Jul 31, 2015

Trailer for Michael Bay's CIA Attack Drama 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

The first of the (at least) three Benghazi siege movies currently in the pipeline already has a trailer. Get your first glimpse at Michael Bay's fact-based drama 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, which tells the story of the deadly September 2012 siege on the U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya in which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, diplomat Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty lost their lives. I'm not sure I find Bay's ultra-glossy Transformers-style direction appropriate to such a tragic story, but the cast, including John Krasinski (Aloha), James Badge Dale (Rubicon), Max Martini (Captain Phillips) and Toby Stephens (Die Another Day) is solid, and the script is by Chuck Hogan (The Town), so I guess I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi opens in January.

Jul 28, 2015

Listen to Samples From Daniel Pemberton's Man From U.N.C.L.E. Soundtrack

Today Amazon and iTunes both posted track lists for an expanded "Deluxe Version" of the soundtrack album for Guy Ritchie's The Man From U.N.C.L.E., featuring Sixties R&B songs alongside score music by Daniel Pemberton (The Game). And they also posted samples! While we've heard snippets in recent trailers and in the promotional videogame, this is our first real chance to hear substantial sections of Pemberton's U.N.C.L.E. score. And it sounds very, very good. While the score doesn't feature Jerry Goldsmith's beloved theme music from the Sixties TV series, it does appear to have a great Sixties spy sound going for it. Sample Track 3, for example, "His Name Is Napoleon Solo," which sounds very nicely reminiscent of John Barry's The Ipcress File. It's been a while since we've heard this particular sort of spy sound, and I can't wait to listen to it in full! Pemberton did a fantastic job capturing a Seventies espionage mood in The Game, and I fully expect him to do the same for the prior decade in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.! The soundtrack is out August 7 (also available on CD, but without the four bonus tracks in the deluxe digital version) from Water Tower Music, and the movie is out August 14.

Jul 26, 2015

Paramount Unveils Series of Mission: Impossible Posters Celebrating Cruise's Greatest Dangling

Paramount has released a series of what The Imp Awards describes as "minimalist posters highlighting cliffhangers from each of the films in the series." But with the exception of the image for J.J. Abrams' M:I:iii, they might as well be called "dangling posters!" Because these retro-style images (in the tradition of the Sixties-inspired title sequences for Casino Royale, Mad Men or the new Man From U.N.C.L.E.) showcase the best moments of Tom Cruise's character Ethan Hunt dangling from a succession of things ever higher off the ground, culminating in the breathtaking airplane stunt seen in the trailers for Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, for which the actor actually strapped himself to the exterior of a flying plane. They're pretty cool! I wonder if there are paper versions of these?

Jul 22, 2015

New SPECTRE Trailer

After a very effective teaser back in March, MGM and Sony have released the first full trailer for SPECTRE, the 24th official James Bond movie. And, unsurprisingly, it looks utterly fantastic, with plenty of great imagery for longtime Bond fans to chew on. Daniel Craig in a white dinner jacket! Christoph Waltz in a Nehru jacket! And Q once more unveiling a new Aston Martin for 007... with "a few little tricks up her sleeve." It's about time Bond had some real gadgets again! (Not that I want this Aston to turn invisible, mind you. Just some practical tricks, please!) SPECTRE opens November 6 in the United States, and a week earlier in the UK.

EON also released a new plot description of the film. Personally, I don't consider things put out officially by the studio to be spoilers, but this description definitely reveals more about the plot than I'd seen anywhere before. (I've been avoiding any information based on the script leaked in the Sony hack.) So bear that in mind if you choose to read further.
A cryptic message from the past sends James Bond on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci), the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organisation known as SPECTRE.

Meanwhile back in London, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), the new head of the Centre for National Security, questions Bond’s actions and challenges the relevance of MI6, led by M (Ralph Fiennes). Bond covertly enlists Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) to help him seek out Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), the daughter of his old nemesis Mr White (Jesper Christensen), who may hold the clue to untangling the web of SPECTRE. As the daughter of an assassin, she understands Bond in a way most others cannot.

