Ever since Danny Boyle exited Bond 25 as director back in August, there’s been a great deal of uncertainty over the movie. How much of Boyle and co-screenwriter John Hodge’s script will remain in the movie has been a mystery, as has the casting of the film’s villain. And while speculation over the list of potential directors has dominated discussions, we’re no closer to knowing who will be brought in to steer the ship.
But recently, several pieces of information have emerged about the upcoming spy film that may shed some light on what’s going on over there. The big story comes from Baz Bamigboye at The Daily Mail, a source with a proven track record when it comes to Bond news.
Bamigboye reports that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have been re-hired to write Bond 25 after their treatment was initially replaced by Boyle and Hodge’s version. This is hardly a surprise — the duo has written every Bond movie since The World Is Not Enough after all. And if script issues really were the cause of Boyle’s exit, it makes sense that the producers would opt against keeping his version.
It’s unfortunate that the Boyle and Hodge Bond movie will now likely go down as a nice idea that never saw the light of day, with much of what they proposed being shelved. On the other hand, the idea of a director for hire shooting a version of that script never sat right with me. Boyle and Hodge’s writing is very much geared towards Boyle’s directing style. With all the quick camera moves and projected visuals that have become a staple of his work. And to think of another director coming in and trying to replicate that style would likely result in a compromised version of the project.
Logistically, the move also makes sense. If the studio is still keen to keep to the proposed November 2019 release date, the reliable writing duo is a safe bet. With a treatment already written, Purvis and Wade will no doubt be able to offer a quick turnaround on the script, allowing production to begin as soon as possible. Although, from a fan perspective, there is some disappointment here. Spectre showed that a radical change needed to take place behind the scenes, which likely won’t happen now. And since Bond will be recast and retooled after this movie anyway, it would have been nice to have gone more adventurous with Daniel Craig‘s last film.
With things cleared up on the writing side, the next step is announcing a new director. Recently, on an episode of the TalkFILM podcast, American Animals director Bart Layton confirmed that he’s “in discussions” about Bond 25. Layton’s name first came up in relation to Bond soon after the UK release of his new true crime heist movie. Layton did make it clear that there’s “nothing more concrete” than those discussions, but the fact that his name is still in the running is notable.
In the same interview, Layton also named the late Roger Moore as the Bond he grew up with. If he were to get the job, this could be an indication of the style and tone he would aim for. Craig could certainly do worse than a big, fun The Spy Who Loved Me-esque adventure for his final outing. While Spectre aimed to incorporate Moore-era elements, they ended up getting lost among too many other story ideas. And to have a director fully embrace that style would be a blast.
Layton proved himself to be a strong emerging talent with American Animals, blending fiction with documentary elements. And the way he played with the conflicting accounts of the real-life story showed a filmmaker with an ability to take the viewer on a journey into the mindset of the characters. In particular, his portrayal of both the stylized “movie version” of the heist and the more somber, real version suggest that he could be the right director to send off Craig’s Bond. Giving us a large, enjoyable spectacle that’s still in line with the more grounded approach that Casino Royale established.
And finally, actor Saïd Taghmaoui spoke about his possible involvement with Bond 25 in an interview with The National. He said the following:
“I was cast by Danny Boyle, and just now he left the project, so of course there’s some uncertainty…. I literally just received a message saying: ‘If they go Middle East, it’s you. If they go Russian, it’s someone else.’”
An unfortunate position for any actor, having your fate decided in this manner. A process Taghmaoui himself described as “the story of my life.” We can only hope that if he does get the job, he’s allowed to play the villain as more than a mere stereotype. Especially after Wonder Woman had him exploring depths beyond standard clichés, it’d be unfortunate to have him play a stereotypical Middle Eastern villain in Bond 25.
As we get closer and closer to the 2019 release date, we can surely expect some big announcements soon. And while I would have preferred some variation in the writing department, the director and casting choices remain enticing.