictly speculation. That is all.

UPDATE, May 2: I should cited this example before. Boston Dynamics is developing four-legged robots capable of performing many tasks. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how they could be misused by a criminal mastermind.

Avengers: Endgame, an epic about second chances

Avengers: Endgame poster

Only the mildest of spoilers but the super-sensitive to spoilers should go somewhere else.

The three-hour epic Avengers: Endgame is, in the end, a story about second chances. Not only in its extravagant story but it also appeals to the human desire for do-overs.

As a result, it’s an epic with a heart, frequently punctuated by emotional scenes. For a genre attacked by detractors as a lot of CGI (which it has), there are many human moments.

In last year’s Avengers: Infinity Wars, the superheroes had been beaten by Thanos, who wiped out half of living beings in the universe.

The story utilizes time travel as a plot device for the Avengers to try and undo their defeat. But it also becomes a way for key members of the team to address personal setbacks and regrets.

The result is a film that keeps topping itself in terms of spectacle. Just when the viewer thinks the stakes can’t get higher, they do. Just when it seems there can’t be another twist, there is.

The movie, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, also is self-referential to the 11-year, 22-movie Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you’ve seen all of the entries, it’s easier to follow along. But things move swiftly enough, late comers can enjoy the ride and go to Google later to catch up.

In the meantime, virtually every actor who’s had a significant role in any of the Marvel films gets to make an encore.

Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame were filmed back-to-back. Together, they comprise a mammoth $500 million (at least) undertaking. I had some misgivings about Avengers: Infinity War. They were all wiped away with this film.

It’s a cliche, but true. Things will never be the same for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Studios will face challenges where to go from here, although it has the laid the foundation for ways to proceed.

But that’s a discussion for another day. The film, its huge cast and creative personnel have delivered what seemed impossible: A spectacle with a heart and emotion. GRADE: A.

Bond 25: Murdoch’s tabloids strike back

Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns tabloids The Sun (U.K.) and New York Post (U.S.)

Tabloid papers belonging to News Corp., run by Rupert Murdoch, a possible inspiration for the media mogul in Tomorrow Never Dies, have weighed in with dire depictions about Bond 25.

What’s more, one of their targets is Bond 25 star Daniel Craig, making his fifth film as Bond.

To be sure, Bond films have always gotten lots of attention from tabloids. Nevertheless, two Murdoch tabloids — The Sun in the U.K. and the New York Post in the U.S. — have published stories with a common theme. Namely, according to the Murdoch publications, all is not well behind the scenes with Bond 25.

On April 25, the same day as the Bond 25 media event in Jamaica, the Post’s Page Six gossip operation runs a story headlined, “There’s already trouble in paradise on new James Bond set.”

A sample of the prose:

A source close to Bond 25 said, “They don’t have a script, there’s no title, it is nearly five years since the last Bond. It starts with a retired Bond living in wedded bliss, but the rest of the script is still being worked over. They rolled out the cast this week at Ian Fleming’s villa in Jamaica because if they wait much longer Daniel Craig, who is 51, will be too old, and then he really won’t do the film.”

As Jack Benny used to say: “Well!” The story also said there would be cameos by Grace Jones (who played May Day in A View to a Kill) and Christoph Waltz, who played Blofeld in SPECTRE.

Not to be outdone, The Sun publishes a story on April 26 with the headline, “James Bond 25 chaos as Daniel Craig is given creative control amid fears he wants spy to be PC.”

Among other things in the story:

Bond head honcho Barbara Broccoli, 58, and makers E-on (sic) Productions were desperate for Craig to make a U-turn.

So they handed him a £18.4million pay cheque and complete creative control, meaning he has a say on casting, scripts, locations, costumes, technical team — and even the role of director.

(snip)
A Bond insider said: “The move has got people’s backs up. Some are expecting constant arguments, as whatever Craig wants, he gets.”

If Jack Benny were still with us, he’d be saying “Well!” a lot.

Not to be outdone, the Post came back with another a column today headlined, “How whiney Daniel Craig killed James Bond.”

Another sample:

Since Craig first donned the spy’s tuxedo in 2006’s “Casino Royale,” the franchise has turned increasingly homogeneous, dreary and frankly skippable. The granddaddy of super-spy films is now one of the most mediocre action series out there — and Craig is largely to blame for it.

(snip)
During his reign, 007 has become a bitter curmudgeon who jets ‘round the world pouting and going rogue in seemingly every film. Huh, kinda sounds like Craig himself.

Yikes! Is this a coordinated assault by the House of Murdoch? Or does Murdoch’s News Corp. simply employ a lot of like-minded people?

Oh well. We’ll see how it goes. Principal photography on Bond 25 is scheduled to begin Sunday, April 28, in Jamaica.

Naomie Harris emerges as 007’s unofficial ambassador

Naomie Harris introduces the Lego Aston Martin DB5 in 2018

Naomie Harris, seven years after entering the film world of 007, may have emerged as a sort-of unofficial ambassador for the James Bond film franchise.

When Sony was the distributor of 007 films, it employed Harris as her Moneypenny character in a commercial. She retrieves Bond’s smartphone for him.

It fell to Harris to introduce the Lego Aston Martin DB5 that came out at an event in London in 2018.

Also in 2018, Harris was the headliner for the opening of 007 Elements in Austria, “a James Bond-themed installation.”

This week, she appeared at Eon Production’s “reveal” event in Jamaica. In an interview with Nine News Australia, she said she wasn’t involved in filming Bond 25 scenes there.

