James Bond is one of the biggest franchises in the world. It has to be, considering it’s reached 24 movies and people still get excited about the next entry. It’s almost a primal thing at this point. It hits something in people that gets them going. The exotic locale, the pretty ladies, the bombastic action. There’s a simple formula that is very loose, which can make each movie feel different while also still feeling very distinctly Bond.
This is also a series that, until the one-two punch of Marc Foster and Sam Mendes, didn’t really go for big name or award-nominated filmmakers. For some reason, everyone keeps throwing up A-list filmmakers to tackle the next Bond as if it was some grand tradition and not a weird little trend in the Daniel Craig era.
With the curiosity regarding who will helm the next entry kind of getting to a boiling point, with a proposed start date of shooting rapidly approaching and the rumors regarding Danny Boyle being the man primed to take the job, it seems like it would be as good a time as any to make a list that pitches some filmmakers to handle the job.
I’ll break their little rule that the director has to be from England because that’s boring, and also indicates that I truly think any of my opinions matter in a real-life way. Also, Christopher Nolan is not on here. Just getting that out of the way early. Despite being British and a man with a clear love of Bond due to his outright lifting of Bond iconography/set pieces for some of his work, he is truly not fitting for the job. He is too stuffy and lacking in any real sense of fun. I know the comments will be rife with nitpicking and flowery sayings to a director who genuinely doesn’t care about your extremism. But still, I tried.
10. Isaac Florentine
Action filmmaking hit a bad period in the 2000s, thanks to Paul Greengrass’ work on the Bourne series. He brought the shaky cam to the forefront of action filmmaking. And while he did it perfectly in his first two entries, everyone else chasing that style didn’t understand how to make it work.
It was impossible to see what was happening and it made it hard to watch, a way for the filmmakers to hide their lacking action choreography. But then it swung back to the classical style of showing what the hell was happening, with clear and concise camerawork that allowed you to see the physicality on display.
Much of that is due to the work in the direct-to-video market, where a handful of filmmakers teamed up with talents like Scott Adkins and Michael Jai White and Jean-Claude Van Damme to make the movies left behind in the 80s and 90s with a better sense of action than we were seeing elsewhere. They went backwards with their storytelling to go forwards with their filmmaking.
One of those filmmakers is Isaac Florentine, and he would be a great fit for the series. He is a filmmaker who knows how to shoot action, is really good with a camera, and gets really good work from his actors. He’s also not some pretentious auteur who needs to force a project to fit him, instead of the other way around. He can slide right into other projects, as he cut his teeth directing TV. He would be the best unknown filmmaker to handle this project.
9. James Mangold
James Mangold is coming off of a next-level masterpiece in “Logan,” a movie that helped shove away the idea that comic book movies can only be one thing. It was a mature and wonderful film that stood up to classics like “Unforgiven” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
Mangold has shown himself to have a good sense of pulp storytelling, with a good bit of class and a good sense of popcorn filmmaking without dumbing things down. He’s got a good sense of classic filmmaking in him to bring an old school style back to Bond in a similar way that Mendes did in “Skyfall.”
There’s the risk that he could deliver more of a “Spectre,” as he had to warm up with “The Wolverine” before he got to “Logan.” But the man who made “Cop Land,” “3:10 to Yuma” and “Logan” is a man who would certainly do wonders with this series.
Hell, it would definitely be a cool thing to see a more western influence in the Bond series. And Mangold has a good sense of the slowly degrading sense of black-and-white morality in the world that the Craig series has been tackling, with the government not being portrayed as entirely good throughout. He has many a film lined up at the moment, which makes the prospects of him being able to tackle a Bond movie dubious at best, but it would be cool if he would take that trek.
8. Gareth Evans
If the direct-to-video field of action helped push the camerawork of action scenes back toward a more coherent style of visuals, Gareth Evans helped cement that this is the de facto way to shoot violence. Evans’ Raid series are two of the best action movies ever and feature some of the greatest action scenes of all time.
