Where did he come from? A plaguing question that surrounds any grand figure, heroic or villainous, and one that has been answered in accord to many of cinema's favorite characters: Anakin Skywalker, Indiana Jones, Bilbo Baggins, Butch Cassidy, Charles Xavier, Mike Wazowski, and the Man With No Name. When it comes to fictional greats, we have the opportunity to travel back in time — via the good graces of the "prequel" — to engage in the origin stories that got these individuals set on their paths to glory. Or terror. Or small scale duplicity and tactless one-liners... that last one we can chalk up to the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul, a comedic series centered around Bob Odenkirk's shifty lawyer Saul Goodman in his pre-Walter White era.
TheWrap reports that the idea, floated by the AMC network and Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan a while back, is now officially a go. We're still not totally sold on the project — a bit nonplussed by the idea of anything thinking it might carry the Heisenberg torch — but we're at the very least curious. After all, with more of a humorous hue and a far different type of character at the forefront than Breaking Bad has, Better Call Saul is going to veer quite a bit from its predecessor. So what, exactly, will this show be like? Maybe some of the involved parties' past works might inform us...
The X-FilesMany Breaking Bad fans know that creator Gilligan is an X-Files vet, having written and produced the classic sci-fi series starting in its second season. We don't presume that Saul Goodman is going to have many run ins with alien life forms or the Cigarette Smoking Man, but maybe a week-to-week super-procedural, steeped in mystery and dense mythos, might best fit the amoral attorney. Roswell ain't too far away from Albuquerque, you know.
Mr. Show with Bob and DavidEveryone who knew Odenkirk before Breaking Bad knew him from Mr. Show, a sketch comedy series starring and created by the actor/writer and Arrested Development's David Cross. Although it sounds crazy, maybe Better Call Saul would work best in sketch comedy form. Each week, the lawyer could find himself in three or four distinct scenarios — defending junkies, spying on clients, poisoning schoolchildren — each erupting in wacky hijinks that only his doubletalk can solve. (Costarring David Cross as rival attorney and constant one-upper Mort Grandfellow.)
HancockWanna hear something weird? Vince Gilligan wrote Hancock. Remember Hancock? That Will Smith superhero movie you don't remember? Yeah, that one. Again, we're not expecting anything too mystical to come from BCS, but if we can dream, we wouldn't mind a comical series about a superpowered laywer... or better yet, a lawyer who defends superheroes. There've got to be an awful lot of property damage cases.
The Spectacular NowIf you've seen this summer's powerful coming of age drama, you know that supporting player Odenkirk can pack a wallop of sentiment. As the surrogate dad to main character Sutter (Miles Teller), he doles out reserved charm and somber advice... the sort of wisdom that you could almost see coming from Saul Goodman, if he were to have just a fraction more of a soul. But hey, Saul and a teenaged delinquent? A pseudo-father-and-son dramedy about a childless Goodman and the young meth head he takes under his wing... that could be the winner.
What version of Better Call Saul would you want to see?
More:'Breaking Bad' Recap: To'hajiilee'Breaking Bad' Recap: Rabid Dog'Breaking Bad' Recap: Confessions
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In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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The Master & Commander star can't stomach the idea of killing live animals but fears he has to develop certain wild skills to justify living in remote Vermont.
He explains, "As an Englishman, you start from a kind of butch deficit... but I'm doing my best. I've been trying really hard; we invented this game - because I don't hunt or fish... called The Great Western Bear Hunt.
"We buy a load of paintball guns and I get my trainer, Mike Hood, to dress up as a bear... and we hunt my friend through the woods."
But the game turned serious recently when Hood disappeared in the forest near Bettany's Vermont home for over five hours.
The actor recalls, "Five hours passed and it got dark and rainy and there came a point when we thought, 'This has gone too far'. We'd been looking for him, so we called the police... They set up these beacons."
Hood eventually showed up hours later and explained he had got lost in the woods and stumbled onto a road miles away, where he started flagging down cars - but no one would stop because he was dressed as a bear.
Bettany adds, "He thumbed this lift and this poor woman stopped, she had two kids in the back of the car... and he went, 'I need a lift, I'm late for a party. Will you give me lift?' and she said, 'No, I won't... because you're wearing a f**king bear costume,' and hit the gas."
But the hunt-gone-wrong hasn't put Bettany and his wife Jennifer Connelly off the idea of staging another outdoor event this year (10).
The actor says, "This Thanksgiving, we're going to do it again, but with the Great Western Turkey Shoot - I'm gonna dress him as a turkey."