Ever since Skyfall was released to universal acclaim, and an international hit — raking in over $1 billion worldwide, and $300 million domestically, making it the highest grossing James Bond film of all-time — there has been a renewed interested in the property. So naturally, who directs the film is a bit of importance. Problem is, we don’t know who’s directing the next Bond installment. The companies that are the Bond Machine (MGM, Sony and EON Productions) want to get the next film underway as soon as possible. Reports indicate the screenplay is currently in development, with MGM eyeing a release for Bond 24 within the next three years. The franchise is 50 years old and spans nearly two dozen films, so the path in which said machine will go is not always an easy choice.
Much to everyone’s surprise, and disappointment, Sam Mendes will not be returning to direct the Bond 24. He’s been pretty adamant about that. However, there have been quite a few names “in the mix” as possible directors. Everyone from Christopher Nolan to Danny Boyle, from Ang Lee to Nicolas Winding Refn. Rumors, mostly, but let’s play devil’s advocate, shall we?
Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception)
He’s been approached to direct the film. He’s a clear choice for the franchise. He’s British…so there’s that. He’s an outspoken Bond fanboy, and has expressed interest in directing one of the films in the past. But there have also been Bond-comparisons to one of Nolan’s recent films Inception. After all, certain elements of the film are quite…Bond-ish. It’s even branded as “James Bond meets The Matrix.” So, has he already directed a Bond film indirectly? Maybe. Nolan’s calendar will be pretty saturated with production ramping up on his uppcoming sci-fi film Interstellar, due out next November. The liklihood of Nolan jumping straight into another huge, time consuming project seems slim. For Nolan to direct, “it would have to be the right situation and the right time in their cycle of things.” So consider Nolan a long shot. At best.
Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours)
There’s been a ton of support for Boyle to take a stab at the franchise, but Boyle himself alluded to the fact that he and Bond are just not a good match. He’s been touted as a potential 007 director several times, but ruled himself out of the running in a recent interview, saying: “No. I love the Bond movies, I love watching them and the last one was amazing. And when I was a kid, when I was a teenager, I read those books cover to cover, multiple times. So they’re really part of the fabric of my fabric but I’m not that kind of director. I love guys who can do those huge movies.” Admittedly, Boyle handles smaller budgets much better, claiming huge budgets tend to stunt his emotional and creative process. So…Boyle’s out. Although, I have to admit, a Bond film with an indie feel does seem interesting.
Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives)
If there was an argument to be made for Refn to be the next Bond director, it would’ve been a year ago after his film Drive was released to unanimous critical acclaim. Somewhat of an instant cult classic, Drive put Refn on the map. But recently, with his latest film Only God forgives getting properly bashed in Cannes, Refn might be out of the picture altogether. By his own admission, his methods are not exactly in line with the likes of James Bond. He’s more “Pretty in Pink with a head stomp.” Although he’s still being considered, reportedly, he seems to be a bit of a wild card. Too much so to be given the reins to a franchise like Bond.
Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables)
He made a name for himself with his Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech, but his latest film Les Miserables only marginally successful and many questioned some of his directional choices. He’s largely a dramatic director, so he doesn’t seem to a good fit. Though, the same could’ve been said for Sam Mendes prior to him taking on Skyfall. While his name has been thrown into the mix for Freddie Mercury Biopic, Hooper has yet to settle on his next project. He could be an interesting choice.
Ang Lee (Life of Pi, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
He spent four years on Life of Pi, and he just bailed on a TV pilot because he needs some rest. So, I doubt he’ll want to delve into something as time-consuming as James Bond. But who knows. He would be a great choice. He knows action. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon proved that. But he also failed miserably when handling a franchise-type character in Hulk. It would be awesome to see what he’d do with a character as complex as Bond, but the project doesn’t seem to fit his style.
Who would I pick? Well, I have my own short-list of directors.
Joe Wright (Anna Karenina, Atonment)
He’s of the same mold as Skyfall director Sam Mendes — and like Mendes, Wright has a rare gift for the intimate and the spectacular. In fact, a lot of what makes Wright the perfect choice, mirrors why Mendes made the perfect choice. And if you don’t think so, take a look at his 007-worthy film Hanna. He’s not exactly in line with the Bond pedigree, but neither was Mendes. His grounded approach make him the ideal candidate to take over for Mendes. While he’s fairly busy with theatrical productions over the next year in London, he’s the obvious heir apparent.
Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code)
If his first two features have any telling on his future, he’ll be directing films for quite some time. Although Source Code was a bit underwhelming for me. So far, he’s stayed pretty much within the sci-fi genre, and is currently attached to the World of Warcraft film. But he’s also attached to the Ian Flemming Biopic, so who better to helm the next Bond than the man who’s supposedly directing a film about Bond’s creator?
Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run)
The Bond franchise is high-octane, and you don’t get much more high-octane than Run Lola Run. The International was also very Bond-ish and in my humble opinion, very underrated. So, we know from The International that he can handle international intrigue, and from Run Lola Run we can unquestionably handle action…plenty of action. Sounds like Bond material to me.
Kenneth Branagh (Thor, Hamlet)
Like Mendes and Wright, Branagh comes from a theater background, and his work on Thor shows he’s willing to work on a franchise. Although you can also make an argument for Thor being the weakest of the Avengers films. He’d make a great candidate, but unfortunately he’s working on the Jack Ryan reboot, and theref0re unavailable. But anyone who can repeatedly handle William Shakespeare (Henry V, Hamelt), can handle James Bond.
While no American has ever directed an official Bond film, Kathryn Bigelow and Tony Gilroy could offer unique perspectives. Both directors know dark, dramatic thrillers — Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thrity and Gilroy’s Michael Clayton are perfect examples. Bigelow could certainly craft a grounded story within the geopolitical arena. But for what it’s worth, my money is on Joe Wright.
Skyfall co-writer John Logan is attached to pen the scripts for both Bond 24 and Bond 25.
Stay tuned, as the director will most likely be announced sometime in the near future.