10 March 2018 1446 Views

Why Danny Boyle is an ideal fit for Bond 25

by James Murphy

Danny Boyle to Direct #BOND25: It’s semi-official. Here’s a list of non click-bait reasons why he’s an ideal fit for the job..

 

Well, it’s as good as confirmed. Danny Boyle, the man who gave us Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, the Olympics and some truly great moments of Inspector Morse is headed for James Bond directing duties.

Though NOT stated in an official press release by EON Productions, the entertainment gossips /trades that actually count (ie ‘journalists, not bloggers’) broke the news, with an initial scoop from Baz Bamigboye 

Baz tends to be right on his insider film production news. And the net has embraced the story with open (ish)arms. Boyle succeeds Sam Mendes (Skyfall and SPECTRE) and ends notions that Christopher Nolan, Yann Demange or Denis Villeneuve would take on the still untitled, ‘Bond 25’.

And so: here is a list of reasons why Boyle is the right man for the job. In no particular order..

Visual Style.

 

Trainspotting had its own aesthetic / musical signature. Trance has a distinctive use of lighting. You can take any Boyle film, almost at random, and see the director’s understanding of a film’s ‘look’ in defining its identity. That is critical for James Bond, because the design and presentation = a large part of what makes the franchise ‘tick’.

The style IS the substance, to some extent. Those Bond movies one remembers as ‘events’, as ‘classic’? Chances are they are defined as much by imagery as anything else. Goldfinger: golden girl on bed; Oddjob’s flying, deadly hat; laser beam going up Bond’s..etc.

Spy Who Loved Me: union jack parachute! Skyfall: every single scene looks great, c/o now Oscar winning (congrats, btw) Roger Deakins. Boyle no doubt understands that his Bond film stands or (sky)falls on the quality and distinction of its look.

Boyle down a Character.

Bond 25 will star Daniel Craig, returning, possibly one last time, as 007. His era in the role has been on one hand excellent (reinventing the character, back to basics) and on the other a colossal missed opportunity, due to gaps between films. Granted, said periods away are not Mr Craig’s fault or even that of the Production team.

There are politics and finances to navigate and scripts to develop from scratch. Nevertheless, we could and indeed should have enjoyed maybe one or two more outings from the Craig era and that makes Bond 25 especially important in defining his take on Bond again, perhaps even giving definitive ‘closure’ on his era (never done before with a Bond actor?). At the same time: we must get a Bond story and escapist adventure, without blurring its own identity by trying to please everyone.

Boyle can do that. He’s done it before, his early career featuring several episodes of Inspector Morse. Morse is not unlike James Bond. Granted: Morse is not an action part as such and he never saves the world.

But the beats of a character who loves certain activities including fine alcohol and women and cars, in a pulp hero template, is common to Bond and Morse. Fail to give fans what they expect and one goes away, disappointed; but rely solely on those trappings and it becomes dull and formulaic.

Boyle’s Morse episodes always take the hero out of his comfort zone and develop his character, substantially. But they still give the ambient aesthetic of Oxford and the joys of Morse’s world, first redefining and then returning to it.

And if Boyle did that before with Morse? He can do it again, with James Bond. Easily. 

Real. Raw. Relevant. 

Boyle’s films invariably touch on some sort of current concern, amplifying and dramatising but never trivialising it. Trainspotting tackles, head on, the pain and depravity surrounding heroin addiction, whilst capturing the drug’s dangerous allure without shunning its black comedic dimension and ultimate tragedy. Slumdog Millionaire captures the terrible injustices of poverty, relative to the power of the gameshow brand. And so on.

In a similar (though yes, of course, more trivial) fashion: Bond movies build on current concerns, before exaggerating that to a more escapist template. It’s been a safe formula for the series, especially in a supposedly post Cold War world. Hence Licence to Kill (1989) had James Bond vs Drug-Lords.

