The ‘Trainspotting’ director seems to be the perfect choice, but 007 is better off if he declines.
It’s been more than two years since the release of the last Bond film, and Eon is starting to ramp up production on the next installment of the venerable franchise. After months of speculation, Daniel Craig confirmed late last year that he’d be returning, and now the search is on for a new director. After the punishing Spectre production, Sam Mendes ruled out helming a third 007 film, and just this week, longtime Bond fan Christopher Nolan publicly declined any involvement. For a while, it seemed the job might go to a relatively unknown pick like Yann Demange or David Mackenzie, but Variety claims that MGM and Eon want a bigger name, and the one they’re going with might just be Danny Boyle.
Boyle is just coming off his work on the new TV series Trust, which arrives on FX next month, and his schedule is clear for the next few years if he’d like the job. He’s also already worked with Craig’s Bond, having directed the charming 2012 Summer Olympics short film co-starring Queen Elizabeth II (watch a condensed version below). If Boyle were announced as the director of Bond 25 tomorrow, it wouldn’t be particularly surprising; all the signs are there, including a deep love of the franchise and, according to Variety, an interest in the job.
But Boyle has also voiced some misgivings about this kind of huge studio production. In an old Collider interview uncovered by Jeff Sneider at The Tracking Board:, the Oscar-winning director said, with specific address of the Bond movies and a nod to his Olympics short:
They’re not really for me. The budgets are too big. I’m better working at a lower level of money really because I like that discipline of not having enough money to pull off whatever it is you want to pull off. So I wouldn’t be the best person to do those. No. And anyway, I’ve made a Bond film with a great stellar cast.
That doesn’t sound like a man who would say yes in a heartbeat to an offer from Eon and MGM. What’s more, Bond doesn’t need Boyle. The franchise as a whole doesn’t need auteurs, and it never has. The success of Skyfall may have tricked Eon otherwise, but that film’s status as a phenomenon owes more to Bond’s 50th anniversary than it does to Mendes’s moody direction. Solid, reliable journeymen, not Oscar-winning independent filmmakers, direct the best Bond movies. On top of that, why subject a talented and distinct voice like Boyle’s to a punishing production that may not even produce a worthwhile film?
The Bond franchise is too hit-or-miss to risk auteurs on. It’s a series that thrives on people like Martin Campbell, whose Casino Royale, which kicked off the current run and introduced Craig’s Bond, remains the gold standard for the franchise (and his Pierce Brosnan-led installment Goldeneye is another one of the series’ best). If the director of Green Lantern could seamlessly deconstruct and reconstruct the character in a film like that, does Bond really need the director of 127 Hours?
Boyle is a superb director, but we don’t need to see another deconstruction of the character right now. Bond 25 should be a victory lap for Craig with a great action director at the helm, someone who will save a rocking of the boat for the next reboot. Someone like David Mackenzie, whose Hell or High Water is so tense and thrilling, sounds like the perfect choice. There’s no mention of him in Variety’s latest update, but apparently Damange, who made the 2014 action drama ’71, is the backup pick if Boyle isn’t interested. He might be fine, as well.
Or, if Eon is really set on an auteur, they could always venture out of the pool of young white British testosterone for once. Their new producing partner Annapurna has a running partnership with Kathryn Bigelow, a filmmaker currently aching for an infusion of adrenaline. She may have won her Oscar for The Hurt Locker, but she made her name on brilliant thrill rides like Point Break and Strange Days. After the disappointment of Detroit, she could use that kind of film now, and Bond could use the kind of reinvention that a female voice would bring.
The as-yet-untitled Bond 25 is set for release on November 8, 2019.