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Tag Archive: Pierce Brosnan


Review by C.J. Bunce

The Foreigner features the return to the big screen of two maturing lead actors: 63-year-old, international martial arts action star Jackie Chan in his first major English film role since 2010’s remake of The Karate Kid, and 64-year-old, international action star Pierce Brosnan, who, despite several smaller roles hasn’t headlined a major hit since his last stint as James Bond in 2002’s Die Another Day.  But The Foreigner is more–it’s a triumph–for the actors and for the action genre, providing a showcase of acting talent supported by a solid story that doesn’t miss a step from beginning to end.  What looks like it could be another entry in the nature of Transporter or Taken, it’s actually a great follow-up to Patriot Games or Clear and Present Danger.  If you can get past a title that doesn’t quite fit, you’ll find a fully loaded, political thriller like the novels of Tom Clancy in his heyday–timely, riveting, and satisfying on every front.

Both stars have an entire portfolio of performances they tap into, that they use to foster believability in their characters.  Jackie Chan has already shown audiences he has the physicality to portray an ex-special forces soldier with brains and savvy, part MacGyver and part Rambo, although it typically accompanies his trademark smile and a film full of laughs.  With his grueling physical feats in film after film, he must be the hardest working actor anywhere.  But only now do we see Chan convey a full spectrum of emotions as he portrays Mr. Quan, a happy, proud father who is devastated and left to seek out the people behind his daughter’s murder.  He’s immensely believable and gives audiences one of the best revenge stories in decades.  Think of the days of Chuck Norris fighting back in a decade of “payback” roles–but with Chan there’s an added level of authenticity.  Then there’s Pierce Brosnan, who has that charisma that early on forecasted his destiny to play James Bond.  Brosnan has now stepped into the rarity of being an ex-Bond actor but with similar class and style as exhibited by Sean Connery, who successfully forged a second acting phase of his career in films like The Hunt for Red October and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  At last Brosnan gets to show off that he, too, has an intense, commanding presence, a force to be reckoned with as a mature actor with gravitas, while maintaining his refined appeal and charm.  He also delivers some of the best lines of his career in a convincing, rapid-fire Irish accent as political leader Liam Hennessy.  Chan plays a good man pushed too far who must carve out his own brand of vigilante justice, and Brosnan a very real modern villain, but a layered villain who tries to follow a code within a dangerous cat-and-mouse game.  By film’s end audiences are left eager to find out what these two performers have for us next.

What appeared to be a standard dramatic trailer for The Foreigner served the film well, holding back why the story is so intriguing.  Unlike most trailers these days that give away too much, the trailer for the film provided only a hint at what the story entails, a mainstream drama about domestic terrorism in England and a search by one man to learn the truth when his daughter is killed in an explosion.  London has had more than its share of terrorist incidents and the jarring visuals in the film mirror real-life horrors in England, although the twist is that the villainy is from within, as some faction of the Irish Republican Army is returning out of the past, and ex-IRA leadership and the government in England must play a delicate game of practical politics to learn who exactly is responsible.  Few recent films have shown a balance of timely real-world atrocities while crafting such an intriguing fictional story.  Although not something on the front pages in the U.S., the real-life faction of the IRA began a return to hostilities in 2011, so the story is a bit “ripped from the headlines” and for a U.S. audience a surprising return of those early 1990s themes from Patriot Games.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Twenty years ago this weekend, the sovereignty of Hong Kong was handed back to China by the United Kingdom as the last act of the old British Empire, without incident.

The anniversary of this transfer of power coincides with the release by Hard Case Crime of one of crime fiction readers’ most eagerly awaited events: the final novel of Donald E. Westlake.  The result surpasses all expectations from one of America’s most celebrated authors:  the adventure of Ian Fleming, the complexity of Michael Crichton, the surprises of Stephen King, the thrills of Peter Benchley, the pulse of John Grisham.  A taut thriller, gripping, heart-pounding, and jaw-dropping, Forever and a Death is Donald E. Westlake saving his best for last.  Forever and a Death is his never-before-published new novel–a James Bond story of sorts–with an intriguing backstory.  Tapped to write the second James Bond film to feature Pierce Brosnan as Bond, Westlake created a compelling story of international intrigue revolving around the return of Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997.  Because of the success of GoldenEye, the uncertainty of a smooth transfer of power of Hong Kong, and a distaste by the Chinese market for Bond,  the Broccoli family and the Bond franchise machine amicably parted ways with Westlake.  But he then reworked his story in secret, leaving behind at his death in 2008 a stunning action adventure, only snipping the world famous spy from the story.

