Bond 25 questions: Craig’s new movie edition

Time to hit the panic button yet?

So Daniel Craig has a new movie before Bond 25. A movie that will be filming the month before Bond 25’s scheduled start of production.

You know the drill. The blog, as usual, has some questions.

What are the chances of a delay in starting Bond 25 production? Given your leading man is starring in a mystery movie titled Knives Out, probably 90 percent or better.

If Knives Out were a TV movie, Craig could probably squeeze it in before Bond 25’s scheduled start date of Dec. 3. But, by all accounts, it’s a theatrical film. It may be a modest production, but it doesn’t seem likely Craig could complete Knives Out before Dec. 3.

What are the chances this pushes back Bond 25’s fall 2019 release date? That’s an entirely different question, at least for now.

Mission: Impossible-Fallout still met its July release date despite star Tom Cruise breaking an ankle. The production schedule was changed and the crew was kept on the payroll (so they wouldn’t take other jobs while Cruise recovered). The Christopher McQuarrie-directed movie was still doing work until virtually the last minute. But it still met the release date. That’s a lot of off-screen drama.

However, Bond 25 doesn’t have a director at the moment, much less a McQuarrie. Until it acquires one (after Danny Boyle resigned from the project last month), it’s difficult to say what will happen with the release date. It’s a Mr. Obvious observation, but until you have a director, you don’t have a movie.

So what is Daniel Craig thinking? The fact he accepted another movie suggests there’s no way he thinks Bond 25 will be ready to go by Dec. 3. But the blog doesn’t have a mind reading machine. Also, there’s no telling what the state of Bond 25’s script is after scribe John Hodge followed Boyle out the door.

What’s your verdict? No sense hitting the panic button yet. At the same time, if you’re wearing rose-colored glasses, you should take them off.

Mission: Impossible-Fallout: A film Bruce Geller might love

Mission: Impossible-Fallout poster

As I watched Mission: Impossible-Fallout, I kept wondering what M:I creator Bruce Geller would think. My guess: I think he would approve.

The best episodes of the original 1966-73 series featured slick plans devised by Dan Briggs (Steven Hill) and Jim Phelps (Peter Graves). While the plans were brilliantly devised, the Impossible Missions Force would be forced to improvise when things went wrong or surprises occurred.

Previous Mission: Impossible films, which debuted in 1996, have this same feature. But in the newest installment, IMF leader Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has to improvise more often, more quickly than ever before.

The new film also has a personal angle (an apsect Geller wouldn’t have been fond of) — something the 007 film series has featured constantly since 1989. But for M:I-Fallout, the personal angle doesn’t overwhelm the proceedings.

As a result, Hunt isn’t out for revenge (a la Licence to Kill, GoldenEye, Die Another Day and other 007 films). No readings of poems (a la M in Skyfall). No villain with a “personal” connection to the hero (SPECTRE’s new version of Blofeld).

The trailers for Mission: Impossible-Fallout have emphasized that evoke set pieces from 007 movies (Licence to Kill and Tomorrow Never Dies). Some fans complain that’s ripping off Bond.

But, in the end, they’re only set pieces and don’t take up that much screen time. What’s more, there are twists involved that weren’t shown in the trailers.

Mission: Impossible-Fallout still is mostly its own thing. It tips its hat to the original show via a Lalo Schifrin-inspired score by Lorne Balfe. It’s not the first time the movie series has embraced Schifrin. Joe Kreamer, composer for 2015’s Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, also weaved Schifrin into his score. Balfe does it his own way. (CLICK HERE for a feature story Jon Burlingame did for Variety about Balfe’s work.)

Meanwhile, writer-director Christopher McQuarrie, who also worked on M:I Rogue Nation, keeps things at a frantic pace. The movie has a 147-minute running time. That’s almost as long as SPECTRE’s 148 minutes. But M:I-Fallout, overall, moves more quickly. At the same time, McQuarrie’s movie isn’t just set pieces strung together.

As a fan of the original TV show, I still don’t care for how the first movie in the Cruise series made Jim Phelps into a traitor. At this point, I just have to rationalize the film series is an alternate universe.

At 56, you’ve got to wonder how much longer Cruise can keep the Mission: Impossible film franchise going. But that’s something most viewers won’t think about until after they’re headed home from Mission: Impossible-Fallout. GRADE: A-Minus.

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.

M:I-Fallout gets some love from critics

A clapperboard from Mission: Impossible-Fallout

Mission: Impossible-Fallout is getting some positive reviews two weeks ahead of its release.

The sixth M:I film starring Tom Cruise and released by Paramount is due out the last weekend of this month.

It was a hectic production, which included Cruise breaking his ankle during a stunt. But the early reviews are mostly complimentary.

