Like a true auteur Sam Mendes has set a high watermark for the World’s most beloved movie franchise and then decided to walk away from the follow up gig. And who can blame him? He probably achieved what he wanted to with Skyfall and felt there was little value in returning. As my Mother always said “if you’re going to direct a Bond movie son, then walk away with the sound of the applause”.
She may not have said that. I wish she had though. That would have been cool. Regardless of whether she did or didn’t though, it remains sound advice. The Bond franchise isn’t going anywhere, and is more popular than ever. So the question now is: who has the chops to follow Skyfall? Here are five names we think would be worthy of consideration:
5. JJ Abrams – Alias, Fringe, Mission Impossible III, Super8, Star Trek, Lost
The King of the Geeks could hit a holy trio of movie franchises with Star Trek, Star Wars and Bond. While he generally focusses in on sci-fi these days his grounding came in pulpy action. He has experience with a conflicted secret agent by way of Alias and his big screen debut was delivering the best Mission Impossible so far. Showed with Star Trek he can draw out enough comedy to keep things from feeling to dark, whilst retaining the core drama that Bond needs.
4. Ben Affleck – Argo, Gone Baby Gone, The Town
Former Bennifer has gone Hollywood A-List, to the point of directing an Oscar winning, critic bonerising movie and being in the final three to direct the new Star Wars. If he bottled his career resurgence Middle Eastern business men would be buying it in bulk, filling their Olympic sized solid gold swimming pools with it, playing water polo in the pool on diamond encrusted jet skis before bathing in it, just because they can. Ben Affleck made some terrible, if very lucrative, career choices in the early 2000’s, and his career suffered. It wasn’t helped by Matt Damon breaking out as a genuine, bankable, incredibly entertaining movie star. But his trio of directorial efforts, culminating with Oscar winning Argo, proves he is a true Directorial talent who has an eye for gripping tension. The scenes in Argo in the market and the final third in it’s entirety were master-classes in pacing and editing. Given where they are taking Bond these days his talent for broken and conflicted heroes could be just what they are looking for.
3. Duncan Jones – Moon, Source Code
A left field choice but one I would love to see work with the Bond lore. On the basis of Moon alone, despite loving it, I wouldn’t have put him in this list. But Source Code was a brilliantly executed simple idea that packed an enormous amount of action into a small space. At it’s core it boiled a simple idea down to it’s bones and then layered some intriguing complexities, humanity and raw action over the top of it. Which is essentially what previous Bonds have lacked and Skyfall started to really get into. A simple spy story as a foundation layered with internal conflict and serious amounts of ass-whuppin’.
2. Paul Greengrass – The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, United 93, Greenzone
While it may have been Doug Liman that first brought Bourne to the big screen, it was Greengrass who developed him as the action hero for the 2000’s. At a time when Bond was a bloated quasi-parody of itself with invisible cars and exploding underpants (probably), Greengrass proved movie goers wanted a spy hero they could empathise with. Matt Damon brought a vulnerability to Bourne that Daniel Craig has demonstrated in his portrayal of Bond. Greengrass also showed that with both Bourne and Greenzone he can direct close quarters action with the best of them, something that Bond has again moved back towards. The only problem would be whether Greengrass would be able to remove himself enough from Bourne to direct Bond.
1. Christopher Nolan – Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Memento, The Prestige
Fine, I’ll admit, I am biased when it comes to Nolan making number one on this list. But lets be honest, he is a one man franchise reviving machine. The Dark Knight is a given, but if you’ve seen the trailer for Man of Steel we posted a couple of weeks ago (http://theshovingbuddies.com/2013/03/06/superman-man-of-steel-2013-trailer/) no-one in Hollywood right now is better at drawing the core conflict from well loved characters. He saw in Batman what Mendes saw in Bond; a conflicted, broken character struggling with the weight of other people’s expectations on his mortal shoulders. Now, admittedly Bond isn’t in need of saving from the caricature he was turned into during the latter Brosnan era. But it does require someone to stop it sliding back to that point and building on what Mendes started. Nolan can do set pieces and he can do character. Would you really argue if he got the job? Unfortunately with Interstellar shooting this summer for next years November release it’s unlikely. But a man can dream….
That’s just the opinion of two lowly geeks though. We’d love to hear any other suggestions!