Reports heat up saying Malek will play B25’s villain

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Just days after picking up an Oscar, Rami Malek is again the focus of stories saying he’ll play the villain in Bond 25.

Variety weighed in with a story saying Billy Magnussen is the top choice to play a CIA agent role while there’s “renewed interest” in Malek as the villain.

Not to be outdone, Collider published a story saying Rami Malek is in final talks to play Bond 25’s villain. It cites “well-placed sources” as the basis of its information. Colllder also says Malek’s representatives have negotiated so the now-Oscar winning actor can do both Bond 25 and a new season of Mr. Robot.

Malek won the best actor Oscar on Sunday for his work on the film Bohemian Rhapsody. He has previously been mentioned in reports as a contender to play the villain’s role.

Each story has additional Bond 25 tidbits.

Variety also said director Cary Fukunaga “turned in” a script draft around the start of 2019. “(W)hile reports surfaced that major rewrite work was done to the script, sources say no significant changes were made, and the producers and Craig were excited with what Fukunaga had delivered.”

The story contained no mention of scribes Neal Purvis, Robert Wade or Scott Z. Burns. The Playlist reported earlier this month that Burns was doing a significant rewrite and was working out of London for four weeks. Purvis and Wade originally were hired in 2017 to work on Bond 25.

“There aren’t really any character details available, though the villain has been rumored to be a blind man,” according to the Collider story about Malek.”

No word whether that rumor stems from the discredited (or at least seemingly discredited) 2017 report in the Mirror that Bond 25 was somehow based on a Raymond Benson James Bond continuation novel. One of Benson’s 007 stories featured a blind villain. The author has said on social media he was never contacted by the Mirror and assumed the 2017 story was a fabrication.

The Collider story references Scott Z. Burns as a writer, but no has mention of Purvis and Wade.

Scott Z. Burns enters Bond 25 writing sweepstakes

Scott Z. Burns, who has worked with director Stephen Soderbergh on some films, has been to hired to rewrite Bond 25’s script, The Playlist reported.

Also, according to the story, Bond 25’s start date was pushed back to April from March. If true, that would confirm a Feb. 5 tweet by Steven Weintraub, editor of Collider.com.

Weintraub said Bond 25 director of  photography Linus Sandgren told him that the movie would start filming in April.

The Playlist’s story said Burns’ rewrite is an “overhaul” of a script by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who have worked on seven Bond films, including Bond 25.

Earlier this decade, Burns worked on a script for a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. when Soderbergh was attached as director. That story would have been a Thunderball-inspired plot based on a real-life incident in the 1960s.

Soderbergh exited the project and Burns’ script was dumped. Guy Ritchie directed the film, which came out in August 2015.

On Jan. 1, a site called Geeks WorldWide said Paul Haggis, a screenwriter on Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, had also contributed to the Bond 25 script.

In 2018, Danny Boyle was hired to direct Bond 25 but left over “creative differences.” His preferred writer, John Hodge, was announced as the scribe at that time. After Boyle’s depature, Cary Fukunaga (himself a writer) was hired to direct Bond 25.

The Playlist said Bond 25 currently has “a script that no one is entirely happy with.” It describes Burns as having a reputation for being a top script rescue doctor.

Burns will work on Bond 25 for “at least” four weeks, according to The Playlist.

Eon Productions announced Feb. 15 that Bond 25’s release date was pushed back to April 8, 2020, from Feb. 14, 2020. It gave no reason.

007 film universe rumor and entertainment websites

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

It has been almost a week, but entertainment news websites are still following up on the rumor that Eon Productions wants a 007 film universe.

There hasn’t been anything new, but the rumor is making the rounds.

Here’s how it breaks down. The followups are not a comprehensive list. But this post does contain a shoutout to the original source and a 007 fan account on Twitter that picked up on it.

June 23: Jeff Sneider, editor-in-chief of The Tracking Board website, says in a tweet that, “I’ve heard the Broccolis have caught Universe Fever and would love to explore other corners of the Bond franchise…simultaneously.”

