Real life Mission: Impossible — ex-auto exec escapes

Carlos Ghosn

Here today, Ghosn tomorrow.

Former Renault and Nissan executive Carlos Ghosn (rhymes with cone) pulled off a dramatic escape from Japan and ended up in Lebanon, a country where he’s a citizen.

Ghosn was arrested in Japan in 2018 for under-reporting his compensation. He spent much of the past year imprisoned. More recently, he’s been out of jail but under severe restrictions and surveillance. His lawyers in Japan had custody of his three passports (Lebanese, Brazilian and French).

Despite that, Ghosn this week arrived in Lebanon via a private aircraft. He said he was held unjustly and plans to discuss the case publicly next week. A report in Lebanon said part of the escape involved being taken out in a box meant for musical instruments after some musicians played at his Tokyo home.

For details, you can view reports in The New York Times, CNN and Reuters. (UPDATE: Reuters has an additional story saying Ghosn may have met Lebanon’s president after arriving in the country.)

The reason for bringing it up in the blog: I’ve seen mentions on social media comparing this to James Bond.

Granted (as a former co-worker of mine said years ago) Ghosn looks like he could play a James Bond villain. Another friend this week remarked this has the makings of a good movie and Rami Malek, having wrapped up work on No Time to Die, could play Ghosn.

Still, I think the better comparison is the original Mission: Impossible television series. Ghosn’s escape seems as elaborate as some of the plans devised by either Dan Briggs (Steven Hill) or Jim Phelps (Peter Graves).

The M:I pilot even had operative Willy (Peter Lupus) using cases to carrying people into a vault containing two atomic bombs.

Regardless, the world is going to be curious for some time about how Ghosn pulled off his escape from Japan.

Odds and ends from Empire’s NTTD story

Daniel Craig/James Bond character poster

No real spoilers but people determined to read nothing about No Time to Die before April should skip.

Empire magazine’s February 2020 has reached subscribers and there are now scans of its entire No Time to Die story.

The issue goes on sale on Dec. 27. The blog ran one post yesterday. What follows is a summary of a few additional things:

–There are a couple of passages that partially explain scenes that are included in the movie’s trailer (Bond’s black tie scene and a seaplane).

–Director Cary Fukunaga supposedly lobbied for the Bond 25 director’s job right after SPECTRE.

–Producer Barbara Broccoli on why Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld came back (despite Waltz’s claims at one point that he wasn’t in the movie): “When you’ve got Christoph Waltz you don’t want to throw him away and you don’t want to kill him off too fast.”

–Fukunaga on Safin, the villain played by Rami Malek: “He’s someone who’s lived in the shadows. Waiting for the right moment to take the position he thinks is his rightful position: running the underworld.”

–Broccoli and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson say they haven’t thought at all about Bond 26.

‘No comment’ trumps a falsehood

Rami Malek

Earlier today, I saw some social media accounts express exasperation that the idea that Rami Malek may be playing a rebooted Dr. No in No Time to Die.

Malek, in a recent interview, said he wasn’t playing Dr. No. Shouldn’t that be the end of it?

Under normal circumstances, yes.

But Malek’s Dr. No denial comes after Eon Productions, and the actors it hired, denied things that were true.

–Naomie Harris denied she was playing a new version of Moneypenny in Skyfall. But she was.

–Eon boss Barbara Broccoli and star Daniel Craig, in a joint interview during the production of Skyfall, denied Ben Whishaw was playing Q in Skyfall. This came after Whishaw’s agent said his client had the part.

“Agents are liars,” Craig said. “You know that.” The actor laughed, according to the transcript.

–Christoph Waltz denied he was playing Blofeld in SPECTRE. But he was.

It may well be true that Malek isn’t playing Dr. No. The timeline for the Malek-is-playing-Dr. No is a bit odd. See THIS DEC. 6 SPY COMMAND POST for some background.

The thing is, once a pattern is established of denying things that are true, you lose the benefit of the doubt. You don’t get to unring a bell. You don’t get a do-over.

Put another way, credibility once lost is hard to get back. With Malek as Dr. No 2.0, fans may be going down a rabbit hole. But Eon Productions and its publicity department have only themselves to blame.

“No comment” is always a better alternative to a falsehood.

About that Dr. No vibe for No Time to Die

Rami Malek in the No Time to Die trailer

There are fan questions whether Rami Malek is playing a rebooted version of Dr. No in No Time to Die. But how did that get started?

Well, back on April 25, Malek appeared on Good Morning America. He was asked if he had a favorite James Bond film.

“I liked Dr. No quite a bit,” Malek replied.

Later in the day, CBS posted an online story that originally said Malek would play Dr. No. However, that reference was deleted and this added to the end of the story: “Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that it is unclear which James Bond villain Malek will be playing.”

Regardless, the idea remained in the background, even after Malek’s character name was revealed to be Safin.