1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies saw 007 vs a then emergent worldwide media monopoly power. SPECTRE (2015) sort of dealt with surveillance culture. Today? Take your pick. Russia, arms trading, tech run amok, extremism on the rise: there’s plenty out there to address for Boyle/Bond.

Patriotic Pride: Best of British in a truly Global Family.

Danny gave us some treats for the Olympics back in 2012. Including THAT special short film with Bond meeting the Queen. Indeed, such patriotic fervour arguably helped propel Skyfall to its billion dollar behemoth status? This director ‘gets’ the power of symbols such as the Union Jack. He knows how to make London look the part, without overdoing it (see 28 Days Later).

Boyle’s movies have regularly helped showcase English and Scottish actors at their very best, shaping careers in the process. Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston, Robert Carlyle, Johnny Lee Miller, Kerry Fox. So expect the very best of British co-stars to match Daniel Craig in Bond 25.

But there is also a worldwide dimension to consider. Bond films are not simply ‘British’. They are global collaborations. Fear not: Danny Boyle has a vision for exotic locations and talent to match. The Beach (an underrated gem and a beautiful film, with Tilda Swinton at her sexiest best) offers a panorama of exotic settings and Bond 25 will no doubt follow suit.

Expect an array of international personnel to fill the cast, too. Remember: Danny effectively launched the career of Dev Patel. Could 007 visit India again (went there for Octopussy, mooted for Skyfall, could happen for Boyle’s Bond 25?).

Imagination. Heart. Soul. Warmth. FUN!

The myth is that Danny Boyle = ‘gritty’. And yes, ok, he CAN be just that. But he can still ‘do’ outlandish sci-fi (28 Days Later, Sunshine). Also: endearing yet cautionary morality play fairy-tale (Millions).

Trainspotting is brutal and unrelenting but at its heart the message is one of triumph over addiction and the motif carries to the even more positive sequel (T2:Trainspotting). Shallow Grave: full of murder and darkness but ultimately, an ode to friendship and staying on the right side of the law.

No surprise, therefore, that Danny Boyle’s next film, just pre Bond 25 is a 60s set-piece Richard Curtis comedy/musical, All you Need is Love. It’s being script edited now by the lovely Emma Freud and shooting is imminent. IE: Danny can ‘do’ nice and fun alongside the substance and edge.

So: once again: natural fit with Craig era Bond films. Yes, Casino Royale was a hard hitting and substantial spy thriller; Quantum of Solace even moreso. But Skyfall, despite ‘dark’ elements and look/moments is in fact a light hearted romp in a sense, with SPECTRE going even further. And each has a sense of an Mi6 ‘family’ to them.

The myth is that Craig’s final Bond film MUST somehow be ‘dark’ or ‘gritty’. I mean, yes, of course there will be an element of that, as indeed, there should. Personal stakes and some measure of emotional literacy and maturity have helped define Daniel Craig’s interpretation of the role.

The consequence was positive: Bond grew as a character and thereby began to simply accept the nastier side to his profession, whilst embracing his role in that scheme through a kind of ethical hedonism. 

Consequently: Bond 25, though yes an opportunity for some closure and risk /revelation, need not be exclusively ‘dark’. 007’s moved beyond that, as has Cinema itself. We don’t need Bond to die / seem to do so. He need not be disgraced professionally or spend half the movie mourning a loved one / meditating on his place in the world.

We just need a relevant yet timeless premise. A surprising plot with distinctive twist. One top notch script, delivered with class and confidence by a first rate international cast and crew. A distinction in tone with a few hints at ambiguity. Some visual signature and innovative style, whilst adhering to a traditional 007 template. All wrapped up in a parcel of fun and heart and soul, with edge. 

Hence? Danny Boyle is the perfect fit for Bond 25….

The as yet untitled ‘Bond 25’ is released in 2019. Daniel Craig is reprising his role as James Bond, 007. And we will report more details as they come. Even the fake ones! 😉

James Murphy will Return…

 

 

 



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