June 24: @Bond25Film on Twitter does a “quote tweet,” where you can see Sneider’s original tweet. @Bond25Film says (understandably) to take “this with a huge pinch of salt.”

June 24: In full disclosure, @Bond25Film’s “quote tweet” was the first time this blog heard of Sneider’s original tweet. After tracking the original tweet down, the blog did a post the same day plus a June 25 follow-up about questions raised by the rumor.

June 26: Phil Nobile Jr., a writer for Birth. Movies. Death. and a Bond fan, comes out with a post noting the Sneider rumor.

“I’m highly skeptical that this will come to pass, but as a fan of the franchise with no real Bond 25 news to report, I humbly offer these suggestions for opening up the Bondverse,” Nobile writes. His ideas include a prequel for M (the Judi Dench version).

June 28: The Express, in a story with the headline “James Bond SHOCK,” weighs in.

June 28: Esquire also comments on the rumor. “Do We…do we want this?” reads a secondary headline.

June 28: The Playlist, while citing Jeff Sneider, also says, Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson “might have a contemporary way to keep that money tap open.”

June 29: The Independent, again citing Jeff Sneider, says, “It seems like there’s no franchise on the planet that’s immune from the cinematic universe fever.”

June 29: Add /Film to the list. The site adds this observation: “Also the truth: a James Bond cinematic universe would completely fit in with the series’ modus operandi of borrowing whatever is cool, hip, or popular and making it its own.”

Soderbergh says he was twice approached about 007 films

Steven Soderbergh

Steven Soderbergh

Director Steven Soderbergh says he twice was in discussions about working on a James Bond film, according to THE PLAYLIST website.

The director, who previously vowed to retire at age 50 but is still at it, made the comments during a screening of his 2012 film Haywire, according to The Playlist.

Here’s an excerpt with the few details:

When the conversation swung back to “Haywire,” Soderbergh dropped a big reveal about the 007 series. “Over the years, I’ve been in conversations… ,” he said with a pause and some hesitation and then just blurted it out. “I’ve been approached twice about doing a Bond film. And it never quite got anywhere. And [‘Haywire’] in some ways, was my opportunity to do what I would do with a Bond movie.”

That’s all there is Bond-wise. No details available about the time the supposed discussions took place.

Haywire, released in the United States in early 2012, featured Gina Carano as a double crossed spy operative who gets revenge. It was made in 2011, before Sodebergh was supposed to make a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Soderbergh dropped out of the U.N.C.L.E. project in late 2011 following disagreements with Warner Bros. over casting and budget. The U.N.C.L.E. film eventually was directed by Guy Ritchie.

Soderbergh is scheduled this fall to director Logan Lucky, a heist film that includes Daniel Craig in its cast, part of the actor’s growing list of non-007 projects.

Excerpts from early SPECTRE reviews

SPECTRE poster

SPECTRE poster

The initial wave of SPECTRE reviews, by critics who attended a Wednesday press showing in the U.K., are being posted. Reaction is mostly positive (some reviews overwhelmingly so) while some reviews express reservations.

What follows are some excerpts from a sampling of those reviews.

We’ve tried to keep out spoilers, but for some almost anything is a spoiler. So if you’re really spoiler adverse, stop reading now.

OLIVER LYTTELTON, THE PLAYLIST: “The Daniel Craig era of Bond movies has been something of a mixed bag so far. …(I)t would be nice to report that (director Sam Mendes’ ) second movie in the franchise, “Spectre,” will please both the hardcore and the more casual fan. Unfortunately, the new film, the 24th in the long-running series, feels more like a successor to ‘Quantum (of Solace),’ or to one of the ropier Roger Moore films, than to its Oscar-winning predecessor.”

“As with “Skyfall,” Mendes (and writers John Logan, Neil Purvis and Robert Wade, here joined by “Edge Of Tomorrow” and “Black Mass” co-writer Jez Butterworth) are pushing forward a more serialized, backstory-heavy Bond for the modern super-franchise era, while also paying homage to classic 007 entries.”

