Dune is a legendary sci-fi/fantasy novel that has just been waiting for the right filmmaker to bring it to life (much like The Lord of the Rings). Many have tried. All have failed (sorry, David Lynch). Frank Herbert’s novel built a rich world with fascinating characters but — for modern readers who have honed their tastes on Patrick Rothfuss and even Orson Scott Card — Dune is boring dense, yo.
And I’ll just say it. The Lord of the Rings was dense, too. The pacing of these novels do not hold up for readers — but, as Peter Jackson proved, they can still make for epic films.
Enter Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049). The Oscar nominee will direct the latest adaptation of the iconic film — and I gotta say, based on the trailer, I’m feeling hopeful:Dune Official Trailer
Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides (played by Little Women’s Timothée Chalamet), a young man destined to rule the most dangerous planet in the universe, where forces battle over a substance with the ability to unlock humanity’s greatest potential. When betrayal leaves him and his gifted mother exiled in the unforgiving sands of Arrakis, only their unique powers — and their mastery over the mind-killer — can save them.
Warner Bros. / Legendary Pictures
Villaneuve set himself up for success with an absolutely killer cast: obviously, Chalamet is super hot right now, as are Zendaya (Euphoria, Spider-Man: Homecoming), Oscar Isaac (Star Wars Episodes VII-IX), Marvel alumni Josh Brolin and Stellan Skarsgård, and Rebecca Ferguson (Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, Mission: Impossible – Fallout).
Hebert’s book is so detailed that the film will be told in two parts, with the first set to release in theaters December 2020 (if humans can survive that long). Villaneuve’s adaptation has been a massive undertaking — he spent a year on the design of the iconic sandworms alone.
“We talked about every little detail that would make such a beast possible, from the texture of the skin, to the way the mouth opens, to the system to eat its food in the sand,” the director told Empire magazine for the publication’s Summer 2020 issue. “It was a year of work to design and to find the perfect shape that looked prehistoric enough.”
Check out the trailer above to see one in action and to behold the glory of Arrakis.
While he’s more famous for being “The Man In Black,” Johnny Cash served in the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War and was the first man outside of the Soviet Union to learn of Premier Joseph Stalin’s death.
The Man In Black passed the message up the chain and returned to work. Cash’s job already required that he have limited off-post privileges and contact with locals. Still, he couldn’t discuss what happened with even his close friends.
The rest of the world would soon learn of Stalin’s death and the ascent of Georgy Malenkov.
Cash, meanwhile, would leave the service honorably just over a year later and return to Texas where he had trained. He married his first wife the same year and signed with Sun Records in 1955.
He played the Grand Ole Opry stage for the first time the same year.
Over the following 48 years, Cash wrote thousands of songs and released dozens of albums before his death in September 2003 at the age of 71.
Meathead generals just can’t understand what the brilliant scientist is trying to explain. Soldiers can’t get the job done without the help of the brilliant criminal. The only strategy the military knows how to use is a carpet-bombing campaign.
Seriously, we know that movie and TV writing is complicated, and that movie makers have to take some liberties in order to get their plots jump started, but these seven tropes that rely on military stupidity should really be used less often — if at all.
In Battlestar Galactica, the military got behind a plan to deploy thousands of immortal robot warriors over which they had little control. But, in their defense, the Cylons came back sexy. So… win?
1. Military leaders use dangerous technology because science is hard
The Terminator movies are awesome. Arnold Schwarzenegger is swole, explosions are fun, and robots fighting robots is exhilarating. But does it really make sense that the U.S. military gives control of nearly all of its weapons, from nukes to stealth bombers to cyber defenses, to Skynet, a single computer program that they don’t understand? No human pilots? No man in the loop? No kill switch? Great idea.
The same issues exist within the Cylons of 2004’s Battlestar Galactica, the zombies in Return of the Living Dead 3, and the indominus rex from Jurassic World (yeah, supposedly, the military was secretly buying the data from that research in order to create dinosaur units).
Plots like these rely on the military looking at lethal weapons, over which they have no direct control, and going, “huh? Yeah, sure. We should deploy these things. Preferably, within easy range of our own troops and citizens with little or no real safeguards.”
