DANNY BOYLE IS OUT OF BOND 25. ‘SHOCKING, POSITIVELY SHOCKING’
‘We’re not a COUNTRY CLUB, 007’.
‘No-one ever leaves the KGB‘
How does 007 get out of THIS one? What it might mean, moving forward..AGENT JAMES MURPHY CONSIDERS ALL OPTIONS..
I thought it was a spoof. A Russian hack worthy of a Bond villain. But no. In a shocking twist with zero rumour/warning in advance..Danny Boyle’s departure was announced via the official 007 site and its related social media feeds. Trade papers followed suit. It’s official. He is out.
What’s funny here (funny weird not funny, ha ha) is the sudden shock of the announcement and therefore, logically, the surreptitious turn of events? It was barely flagged up and there had been zero indications of disquiet.
Today had even given us what amounted to a promotional still for Bond 25, with Daniel Craig in Tux, posing for the new Omega watches line. He looks distinguished, must be said.
This is unprecedented in Bond history.
Yes, directors leave in development stages (Roger Michell was down to do what became Quantum of Solace); some are courted and don’t quite sign on (the late, great Tony Scott). Sometimes a director is asked back to make multiple movies (John Glen: record holder with 5 in a row!) or agrees to only intermittent return instead (Martin Campbell relaunched Bond, twice, and brilliantly with GOLDENEYE and CASINO ROYALE, 11 years apart).
Sam Mendes initially said ‘no’ to SPECTRE post SKYFALL. Christopher Nolan toys with making a Bond film but settles for integrating visual tributes in his Dark Knight / Inception films and so on. Tarantino claims he had a pitch for what became Casino Royale. Steven Spielberg longed to make a contribution to the series in the early 80s but arguably outdid that with Indiana Jones.
But never has a Director LEFT, in what MUST surely now be a late stage of pre production?
It’s a messy setback, for a series that prides itself on a sense of family based continuity. Barbara Broccoli is a visionary and a shrewd, tough but decent businessperson. Not someone you would wish to disappoint; or at least, I wouldn’t, anyway: she’s lovely.
So what could possibly have caused this dramatic volte face? And no, it’s not anything to do with as far as we know, a change in leading man. Idris would make a bloody GREAT villain though in manner of Red Grant in Russia with Love and him vs Craig’s 007 is a fight I would LOVE to see!
It’s truly unexpected, this Boyle business. He was a natural fit, I felt, in so far as yes he has an ‘auteur’ vision but also possesses enough humour, commercial savvy and patriotic pride to give us one helluva Bond film. Sure it would be distinctive and bold but I very much doubted the notions he would reinvent so radically as to kill Bond or anything quite like that.
Indeed, Boyle had brought in John Hodge to pen a new script, replacing one that was, according to some unsubstantiated rumours, a LOGAN clone (Bond goes dark; lover dies; Bond ..dies..yuck). The new take was to be still daring in some way (other ideas on table included Bond getting married and accepting a mentor’s position alongside his field work) but FUN.
Remember it was Boyle that gave us the Queen parachuting out of a helicopter to ‘Happy and Glorious‘ as part of his brilliant work for the Olympics, which in turn, fed to the hype for Bond’s 50th anniversary and the billion dollar blockbusting behemoth that was SKYFALL. Granted, Sam Mendes rather than Boyle directed that 2012 Bond movie but one suspects that their styles would have not differed too dramatically; giving the people what they want, whilst delivering a unique vision, creatively, for a self contained cinematic experience to wider audiences including non Bond fans (not that any of those exist and if you say otherwise you are lying ;)).
This would also have been a Bond for the post #METOO era and the idea, as I understand it, was to still deliver the glamour and beauty and class expected from the series, whilst maturing things, sensitively. Bond can get married and he can mentor a new, female intelligence agent. The actresses can still be sexy; Bond need not jump into bed every few scenes, though. See also: The Living Daylights (1987, made just after AIDS had been discovered).
Bond can still marry Lea Seydoux from SPECTRE; have a mid movie affair with a Naomi Watts /Nicole Kidman/Sienna Miller/Rosamund Pike, Hitchock Blonde type and maybe even learn lessons en route, crowning a new agent at the end?
This is supposedly Daniel Craig’s last turn as 007 so that makes sense and would close his era with the kind of daring distinction through which it was opened back in 2006’s Casino Royale.
