Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have become synonymous with the James Bond franchise (the duo has scripted the last four films in the series), but with 007 on hold for the foreseeable future, they are picking up work elsewhere. The Hollywood Reporter scoops that they've teamed up with power producer Walter Parkes to write an original action-adventure thriller based on a concept from Michael Lieber and Parkes.
The story takes place among the nomadic Taureg tribes of West Africa, an area rich with uranium that has become a focal point for both energy companies and terrorist states. An American anthropologist is thrust Into this geopolitical mess when he must travel back to the Sahara to help a former research subject who has been accused of a terrorist attack. Though comparisons to Blood Diamond and Indiana Jones will inevitably arise from that description, Parkes has given a little insight on the tone that he envisions for his new project:
“At its heart, this is an action movie set within a world that is morally complex, alluring and completely real — which is why Robert and Neal, whose work spans James Bond to John Le Carre, are uniquely suited to bring a project like this to life,” he said.
As we all know, an original action film is hard to come by these days and one that is sure to address touchy political issues such as "energy", "terrorism" and "Africa" is even rarer. That knowledge fuels my anticipation for a project like this - that and the writers of Casino Royale and the producer of Gladiator and Men In Black. Hopefully a greenlight will be easier to get than I anticipate it will and we can see what this talented trio has cooking sooner than later.
EON Productions announced Monday that the latest James Bond installment, known as "Bond 23," will be put on hold.
The news comes in the face of uncertainty at Bond studio MGM which has been seeking a buyer or a possible restructuring. "We do not know when development will resume and do not have a date for the release of 'Bond 23,'" said producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.
A person close to MGM told The Los Angeles Times, "It was not unexpected given all the uncertainty and the ongoing process."
Peter Morgan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were previously announced as writing the script for “Bond 23.” Although no director has been formally attached, Sam Mendes has been repeatedly cited as the likely eventual helmer.
Daniel Craig last fall said the film would start shooting late this year, but MGM and EON never confirmed.
Still, as The Hollywood Reporter notes, nobody doubts there will be a next Bond film, but current circumstances were not ideal for a tidy development of the project. Some have suggested MGM might sell off rights to co-produce Bond pictures in order to raise capital.
Deadline, meanwhile, opines that Wilson and Broccoli may have the right to take Bond elsewhere and "would love to move Bond to a fully functioning studio."
Deadline adds that the duo have been very careful not to do anything on "Bond 23," which ties the movie further to MGM: i.e., only hiring Mendes as a consultant rather than signing him as director which would have triggered a first payment from the studio.
Celebrated The Queen and Frost/Nixon screenwriter Peter Morgan has been commissioned to give James Bond a new assignment after joining the brains behind the next 007 caper.
Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have teamed Morgan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade and given them the job of creating the next Bond adventure for Daniel Craig.
Purvis and Wade worked on the most recent 007 films Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale.
In a statement to Variety, Wilson and Broccoli said, "Peter, Neal and Robert are extraordinarily talented and we're looking forward to working with the three of them."
It's a busy time for Purvis and Wade -- the screenwriters are also working on the Italian Job sequel.
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Although the film's title suggests there might be some deeply relevant British national allegory in the film post-colonialist comedy fans shouldn't get their hopes up. The plot of Johnny English such as it is goes something like this: The title character a bumbling junior-level spy (Rowan Atkinson) is suddenly thrust into active duty when every other agent in the British Secret Service is blown to smithereens during a bombing at a fellow agent's funeral. When the Crown Jewels are stolen it's up to English to discover the culprit and in the process he unearths a plot to replace the Queen of England with a French entrepreneur who has some pretty nasty real estate development plans for Merry Olde Blighty. It's a sorry excuse for a story sure but such paltry fare as plot character development and dialogue don't matter much when you connect the bits with U.K. fave Atkinson hamming it up in his trademark blundering way. And he really is funny in this movie--maybe not pee-your-pants funny but certainly hoot-out-loud funny. As with any spy spoof some of the shtick works and some doesn't but on the whole Atkinson and Co. do a good job in spite of the contrived script and pithy lines writers Neal Purvis Robert Wade and William Davies have pieced together for them.
If Cervantes' Don Quixote were a modern-day spy this would be his story. Atkinson tilts at Johnny English's windmills with the vigor and extravagance fans of the comedian's trademarked physical comedy have come to expect. Whether he's crashing a funeral pantomiming to ABBA in front of his bathroom mirror invading a hospital with guns blazing or getting his tie caught in a sushi bar conveyor belt Atkinson gives this movie's hackneyed scenes personality they probably wouldn't have had in any other actor's hands. Comedian and fellow Brit Ben Miller takes his first strokes across the pond as English's sidekick Bough playing Sancho Panza to Atkinson's Quixote to fairly good effect. The real "straight man" in this farce however is Natalie Imbruglia as love interest Lorna Campbell. The girl can't act her way out of a paper bag but when you look the way she does in leather pants and stilettos talent is beside the point. John Malkovich is underutilized as the villain Pascal Sauvage whose anti-English (that's the nation not the spy) sentiments have driven him to lay claim to the throne of England which he plans to use for nefarious purposes.
Based as it is on a character Atkinson created for a TV commercial for a major British credit card it's not surprising that the characters in Johnny English are far more entertaining when they're improvising 60-second physical comedy scenes than when they're attempting to further the so-called plot. What is surprising is that such pedigreed moviemakers as director Peter Howitt (Sliding Doors) production company Working Title Films (producers of Elizabeth Fargo and Billy Elliot) and producer Mark Huffam (The Hours) are attached to such a silly film. Then again everybody needs to let loose sometime; maybe this is their idea of a vacation.