Seriously, in Terminator Salvation, terminators physically touch John Connor, like, four times and don’t manage to kill him. I don’t think terminators need to eliminate John Connor to win. They need to figure out how to kill in the first place.
Remember when your entire battalion, squadron, or fleet’s mission revolved around one guy, and if he didn’t succeed then the entire battle would be lost? No? Maybe because that’s a horrible way to form a strategy. Nearly all military units spend a lot of time and energy ensuring that everyone can be replaced in case of battlefield loss.
And yet, only one Hobbit can deliver the ring to Mordor even though there are multiple armies standing by to do whatever needs done. John Connor is the only one who can stop Skynet, so much so that the factions fight to protect or destroy Sarah Connor’s womb rather than just promoting a new leader. Surely there’s some other small-unit leader that can fail to detect Terminators until they throw him across the room.
Snake Plissken is the only one who can get people out of dangerous, crime-ridden cities. Maybe because he’s the only one who is this calm while his helicopter is on fire.
In the trope above, at least it’s a soldier that the military is relying on. In Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo is freed from prison to complete missions. Snake Plissken, a notorious outlaw, is the only person who can save the president in Escape from New York. Dirty Dozen sees an entire special operations unit constructed out of the Army’s hardest criminals.
It’s weird that the military doesn’t have any other special operators with, you know, more training — and discipline. And impulse control.
“Literally anything has happened. It’s time to bomb people.”
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Xiomara Martinez)
4. The military just wants to bomb everyone
The only way to defeat an enemy force is to bomb it into oblivion — at least according to some movie military leaders. General Brigham, leader of the United Defense Front in Edge of Tomorrow, is asked about what he would do if it turned out one of his soldiers could time travel and knows where the time-controlling hivemind of the enemy is. His reply? Bomb it.
That’s also the military’s response to a quarantine breach in 28 Weeks Later. In just a couple of minutes, they’re firebombing apartment buildings filled with civilians. “Well, about 20 sniper shots failed to solve the problem… I guess we should turn to firebombing civilians.”
Speaking of which …
Soldiers in zombie movies are just so bad. So very bad.
5. The military completely fails to enforce basic security measures
Why is it that the military can’t enforce a quarantine or lockdown in nearly any movie ever? The aforementioned 28 Weeks Later catastrophe occurs when the military decides to study the single human carrier of the dormant strain of the rage virus. They leave her locked behind doors that her husband, a glorified janitor at the facility, has the ability to unlock. Then, the now-zombified janitor is able to access the shelter where all the civilians have been sequestered, causing an outbreak.
Seems like they almost want the infection to spread. And then there’s that gum-chewing scene in 1998’s Godzilla, in which a gate guard lets a Humvee through because the occupants swear a sergeant called for them. He doesn’t check IDs, he doesn’t call the supposed sergeant — great job. I guess that barely matters when base walls in movies like The Hurt Locker are jumpable AF.
“Hey, this fight against these seemingly dead people is getting pretty serious. Think we should take off in any of our helicopters or drive any of our Humvees in either attack or retreat?” “Nah, that’ll screw up the ambiance for any unlikely survivors. Let’s leave them parked and get eaten.”
6. Military units are overrun by zombies and other slow monsters
Maybe that lax security is why zombies overrun mobile military units in shows like The Walking Dead and movies like 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead. Sure, you need to get rid of the military for your zombie survivor story to make sense and have high stakes, but how did a helicopter unit and tanks get overrun by zombies that shamble no faster than 5 miles per hour?
Please, at least claim they ran out of fuel or something. (Yes, yes. We know the 28 Days Later zombies are fast, but still.)
A rogue commando officer armed with a rifle, a knife, and years of experience fails to take down a lab-rate chemical weapons specialist in The Rock.
7. Trained killers can’t quite hit the hero or villain
In 28 Weeks Later (I love that movie, but, seriously, come on), an Apache chases a station wagon through the streets of London and is able to stick with it through some determined flying but, somehow, can’t make contact with a single round. An Apache attacks a station wagon and the station wagon survives — what?