Here are some non-spoiler excerpts:

ROBERT ABELE, THE WRAP: “In the shootout phase of international action franchise competition, then, “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” has decidedly zinged one past all caped defenders with a rousing, silly-serious, old-fashioned humdinger that could make a whole audience of veteran action stars nod slowly, wide-eyed, and say, “I remember those days, but I never worked that hard.”

RAFER GUZMAN, NEWSDAY: “Yet here is Cruise, 56, performing some of the most impressive feats of derring-do ever captured on screen….Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie, on his second “M:I” film, keeps this elaborate machine purring like a luxury sedan with only the occasional misfire. The plot gets so tangled in mental chess and double deceits that the characters often sound like internet conspiracy theorists (“Don’t you see? This is the trap!”).”

TODD MCCARTHY, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: “The plot may be as indecipherable as The Big Sleep, but the action is insane in this sixth installment of Mission: Impossible. Loaded with extended sequences that show Tom Cruise doing what look like real — and really dangerous — stunts all over central Paris and London…writer-director Christopher McQuarrie’s second outing on the series tops what he did with Cruise three years ago with Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation.”

PETER DEBRUGE, VARIETY: “(Tom Cruise character Ethan) Hunt himself has acquired a gravitas along the way that distinguishes the series from its most obvious inspiration, the James Bond movies of the 1960s, back when Sean Connery was that franchise’s first and only star. Now playing to an audience who’s forgotten (if it ever realized) that these films were inspired by a knockoff TV series from the same era, “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” isn’t just another stunt-driven save-the-world bonanza.”

KEITH UHLICH, SLANT MAGAZINE: ” It would help if there was a single character worth caring about…The real fallout here is that everyone’s a zero.”

M:I-Fallout director fields fan questions

A clapperboard from Mission: Impossible-Fallut

Christopher McQuarrie, the writer-director of Mission: Impossible-Fallout, has spent the past few days answering questions from fans on Twitter.

The movie, due out on in late July, was a difficult production, including star-producer breaking an ankle.

Still, McQuarrie often takes to social media do discuss current projects. Some of his answers are jokes (at least they appear to be jokes).

Here’s a look at some of questions with McQuarrie’s answers.

Did Tom Cruise have to use a stunt double after breaking his ankle during a stunt?

McQuarrie: “No. There is not a single shot in Fallout where Tom uses a double.

Does he do his own OTS shots?

McQuarrie: “And inserts. If you see Ethan’s foot in a brake pedal, it’s Tom.”

Who is your favorite super hero?

McQuarrie: “El Kabong.”

Will you and Tom record another audio commentary for the Blu Ray release of MI6?

McQuarrie: “Count on it.”

M:I-Fallout director catches flak about composer choice

Stunt teased by Tom Cruise on Instagram for Mision: Impossible-Fallout

Christopher McQuarrie, director of Mission: Impossible-Fallout, said on Twitter that the composer for the movie will be Lorne Balfe.

The disclosure came after Joe Kraemer, who scored 2015’s Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, said on Twitter in February he wasn’t asked back for the new film.

This week, McQuarrie invited questions on the social media platform.

After McQuarrie said Balfe was the choice, he got a bit of flak from fans who wanted Kramer to return.

Here is how it played out, beginning with McQuarrie’s initial answer.

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Mission: Impossible-Fallout is scheduled to be out in July.

Cruise releases M:I 6’s title, teases a stunt

Stunt teased by Tom Cruise on Instagram

Tom Cruise took to Instagram on Thursday to disclose the title of the sixth Mission: Impossible movie is Mission: Impossible — Fallout and to post a still of him doing a helicopter stunt.

“We’ve upped the ante for the sixth #MissionImpossible. I can’t wait for you guys to see more,” Cruise wrote on Instagram and on Twitter.

The social media posts also coincided with the release of an Empire magazine interview with Mission: Impossible — Fallout writer-director Christopher McQuarrie.

“The title has multiple meanings in the film, from the literal to the figurative,” explains McQuarrie. “There is the threat of nuclear terrorism hanging over the movie, which is the literal threat.”

And the figurative? “There’s the notion that what’s happened in the movie is the end result of choices that Ethan Hunt has made in his life. It’s Ethan’s past come back to haunt him. It’s the fallout of all his good intentions.”

The production has had setbacks, including Cruise, 55, suffering a broken ankle during filming last summer. Mission: Impossible — Fallout is slated for a late July release, which has been the summer “spy” movie release date since 2015’s Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation.

UPDATE (1:15 p.m. New York Time): Mission: Impossible — Fallout also has a Facebook page. It includes this official synopsis:

The best intentions often come back to haunt you. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT finds Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team (Alec Baldwin, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames) along with some familiar allies (Rebecca Ferguson, Michelle Monaghan) in a race against time after a mission gone wrong. Henry Cavill, Angela Bassett, and Vanessa Kirby also join the dynamic cast with filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie returning to the helm.