For a brief time, it was thought that director Sam Mendes, who helmed the 23rd James Bond film, “Skyfall,” would direct another film in the series, but now the director’s chair is vacant. Recently, Mendes announced that he had turned down the offer to direct the next Bond film. Now the question turns to who are the possible candidates for Bond 24.
This article will focus on filmmakers who could be up for the role, as well as those who I believe would make a great Bond film. I’ve tried to keep this list somewhat realistic, so I have not listed fan favourite Christopher Nolan. This is due to the fact that Nolan will be busy with his next film, “Interstellar”- and, if the rumours are true, he will be helping Warner Bros. organize its Justice League film and DC Cinematic Universe, similar to that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that gave birth to last year’s “The Avengers.” Also, the Bond series is very producer driven whereas Nolan is a director who likes to have a lot of creative control over his films, particularly now in his career. Nolan has said he wants to direct a Bond film and I can see him doing one in the future, but only when he’s able to have a little more creative input. The idea of a Nolan directed Bond film is exciting. While he kept a respectful distance between himself and the material when it came to Batman, with Bond, one can tell from the numerous references to the series in Nolan’s films he’d have a blast directing a Bond epic. I even imagine it being his loosest and most fun film of his career, if it ever happens.
Now, in no particular order, here are the possible, as well as my suggested, directors to helm Bond 24.
1. Brad Bird
I really loved the fun and energy Bird brought to “Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol.” For a series on its fourth installment, he made the routine antics of Ethan Hunt and his IMF team fresh and exciting. The fact that this was his first live action film, after working in animation with films like “The Iron Giant” and Pixar’s “Ratatouille” and “The Incredibles,” made his skill at handling big budget action sequences all the more impressive. He brought the conceptual and visual inventiveness from those films and translated it to live action, which was a perfect fit for the “Mission: Impossible” franchise. If the next Bond film wanted to go down the route of being large scale, gadget filled and inventive, without becoming too campy like some of the other Bond films, Bird would be an ideal choice.
2. Martin Campbell
Of the previous Bond directors who are still with us, the one I’d most like to see return is Campbell, who directed “GoldenEye” and “Casino Royale.” Both films help reinvent James Bond for the post cold war 90s, and the post Jason Bourne era, respectively. With these two films, he established two Bonds as well, Pierce Brosnan and current Bond Daniel Craig. It’d be exciting to see what Campbell would do with an already established Bond and universe that he could play in. He knows how to shoot action and doesn’t mince on the character development either, being able to satisfy both masters. With Campbell’s previous film, “Green Lantern,” failing critically and commercially, Campbell doesn’t have anything to lose returning to the franchise, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the producers of the Bond series have Campbell on speed dial.
3. Ralph Fiennes
This choice occurred to me randomly a while ago. For one, Fiennes already part of the Bond team, taking over the role of Bond’s boss M at the end of “Skyfall,” so why not bring him on to direct. Moreover, Fiennes, as some may know, made his directorial debut “Coriolanus,” based on the play by William Shakespeare. With that film, he’s proved himself, if not an auteur, a solid craftsman, the type of director who the Bond series seeks out. He even got a strong performance out of Gerard Butler in “Coriolanus,” and if given a strong, character driven script with some juicy dialogue and powerful confrontations, he could bring out the best in his cast, especially if the series continues to hire high calibre actors. Nowadays the Bond series is trying to be mindful of the contemporary world, so Fiennes’ ability to make “Coriolanus,” one of Shakespeare’s more under seen plays, work in a modern context while retaining the Shakespearean verse, would be beneficial for keeping Bond relevant yet classic.
4. Kenneth Branagh
When Branagh became attached to direct “Thor”-the adaptation of the Marvel superhero- it was somewhat surprising, considering he had made his name as a Shakespearean actor and director of cinematic adaptations of the Bard’s work. But of all the superheroes, Thor’s Shakespearean origins were a perfect match for Branagh’s background. While he favoured Dutch angles a little too much, Branagh gave the scenes on Thor’s home world of Asgard involving Thor’s family dynamics the passion needed to sell us on this world and character. He also handled the action scenes with aplomb as well. Like Fiennes, if Branagh was to get a character driven script that allowed him to delve in to the characters and create some intense and intimate character moments, Branagh could manage a good blend of drama and action.
5. Matthew Vaughn
Like Christopher Nolan, Vaughn has also been inspired by the James Bond franchise in regards to his tackling of the superhero genre. The DNA of 60s era Bond films can be found in Vaughn’s “X-Men: First Class,” due to its 60s period setting and Michael Fassbender’s performance as Magneto, exuding the ruthlessness and charisma of Sean Connery. Vaughn is not directing the sequel to” First Class”- those duties are falling to Bryan Singer, who directed the first two X-Men films. This gives him some room to do a Bond film. I think Vaughn would do a great throwback Bond, similar to that of First Class. He seems to understand the stylish and fun nature of the cinematic 60s. The period setting was played down somewhat in “First Class,” so it shows Vaughn can still create a modern feeling Bond film. And as much as I admire Craig in the role, I’d love to see a Vaughn/Fassbender Bond film. He’s also worked with Craig before on the British gangster film, “Layer Cake,” so he’s somewhat responsible for showing Daniel Craig could be a viable option for Bond.