It’s sort of like how Nicholas Cage’s character in The Rock, Stanley Goodspeed, survives numerous encounters with elite commandos who shoot at him with rifles and pistols in addition to attacking him with knives and grenades, but the worst damage he takes is self-inflicted when he uses a nerve gas capsule to poison one of the commandos.
Hollywood knows that Marines are really good at killing people, right?
We love movies! That’s exactly why studios spend millions of dollars making them. As long our eyes are glued to the silver screen, they’ll continue to put out blockbuster after blockbuster. Some film moments, however, don’t land well with the audience.
No movie is without flaws.
Even though we watch and rewatch these films, most of us would like to see some moments altered. Here’s what would’ve better satisfied our tastes.
If you watched 2017’s The Wall through to the end, you got an intense representation of what it’s like during a sniper duel. But, at the end of the movie, (spoiler alert) the good guy’s extraction helicopter gets shot down by the bad guy’s perfectly placed round.
Don’t get us wrong, we can appreciate a good plot twist, but watching a terrorist win out just isn’t any fun.
2. Don’t pull on the daisy chain wires
Not only is this dangerous, but it’s totally unpredictable. This tense sequence in The Hurt Locker would have been more believable had the EOD tech not pulled on all the cords for purely cinematic reasons.
3. Get some freakin’ haircuts
We get that troops on the ground who engage the enemy sometimes don’t have time to get a haircut. We’ve been deployed, we know how it goes. That said, Joker and the rest of the Marines in Full Metal Jacket seemed to have haircut amenities where they were stationed before being sent into Hue.
A good military haircut goes a long way.
4. Trim down the love storyline a little and get to the action
We’re looking at you, Pearl Harbor.
As much as we want to see Kate Beckinsale as often as possible, we also want some awesome explosions — and sooner. (Image from Buena Vista Pictures’ Pearl Harbor)
5. Get a clean shave
Last Flag Flying puts the true meaning of military brotherhood, even years after service, on display. But let’s consider getting a good, clean shave before donning a set of Marine Dress Blues for a funeral.
During the last firefight in Saving Private Ryan, Private Mellish engages a German in hand-to-hand combat in a small room. He yells out for help, but eventually succumbs. But, right outside the room where Mellish meets his doom sits Cpl. Timothy Upham on the staircase, crying his eyes out as his buddy is stabbed to death.
We wanted to see a little more physical effort from Upham. We’re okay with Mellish dying if the plot demands it, but holy sh*t, we can’t bare to watch Cpl. Upham idly cry.
We know. War is nothing to joke about. However, we also know that laughter is simply the best medicine… ever. COMEDY WARRIORS is both a funny and poignant look into the lives of five wounded warriors turned comedians. Get a snippet of how these five veterans use comedy under the guidance of professional comedy writers and comedians Lewis Black, Zach Galifianakis, BJ Novak, and Bob Saget among others. Humor heals.
It’s safe to say that the vast majority of troops and veterans today have seen the 1997 film, Starship Troopers. It’s an expertly crafted film and its tasteful use of special effects (for late 90s, anyway) was beyond astounding.
The film is terrific in its own right, but Robert A. Heinlein’s novel, upon which the movie is (loosely) based, elevated the science fiction genre and has a place on nearly every single required reading list created by the United States military. If you’re a young private in the Marines or a battalion commander in the Army, you will be asked to read this classic — and this is why.
In case you were wondering, these were the Skinnies. 10,000 of them were killed with only one human death.
Technically speaking, the film was originally based off an unrelated script for a film called Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine until the production team realized that it only had a passing resemblance to the novel. This lead to many of the significant differences between the two and a drastic change of tone.
The adaptation of the original script to film lead to more of a statement on how propaganda affects the troops fighting in a war in a satirical manner. The novel, however, uses the Bugs as a stand-in character for some nameless enemy to focus in on the novel’s theme of the mindset of a soldier fighting a seemingly unstoppable force.
This is immediately made clear in the first paragraph of the novel.
“I always get the shakes before a drop. I’ve had the injections, of course, and hypnotic preparation, and
it stands to reason that I can’t really be afraid. The ship’s psychiatrist has checked my brain waves and
asked me silly questions while I was asleep and he tells me that it isn’t fear, it isn’t anything important —
it’s just like the trembling of an eager race horse in the starting gate.
