I’m Not Trying to Sell You Anything, But Jude Law Is

Jude Law, short film, photo, advertisement, Johnnie Walker Blue

Jude Law stars in The Gentleman’s Wager for JOHNNIE WALKER BLUE LABEL Blended Scotch whisky

It is not often I feel the need to do a post about an advert (or as Ralphie Parker* would say, “A crummy commercial”), but this one came to my attention today and while it may be simply because it stars Jude Law, whom I’ve been thinking about more than usual of late, but I find it so unusually impressive, I feel the need to talk about it.

The ad is nominally for Johnnie Walker Blue Label, which, if you’re going to drink a blend, as opposed to a single malt, this is a good one. I say nominally, however, because the makers of what can only be called a short film, are not doing the hard sell here.

The film has a title. It’s called A Gentleman’s Wager, and along with Law it stars Giancarlo Giannini (whom most of you probably know best as Rene Mathis, in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, which is too bad. It means you’ve missed, among other things, the films of Lina Wertmüller.)

The film tells the story of a wager between two men striving for personal progress through the quest for a truly rare experience. The Gentleman’s Wager sees Law in the role of a man who, despite having it all, challenges himself to strive for something he wants that money can’t buy. The film begins with Law and Giannini sipping Johnnie Walker Blue Label on a gorgeous hand-crafted boat as they look out across a stunning ocean seascape. We hear Law’s character state that he wants to buy the boat, but it is not for sale and the only way he can get it, is by putting on a truly unique performance. The wager begins.

What makes this short remarkable is its pedigree. Sure, there have been any number of high-profile advertisements in the past decade, featuring both A-list actors (Clive Owen, Brad Pitt) and directors (Guy Ritchie, Michael Mann), the latest of which was the “It’s Good to Be Bad” campaign for Jaguar featuring Mark Strong, Tom Hiddleston and Sir Ben Kingsley. But not many have the talent both onscreen and behind, that Johnnie Walker has assembled.

A Gentleman’s Wager is directed by Jake Scott. If the first name isn’t familiar, it probably will be soon, but the last name should be. He’s one of those Scotts. He’s the son of Sir Ridley and nephew of the late Tony. His own resume includes Welcome to the Rileys and Plunkett and Macleane (with Jonny Lee Miller and which I liked. Don’t judge) as well as a slew of big-name rock-docs.

It was shot in The British Virgin Islands, Caribbean and London by John Mathiason, who was the cinematographer on Ridley Scott films like Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven and Robin Hood as well as Phantom of the Opera and X-Men: First Class. Production design was by Joseph Bennett, responsible for the look of HBO’s “Rome”. Costumes are by Scott regular Janty Yates, in conjunction with London bespoke mens outfitter, Mr. Porter. The film was produced by Jules Daly (The Grey, Assassination of Jesse James) and Tracie Norfleet of Scott Free.  That’s a lot of stops that were pulled.

Commenting on his role and involvement in the film, Law says: “The film is about improvement and progress and this is something I try to do in my work and my everyday life. I had to learn new skills shooting this film and that combined with the places we visited and shot in, alongside working with Jake and with Giancarlo, made it a truly rare experience.”

Take the above with a grain of salt or a slug of Johnnie Walker. I’m sure Mr. Law was paid a boatload of pounds sterling for his “rare experience”. Oh well. A Gentleman’s Wager is still a classy and entertaining little bit of footage.  And if it were up to me, I might give Jake a shot at the next Bond film. Whenever Sam Mendes decides to pack it in, of course.

*A Christmas Story (1983)

Christian Bale Has Come to Warn Joel Edgerton in 1st Trailer for Exodus: Gods and Kings!

Exodus: Gods and Kings, movie, poster, Sir Ridley Scott, Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton

Poster #1 for Exodus: Gods and Kings

There have been a number of Bible-inspired films this year, most of them Christian themed. The two “blockbusters”, and the ones with any hope for post-season glory however, take their inspiration from the Old Testament: Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and now Sir Ridley Scott‘s Exodus: Gods and Kings.
In true Hollywood twist, Aronofsky originally wanted Christian Bale to play the title role in Noah, but Bale had to decline due to scheduling conflicts. As we know, Russell Crowe, a frequent Ridley Scott collaborator, got that part and Bale was cast as Moses, in this Scott’s own biblical epic.
Ramses II is played by Joel Edgerton after Oscar Isaac (swiftly becoming a Sir Ridley regular) and Javier Bardem reportedly turned down the role.

As usual, I digress. 20th Century Fox has revealed three new posters for, starring Bale, Edgerton, Aaron Paul, John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver, Indira Varma, Ben Mendelsohn, Golshifteh Farahani and Ben Kingsley. You can see the other two, as well as a few stills from the film, below.
Even more exciting, however, is the release of the first teaser trailer! The movie itself doesn’t come out until December, so this is but our first taste. Still, it’s a good one!

No disrespect to Mr. Aronofsky intended, but this is how I like my biblical epics – grand and glorious, not grubby with hyper-realistic dirt. THIS looks positively Cecil B. DeMille-esque!

Scott started this century by breathing new life into the tired swords and sandals genre with Gladiator, and then brought us a quasi-religious/historical action film with Kingdom of Heaven. The latter squandered the promise of a great story and (mostly) terrific cast and was hamstrung by a weak lead (I don’t think Orlando Bloom will be joining Scott’s merry band of players again soon), but the director seems to be back on form here. The clash between Moses and Ramses as played by Bale and Edgerton should be epic in the truest sense. (Not for nothin’ but does that battle charge across the sand remind anyone else of the final clash in Scott’s Robin Hood?)

Ridley Scott tackles the Biblical epic story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt into the Sinai desert and eventually to their Promised Land

With a script by the great Steve Zallian (Schindler’s List), along with Adam Cooper and Bill Collage (the pair responsible for the script for the upcoming Assassin’s Creed), Exodus: Gods and Kings opens in the US on December 12. Prime awards season turf, as well as just before the start of Hanukkah. It opens on Boxing Day, 26th December, in the UK.