The result is one of the most intelligent, loathsome, and shrewd Bond villains you’ll ever meet, Richard Curtis, an enormously wealthy business mogul who has amassed a network of corporations across the globe that will allow him to carry out his every wish.  When he is booted from Hong Kong at the transfer of power, he becomes fixated on a power play to destroy Hong Kong as payback.  As with many wealthy CEOs, Curtis is charismatic and influential.  He has encircled himself with individuals who are beholden to him for their own wealth and they would do anything to maintain his and their own lifestyle.  And that includes murder.  Not as preposterous as many Ian Fleming constructions, the method Westlake creates for Curtis is completely believable: using a series of carefully calculated explosions, a soliton wave will be created that will shake the very foundation of Hong Kong and reduce the entirety of the city–skyscrapers, homes, and millions of lives–to sediment.  Westlake introduces his male protagonist to show us the way, a trusted engineer named George Manville (a partner in action with Bond in the original treatment).  Kept in the dark about the ultimate goal, Manville completes the first test on a small abandoned island near Australia that he believes to be part of a plan to make the island into a lavish resort.  But when an environmental group tries to stimy Curtis’s test, a headstrong activist and diver emerges, a woman named Kim Baldur (who would become, to a small extent, Michelle Yeoh’s Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies) dives into the ocean and swims for shore to stop the operation.  Unfortunately for her, Manville neglected to incorporate a kill switch to the project, and she is swallowed by the wave and what would have been a superb Honey Ryder-esque Bond girl is left for dead.  And this is only the introduction of the novel.

Artist Paul Mann completing the original artwork for the cover of Forever and a Death (from Illustrated 007).

Westlake peppers his story with completely unique characters, and readers will find they empathize with even the most minor of them as they are subjected to Curtis’s gruesome tactics.  You may need to remind yourself to breathe as well-meaning whistleblowers find themselves in Hong Kong’s underbelly just as Curtis begins to carry out a plan to walk away from his destruction with a haul of gold bars that rest in the bank vaults beneath the city.

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James Bond fans loved when they could choose between two Bonds.  It only happened once, back in 1983 you had your choice of then-current Bond Roger Moore starring in Octopussy, or the back-from-retirement Bond Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again–the outside of canon Bond film created during a contract dispute.  But as much as we think the current Bond, Daniel Craig, is perfect as Bond, who wouldn’t want to see Pierce Brosnan return one more time?

We’ve no hope to see Brosnan return again as Bond, but we may be getting a taste of just that later this year when Martin Campbell, director of Brosnan in GoldenEye and Craig in Casino Royale, returns to direct Brosnan–this time as antagonist–in the action film/drama The Foreigner.  The Foreigner is even bigger news for Jackie Chan fans, as Chan will star as the film’s hero.  American audiences have been begging for his return for years.  They really haven’t seen Chan since 2010’s remake of The Karate Kid, and in full martial arts mode it’s been ten years–back in 2007’s Rush Hour 3.

Veering away from Chan’s normal, light-hearted summer popcorn movie use of his incredible martial arts skill (along with his notable team of stuntmen) The Foreigner is a serious drama, delving into modern-day terrorism as Chan’s character seeks revenge for his daughter’s death.  Like the similar vibe seen in the Transporter and Taken series, the first trailer for The Foreigner reveals some fine wall-to-wall action.  But a sense of Chan’s clever use of his high octane martial arts style in troubling situations is also obviously peppered into the film.

Here is the first trailer for The Foreigner:

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Brosnan 2015 Bond ad

We haven’t seen them all yet, but these early released new ads for Sunday’s big game will be hard to beat.  Danny Trejo as Marcia Brady?  Pierce Brosnan back as Bond?  More Schwarzenegger as Terminator?  You’d have to drift back to the Bowl ads of 2012 for commercials this good.