PETER BRADSHAW, THE GUARDIAN: “If nothing else, the spelling of the title should tip you off that this is a thoroughly English movie franchise. Bond is back and Daniel Craig is back in a terrifically exciting, spectacular, almost operatically delirious 007 adventure – endorsing intelligence work as old-fashioned derring-do and incidentally taking a stoutly pro-Snowden line against the creepy voyeur surveillance that undermines the rights of a free individual. It’s pure action mayhem with a real sense of style.”

BRIAN VINER, DAILY MAIL:  “Does it warrant all the hype, the secrecy, the breathless anticipation? Indubitably, yes.

“From the exhilarating pre-credits sequence, against the backdrop of the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City, to a spectacular denouement…Spectre is a proper joyride of a James Bond film.

“It features everything (with the exception of a really memorable theme song) that most of us hope for in a 007 picture: great gadgets, stunts, and a handful of laugh-out loud one-liners.”

“It is a pleasure, too, to find Bond back in control of his own destiny. As good as Skyfall was, it was disconcerting to see him quite so vulnerable.”

DAVID EDWARDS, THE MIRROR: “Mean, moody and mad as hell, this is a Bond we haven’t seen since the days of Sean Connery, with director Sam Mendes returning the superspy to his brutal roots.

“Forget the campiness of the past, 007 is the suited-and-booted menace originally envisioned by creator Ian Fleming.

“And while you can’t help cheering as he takes on the sinister criminal organisation, Spectre, with the single-mindedness of an Exocet missile, he remains someone you really wouldn’t want to meet for a Martini.”

GEOFFREY MCCNAB, THE INDEPENDENT: “Thankfully, as an action movie, Spectre is every bit the equal of its predecessor, Skyfall. For at least half its running time, this is as good as Bond gets – a rip-roaring and very stylishly made thriller with tremendous production values.

“The hitch is that, in its latter stages, Spectre struggles to reconcile its own internal contradictions. The filmmakers want to have it both ways: to provide slick entertainment while also giving us new insight into Bond’s emotions and into his past. This leads to some strange contortions.”

Bond 24: Sam Mendes does some teasing

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes

Bond 24 director Sam Mendes talked a bit, but not much, about the next James Bond film adventure, according to the SCREEN DAILY website.

Mendes spoke this week at an event at Windsor Castle. Here’s an excerpt from the Screen Daily article:

After doing Skyfall, which was hailed as a more modern approach to Bond, he knew he wanted to do a follow-up film. “We had taken Bond where people aged and were getting old and dying. It had come out of this bubble of timelessness I felt. I thought I would need to say what happened next, in the next year or two.” He knew he would do the next film as soon as Daniel Craig also confirmed.

There’s a bit of revisionist history here. In 2013, Mendes said ACCORDING TO THE PLAYLIST WEBSITE that the idea of doing a sequel to Skyfall “made me physically ill.” Also, in other 007 films, the idea that Bond had aged had been explored.

In any case, Mendes’ comments suggest (but is hardly conclusive proof) that the aging Bond meme of Skyfall will continue in Bond 24. Also, the director briefly discussed the challenges of a Skyfall follow up:

“I spent a long time doing movies that defied easy categorisation,” the director said. “But with Bond, it was very clear what was demanded. With Bond you have to know everything Bond has done before. You can’t repeat it. You’re not going to reinvent the wheel.”

To read the entire Screen Rant article, CLICK HERE.

Mendes says The Dark Knight inspired Skyfall

“Why so serious, 007?”

It turns out comparisons between Skyfall, the new 007 movie, and Christopher Nolan-directed Batman movies were on target. Skyfall director Sam Mendes says The Dark Knight, the second of Nolan’s trilogy of Bat movies, was an inspiration for the 23rd James Bond film.

The director is quoted by THE PLAYLIST:

Just as “Casino Royale” reinvigorated the Bond series, Christopher Nolan did the same with his ‘Dark Knight’ series and when asked, Mendes says he was “directly inspired” by what those films achieved.