As Bond ventures towards the heart of SPECTRE, he learns of a chilling connection between himself and the enemy he seeks, played by Christoph Waltz.

Jul 21, 2015

Mission: Impossible TV Soundtrack Box Set Coming Next Month!

2015 has proven not just a great year for spy movies in theaters, but also for archival spy releases. I thought Network's Deadlier Than the Male Blu-ray would be tough to beat, but La La Land has just done it with the announcement that they will release what's long been a Holy Grail for fans of spy music: a six-disc box set of soundtrack music from the Mission: Impossible TV series! Produced by spy music expert Jon Burlingame (who also produced and wrote the liner notes for the excellent FSM Man From U.N.C.L.E. soundtrack CD releases a decade ago, and literally wrote the book on James Bond film music), Mission: Impossible: The Television Scores contains selections from all seven seasons of the iconic spy series starring Peter Graves, Greg Morris and Peter Lupus (among many others) that ran from 1966-1973, the majority of them never before released! While Lalo Schifrin's Mission: Impossible Theme is probably the most famous and iconic piece of spy TV music ever, he is certainly not the only composer to contribute to the fantastic sound of this series. Besides Schifrin, the work of Gerald Fried, Jerry Fielding, Don Ellis, Richard Hazard, Robert Drasnin and more will will also be showcased in this box set. And every track has been meticulously restored and remastered from the original studio elements. (Most of them are presented in the original mono.) Burlingame, who personally selected each piece included, also contributes comprehensive liner notes contained in three informative booklets loaded with photos. (Just take a look at his Man From U.N.C.L.E. liner notes for an idea of how awesome these will probably be!) According to the press release, the 6-disc set is housed in an attractive hard-cover slipcase. Just look at the picture! It's so attractive that even if it didn't have all that incredible music I'd still want this thing on my shelf! The music was restored by Chris Malone and mastered by Doug Schwartz, with art direction on the package by Joe Sikoryak.

UPDATE: Burlingame revealed on Facebook that "Every single episode that had original music is represented. In some cases it's just a few minutes; in the case of the Schifrin-scored episodes it's a lot."

Limited to 1500 units, Mission: Impossible – The Television Scores will be available for order from La La Land's website starting July 28, 2015 at 12 noon PST (just in time for the release of Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation in theaters) and will commence shipping out to customers on August 10. That's right around the corner! The box set retails for $99.98.

And you also need to clear just a little more room in the M section of your spy music shelf. La La Land will also release Joe Kraemer's score for Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation on August 4. If you order through their website, the first 100 units will be signed by the composer. You can currently listen a sample track from that score on Soundcloud.
Thanks to Collin for the heads-up!

Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Seventh TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Sixth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Fifth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Fourth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Third TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Second TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The First TV Season here.

Jul 15, 2015

Deadlier Than the Male and Some Girls Do Double Feature at LA's New Beverly Cinema Next Week

Attention Los Angeles spy fans! Heck, attention West Coast spy fans in general, because this one's worth a drive! The New Beverly Cinema in L.A. will screen the two Sixties Bulldog Drummond spy movies, Deadlier Than the Male and Some Girls Do, next week, in honor of their late star Richard Johnson, who passed away last month. This unmissable double feature will play on Sunday, July 19, and Monday, July 20. Deadlier Than the Male (1967), as most readers are probably aware, is the best James Bond knock-off ever. To learn why, read my in-depth review here. Besides Johnson (Danger Route), the main attraction is the deadly duo of Elke Sommer (The Venetian Affair) and Sylva Koscina (Hot Enough For June) as a pair of bickering, speargun-toting assassins who steal the show. Nigel Green (The Ipcress File), Steve Carlson (The Wild Wild West), Laurence Naismith (The Persuaders!) and Leonard Rossiter (Otley) round out the stellar cast. While Some Girls Do (1969) doesn't live up to its predecessor, the more comedic sequel is still highly entertaining Sixties spyjinks. In that one, Johnson is joined by Daliah Lavi (Casino Royale), James Villiers (For Your Eyes Only), Yutte Stensgaard (Lust For a Vampire) and Robert Morley (Hot Enough For June).