I couldn’t say about that; I’ve never been a race horse. But the fact is: I’m scared silly, every time.”
Contrary to what you’d expect if you’ve only watched the film, they’re actually fighting a different alien than the Arachnids (at first.) The first enemies were called “skinnies” and were essentially just tall, lanky, human-like aliens that didn’t really cause a threat to the humans. Their entire Army is easily wiped out by just a single platoon but the prospect of war still frightened Johnny Rico, the stories protagonist.
Hate to break it to anyone expecting giant bug battles in the novel…but it’s fairly light on the fight scenes.
After the battle, the story flashes back to Rico’s time as a civilian before the Mobile Infantry. The idea of “service equals citizenship” had a different meaning in the novel. Despite the world being under the unified “Terran Federation,” the military and its veterans were treated as a higher caste than non-military people. You literally had to join the military to become a citizen.
This hyperbole was just as relevant in 1950’s society (as it is today in the military community). Despite the fact that signing up is a fantastic way to get benefits in our world, and definitely in the novel’s world, military service is often discouraged and looked down on — as demonstrated through Rico’s father.
The novel spends a lot of time in boot camp for the Mobile Infantry. It shows the deeper motivations about what it takes to be in the military — mainly the forced brotherhood, the “one team, one fight” mentality, and the loss of personal identity that comes with service. Which eventually leads to the “Bug War” when the Arachnids destroy Rico’s home city of Buenos Aires.
The novel also misattributes the quote “Come on, you ape, do you want to live forever” to an unknown platoon sergeant in 1918 — as if it wasn’t the greatest thing ever spoken by the greatest enlisted Marine of all time, Sgt. Maj. Dan Daly.
The troops are overzealous and believe they can handle it. Despite Rico being the only one personally affected by the attack, he’s also one of the only ones not to refer to the Arachnids as “bugs,” which was highly implied to have racial undertones. He instead keeps a level facade while remaining terrified. The first chapter happens around here. This is the exact mindset of many troops right before they’re sent to deploy.
When the Mobile Infantry arrives on Klendathu, it’s a complete disaster — the exact opposite of the battle with the skinnies. The Arachnids were massive and though the humans had the firepower, it was no match for the unstoppable numbers of their enemy.
Rico finally gets his chance to fight the Arachnids with the Rasczak’s Roughnecks. He and his men capture a Brain Bug and begin learning more about the “bug” society. It mirrored their own except the Warriors were the lowest caste fighting for an apathetic queen. Rico learns that aimlessly tossing troops at the problem would only result in more and more deaths.
The novel ends with a coda of the first chapter as Rico is about to make his drop onto Klendathu with confidence. He does this because he learned the value of military strategy — the one thing the Arachnids lacked.
Starship Troopers makes heavy parallels between the Mobile Infantry and Arachnids. It’s often incorrectly believed by casual readers, or those without knowledge of the military, that the novel promotes fascism and militarism — it doesn’t.
If anything, the novel explores the psyche of the troops as they head off into combat — it just utilizes an extreme science fiction setting to do it.
After Action Report | World of Tanks from WATM on Vimeo.
World of Tanks” has a simple premise: Get into a tank and go kill stuff. And yes, it’s as fun as it sounds.
The game starts off with a tutorial level that gives the absolute basics of tank driving in World of Tanks before allowing players to fight bots for practice. After that, players are thrown into the deep end with other players.
And that’s when it gets really fun. After all, “World of Tanks” is a multiplayer game, and the best parts happen when fighting in the massive 15-on-15 tank battles. Playing in random groups gives you the chance to drop right into the action. But players can set up platoons with friends so that they can go into the battle and fight as a team.
Fighting as a team is very valuable considering the game has 120 million players worldwide, some of whom have been gaining experience since the game launched five years ago.
These teams are built around a mix of tank types. Players can drive light, medium, and heavy tanks as well as tank destroyers and self-propelled guns.
No matter which tank type you try driving, you get the feeling that you’re moving out in a true, multi-ton weapon of war, driving over trees and through buildings in battle.
But, you learn that the enemy is just as strong as you the first time a medium or heavy tank starts pounding on your hull with anti-tank rounds or an SPG hits you with artillery through your soft top armor.
