Spy Movies

Jorma Taccone

Whether he’s making web shorts with his fellow Lonely Island members Akiva Schaffer and Andy Samberg, (formerly) writing for NBC’s long-running sketch show Saturday Night Live, or directing cult favorite films like MacGruber, Jorma Taccone is always finding ways to keep busy. It almost seems like he enjoys getting paid to make funny stuff all the time, or something. While everybody clearly still enjoys his past work on SNL and the web, it seems like the really big bucks must be in the movies, because more and more it appears that the man is turning to feature film directing as a way to fill up his work calendar. Earlier this year we heard that he had been attached to direct an Image Comics property called The Great Unknown, which is a story about a deluded, self-proclaimed genius on a quest to discover how all of his first-rate ideas are being stolen on a worldwide level. And now we have word from THR that he’s been attached to direct yet another film, this one called Spy Guys.

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A Man Most Wanted

Back in February it was reported that there was a new adaptation of a John le Carré novel being developed, and that it was looking to put Philip Seymour Hoffman in a leading role. It all sounded very exciting, but Hoffman’s involvement wasn’t official. Well, some time has passed since then, details on the project are starting to solidify, and the crew has even started to put together a cast of familiar faces to join Hoffman in supporting roles. But first, let’s recap exactly what this project is. A Most Wanted Man is a story about a half-Russian, half-Czech immigrant who comes to Germany—scarred and starved—looking for his father’s lost fortune. His past is mysterious, his motives are suspect, and eventually his pursuits get the attentions of a British banker and a young female lawyer, who both try to help them in their own way, and who end up forming a strange love triangle in the process. There’s no time for romance, however, as the man’s arrival also gets the attention of a group of spies from three different nations, and soon all of the players converge in ways that are likely steeped in intrigue and double crossings.

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Daniel Craig Skyfall

The James Bond franchise has been going on for so long now that it’s started to look like an ever-changing monstrosity of different corporate influences, creative strategies, and leading men. But, in its current star Daniel Craig, its current, grittier creative direction, and its current co-financing deal between Sony Pictures and MGM, this series of spy films has seemed to have found a moment of stability; and a report from Bond-centric site MI6 says that a deal has been struck that will keep that stability going, at least for a little while longer.

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Christoph Waltz and Brad Pitt

Stephen Gaghan isn’t exactly a household name, but he’s a creative type whose work you’re likely familiar with. Not only does he have a hefty screenwriting résumé that includes titles like Rules of Engagement and Traffic, but he was also the writer/director of the George Clooney vehicle, Syriana. Why is this all important? Because The Wrap has news about what his next project is going to be, and it sounds pretty interesting. The film, which is being produced through Lionsgate, is called Candy Shop, and it’s said to be something of a crime thriller. The story’s protagonist is a deep cover operative dedicated to fighting an evil global organization who ends up losing everything and having to give up the life. Retirement doesn’t prove to come too easy though, because soon after he disappears into Brooklyn to live out the rest of his days as a fairly anonymous beat cop, he finds that the exact same organization he was dedicated to bringing down is operating right in his new neighborhood. If that doesn’t sound exciting enough, get a load of the actors that Gaghan is already courting to join his cast…

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In the grand tradition of movie-making teams like Jim Abrahams and David Zucker, Keenen Ivory Wayans and his entire family, and Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (okay, maybe not those last two), comes a new duo of creative types hoping to make a mint and produce laughter by spoofing the works of others, Sacha Baron Cohen and Phil Johnston. THR reports that the duo has just sold a pitch to Paramount that will see them making a spy comedy in the vein of a silly James Bond. Think Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English character, but less…something, and more…I don’t know. Okay, so just think Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English character. According to sources at the studio, this still untitled comedy will tell the story of a spy who “is forced to go on the run with his long-lost brother, a moronic soccer hooligan.” Six years ago Cohen was coming off of his hit series Da Ali G Show and its subversive and successful feature film spin-off Borat, and he seemed like he was pretty much the most vital and progressive comedian working in films. But since then his career has taken a huge downswing because of disappointments like Brüno and his recent mess of a movie The Dictator. I guess the big question here is, given Cohen’s sudden downturn in quality output, is there any reason why we should be excited for him doing a spoof of spy movies?

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Director Roman Polanski is no stranger to scandals, so it should come as no surprise that his next project will cover a real-life event that was very scandalous. The subject matter in question is the infamous Dreyfus affair, which doesn’t have anything to do with Richard Dreyfus’ married life, but instead involves a Jewish Captain of the French army named Alfred Dreyfus. You see, back in 1894 Dreyfus faced court martial because of accusations that he had been passing secrets to the Germans. After being found guilty, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island – but that’s not where his story stops. It continues when the head of French counter-intelligence, Colonel Georges Picquart, realizes that the real traitor is still at large and attempts to prove as much. His efforts lead to clashes with superior officers, framings for crimes he didn’t commit, and, eventually, his own imprisonment. Strange things were afoot at the Circle K. Eventually Dreyfus was cleared of all charges and released, but not until he had endured 12 years of investigations, media attention, and imprisonment.

