Neil Calloway argues that Britain’s best director must direct Britain’s biggest franchise…
So it seems like the news that Syncopy will be producing the next Bond was at best premature and at worst totally untrue. It’s a shame, because the possibility that Christopher Nolan is going to direct a Bond film is too great to pass up.
Nolan is exactly the right choice; British, from the same sort of class at Ian Fleming, the right age to have grown up with the Bond films all around him, and a master – perhaps the master – of the big budget, intelligent action movie. As he showed with his Batman films he can take something that is both familiar and a little overblown and reinvent and reinvigorate it and most importantly make it believable.
Ten years ago there was a clamour for Paul Greengrass to direct a Bond film, and you can see why; he’d brought energy and excitement to the Bourne movies, and also had a background in spy stories; while working on the TV series World in Action he’d co-written Spycatcher, the memoir of former MI5 officer Peter Wright, a book which the British government tried, and failed, to ban. Now, after the last bloated Bourne film, nobody is really eager for Greengrass to helm a Bond film.
You can see elements of Bond in Nolan’s previous work – the so-called “skyhook”, where someone is picked up by a specially adapted aeroplane by means of a balloon and cable is used in both Thunderball and The Dark Knight. The assault on the snowbound fortress in Inception is, Nolan has acknowledged, inspired by similar scenes in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He obviously knows the material, and would be in his element if he was given the chance to stop paying tribute to Bond films and actually direct one.
Acres of newsprint goes into who will be the next Bond and very little goes into who will direct it; Eon Productions control the material so closely that it often doesn’t matter who gets the credit, but if Nolan did, and was given free reign, then he could be very good at it. If Dunkirk (about as British a story as you can get) is the hit everyone expects, then Nolan will surely get the call if he hasn’t already. It’s worth noting that Ian Fleming’s younger brother Michael was wounded on the retreat to Dunkirk, dying of his wounds in a POW camp.
If Nolan doesn’t direct a Bond movie, then we’ve all missed a great opportunity.
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future instalments.