Each kind of tank has its own strengths and weaknesses, and “World of Tanks” does a good job making them feel unique while teaching players how to tactically use each tank on its own and in a platoon.
Tactics are very important in “World of Tanks.” The game’s physics discourage firing from slopes down onto the enemy, a big no-no in real tank combat as well.
Each vehicle has specific weak points that players learn to protect. Players also have to quickly learn to fire from behind cover and to use concealment when maneuvering.
Juggling all of this can be hectic but is exciting in matches, especially when the enemy missteps and you’re able to blast them away with a shot in the rear armor.
To make your mission a little easier, the game lets you recruit and train crew members, allowing for faster reloads or better tank handling in combat. Players can also upgrade their tanks. Researching a new gun may give a semi-automatic capability or buying a new engine will get a tank around the battlefield faster. The eight research trees are split by nationality and each country’s armor strategy feels unique.
With all eight tech trees combined, the game features 450 tanks complete with their own handling, armor, and weapons characteristics as well as notes about their history and development.
Historical accuracy is important to “World of Tanks,” and the tanks and weapons are carefully created to match their real-world counterparts. The game does take some liberties with the historical accuracy, though, tweaking some weapons and stats to keep the game balanced and fun.
Basically, everything is kept true to history unless one tank starts being able to run roughshod over everyone else. When that happens, the designers make a few small changes to rebalance the game.
While 15-on-15 tank battles are the default, the game does have other modes like Clan Stronghold or Global Map, where clans of tankers fight each other for resources.
Wargaming.net is even bringing Football Mode back for a short time to celebrate Euro 2016. Basically, it’s soccer with tanks:
The game is free to play, but the premium version allows players to more quickly upgrade their tanks. Players can also opt to buy awesome, premium tanks in one-time transactions.
There’s nothing more irritating to troops and veterans than sitting down and watching a military film only to be distracted by inaccuracies. We’re not just talking about uniform infractions or other minor goofs — everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes, however, the scripts are just so fundamentally flawed that us veterans can’t help but start chucking things at the screen.
Thankfully, for every stinker that insists on ignoring the on-set military advisor, there’s a great film that gets it right.
The team here at We Are The Mighty recently got a chance to sit down with Gerard Butler, star and producer of the film Hunter Killer, to discuss the production crew’s commitment to portraying the lives of U.S. sailors as accurately as possible in the upcoming thriller.
The wardrobe department pulled off some outstanding attention to detail. From the bottom of our hearts at We Are The Mighty, BZ, ‘Hunter Killer’ wardrobe department! BZ!
There really isn’t any better way for filmmakers to faithfully capture the essence of military life than by deferring to those who serve — and that’s exactly what Gerard Butler and the crew of Hunter Killer did throughout pre-production and rehearsal.
Butler spent three days aboard a real Virginia-class submarine, carefully watching every detail and nuance of actual submariner life to better tell their story. Even the tiny details — like the order in which commands are given — were analyzed, written down, and implemented when it came time to shoot. And when they put theory into practice, the authenticity was immediately apparent.
That extra step helped put all the actors into the frame of mind they needed to truly portray submariners in the heat of combat. Butler told us,
“We actually wrote [the details of submariner life] into the script and we realized it was a whole other character in the story. And when we started — the difference that it made!”
Butler knows full-well that the devil’s in the details when it comes to military movies. He told us about his time aboard the USS Houston, when he sat down to watch a much-beloved naval film with the sailors. It was the eye-opener to say the least.
“When I sat to watch… with the submarine crew, and they’re all like taking ownership of the movie and they’re like, ‘that’s bullsh*t!’ while the captain is like, ‘That’s sh*t! You think that’s good, but that’s bullsh*t! He’d never wear that hat! What are those stripes? He wouldn’t say that!'”
Needless to say, Butler and the rest of the Hunter Killer crew recognized how important these details are for us and our community.
Be sure to check out Hunter Killer when it’s released on October 26th.
Movie-goers know Danny Trejo as one of Hollywood’s toughest dudes, mostly because of his role in “Machete” where he plays a badass who knows his way around a blade.
Trejo is about to hit the screen again in “Range 15,” a collaborative project between the veterans of the Ranger Up! and Article 15 apparel companies.
