Monday, March 30, 2015

Tradecraft Tuesdays: A New Wave of Espionage Film Franchises?

As a solid series of super-heroic films come pouring out of the DC & Marvel universes, a lesser noticed trend has been emerging: spy films.

True, there's never been a lull, really -- what with the continuous Bonds and the (relative) newcomers like Jason Bourne. However, I'm talking about the return of several espionage properties that hearken back to the Cold War heydey.

First up is SPECTRE, with Sam Mendes directing Bond once more. Appropriately enough, the film picks up from the prior film and begins building on the current Bond 'mythology' establish in the prior film. It looks promising, though decidedly more conspiracy-laden and less action-filled (in the trailer, at least).

Second is a surprising entry: The Man from U.N.C.L.E., with Napoleon Solo played by Henry "Superman" Caville and Ilya Kuryakin played by Armie "Hey, I Was The Lone Ranger" Hammer. Directed by Guy Ritchie, with promising scenes from the trailer that promise to provide both the action and the humor that I enjoyed in the old series, while bringing it a bit up to date with the modern filmgoing sensibilities.

Third is another property that kind of killed off the well-known leads to the setting, and built its own new mythology around the core concept of the original: a team of specialists. It's the return of the IMF in Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation. The action is at an appropriately ridiculous level of visual spectacle, with fun-sounding banter.

All in all, a promising collection.

However, to cap it all off, I'd like to say that I enjoyed Kingsman: The Secret Service as both a deconstruction and joyous reconstruction of the gentleman spy in the modern era. A lot of fun, a lot of action and humor, some shocks along the way, and Colin Firth revealed as a believable action star in much the same way that Liam Neeson revealed himself in Taken. Try it, if you haven't already.

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