Both movies will be shown in 35mm, Deadlier Than the Male in an IB Technicolor print! Both evenings, Deadlier Than the Male plays at 7:30 followed by Some Girls Do at 9:30 There's also a 5:40 screening of Some Girls Do on Sunday. Tickets are $8 for the double feature and are available for pre-order on Brown Paper Tickets or at the theater box office.

It is extremely rare to see either of these movies on the big screen (each has played only once in the fifteen years I've lived in Los Angeles, and there are many repertory cinemas here), and even if you're a Bond fan but have never seen a Eurospy movie before, I encourage you to go. Deadlier Than the Male is the perfect gateway Eurospy title! Seriously, this is sure to be the spy event of the season! Personally, if I can I'm planning to go both nights.

Other Johnson tribute movies playing this month include The Haunting, Zombie and Beyond the Door. Check the New Beverly calendar for details.

Jul 14, 2015

Tradecraft: Richard Jenkins to Head Up Steinhauer's Berlin Station for EPIX

Olen Steinhauer's Berlin Station has its first agent. Richard Jenkins (Burn After Reading, Undercover Blues) will play the Chief of Station, a Cold War veteran named Steven Frost, on spy novelist Steinhauer's contemporary Berlin-set TV series for premium cable channel EPIX. Deadline reported the casting. As we learned in May, Berlin Station (which sounds kind of like a Snowden-era variation on Len Deighton's classic Berlin Game) will follow Daniel Meyer, a rookie CIA case officer stationed to Berlin with a secret mission to spy on his own colleagues and root out a mole who leaked information to now-famous whistleblower Thomas Shaw. Guided by the jaded career spook Hector DeJean, Meyer ends up uncovering a conspiracy that leads back to Washington. Steinhauer, one of the best writers currently working in the espionage genre, will write all ten episodes, and executive produce along with showrunner Brad Winters (The Americans, Dig), The Good Shepherd screenwriter Eric Roth, and The Drop director Michaël Roskam, among others. Roskam will direct the first two episodes. Jenkins, who hasn't starred on a television series since Six Feet Under (though he was excellent in the HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge last year), is an excellent choice for a spy series. I'm already incredibly excited about this series because of Steinhauer; this first piece of casting just strengthens that excitement.

Berlin Station, which starts shooting this fall, is one of two Berlin-set espionage cable dramas in the pipeline for next year. The other one is William Boyd's Spy City, set at the height of the Cold War in the 1960s. Berlin made an excellent spy setting then, and still does now, and both series sound excellent.

Steinhauer's latest novel, All the Old Knives, is currently in development with The Mark Gordon company, with Neil Burger (Limitless) set to direct and Steinhauer scripting.

Tom Cruise's Latest Death-Defying Mission: Impossible Stunt

It's possible Tom Cruise might be totally nuts, but he harnesses that for our entertainment, which is really pretty awesome. He's a consummate showman, as proven in this utterly insane stunt. We saw some news footage of it when they shot this last fall, but in this new featurette you can see the actual dailies from a locked down camera on the actor (not a stuntman) as he clings to the side of an airplane as it takes off. It's just incredible. (A long way from Roger Moore's green-screened airplane clinging in Octopussy!) I'm sure the finished scene will be fantastic with wide shots and close-ups edited together and Joe Kraemer's version of Lalo Schifrin's Mission: Impossible Theme blasting out of ATMOS speakers... but all that may not be quite as impressive as this simple locked-down camera on Cruise--even without his harness digitally removed. It's stunning. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation opens July 31.