Wait no longer.  Check out this new trailer, with plenty of Arnold and Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke as the latest Sarah Connor, in Terminator Genisys:

We’ll be first in line for Terminator opening weekend.

If you don’t agree with us that Daniel Craig is the best James Bond of all, maybe you’ll be happy with the visuals of Pierce Brosnan back in a The Spy Who Loved Me setting:

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Colin Firth british spy

We’re always on the lookout for the next James Bond.  Three years ago we here at borg.com nominated Rufus Sewell here and Paul Blackthorne (Arrow, Dresden Files) and Jason Isaacs (Awake, Harry Potter) here.  Fortunately Daniel Craig doesn’t appear to be giving up his Walther PPK or Aston Martin anytime soon.  But what about the British number one heartthrob, Colin Firth?

Now we at least have an idea of what Firth’s Bond might look like with the preview to the 2016 release Kingsman: The Secret Service this week.  Admittedly we first thought this trailer was for a remake of the classic British spy series The Avengers, with Firth as John Steed.  Ralph Fiennes, the newest M in the James Bond franchise, was the latest to don the famous bowler hat and umbrella for that role.  Firth would have been a good choice for that role, but he also seems to be summoning a little foppish Peter Sellers from the original Casino Royale, too.

Kingsman Secret Service

Based on the six issue comic book mini-series Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, X-Men: First Class), this latest spy flick has Firth mentoring a street-kid for possible inclusion in a secret spy society.  That mentoring makes this movie give off a vibe like another great coming of age flick of years past, The Freshman, starring Marlon Brando and Matthew Broderick.  If Kingsman is half as good as that film, we’ve got something to look forward to.

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Finishing up our speculation of a future James Bond that began here yesterday, we’ve got two actors who would be good picks, and who are probably not obvious choices for the super-spy shortlist.  These picks are for an older vs a younger Bond, figuring an actor who can look 40-45 is probably in the ideal range.  Then again, Roger Moore played Bond at age 46 and 58, so there really doesn’t need to be any age limit on choosing a good actor to play Bond.  First up, Paul Blackthorne, followed by Jason Isaacs.

Paul Blackthorne may be best known for his portrayal of wizard Harry Dresden in the short-lived but excellent TV adaptation of Jim Butcher’s novels, The Dresden Files.  Blackthorne has had his share of “guest star of the week” appearances on TV shows such as Medium, Monk, Burn Notice, Leverage, Warehouse 13, and White Collar.  If there is any reason he might not get selected in the future as James Bond it is because he is primarily had TV roles, but he is only 42, with plenty of time to get some movies behind him.  And besides, Pierce Brosnan didn’t do much that was notable before GoldenEye other than Remington Steele.

Blackthorne is a British actor that has honed his American accent so well that you would never know his British background.  If the Broccoli family continues with actors like Daniel Craig down the line as Bond, Blackthorne would fit right in.  And if they want him to play up the Brit-speak he could easily play a Bond of the Sean Connery or Timothy Dalton variety.  In fact, Blackthorne looks like a young Connery.  All that aside, as Harry Dresden we got to see Blackthorne as a versatile actor, the role itself a bit X-Files, a bit cop drama, a bit Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  He’s fun to watch and a likeable actor.  And he looks the part.

Forty-eight year old British actor Jason Isaacs may be most famous for his portrayal as the sniveling, white-haired wizard Lucius Malfoy (Draco’s dad) in the Harry Potter movies.  But in this year’s BBC/public television Masterpiece Mystery series Case Histories, we get to see Isaacs in a more down to Earth role, as a soldier turned cop turned private investigator.  More than anything else, Isaacs comes across as a very cool character, the kind of cool required of Bond, with a fair amount of self-effacing scenes that show his capacity for some good humor, something we haven’t seen so much of in recent Bond portrayals.  Maybe it is time to see how an older Roger Moore type Bond would appeal to fans?

Isaacs also has had a fair number of big screen roles, besides the Harry Potter films, including DragonHeart, Event Horizon, Armageddon, Soldier, Black Hawk Down, Resident Evil, and a lot of voice-over work–he’d have the sound of Bond down pretty well, too.  And like Rufus Sewell and Paul Blackthorne, he sort of has that British renegade agent look about him.  And he’s a dead ringer for Timothy Dalton.

So that’s just three recommendations.  Any others?

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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