“It was an honor to be with these guys,” Trejo says of the veterans who he worked with on the ‘Range 15’ set — guys like Mat Best and Nick Palmisciano. “It’s one of the most exciting movies I’ve ever been in.”
The veterans behind the making of “Range 15” are well known to the military community as a result of their popular YouTube videos and killer t-shirt designs. This is their first major motion picture.
Watch Danny Trejo talk about his role as Zombie Machete in ‘Range 15’ (a WATM exclusive):
Get more information about the GI Film Festival coming up in the Washington DC area in a few weeks here. (“Range 15” will be screened there and the stars will be in attendance. Don’t miss it.)
The team behind the upcoming 007 film, dubbed Bond 25, released an unconventional first look in the form of behind-the-scenes footage and peeks from the movie. Set to take place all over the world, per usual, star Daniel Craig’s Bond-swan-song definitely looks to be a colorful flick.
The reveal includes Fukunaga in action, Craig looking cool-as-always, Westworld’s Jeffrey Wright as “Felix Leiter” (“a brother from Langley”), and Captain Marvel’s Lashana Lynch as “Nomi” on location in the Caribbean.
One of the most interesting and exciting additions to the project is writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge, creator of Killing Eve and Fleabag — projects praised for their levity, humor, and surprising character moments.
Waller-Bridge will join Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Scott Z. Burns.
The official James Bond Twitter account is killing it when it comes to sharing Bond history, stories, and progress, including behind-the-scenes looks like this:
Daniel Craig and the @astonmartin V8 on location for #Bond25pic.twitter.com/cPgfMSlUYm
Red Sparrow is an unapologetically adult, complicated, and ambitious spy thriller based on the Edgar Award-winning novel by former CIA agent, Jason Matthews. Set in current times, it’s a throwback to the darkest Cold War spy thrillers and earns its R rating with a mix of sex and violence that hearkens back to the best 70s spy movies.
Jason Matthews talked to us about his own experiences in the CIA and why post-Soviet Russia is still a threat to democracy.
In the movie, Jennifer Lawrence plays Dominika Egorova, a Bolshoi ballerina who’s recruited to Russian intelligence after an on-stage injury ends her dancing career. Her uncle happens to be deputy director of the SVR and he sends her to Sparrow School, where she’s trained to use her sexuality as a weapon against Russian enemies.
Dominika pursues her own agenda as she’s tasked with seducing an American CIA agent (Joel Edgerton) and finding the identity of a mole in Russian intelligence. There’s a lot of methodical tradecraft punctuated by bursts of violence and sex. Red Sparrow isn’t aimed at the Hunger Games audience and makes no apologies about being a movie for adults.
Jason is a CIA veteran who doesn’t hedge his thoughts about Russia. The good news for fans of the movie is that the two additional novels in his trilogy might make even better films.
You left the CIA in 2010. How did you become a novelist?
I left after 33 years. In the clandestine service part of the agency, our careers were very experiential, 24/7. You were always on, you were always looking for surveillance, you’re always wondering about rooms being bugged.
When that lifestyle ended, it ends with the crash. One of the familiar Hollywood tropes of retired spies is the big black car pulls up to your house and they recruit you back into service. In reality, that never happens. When you’re out, you’re out.
I started writing fictionalized little snippets of accounts of people that we’ve known, fictionalized mosaics of places we’ve been and things we’ve done. Before I knew it, I had a novel together.
The novel Red Sparrow is a throwback to the old-school spy novels that emphasize tradecraft, as opposed to a lot of the contemporary books that are action novels with spy plots grafted onto them.
Absolutely. There are lots of great thriller writers out there, but they mostly write about counterterrorism and catching the briefcase nuke. I wanted to write a classic, old spy yarn with the Russians as the main opponents.
You were born in the 50s. Did you grow up on that kind of fiction and those movies?
Sure. There were a lot of great spy movies in the 60’s and 70’s, really iconic sort of film-noir kinds of things. But I think my worldview was formulated by 33 years in the service.
My wife was also in the service, we were a tandem couple. We lived in ten foreign capitals and we worked on a lot of different human targets, but we also kept our eye out for the Russians because that was the gold ring.