Jul 13, 2015

Watch Archer's Comic-Con Greeting

Check out Sterling Archer's special greeting from this weekend's Comic-Con panel. The animated superspy is joined by Pam and Krieger (both cosplaying Mad Max: Fury Road), and lobs some Archer-style barbs at a number of films with panels at the Con, including fellow Cold War spy throwback The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Jul 12, 2015

Holy Emmapeeler, Batman! DC Comics Announces Batman/Avengers Team-Up!

The best news out of Comic-Con came on the final day. DC co-publisher Dan Didio announced a forthcoming comic book crossover between Batman and The Avengers. Yes, those Avengers! The real Avengers, Steed and Mrs. Peel! They will be crossing over with, most appropriately, the Adam West TV version of Batman from the Sixties. There aren't many details yet (no creators announced, no promo artwork, and no number of issues), but Batman '66/Steed and Mrs. Peel is coming, and that is wonderful. Hopefully a high-profile comic like this will revitalize Boom!'s flagging Steed and Mrs. Peel line and lead to more solo comic book adventures for the most dynamic duo of Sixties television. (I'm assuming this is an inter-company crossover with Boom!, but I suppose it's possible that the Steed and Mrs. Peel license has shifted to DC, which would also be an interesting development.) DC has been publishing a Batman '66 line, based on the West TV series, for a few years now, and it's already included a lengthy crossover series co-published with Dynamite Entertainment featuring the Caped Crusader and the Green Hornet, who had previously crossed over in a memorable TV episode. No doubt in this Avengers crossover, we'll get to see Steed in an umbrella duel with the Penguin, and Emma in a catsuited catfight with Catwoman. I can't wait!

Jul 11, 2015

Watch the New, 5-Minute Long U.N.C.L.E. Trailer From Comic-Con!

Warner Bros. has decided to share the clip reel from today's Man From U.N.C.L.E. Comic-Con panel with the public! And it's a doozy. Everything we've seen so far from this movie has looked fantastic, but this is the best trailer yet. And it's five minutes long! But therein lies the rub: it's possible that this reel might give away too much of the movie, it shows bits of so many setpieces (but doesn't seem to spoil any major plot points). So if you're already positive you're going to see the film and you have more restraint than I, you might perhaps want to just wait until August 14. But if you're at all on the fence (or don't care about giving some of the action away), by all means, feast your eyes on this awesomeness! It looks... like The Man From U.N.C.L.E.! Perfectly realized with a 21st Century attitude and budget, whilst retaining the 1960s setting. Which is to say, it looks like perfection. I am so excited!

Jul 9, 2015

Tradecraft: Dominic Cooper Steps In for Henry Cavill in Stratton

The special forces espionage adventure Stratton, adapted from Duncan Falconer's books, hit a major setback in late May when star and producer Henry Cavill (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) suddenly and unexpectedly bolted the project weeks before filming had been scheduled to begin. Now a replacement has been found. Deadline reports that Dominic Cooper (Fleming, Agent Carter) will take over the lead role of SBS Intelligence Detachment operative John Stratton, who must chase down an international terrorist cell through Central Asia, Europe and London, all while contending with the damage done by a mole inside MI5. It seems doubtful that Cooper, who was recently announced to return as Howard Stark on Season Two of Agent Carter as well as playing the lead on AMC's Preacher, will have time to grow the sort of beard Cavill had grown for the part! (And sported during the early rounds ofhis  U.N.C.L.E. publicity tour.) Additionally, Austin Stowell (Bridge of Spies) will play Lt. Hank Monroe, a heroic, hardened American Navy SEAL who teams with Stratton on his mission. Derek Jacobi, Thomas Kretschmann, Tom Felton, Gemma Chan, Tyler Hoechlin, Connie Nielsen and Jake Fairbrother also star, and Simon West (The Mechanic, The Saint) directs.

