HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Hilarity ensued in Moscow this week as officials from the Russian Federal Security—the successor intelligence body to the KGB— captured, interrogated and expelled from the country an American Embassy officer and alleged spy Ryan Fogle. As gleeful as the Russian government was about the incident, their excitement was eclipsed by that of Hollywood, which is welcoming the resurgence of the Cold War and the action film boom it will bring with it.
Few have fonder memories of the Cold War than Hollywood producers, as the era gave birth to blockbuster after blockbuster featuring a chiselled, monosyllabic Russian as the bad guy. Its conclusion in the late 1980s left hundreds of actors specialising in Russian accents or blonde flat tops out of work, and screenwriters without a sure-fire story arc.
“You need a compelling antagonist to propel the action,” said John Milius, writer-director of 1984’s “Red Dawn,” “and with the Russians, there was no need to waste time on the backstory— everybody knew they were evil. Plus it will be a relief for the audience to be able to hate a character without feeling racist, or having to struggle with all those leftist ideas that are floating around these days. It’s just good, old-fashioned movie making.”
There were clear echoes of Cold War-era films in the details of the arrest that were broadcast continuously on Russia’s only—and coincidently government-owned—TV news station. Fogle was shown interrogated by in a poorly lit room by a barking FSB officer, his arsenal of spy gadgets that included several wigs, a compass, a set of paper maps, a shoe phone and a permanently lit cartoon bomb laid out on the table.
“I think they (spy agencies) need us more than we need them. Have you seen what they’re working with these days?” said John Chislom, a props specialist on the James Bond films. “It’s like they can’t come up with stuff on their own. Wigs? A compass? Is he a 10-year-old who ran away from home? It’s not their fault, they probably don’t have the budgets that we do. So they need to get back to feuding so we can get back to making movies to show them how it’s done.”