So one simply does not know what the ‘creative differences’ were that caused Danny to jump ship. We can only speculate as to why. It could be about script development, still?
Russian villains were mentioned as a must have for the new movie. Fine as we ARE kind of at war with Mother Russia now in all but name like it’s the Cold War all over again. Why not? Because defining baddies AS Russian can slide into camp parody, easily. The grasp for grit and relevance can still give you a TAKEN 3 rather than just a ..TAKEN (1).
There is a thin line between relevance and racial pastiche /parody? Indeed, SKYFALL had its initial script pitch changed for just that reason. Peter Morgan (The Crown; The Queen; the Blair trilogy on film) had devised a story involving M and yes she did take centre stage in the finished film. But he also involved Russian entanglements and those are best left as incidental rather than prominent details in the new films. Bond has rarely, if ever, been explicitly political.
The series riffs on concerns of the day whilst moving the viewer into escapism, even, arguably, for the tougher entries like Licence to Kill and Quantum of Solace?
So it MIGHT simply have boiled down to tone /script issues. Ie ‘creative differences’ means just that and rather now than mid way through filming.
Or Danny Boyle might just be exhausted having recently filmed the UNTITLED RICHARD CURTIS 60S MUSICAL ROMCOM (we love it already even without a title..in part coz we love Emma Freud and her work on film: the Broccolis should just hire her to edit the new 007 script).
Moving forward, post Boyle? To avoid delays and keep Daniel Craig on course to play 007 for next year’s release date? They will NEED a new Director. FAST. PRONTO.
And possibly new screenplay. I am available to help with the latter, btw. Just sayin 😉 JUST DO MOONRAKER, the proper version. Gala Brand the PERFECT heroine for that. Drax is THE villain to suit our political climate. Throw in some space stuff without going full on space force sci-fi. Coda to wrap up the confusion caused by SPECTRE. The end. See? Done! Title? UNDER THE QUEEN’S PEACE? TRY BEFORE YOU DIE..etc..they kind of write themselves..
As for Directors? James Gunn is available, so I hear? Ok NOT him. 😉
Seriously? Well, Sam Mendes could come back. Or Martin Campbell. Some will lobby for Christopher McQuarrie, basking in the glow of the mesmeric action scenes that defined MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE-FALLOUT. Many did compare the latest Tom Cruise offering to Bond at its best. I loved the Paris bike chase and London scenes in that film, certainly, though maintain it was not QUITE as perfect as some might claim and stress that Bond has a style and class in its own league. But 007 DOES benefit from a recharge in the face of new challenges (think of Casino Royale and the Craig era as a reaction to Paul Greengrass’ Jason Bourne series?).
Matthew Vaughn is another name to think about; he effectively crowned Daniel Craig as Bond with Layer Cake, over a year before the casting was made official; and he ‘gets’ how to do style and snobbery (X Men First Class). Vaughn’s ‘Lock, Stock’ comrade in arms, Guy Ritchie is also a natural fit; offering luxurious style (Man from UNCLE) and a kinetic editing via boys’ own adventure spirit (Game of Shadows). An old school crafts-person like Brian DePalma could also be great ( remember the first Mission:Impossible /The Untouchables).
Maybe John Madden (like Boyle: an Oscar winner and fellow veteran of adapting that other British pulp hero..Inspector Morse, for the small screen, in the 1990s: unsurpassed excellence in that medium, btw). Phillip Noyce, Mike Newell, Jon Favreau and Alfonso Cuaron surely qualify for the short-list, at least, too? Kathryn Bigelow or Mimi Leder could do an inspired job on the espionage atmospherics AND bring the first female Director to the franchise? Any of those would be great.
It need not be an ‘auteur’ but it MUST be someone who understands the formula and the fun but can add just a hint of innovation in both style and substance whilst keeping the unique sense of English class to the affair. To order. At speed. Now! It’s an odd-job..but somebody’s got to do it. So long as it’s the RIGHT person; suited to it from beginning to end and happy in the role. Danny Boyle’s departure might just prove a fortuitous blessing in disguise.
In any event, if any Producer can turn this around, in record time and recover any lost ground? It’s Broccoli. Barbara Broccoli. In her we trust, same way 007 trusts M. #ONWARDS
BOND 25 is STILL scheduled for release in 2019, with filming set to commence in December this year: Unless /until advised, otherwise.
JAMES MURPHY WILL RETURN..