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Merch Hunter - Large

I invite you to imagine a scene for a minute: a handsome man, with the kind of chiseled chin you could sharpen spoons on in an embarrassingly fine suit whose intricate detail blinded three tailors in the making sits at a Texas Holdem table, sucking daintily on a Vesper and with a cigarette lit for ornamentation. A gun presses into his ribs, another comfortably into his calf, and about his person are secreted millions of pounds worth of the British Intelligence Service’s most impressive, and most secret inventions. His smile cuts knowingly across an impeccably handsome face, eyes taking in infinitely more than his lush demeanor lets on as he imperceptibly stalks his prey. He is Bond, and no matter what you do about it, he is always going to be cooler than you. So, why the hell wouldn’t you want to make your life as close to his as possible? Your paunch might say more Gandalfini than Bond, and your social awkwardness would probably be the first, largest stumbling block in your application to MI5, but through the magpie-like acquisition of many fine pieces of James Bond merchandise, you too could pretend like a boss. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s precisely what this week’s Merch Hunter column is devoted to…

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Drinking Games

It’s been almost a decade since the first Johnny English movie tore up the box office internationally and fizzled on American soil. But with that international success, it was inevitable there would be a sequel. Though, the spy film genre has changed with the Bourne films and James Bond reboot redefining its style, as well as the spy spoof movies (including the first Johnny English and the entire Austin Powers franchise) a thing of the past. That didn’t stop Rowan Atkinson from reprising his role as bumbling MI-7 agent Johnny English in the sequel Johnny English Reborn, which had similar success overseas and similar failure here in the U.S. Still, fans of Atkinson’s comedy should enjoy this new installment in the series. And for those who aren’t sure if they’ll enjoy it, try watching it with a martini, shaken, not stirred.

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There’s a spy comedy in the works over at Disney called The B Team that’s starting to see some life. The film is reportedly about a James Bond-type secret agent who gets himself kidnapped, leaving his nerdy tech support and research team left with the responsibility of rescuing him. Hilarity will doubtless follow as the pudgy, dweeby types try to acclimate themselves to being out in the world doing stuff instead of sitting behind a computer screen, typing things and coloring missions with snarky commentary. The new action regarding the film’s development is that Seth Rogen has been brought on as a producer, which means he’s likely also being looked at to star. This has been Rogen’s modus operandi of late. He’s had a producing hand in a lot of his recent films, including 50/50, The Green Hornet, and Pineapple Express. I guess he’s kind of like the Jay-Z of the comedy world.

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According to Deadline Word on the Street, Walden Media has bought the rights to produce a movie version of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, the game that got me through my childhood. They will be teaming with Jennifer Lopez‘s Nuyorican Productions, and the real mystery is whether she’ll simply produce, or whether she’ll don the giant red fedora to star as well. On the other hand, an entire movie spent searching for Sandiego would mean the possibility of very little screen-time for Sandiego, so who knows what role she might actually take if starring. The synopsis is apparently as follows: “When the ACME agency’s greatest detective Carmen Sandiego becomes the world’s greatest thief, it’s up to her former partner to follow her clues and track her down. Their cat-and-mouse game leads the partner to confront a greater mystery: Is Carmen really a thief or a hero?” Sound exactly like Salt. If done right, the movie should strike a family friendly tone that manages to teach a little bit of geography without being obviously a learning tool. It should also involve Rockapella somehow (as the television game show did), or else be doomed to abject and complete failure. Of course, all of this should be taken with the same skepticism as a sandwich being sold by Sam O’Nella. After all, we’ve been waiting on that Where’s Waldo? movie since it was announced back in the Summer of ’09 – which is also the first time I called seriously for […]

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Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming spy movie The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which is an adaptation of a popular television series from the 60s, has had some trouble finding a leading man. The movie will tell the tale of the teaming of two spies under the banner of the United Network Command for Law Enforcement. If Soderbergh’s vision of the material stays true to the TV show’s, then those men will be American secret agent Napoleon Solo and his Russian counterpart Illya Kuryakin. Originally, like in most of Soderbergh’s movies, George Clooney was just going to play the lead role. He had to drop out of the production due to the always looming scheduling conflicts or whatever though, so Soderbergh has been on a mad rush to fill Clooney’s shoes. Since all of the man’s movies that don’t star George Clooney usually star Matt Damon instead, he was the next guy to get a look for the role, but he ended up passing. Then things got desperate, Soderbergh went way out of his wheelhouse and tried to get Johnny Depp to play the part, but he passed as well. That’s a lot of Hollywood’s biggest leading men telling you that they can’t be in your movie. What is a director to do? What Soderbergh seems to be doing is moving on to the next big thing. According to Variety he is in intense negotiations with Bradley Cooper to step in and be his guy. Cooper has been in a good number of films […]

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Henry Pym was born in 1962 in a story titled “The Man in the Ant Hill” in which Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers saw a character fooling around with shrinking technology. Lee once stated that the fun of the character and his initial popularity caused him to think about turning him into a super hero, but it’s unclear as to whether Stan Lee would have ever imagined Pym, or Ant-Man, as a super secret agent. That’s how director Edgar Wright sees him. He’s still working on a script for a possible adaptation of the comic to fit into the Marvel universe, and he’s revealed that he’d like Ant-Man to be a technologically advanced spy.

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In case you were wondering where all those spy film elements come from, it’s this film – the Grandfather of Modern Spy Thrillers. James Bond owes Fritz Lang his life.

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Secret Agent Week

In honor of Secret Agent Week here at Film School Rejects, I’ve been asked to share my genius methods with the hopes that you too can become a master of ducking the airtight security systems found at every major theater chain in the country.

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Jack Bauer and James Bond

I’m bound and gagged. Handcuffed to a chair somewhere in a dark, musty warehouse. Dust is creeping into my lungs, and I miss my stuffed animals, but I managed to intercept a critical piece of news from a source that I refuse to name.

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The third title in a series is like middle age for movies. By now audiences know what to expect.

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In spite of, or because of, the flashbacks to the very legal water boarding that I undertook, I found even more reason to love this movie now that it’s on DVD.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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