“In terms of what [Nolan] achieved, specifically ‘The Dark Knight,’ the second movie, what it achieved, which is something exceptional. It was a game changer for everybody,” he explained about how it influenced his approach.

“We’re now in an industry where movies are very small or very big and there’s almost nothing in the middle,” he continued. “And it would be a tragedy if all the serious movies were very small and all the popcorn movies were very big and have nothing to say. And what Nolan proved was that you can make a huge movie that is thrilling and entertaining and has a lot to say about the world we live in, even if, in the case with ‘The Dark Knight,’ it’s not even set in our world.”

Comparisons between Skyfall and The Dark Knight began earlier this year when Skyfall’s teaser trailer came out. There was a silhouette of Javier Bardem’s villain Silva that resembled Heath Ledger’s Joker from 2008’s The Dark Knight. Ledger ended up winning a posthumous Oscar for best supporting actor.

The comparisons have continued, with a number of early reviews commenting on similarities between the Mendes-directed Skyfall and Nolan-helmed Batman movies. Nolan, meanwhile, is an acknowledged James Bond fan and his 2010 film Inception included an homage to 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Now, it appears, Mendes may have done an homage — at least in spirit — the other way to Nolan’s dark take on Batman, which concluded with this year’s The Dark Knight Rises.

To read the entire story by The Playlist, CLICK HERE.

Intriguing hints about Skyfall in some early reviews

Daniel Craig, awaiting the Skyfall reviews


While we’ve done our best to keep this spoiler free, if you’re feint-hearted about this sort of thing, stop reading now.

We looked over some early Skyfall reviews after a press preview in the U.K. on Oct. 12. The writers generally tried to avoid just reciting the plot verbatim but it’s hard to review a movie without saying something about the plot. In any case, there were some intriguing snippets in the reviews. Some examples follow.

OLIVER LYTTLETON, THE PLAYLIST:

The review says the 23rd 007 film, directed by Sam Mendes, is like a Christopher Nolan-directed 007 film without Nolan.

Best of all is the bad guy. (Javier) Bardem was always a tantalizing choice to play a Bond villain, and his Silva is a terrific creation, and certainly the most memorable villain in the series in decades. There’s too many fun surprises to the character to give away here, but rest assured that Silva — who again, owes more than a little to a Nolan character, namely Heath Ledger’s Joker — hits the center of the funny/strange/scary Venn Diagram beautifully, with the actor making some bold choices that payed off with a huge reaction from the audience in London tonight. (emphasis added)

The reviewer says Mendes-Bond (or sort-of-Nolan Bond) is closer to classic 007 than other recent entries.

(T)here’s a real sense of mystery to the plot, giving the film a propulsive whodunnit-and-why momentum that lasts into the final act. But it’s also crucially never dour; the emo-Bond of “Quantum Of Solace” is nowhere to be found, with Mendes treating things with a light, playful touch throughout.

The review is less enthusiastic about Skyfall’s running time, which reaches nearly two-and-a-half hours. The review gives the film a B-Plus grade.

BAZ BAMIGBOYE, THE DAILY MAIL:

The writer, who had a number of scoops about Skyfall while it was in pre-production and production, fawns over the movie.

This Bond adventure directed by Sam Mendes is pure classic 007 fare , back on firm footing after the less than memorable Quantum of Solace.

Skyfall was a fantastic combination of 007 meets Bourne meets Spooks meets Home Alone.

Graham Rye who has published the Double-O-Seven Magazine for 30 years, hailed the film as ‘brilliant’ and said it’s ‘up there in the top five of all the 23 films made in the world’s most famous film franchise’.

When I asked how many stars he would give Skyfall out of five he said: ‘That’s not the right number.’

He waited a beat and declared: ‘It’s a 10 star Bond film. It’s up there with the best of them.’