“I’m not, unfortunately,” she said. “I know I’m not…I wish I was.” Meanwhile, other members of the 007 “Scooby Gang” (Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Rory Kinnear) didn’t put in an appearance in Jamaica.

For many years, Roger Moore, who starred in seven of Eon’s Bond films, filled the “ambassador” role. He publicly spoke in support of his 007 successors.

“Roger came down to set one day on ‘GoldenEye’ and wished me well,” Brosnan wrote in a 2017 tribute in Variety published after Moore’s death “I was still in awe of the man” Moore also complimented Daniel Craig’s Bond performances.

Perhaps Harris’ schedule makes her available to promote Bond more. Still, she has developed a presence that’s reaching out to audiences on behalf of the gentleman spy.

James Bond & Friends looks at Bond 25 event

James Bond & Friends logo

Episode 008 of the James Bond & Friends podcast examines the Bond 25 cast reveal held April 25 at GoldenEye in Jamaica.

Here’s a description:

In this special extended episode, we take apart the Bond 25 live reveal event. How did it all go down? What was expected and was surprising? Along the way we trip over a forgetful producer, the fate of an audio guy, fake tweets, a younger looking cast, why Naomie Harris was in Jamaica, the absence of Blofeld, Rami Malek’s stare, Felix Leiter’s precarious fate, the meaning of treachery, and why you should wear socks to avoid suspicion.

The blog was among the participants. Others were David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier, author Mark O’Connell and Ben Williams, who contributes to the MI6 James Bond website and MI6 Confidential magazine. It was hosted by James Page of the MI6 James Bond website.

Bond 25 gets a cast but no title yet

Daniel Craig in Skyfall.

Eon Productions today introduced the Bond 25 cast during an event in Jamaica today. But the 25th 007 film still lacks a title.

Cast members include Rami Malek, who spoke remotely from New York, where he’s filming Mr. Robot. He also did a separate interview on ABC’s Good Morning America. The actor essentially confirmed he’s the movie’s villain, saying he’ll make life difficult for Daniel Craig’s James Bond.

Also on board are Lea Seydoux, continuing as Madeline Swann. Meanwhile, making a return after more than a decade is Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter. That means he’ll set a record in the Eon series, breaking a tie with David Hedison, who appeared twice as Leiter.

The MI6 “Scooby Gang” (Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear) also will be back in force. To see the other members of the cast, go to Eon’s official 007 Twitter feed.

Barbara Broccoli said during the event that Bond won’t be on active service at the start of the film and “his journey starts here,” referring to Jamaica. No other plot points were discussed.

Listed writers are Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Scott Z. Burns and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

However, there was no word on Christoph Waltz making a return engagement as Blofeld following SPECTRE. Rodrigo Perez, editor of The Playlist, wrote on Twitter early today that Waltz will be back unless the script was drastically altered. Perez was the scribe who originally broke the story that Scott Z. Burns was rewriting Bond 25’s script.

If you’ve ever attended the media days of a car show, that’s how the event came off. Pretty much people are saying things that have been worked out and reinforce talking points. Director Cary Fukunaga, for example, declared Daniel Craig is his favorite Bond actor.

UPDATE: The MI6 James Bond website, in its story about today’s event, presented a more detailed synopsis than occurred during the presentation. Don’t read ahead if you’re spoiler adverse.

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.

UPDATE II: The James Bond Dossier posts a copy of a Bond 25 press release. It lists director Cary Fukunaga as one of the writers in addition to the four aforementioned scribes. It also contradicts THIS TWEET from Eon’s official 007 Twitter feed, which didn’t mention Fukunaga as a writer. This suggests the final writing credit won’t be settled until after a Writer’s Guild arbitration.

Bond 25 questions: Eve of the announcement Part II

Everyone is getting revved up for the April 25 Bond 25 announcement.

So, according to Eon Productions’ official Twitter feed, there’s going to be an online Bond 25 announcement on April 25. But, of course, the blog has more questions.

What time is the announcement again?

The text of the tweet says it will be “13:10 BST/05:10 PST.” But the tweet embeds a video that says it will be “13:10 GMT/5:10 PST.”

BST refers to British Summer Time. GMT refers to Greenwich Mean Time. They’re not the same thing. This website refers to GMT as currently an “inactive zone” and to use BST.

BST is akin to Daylight Saving Time in the United States. GMT is akin to standard time in the U.S.

Right now, BST is five hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time (i.e. eastern time in the U.S.) So 13:10 BST would be 8:10 EDT. It would also be 5:10 Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). But that’s not the same thing as PST (Pacific Standard Time).

Oh my. What do you suggest?

You might want to be ready to go an hour earlier just in case. Given how many 007 film fans are starved for Bond 25 news, that’s probably not much of a stretch.

I see. Any other observations?

Here’s one: 007 & Co. did deals with Good Morning Britain in the U.K. and Good Morning America in the U.S. for Bond 25-related programming on April 25 and 26. The British morning show started doing promos last week, and the U.S. program began promotions this week.

So those programs were, more or less, setting the media agenda for Bond 25 over the past few days. It wasn’t clear whether there’d be an actual announcement or no.

Then, today, Eon put out the aforementioned tweet. It looks like this:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

OK, so now we know there is an actual announcement coming. But things were a little uncertain for a while. Admittedly hindsight is 20-20. But perhaps Eon should have made its advisory first, with the two morning shows following. Just a thought.

UPDATE: I have a pretty strong feeling, re: time zones, they mean BST (British Summer Time). So perhaps you shouldn’t worry and get up too early. NEVERTHELESS, this is why public announcements require care, especially when it comes to references to time of day and time zones.