6. Guy Ritchie
Ritchie’s name is here due to recent rumblings that he is a favourite to direct the next Bond film. It wouldn’t be too surprising, considering he provided Warner Bros. with two sizable hits in the form of his Sherlock Holmes films. He seems to have the right balance the Bond producers would be looking for. He has his own sense of style but at the same time I believe he can probably be relied on to provide a film where his style won’t overshadow the fact it’s a Bond film- he can work as a hired gun.
7. Rian Johnson
Johnson, with only three feature films under his belt, has established himself as one of the most interesting young voices in American film. With “Brick,” “The Brothers Bloom” and now “Looper,” Johnson has played around with and subverted what audiences expect out of particular genres, as well as creating deeply felt character pieces. With Bond, Johnson could show Bond’s stylish personal veneer, while delving in to Bond’s deeper character, an approach that’s characteristic of how Johnson approached the protagonists played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in “Brick” and “Looper.” Johnson is constantly becoming a stronger visual stylist as well- the 30 year sequence in “Looper” was a standout piece of cinema from last year. With a great cinematographer, such as “Skyfall’s” Roger Deakins, I can see him creating some great images.
8. Kathryn Bigelow
This choice leans toward the more unrealistic side of things but you know what, this franchise needs a female director. The character of James Bond has always been, more or less, a male chauvinist, and it’d be great to see the character through the eyes of a female director. Bigelow is also adept at crafting exciting and suspenseful sequences that put you in the heart of the action. Since the Bond series is aiming for a more real world feel, Bigleow’s work in “The Hurt Locker” and the recent “Zero Dark Thirty,” both which deal with contemporary issues involving the war in Iraq and the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, would be ideal for keeping the Bond series rooted in reality, if that’s what the script calls for.
9. Alfonso Cuaron
When the Mexican director of “Y Tu Mama Tambien” helmed the third film in the Harry Potter series, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” it was a great example of an gifted director raising a franchise to new heights, giving us a film of visual wonders and Dickensian atmosphere. While not a fantasy in the vein of Harry Potter, Cuaron’s sense of visual expressiveness could make even the quieter scenes in a Bond film visually interesting. With “Children of Men,” he created some thrilling long take action sequences and I’d love to see similar sequences a Bond film.
10. Tom Hooper
Hooper has become a pretty controversial figure in modern film, which doesn’t have anything to do with the subject matter of his films, but due to the fact that his film “The King’s Speech” won Best Picture and Hooper won Best Director at the 2011 Oscars over David Fincher and his film “The Social Network,” seen by many as undeserved victories. Then of course, there were the criticisms aimed at his messy direction in his adaptation of the Broadway musical “Les Miserables.” Still, Hooper has become a big player in Hollywood in only a few short years and it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s being considered for Bond 24. He does have some interesting visual compositions in “The King’s Speech,” which could work for Bond, as well as a knack for picking a strong cast. When it comes to directing action, however, I fear Hooper’s style may lend itself more towards “Quantum of Solace” than “Casino Royale.”
11. Andrea Arnold
I’ve only seen one of Arnold’s three films, 2007’s “Red Road,” but in that film I sensed a filmmaker with a strong yet delicate touch for character and place. As I said with Bigelow, this franchise needs a female director. A character and story driven director like Arnold could work for the more “realistic” universe Bond now inhabits.
12. Duncan Jones
Jones’ previous two films, “Moon” and “Source Code,” blended science fiction with haunting stories of real human characters that find themselves in fantastical situations. If the next Bond film goes bigger and more fantastic, I believe Jones would do a fine job of balancing the craziness of the situations and Bond’s humanity, making a perfect mix of the fun and the humane.
13. Tony Gilroy
As the co-writer of the Jason Bourne film trilogy and the writer/director of 2007’s “Michael Clayton,” starring George Clooney, Gilroy has proven himself an expert at creating intelligent and exciting adult entertainments. While the Bond producers may want to avoid having a director so closely related to the Bourne franchise, since the Craig films have been criticized by fans as feeling too much like that franchise, with a script that was pure Bond, Gilroy’s sensibilities could result in a unique balancing act that would get the tone just right for a 21st century Bond. His work on “Duplicity,” with Clive Owen and Julia Roberts, also showed how good he is at handling sharp banter between men and women, a trait ideal for making the relationship Bond and the “Bond Woman” more interesting.
14. Gareth Evans
With “The Raid,” Evans blew action film fans’ socks off with an unrelenting fury of almost surreal action. One can only imagine what he’d do with the action scenes in a Bond film. While Bond 24 wouldn’t have the same type of hand to hand combat found in The Raid, I believe Evans would craft some brutal and gritty fight sequences that show that Bond can get his hands dirty.
15. Pete Travis
Travis, like Evans with “The Raid,” made a lean, mean, action film that was intense and had a dry sense of humour. This film was “Dredd,” the adaptation of the British comic book character that had previously been brought to screen in the 1995 Sylvester Stallone flop, “Judge Dredd.” “Dredd” was stunning in terms of its look and use of 3-D, and I think Travis, on an even bigger budget, could craft some visually dazzling action scenes for a Bond film. His treatment of Olivia Thirlby’s Judge Anderson character demonstrated his interest in female characters with a little more depth than are usually found in action films- and the Bond films always benefit from strong female characters.
Let me know what you think of these options, as well as chime in with your own picks for who you’d want to direct the next Bond film.