What critics are saying about Villeneuve

Blade Runner 2049 poster

Denis Villeneuve, a potential Bond 25 director, is getting a lot of attention in reviews for Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to Blade Runner that he helmed.

007 fans are playing a game of “will he or won’t he” regarding Villeneuve, He’s acknowledged being in talks about the next James Bond film while also having other projects on his plate. The Blade Runner 2049 reviews may further boost the interest of Bond fans in Villeneuve.

Blade Runner 2049 currently has a 94 percent “fresh” rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website that collects reviews.

With that in mind, here are non-spoiler excerpts (focused on Villeneuve) from some reviews.

CHRIS KLIMEK, NPR: “I’m severely restrained in my ability to tell you very much, as the publicity team read to the critics at the screening I attended an appeal from Villeneuve: an exhaustive list of specific characters and plot developments he has kindly asked that we not discuss. I’m complying because he has made a superb movie, one that really is stocked with revelations and counterrevelations worth preserving intact.”

A.O. SCOTT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: “Like any great movie, Mr. (Ridley) Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’ cannot be spoiled. It repays repeated viewing because its mysteries are too deep to be solved and don’t depend on the sequence of events. Mr. Villeneuve’s film, by contrast, is a carefully engineered narrative puzzle, and its power dissipates as the pieces snap into place. As sumptuous and surprising as it is from one scene to the next, it lacks the creative excess, the intriguing opacity and the haunting residue of its predecessor.”

MICHAEL O’SULLIVAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: “‘Blade Runner 2049,’ the superb new sequel by Denis Villeneuve (‘Arrival’), doesn’t just honor that (Blade Runner) legacy, but, arguably, surpasses it, with a smart, grimly lyrical script (by [Hampton] Fancher and Michael Green of the top-notch ‘Logan’); bleakly beautiful cinematography (by Roger Deakins); and an even deeper dive into questions of the soul.”

DAVID JENKINS, LITTLE WHITE LIES: “What Villeneuve had presumed in his lightly passive-aggressive memo (asking critics to not include spoilers) is that there would be material in his film that viewers would possess a natural urge to spoil. And yet, to these eyes, there was nothing. This film is little more than a bauble: shiny, hollow and shatters under the slightest pressure. Maybe it’ll be good news for the spoilerphobic among us, but there is little in the film that is actually worth spoiling – at least not without reams of fiddly context and turgid backstory.”

DANA STEVENS, SLATE: “Denis Villeneuve, who made Arrival, Sicario, and Enemy, is a director who enjoys not-fully-solved enigmas, and 2049’s twisty, misdirection-filled story alternates between suspenseful and tediously murky. But Villeneuve is working with the legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, whose mobile yet stately camera provides stunning bird’s-eye perspectives on the bleak urban habitat where these humans and replicants live.”

Blade Runner 2049 may draw eye of 007 fans

Blade Runner 2049 poster

Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to 1982’s Blade Runner, may get some extra attention when it opens early next month.

The source of that extra attention may be from James Bond film fans wanting to check out the work of director Denis Villeneuve.

Villeneuve, of course, has been mentioned as a contender to direct Bond 25. Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail, last week reported that 007 star Daniel Craig “is rooting” for Villeneuve to helm Bond 25.

Bamigboye has a track record of Bond scoops being proven correct. As a result, a number of entertainment websites, including Screen Rant , Den of Geek  and IndieWire jumped on the story. So did British publications such as The Telegraph. Naturally, it has also been discussed among Bond fans.

Whether Villeneuve gets the job remains uncertain at the moment. He is slated to direct a new version of Dune, but schedules have been known to change. Craig himself was scheduled to star in Purity, a limited series for pay channel Showtime, but that project apparently got delayed while Craig pursued Bond 25.

Regardless, the Blake 2049 crew includes people with Bond experience. The production designer is Dennis Gassner, who’s held the same job the past three 007 films, taking over from Peter Lamont. And the director of photography is Roger Deakins, who photographed Skyfall.

Deakins is well thought of by his peers and has been frequently nominated for Oscars (including for Skyfall) while not winning.

UPDATE (7:25 p.m. New York time): The Deadline: Hollywood entertainment news website today reported that Villeneuve is in the running to direct a new version of Cleopatra for Sony.

UPDATE (8:35 a.m., Sept. 30): Villeneuve, while promoting Blade Runner 2049, told The Montreal Gazette that he has been in talks about Bond 25.

“It’s true — I’ve been in discussions with (producer) Barbara Broccoli and (actor) Daniel Craig,” Villeneuve told the newspaper. “It’s a magnificent project; I would love to do a James Bond, but I don’t know how it would fit with my current projects. We’ll have to see.”

Bond 25: Reading between the lines edition

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

There hasn’t been much hard news since Daniel Craig said more than a month ago he’d be back for Bond 25. But some reports suggest things if you read between the lines. And so…

Still no director yet: In July, entertainment news websites identified three Bond 25 director front runners (Denis Villeneuve, Yann Demange and David Mackenzie). Variety said Demange was the top ranked contender.

All was quiet until Thursday night when Daily Mail scribe Baz Bamigboye (who has a record of scoops being proven correct) tweeted that Craig was “keen” on Villeneuve as Bond 25 director.

