Spy Movie Franchises
August 5, 2015
Something really interesting happened over the past year or so. The spy movie came back. In a major way. The one series that’s been kicking around the longest has been James Bond. That goes all the way back to Sean Connerey in the sixites, and never really went away. But right now we’ve also got the Mission Impossible films and the Bourne movies, and they all seem to be doing remarkably well.
This past weekend, Mission Impossible Rogue Nation, the fifth film in the series, opened, and it was great. Not only that, but it came in ahead of schedule (it was slated to hit theaters in December and instead got moved up to the first weekend of August,) and achieved instant critical as well as public acclaim. The movie is quite good and is doing very nicely at the box office. So much so, that they are already at work on the next film in the series, which will probably start production next year.
All of that with the newest Bond movie coming out this Fall. And that’s on the heels of the last Bond movie, Skyfall, which made the most money of any film in the series to date. This was such a huge milestone that they got the same director back, which is almost unheard of for these kinds of movies. But Sam Mendes is super talented and what he did with Skyfall was very impressive.
And then there’s the Bourne movies, and a lot can be determined from looking at what’s happening with that series. Matt Damon had walked away from it after completing his trilogy. Every one of those movies was good, but he had just had enough. The fans and public disagreed. They wanted him back. And with that kind of demand, he is now coming back. There is a new Bourne film in production right now, to be released next year. The movie has just cast Tommy Lee Jones as the man who will most likely be hunting our guy down. The director is returning favorite Paul Greengrass (who helmed the last two Bourne movies.)
Now, it’s not all glitter and gold for these films. The Jeremy Renner Bourne spinoff film, The Bourne Legacy, was not very well liked. And that’s partially what brought Matt Damon back into the mix. But people tend to like Renner over all, based on the projects he picks (he is a major player in both the Mission Impossible univers as well as the Avengers films.) And now, what we are looking at in the future, is a crossover in the Bourne universe. My guess regarding this series is that after the new movie with Damon and Tommy Lee Jones, the next one features both Matt Damon and Renner. And if that does well, who knows, maybe Renner gets another shot at his own version and the series keeps going with both Damon and Renner headlining their own films.
There are many questions that reamin up in the air about all this, such as how long will Daniel Craig continue to play Bond (hopefully as long as possible,) and who will direct the new Mission Impossible movie that they begin working on next year. There’s been talk of getting director Christopher McQuarrie back, the man who directed this last film Rogue Nation, but I’m not in favor of that idea. Granted Rogue Nation was pretty great, but even still a trademark of the series has been that they get a new director for every movie, and I would love to see that keep going. There are two directors who I think should strongly be considered.
Those directors are Doug Liman and Bryan Singer. Liman recently worked with Tom Cruise on Edge of Tomorrow, which was great. It didn’t do very well at the box office, but word of mouth has been huge on this thing, and it is still generating buzz and catching on with the public. Even though it didn’t make much money, the movie is known to be so good and so well-liked that they are actually talking about making a sequel. So Liman, who is a good filmmaker (Swingers, Go), would be a nice addition.
The other one is Bryan Singer. This is the guy behind nearly all of the X-Men movies (4 of the 6.) He’s the guy who directed The Usual Suspects (while Christopher McQuarrie wrote it.) Singer has worked with Cruise before on the movie Valkyrie. Now, that’s important because it seems like Cruise wants to work with directors that he has had experience with in the past. Cruise is the producer of the series, and his trust in the filmmaker is very important. The list movie, Rogue Nation, was by McQuarrie, who Cruise had just worked with in Jack Reacher. And the last point for Singer is that he needs to do something besides X-Men that catches the publics attention. His other attempts (Superman Returns, Jack the Giant Slayer) have not done very well. Still, my money is on Liman, because of how well-regarded Edge of Tomorrow is. Not only by the public, but also, and more importantly, by Cruise.
It’s a very interesting time we are in right now with these spy movies. Of course we will never see a crossover between the main characters, and that’s probably a good thing. As long as they keep expanding their universes on their own, and as long as the movies keep coming out great, then the more movies they make, the better. That being said, there probably is no room for any new series to enter into the mix. This summer gives us a movie called The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which is in the same kind of genre, and I doubt it will do very well. But what those other movies are doing is tremendous. The Mission Impossible films keep adding a new character to the mix with every film (first Ving Rhames, then Simon Pegg, then Jeremy Renner, and now Alec Baldwin.) Based on how good these films have been, how great Skyfall was, and how the Bourne movies are getting back in the saddle with Matt Damon, there are more promising things to come.