You wrote these novels and then this film got developed at a time when Americans probably weren’t thinking as much about the Russians. Here we are in 2018 and the Russians are at the front of everyone’s mind again.
I wake up every morning and I thank Vladimir Putin for providing endless content for books and movies. He’s doing a great job as a PR director for us.
Russia is always gonna be sort of a conundrum, they’re always gonna be meddling. They love those active measures, political influence campaigns. They’ve been doing them since the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. Vladimir Putin’s singular goal is to stay in power. That will take a weakened America, a weakened NATO, and a weakened Atlantic Alliance. He just wants to stay in power.
If he can fuss with the American democracy – and I don’t care whether you’re Democrat or Republican — all the partisanship, all the squabbling just plays into the Russian hands. They’re rubbing their hands in delight in the Kremlin.
There’s a school of thought that the Russian love of espionage is a trait that goes back centuries and that it’s not something that started with the Soviets.
I think that’s absolutely right on. You hesitate to generalize, but Russians are xenophobic. The only people they hate more than foreigners are themselves. They don’t like to be ignored, they don’t like to be belittled. They want a seat around the table. Russia is always caught between the European elegance of Catherine the Great and the Slavic beastliness of Ivan the Terrible.
As an expert, what do you think the United States should be doing right now to deal with this current wave of Russian influence, or can we say, interference?
I think that we have to show resolve, we have to show solidarity, we’ve got to stop our partisan squabbling, and create a unified front. Russia, historically, stops what they’re doing when the cost of it becomes more than the profits that they imagine they’re getting.
Putin has got elections coming up this year and, if you have any doubt what he considers the vulnerable spots in any election process, he has unplugged his internet, he controls state television and radio, he has disqualified his major opponents from running, and he makes demonstrations in the streets illegal. That’s the Russian playbook and, if we could find the cracks in the cement between all those elements and give him a headache, he’ll be too busy to start messing around with our process.
Obviously, people with an interest in Russian spy tales are going to line up to see Red Sparrow. Do you think the movie can act as a wakeup call for the broader Hollywood audience, the Jennifer Lawrence fans who don’t think about our current situation with Russia?
Using a broad brush, maybe audiences will take back home the fact that the Cold War never ended, we’re going through a second Cold War, and the Russians mean to do us harm. The movie itself, you know it’s sexy, it’s violent, it’s got a tremendous cast and terrific characters, but I don’t know how much American theatergoers will bring home besides the realization that Russia is not our ally.
You created a spy character who’s a woman. I don’t think there’s been a woman this prominent in spy fiction before. Was that a conscious choice or something that just happened based on the stories you knew from your career?
Yes and no. I thought it would be interesting and evocative to make the main character the heroine. I had read a little bit about the famous Sparrow Schools in the 60s and the 70s in the Soviet Union and how horrible they were. It was almost like slavery, making women go to those kinds of schools.
Apart from the sexpionage, Dominika falls in love with the CIA officer who recruits her. So, there’s mortal danger and a love affair and Sparrow School. I thought it was an interesting combination.
Is that sexpionage something that’s still in the playbook?
Western intel services never got into sexpionage because they thought that anyone recruited by sexual blackmail would be a not trustworthy source. I think the old Sparrow School in the Soviet City of Kazan is probably closed. But if a human target with access to classified information went to Moscow, he’d probably see a modern-day Sparrow at one of the bars of the five-star hotels in Moscow. They would be there ready and waiting.
What are you working on now? What’s next?
This year, the third book in the Sparrow trilogy came out, Kremlin’s Candidate. I told myself I was going to take a little break, but the next morning I found myself staring at my computer screen trying to figure out a new plot. I don’t have anything yet, but I can’t stop.
In acknowledgement of veterans that have gone beyond their call of duty, the 3rd annual VETTY awards recognized marquee veterans that have exemplified ongoing public service and advocacy efforts, and who have demonstrated exceptional contribution and service to the veteran community in 2017.
Chief Washington Correspondent and CNN anchor journalist, Jake Tapper, hosted the event, held Jan. 20 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC.
Tapper is known for his vocal advocacy of the veteran community and his book The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor debuted at number 10 on The New York Times Bestseller list.