Tradecraft: Legends Sets Second Season Cast, Shifts to Europe and Autumn

For TNT's highly compelling but under-seen spy series Legends, based on the Robert Littell novel and starring Sean Bean (GoldenEye), the road to Season Two has been nearly as rocky as the impossibly rocky road to Season One. (And that prolonged development period saw the drama series take three years, two networks and two stars to reach the screen!) The renewal came harrowingly late in the game (last December, months after the first season's cliffhanger finale aired), and we learned in March that the second season would undergo some fairly major changes from the first one, in showrunner, format, location and cast. Ken Biller (Legend of the Seeker) took over the helm from David Wilcox (though Homeland and 24 mastermind Howard Gordon remains Executive Producer), and first season co-star Morris Chestnut went from regular to recurring.

Today, Deadline reports that the rest of the second season cast has been rounded out with a more international flavor, and that the action will shift to Europe. (That part's not too surprising, given the events of the first season finale.) According to the trade, British spy vet Ralph Brown (The Assets, Agent Carter, TURN) will play Terrence Graves, "a sophisticated, wry MI6 Intelligence Officer ... both personally and professionally compromised" beneath his "polished exterior." Czech actress Klára Issová (Transporter: The Series) will play Ilyana Crawford, a refugee from war-torn Chechnya and a smart, stubborn survivor who will do whatever it takes to remain one. Bean returns as Martin Odum, "an undercover operative who has learned he isn’t the man he believed himself to be. On the run for a murder he didn’t commit, Martin searches for his true identity, following a trail that takes him to London and the European continent, where he discovers a dark and violent past that holds the key to his future survival." Season Two is currently shooting in Prague and London. TNT recently pushed back the second season of Legends from Summer (where it debuted last year) to fall, where it will be paired with the network's newest action spy show Agent X, starring Sharon Stone.

Trailer: London Has Fallen

Lionsgate has released the first trailer for London Has Fallen, the sequel to the surprise hit White House under siege movie Olympus Has Fallen. This time, Gerard Butler's secret service agent and Aaron Eckhart's U.S. President team up with an MI-6 officer (Charlotte Riley) to, improbably as it might sound, solve the murder of the British Prime Minister, prevent the assassinations of all the world leaders attending his state funeral, and save London from a massive terrorist attack. London Has Fallen opens early next year.

Jul 4, 2015

Strike Back's Final Season Trailer

Cinemax has released a trailer for the final season of Strike Back, its version of the UK series of the same name.

Jul 1, 2015

New Transporter Refueled Trailer

I have to admit, the action in this trailer looks phenomenal! All of these images equal a movie I really want to see. I'm just still having trouble accepting a scrawny Statham substitute. I also don't love the idea of making Frank Martin, the transporter, more relatable by giving him family and personal connections. For me, the big appeal of the character was that he was a total cipher. And that became even more important as James Bond became so excellently rounded out and humanized in the Daniel Craig era. I like a more human Bond. But I liked the Transporter series for filling the void of Roger Moore-era Bonds: daffy action with a charismatic, somewhat superhuman lead. If Ed Skrein is charismatic, this trailer does not convey that. But it does convey the daffy action I crave, along with beautiful, exotic locations and beautiful, exotic women. So I'm on board either way. But I'm still afraid I'll spend this whole movie just wishing I were watching Jason Statham.

A reboot of the granddaddy of the neo-Eurospy movement, The Transporter Refueled opens September 4.

Teaser for Oliver Stone's Snowden

Open Road has released the teaser for Oliver Stone's Snowden. As previously reported, this is the first of at least two projects in the works about the equally famous and infamous NSA whistleblower or traitor (depending on your point of view) Edward Snowden. The second one, somewhat surprisingly, hails from the James Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. Snowden's all-star cast includes Shailene Woodley (White Bird in a Blizzard), Timothy Olyphant (Hitman), Scott Eastwood (Fury), Nicholas Cage (The Rock), Zachary Quinto (Hitman: Agent 47), Melissa Leo (The Equalizer), Tom Wilkinson (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol), Joely Richardson (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Rhys Ifans (Elementary), and, in the title role, Joseph Gordon Levitt. Snowden opens this Christmas.