This week, the No Time to Die trailer debuted, providing a first look of Malek in character. The trailer did little to put the Dr. No vibe to rest. For example, Joe Darlington of Being James Bond noted this similarity.

Dr. No: BOND (Sean Connery): Our asylums are full of people who think they’re Napoleon — or God.

No Time to Die trailer: BOND (Daniel Craig): History isn’t kind to men who play God.

However, Malek, during an interview seemed to want to wind back the Dr. No angle. He said he watched previous Bond films but “it was not as if I was going back o play an exact character. I was not playing  Dr. No again.”

You can see it below, starting around the 7:23 mark.

Normally, that would be that.

Except, during production of Skyfall, Naomie Harris denied she was playing Moneypenny while Daniel Craig and Barbara Broccoli in a joint interview denied Ben Whishaw was playing Q (even though Whishaw’ agent had let the cat out of the bag). Also, during production of SPECTRE, Christoph Waltz denied he was paying Blofeld.

As a result, maybe Malek means it. But, based on recent history, maybe he doesn’t.

We’ll see.

No Time to Die trailer debuts

If you consider a trailer an unforgivable spoiler, stop reading.

No Time to Die’s trailer — we can safely stop calling it a “teaser trailer” — debuted today. The 2:35 trailer may have answered some fan questions while raising new ones.

Confirmed: Nomi (Lashana Lynch) is a double-0 agent. More information: she and former agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) don’t get along, at least not at first.

“So stay in your lane,” she tells Bond. “If you get in my way, I will put a bullet in your knee — the one that works.”

Unconfirmed: Whether Nomi now has the 007 code number following Bond’s departure. There is a scene in the trailer where M (Ralph Fiennes) asks, “Where’s 007?” That would be a perfect setup to introduce Nomi as having Bond’s old code number — if the filmmakers choose to do so.

Seemingly confirmed: Christoph Waltz is back as Blofeld and is visited in prison by Bond. Given the franchise’s embrace of continuity, it looks pretty certain he is playing Blofeld again. He taunts Bond about Madeline Swann.

New question: What happened between Bond and Swann (Lea Seydoux) after the end of SPECTRE?

A number of scenes indicate the relationship between Bond and Swann got rocky, with questions about secrets.

New question: What is Rami Malek’s villain character up to?

That’s not really answered but there are a few intriguing lines from Malek’s character.

In the U.S., the trailer was unveiled on ABC’s Good Morning America show. Afterward, some of the main cast were interviewed but said little.

Lea Seydoux said Swann has secrets (which we knew already from the trailer). Lashana Lynch said Daniel Craig is her favorite James Bond (joining Rami Malek and director Cary Fukunaga who made that declaration previously). Malek said it was an honor to work with Craig. At least that talking point remains consistent.

Here’s the trailer:

UPDATE (12: 30 p.m., New York Time): I had a chance to re-watch the Good Morning America interview. Director Fukunaga says No Time to Die “carries on the tradition of the previous four films…We’re trying our best to wrap them up in a really exciting way.” He also says he hopes new generations discover Bond.

UPDATE (1:40 p.m. New York time): It turns out the entire No Time to Die segment on Good Morning America was sponsored by MGM. In other words, it was an informercial.

NTTD-GMA-MGM

 

No Time to Die character posters unveiled

No Time to Die logo

Character posters for No Time to die were unveiled on Twitter this morning U.S. time.

The posters were contained in three tweets. The first had Daniel Craig in character as Bond and Lea Seydoux as Madeline Swann. The second featured Rami Malek as Safin and Lashana Lynch as Nomi.

The third had Ben Whishaw as Q and Ana de Armas as Paloma. No sign yet (as of this writing) of Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter or Ralph Fiennes as M.

Here are the tweets:

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Eon teases release of No Time to Die trailer

No Time to Die teaser poster

Eon Productions has confirmed the first No Time to Die trailer debuts Dec. 4 and provided some shots of the film in the process.

Eon sent out a tweet Sunday night. Besides confirming the Dec. 4 date, it had very quick shots from the 25th James Bond film.

The tweet shows nine shots within 14 seconds. Included were some action shots, including what appears to be a motorcycle jump done during filming in Matera, Italy.

There’s also a shot of machine guns emerging from the Aston Martin DB5 replica. Star Daniel Craig is featured in several of the shots. Yet another shot shows Ana de Armas firing two machine guns.

One shot is of a mysterious figure. Whether it’s Rami Malek’s villain character remains to be seen.

The text was short as well: “Bond is back. The first trailer for #NoTimeToDie arrives this Wednesday #Bond25 #BondJamesBond.”

The tweet is below

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

UPDATE (8:58 p.m. New York time): The video also has been posted by Eon to YouTube.

UPDATE II (9:35 p.m. New York time): The video was also used as short commercial on NBC’s Sunday Night Football telecast. Comcast owns both NBC and Universal, the latter which is handling international distribution of No Time to Die.