His work reporting on veterans earned him the “Tex” McCrary Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
Esteemed speakers and presenters for the red carpet event included Marine Corps and Navy veteran Montel Williams of The Montel Williams Show, and actress Anne Heche, series lead of the hit NBC military drama, The Brave .
During Williams speech, he recognized what an honor it is to be a United States military veteran.
“I get the opportunity to travel around this country on a daily basis—and there is nothing prouder in my life—or world—than to be able to step up and say that I am a veteran.”
Williams also empathized with his fellow veterans about where some Americans choose to share their loyalty.
“It bothers me… but… last week another awards show had 25 million people watching—but none of those people would have the right to get an award without the people sitting in this room.”
His comments were met by a roar of applause—but how fitting his comments considering the audience.
Winners Of The 3rd Annual VETTY Awards
Mental Health: Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, Inc.
Education: Dustin Perkins | Director of Marketing | Student Veterans of America
Leadership: Sarah Verardo | Executive Director | The Independence Fund
Employment: Bunker Labs
Community: National Veterans Legal Services Program
Honorary VETTY: Steven D. Vincent | Senior Business Development Manager | tiag® (The Informatics Applications Group, Inc.)
Honorary VETTY: George A. Chewning, II | Director of Governmental Affairs | Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation
Among the VETTYs attendees were respected veterans and mil-spouse entrepreneurs that dedicate their lives to supporting a community—a community that is first to support our great nation—but reserved when is comes to applause.
Presenting at this year’s awards were not only celebrities like Emmy-winning actress Shohreh Aghdashloo and Mike Vogel of NBC’s The Brave , but also veterans such as Army veteran and former Seattle Seahawks long-snapper, Nate Boyer, and Air Force veteran and the CEO of Streetshares, Mark Rockefeller.
Another notable presenter was Navy SEAL, Shark Tank success story, and CEO of Bottle Breacher, Eli Crane—a man that has been vocal in his support of the United States and his veteran comrades through today’s troubling political environment.
The Academy of United States Veterans (AUSV) established the annual VETTY awards in 2015 to recognize the most impactful entities that contribute to the well-being of the veteran community.
The AUSV was founded with one principle in mind: the importance of public service.
They inspire veterans who have found their purpose in serving their country—and hopes to encourage a culture where caring for one another is not considered a duty, but a joy.
In respects to their principals, the AUSV has pledged to donate a portion of the evening’s profits to helping restore the livelihoods of our fellow citizens who have been affected by the devastation of Hurricanes 2017.
There’s a widespread belief that MPs will look the other way for other MPs in certain situations. Now, I am in no way saying that there should be unfair advantages given when it comes to the law. That being said, there is no denying that this practice exists in various ways.
MPs hold one another to a standard that is often a few pegs above the written, established standard. So, a lot of times the “looking out” comes in the form of keeping other MP to task and up to snuff when the human element rears its head. Sometimes, “looking out” means offering just a ride home — it depends on the variables.
4. People want to be cool with you… when they don’t hate you
Everyone wants to be cool with MPs. It means they’ll probably get through the gate on personal recognition a little more frequently and, if they have an encounter with an MP, it’ll likely be pleasant.
This rapport is typically built through politeness, a few well-timed store runs, and some glazed pastries.
3. Face of the base
These days, we hear a lot of references to the ‘tip of the spear.‘ The expression is typically reserved for those special few among us who are truly and undeniably badass.
As a Military Policeman, not only are you the first face to greet every single visitor and vehicle to enter the base, you are, by definition, the tip of that extremely local spear. Not to pat ourselves on the back too much, but hey, that is a pretty big deal.
2. Rapid maturity
Having an authority that supersedes rank can be a lot to handle. With young MPs, you typically get one of two types:
Type A is someone who has walked with a big stick for most of their life and now they have some actual weight behind their actions. They are likely to push the limits of their authority a bit further than most until they learn better.
Type B is someone who is timid and unsure of how to impose their authority the right away. They’re more likely to tiptoe towards competence with fewer mistakes along the slower road.
Both of these guys are going to have to make their way through the gauntlet fast if they hope to survive through their enlistments.