The writer also spills the beans about Albert Finney and his character, gives away one of the meanings of the film’s title and boasts one of his still-unverified scoops (which references in a coy way) is proven to be true. Which scoop? It’s mentioned in THIS JULY 13 HMSS WEBLOG POST. Obviously, don’t click if you want to stay spoiler free.

GRANT ROLLINGS, THE U.K. SUN:

The review tries to out-fawn the Daily Mail, with a headline, “The coolest James Bond film yet.”

This film is stylish, witty and a class above the competition. It’s also irreverent about its past.

Daniel Craig again proves himself to be a great Bond.

(snip)

Joining Craig in Skyfall is the most impressive set of actors and actresses ever assembled in one Bond film

ROBBIE COLLIN, THE TELEGRAPH

Another review saying Sam Mendes is channeling Christopher Nolan, director of the 2005-2012 Batman trilogy released by Warner Bros.

Sam Mendes’s frequently dazzling, utterly audacious entry in the franchise has less in common with its much-loved predecessors than Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. After its release in 2008 (when it left Quantum of Solace, the 22nd Bond film, trailing in its wake), Nolan’s pathbreaking superhero picture almost single-handedly reconfigured the modern blockbuster template. Like a wise old dog, 007 has studied it carefully, and learned some new tricks. (emphasis added)

Soderbergh says more about his U.N.C.L.E. project

Steven Soderbergh, in another interview about his film Haywire, dropped a few more hints what his now-defunct version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. would have been like.

In an interview with The Playlist Web site, the director had this to say about U.N.C.L.E.:

Yeah, with that we had a couple of sequences that I thought conceptually were interesting and weren’t necessarily…there was only one hand to hand thing and there was an element in it that made it different than what we were doing in “Haywire.” Then the other action stuff had interesting ideas in it, that were not sort of straight forward, they all had some kind of weird thing going on. But it was also, I mean it was a real spy movie. Scott [Z. Burns, the writer of this and “Contagion”] wrote it so it was dense, it was smart, it was funny. I really like the Harry Palmer films a lot, so there was a lot of that in that. “The Ipcress File,” “Funeral in Berlin” and “Billion-Dollar Brain.” “Funeral in Berlin” I really liked a lot. Scott and I talked about that a lot. We were watching those as we were working on the script.

Some intriguing comments, in particular how Soderberger was graviating to the Palmer series, based on Len Deighton’s novels, starring Michael Caine and produced by Harry Saltzman, co-founder of Eon Productions. U.N.C.L.E. was disdained by some (including Albert R. Broccoli, the other Eon co-founder) as a Bond ripoff. But with Soderbergh exiting U.N.C.L.E. last year, it’s a vision we’re not going to see.

On the other hand, U.N.C.L.E. was originally pitched as “James Bond for television,” not “Harry Palmer for television.”

UPDATE: Thinking about it further, maybe U.N.C.L.E. fans dodged a bullet thanks to Soderbergh’s departure in a disagreement with Warner Bros. over the film’s budget. Napoleon Solo, like James Bond, is a romantic hero, not an antihero.

Soderbergh confirms U.N.C.L.E. exit concerned budget

Director Steven Soderbergh is making the rounds to publicize his new movie Haywire. In an interview with the Star-Ledger of Newark, he also confirmed he departed a planned movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in a disagreement with Warner Bros. about the project’s budget.

“(W)e were going back and forth and, in the end, I pushed them …and the studio said, ‘Well, if you’re really going to push us to answer now, the answer is no.’”

(snip)
“Frankly, I think there’s a piece of the narrative missing here, on their side, because the difference between their number and my number was not that big.”

No additional details were mentioned. Last year, The Playlist Web site reported that Warner Bros. offered a $60 million budget for the movie, and the director and studio had disagreements over casting.

Haywire, which hit theaters on Jan. 20, has a cast that includes Michael Fassbender, reportedly Soderbergh’s choice for Napoleon Solo after George Clooney turned it down, and Channing Tatum, who had been mentioned as a possible Solo but didn’t really strike us as a great choice.

UPDATE: Haywire finished No. 5 at the U.S. box office this week. CLICK HERE for more details.