How much influence Craig will have on the voice is subject to debate and conjecture. But if Bamigboye is correct this time, it certainly sounds as if the decision hasn’t been made yet.

Still no distributor yet: On July 24, Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced Bond 25 would have a U.S. release date of November 2015. It was interesting given that MGM doesn’t have a distribution operation and relies on cutting deals with other studios to get its films into theaters.

Earlier this month, The Hollywood Reporter broke a story saying tech giants Apple and Amazon were now in the hunt for Bond 25 film rights in addition to traditional movie studios.

Not much since then. Interestingly, news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, which follow both Apple and Amazon closely, haven’t weighed in yet.

So some fans are undoubtedly asking, “Why should I care?” 

Here’s the best the blog can come up with: That November 2019 release date can’t be considered solid until a distributor is in place. Also, just because a release date gets announced doesn’t mean it can’t be changed.

To be clear, there’s no reason for panic. To be honest, there’s not enough information at this point to panic about. But, viewing it from the outside, Bond 25 has some peculiar aspects. Or, as Birth.Movies.Death scribe Phil Nobile Jr. (a big Bond enthusiast) put it on Twitter in response to Bamigboye’s tweet:

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UPDATE: 7:55 p.m. New York time: It turns out Baz Bamigboye wrote about this as part of a column in the Daily Mail.

“Bond star Daniel Craig is rooting for thriller film-maker Denis Villeneuve to direct him in his final 007 movie,” Bamigboye wrote.

Villeneuve “has spoken with Craig and Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson about making what is currently known simply as Bond 25….There are several other directors on the ‘wanted’ list, but I’m hearing that Craig is most interested in Villeneuve.”

Craig ‘keen’ on Villeneuve for B25, Bamigboye says

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

Baz Bamigboye, the Daily Mail scribe who has had a number of 007 scoops proven correct, put out a Bond 25 tweet but it’s hard to say how important it is or is not.

Returning 007 actor Daniel Craig “is said to be ‘keen’ for” Denis Villeneuve to do direct the 25th 007 film, Bamigboye said in the post on Twitter.

That’s all Bamigboye said. The tweet went out in the early evening New York time on Thursday. I thought he might be following up with a story later. But as of 11 p.m. New York time, no story had surfaced.

Bamigboye has had a number of Bond scoops proven correct this decade. His most recent one was in March when he said that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade had been hired to write Bond 25. That was confirmed in a July announcement by Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer that Bond 25 would have a release date of November 2019.

Deadline: Hollywood said on July 26 there were three director front runners: Villeneuve, Yann Demange and David Mackenzie. Variety said the same day that Demange was the No. 1 front runner.

Since then, not a peep about a Bond 25 director. For that matter, the movie at this point doesn’t have a distributor.

Anyway, Villeneuve has a big movie, Blade Runner 2049, coming out this fall. He’s also committed to direct a remake of Dune. The latter project might limit Villeneuve’s availability for Bond 25. But who knows?

Meanwhile, it’s unclear the importance of Bamigboye’s tweet. Eon boss Barbara Broccoli clearly wanted him back for a fifth 007 film. And Craig was given the title of co-producer for 2015’s SPECTRE.

But, assuming Craig is indeed “keen” on Villeneuve, is there any more to it? Your guess is as good as the blog’s.

Here’s the tweet if you want to see for yourself.

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Deadline says there are 3 finalists to direct Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

The Deadline: Hollywood entertainment news website says there are three finalists to direct Bond 25.

The three are Frenchman Yann Demange, French Canadian Denis Villeneuve and Scot David Mackenzie, according to a story by Mike Fleming Jr.

“The three frontrunners have all had meetings, I am told,” Fleming wrote. Fleming didn’t specify who or how many people told him this or how well connected they are to the production.

Eon Productions, which produces the Bond movies, announced Monday that Bond 25 will be out Nov. 8, 2019.

But that short statement didn’t announce the cast, director or distributor. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 007’s home studio, doesn’t have a distribution operation and cuts deals with other studios to release its movies. Sony Pictures has released the last four Bond films.

Later on Monday, The New York Times reported it’s a “done deal” that Daniel Craig will return for his fifth outing as Bond.

“We’ve known for months that Daniel Craig was going to return and finish his run as 007 with the one film commitment he has left on his deal, so that is hardly a surprise,” Fleming wrote in his story today about the director finalists.

With the 2019 release date, Eon “will have to select a filmmaker quickly and I expect that to be completed by end of summer,” Fleming wrote.

The Villenuve-directed Blade Runner 2049 is scheduled to be released this fall.

UPDATE: A bit of background. Deadline, back when it was run by founder Nikki Finke scored some Bond scoops. Among them: A 2010 story saying Sam Mendes had been brought on as a consultant to what would become Skyfall with the intent he’d direct the film. Finke left the site some time ago in a dispute.

UPDATE II (4:25 p.m. New York time): Variety has come out with a story saying Demange is the frontrunner to direct Bond 25. Variety attributes that to “insiders.”

Variety also said “it is believed” that Warner Bros. will distribute Bond 25. Variety doesn’t specify who believes this and whether they actually know anything.