Visceral and inventive and filmed with the grace and confidence of a filmmaker who’s been working for decades, he blew the doors off of action cinema. But being that these were Indonesian action movies that were not sold too well to modern American audiences, its influences only bore out in the filmmakers who watched it and took from it. And to show that action wasn’t the only field he could play in, he did the best short in “VHS 2,” one of the most insane and visceral horror shorts in the history of horror anthologies.
He’s currently working on his first American production, a tense thriller for Netflix called “Apostle” that should show him stretching his creativity. He’s said he would never make a PG-13 movie as he doesn’t understand how to make violence hurt with the freedom of the R rating, but it would still be wild to see him make the leap to Bond.
He’s never made a big budget movie and these leaps from small indies to massive blockbusters don’t always work out without a progressive output where the budget builds up bit by bit. But there’s a difference here, as Bond doesn’t need massive amounts of CGI and post-production effects work, nor does it come to the director with effects house driven action scenes that force the director to work around them.
It would be a classier and more locale diverse entry for Evans that would give him the tools needed to not have to stress out about making a day or almost killing his stuntmen. If they wanted to get back to the visceral action that Martin Campbell brought to “Casino Royale,” Evans would be the guy to do it.
7. Michelle MacLaren
Michelle MacLaren is one of the best directors working on TV. Has been for a while now, making some of the best episodes of some of the best TV shows ever. “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Walking Dead,” “Westworld,” “The Deuce,” “Better Call Saul” and “The Leftovers” were all better off for having her tackle their material.
She has been in the mix for a long time to make the jump to big budget blockbuster filmmaking, a perfect fit since she has made a name for herself with some next-level action filmmaking on TV. She was supposed to handle “Wonder Woman” before leaving the project due to creative differences with Warner Bros.
The right project is out there for her. Bond may be it. There’s a sense of TV production to the thing, as the Broccoli’s are more of a creative force than the directors usually are. She’s definitely navigated the tricky world of TV with ease thus far, but she’s also been able to make it her own. She is a great stylist and has a great sense of story. And most importantly, she would bring a different perspective to things than many other directors.
In a series that has had to grow from its insanely misogynistic beginnings to its current day incarnation, where it’s much less problematic but still has some lingering issues, she could help bring the series even further away from the outdated style of the series. It would be a win win for the series. There’s no downside here.
6. Ryan Coogler
Ryan Coogler is one of the best and brightest young filmmakers today. “Fruitvale Station” is a great little debut that elevates itself above the simple movie-of-the-week format it could have been by giving a more humane look at a man and the tragedy of his life as he is cut down in the midst of genuinely trying to better himself.
“Creed” is a miracle, the seventh entry in the Rocky series that also works as a spinoff, which is a masterclass in storytelling and became a heartbreaking and tear-inducing and crowd-pleasing work of familial weight and the need to prove oneself in the shadow of a giant, and how the lack of a father can unmoor someone completely.
“Black Panther” is currently murdering the box office charts for good reason, as he has once again shown what a master he is. Merging the pop sensibilities of Marvel with a well-written script that deals wonderfully with social issues without ever becoming boring, Coogler has shown that there may be no stopping him.
But what makes him a good choice for this series comes straight from “Black Panther.” The Korea section of the movie is essentially a Bond flick, with T’Challa as Bond, Nakia as Moneypenny, Okoye as Felix Leiter, and Shuri as Q. They get their mission, they get some gadgets, there’s some action and a car chase, and then a bad guy is captured. It’s like a short Bond film thrust into this comic book movie about colonialism and the Black struggle.
Would he want to make a Bond movie and if so, would it be with Craig or would he want to do it with a fresh start? There’s no way he doesn’t like Bond, as that Korea sequence is too closely resembling Bond to be an accident. His love of “Rocky” tied back to his relationship with his father, so it wouldn’t surprise me if the elder Coogler also showed off Bond to his young son.
Much like MacLaren, his hiring would bring a fresh set of eyes to the series. In the same way he tackled the idea of a Black Utopia in a Disney-fronted comic book movie, he may be able to tackle the long and blood-soaked history of Britain’s colonialism. If he did, it would be a great sign that the movie would be the Bond movie we need to send off Craig.