Neil Calloway looks at the pitfalls and pluses of Danny Boyle directing the new Bond…
After months of speculation, it’s finally been confirmed that Danny Boyle is to direct the next Bond film. First he has to get through the ordeal of making a Richard Curtis script into a film starring Ed Sheeran (just typing that makes me angry), but all being well, he’ll be at the helm for Bond 25.
He wouldn’t be my first choice, but that’s not because he isn’t a decent director; it’s because he doesn’t strike me as the kind of director who would take on a project like that.
In among the gems, there’s a big cloud hanging over Boyle’s filmography, and it’s the cloud of the big movie. Specifically, The Beach. The film of Alex Garland’s debut novel was much anticipated, and Boyle, who had a nice run of films up until then (though his previous movie, A Life Less Ordinary, is not much to write home about), slipped up spectacularly.
There was a combination of factors that led to The Beach turning out more like a rubbish strewn stretch of cold British coastline than an idyllic, unspoilt, undiscovered Thai beach. First was the expectation; the novel had been a phenomenal success that tapped into the zeitgeist, Boyle was in charge of his first big Hollywood movie, and Leonardo DiCaprio was still riding high on the Titanic wave. There was only one way to go; down.
The other reason was a simple one, and it does not bode well for “Bond 25”; Boyle isn’t great at big movies. Small films that punch above their weight and unsettle is where he excels. Whatever you think of either of them, Bond is no Trainspotting. As films go, it’s hard to get bigger than Bond; Marvel and Star Wars might make more money, but neither have been around longer than 007. In fact, the Canto Bight scenes in The Last Jedi were shot on the 007 Stage at Pinewood studios. No Bond movie has been shot on any R2-D2 stage yet. It’s entirely possible that Bond will prove a film too big for Boyle.
Having said that, it’s not all bad news for Boyle directing a Bond; he’ll bring an outsider’s, indie director’s eye to a big slick franchise, which might just be what the series needs – let’s be honest, Bond needs reinventing every few films, and in the absence of a new actor in the lead, this is as good as it can get. Music is integral to Bond movies, and Boyle is superb at picking the score for his films.
The fact that the script is being written by regular Boyle collaborator John Hodge is also a bonus; maybe he’ll reuse the classic Shallow Grave line “When you get up in the morning, how do you decide what shade of black to wear?” by having the Bond villain say to 007 “When you get up in the morning, how do you decide what kind of tuxedo to wear?”.
It’s obvious Daniel Craig played a big part in getting Boyle on board; the producers were desperate to keep Craig in the lead, and I’d bet good money they asked him which directors he would work with. Having appeared as Bond in Boyle’s 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, Craig must have given him the nod. They could have worked together before; Boyle was apparently lined up to direct Our Friends In The North, the seminal 1990s TV series and Craig’s breakthrough role. A happy lead usually leads to a good film.
I look forward to a Boyle directed Bond, but as easily as it could be great, it could be a disaster.
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future instalments.