James Bond needs a shakeup. You know it, and I know it, but the question is, do producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson know it? By now, you’ve read (in the New York Times, no less!) that Daniel Craig is indeed coming back as 007, thus fulfilling his Bond contract and delaying the hunky casting scrum that grips Hollywood once a decade. But how do you shake up the Bond franchise without re-casting the character himself? You hire someone who will bring a fresh perspective to the character — like a woman.
I’m not saying a male director can’t bring a fresh perspective to Bond, and I’m not even sure whether the film’s producers are interested in a fresh perspective to be honest, but it sure would be interesting to see James Bond through a woman’s eyes. The female gaze is a powerful thing, after all, and there are plenty of women who would pull some 007 shit themselves for a chance to direct one of these movies.
Which is why it was troubling to see the reported shortlist of possible directors for JAMES BOND 25 consist of three male directors. To be fair, they weren’t necessarily the obvious names, outside of maybe Denis Villeneuve, who seems like the longest shot given his commitment to Legendary’s new Dune movie.
What’s interesting about David Mackenzie and Yann Demange joining a big-budget filmmaker like Villeneuve on the reported shortlist is that both are European filmmakers who made the leap to Hollywood on the strength of a pair of gritty, low-budget Jack O’Connell thrillers — Starred Up and ’71, respectively. Both of them were gripping films, and while Mackenzie came roaring back with the acclaimed follow-up Hell or High Water, Demange’s follow-up White Boy Rick starring Matthew McConaughey won’t be released until January. You can bet that the Bond producers have seen an early cut of that film if they’re seriously considering Demange for the job.
Speaking of which, the Tracking Board has heard there’s truth to Variety‘s report claiming French director Demange is currently the frontrunner over Scottish filmmaker Mackenzie and Villeneuve, who hails from Canada. All three have met with the Bond producers, but it’s unclear whether the edge Demange appears to currently have is due to his vision or his schedule. After all, in addition to Villeneuve’s commitment to Dune, Mackenzie has been busy casting his new Netflix movie Outlaw King. And while there’s a certain lyricism to Mackenzie’s work, it’s also worth asking whether he might be a little too intense for Bond. I mean, could you imagine David Ayer directing Bond? Me neither.
I’m not saying Demange isn’t a good pick for Bond, because I’d fully support his hiring, especially if White Boy Rick turns out to be as good as the true story it’s based on. But he’s not necessarily an inspiring choice. Imagine seeing James Bond from a woman’s perspective. Now that would be inspiring. There’s even a bit of irony in the idea that while the character has been surrounded by “Bond girls” throughout its existence, what he really needs is one behind the camera.
Even if the Bond producers opt to hire a man, why aren’t we reading about female directors getting meetings too. If they don’t have the opportunity to pitch their visions for this franchise, how will the producers know whether they’re worth exploring? People have been crying out for a black 007 for a long time. If the producers aren’t willing to go that route yet with this franchise, there are other ways to teach this old dog some new tricks, and that starts with the leader on set.
I’m not going to throw names out there, because that would be a disservice to everyone, and honestly, I can’t really see Kathryn Bigelow stooping to direct a Bond movie, so hold that hot take this week. I just know that Broccoli, of all people, should be leading the charge toward a bold new frontier, not that hiring a female director should be considered that “bold.” Keep in mind that the Bond franchise comes with a long history, a history filled with cries of sexism, and she could address that with one hire and beat Star Wars boss Kathy Kennedy to the punch.
Kennedy has said that Lucasfilm has struggled to find a female director who’s “ready” to make a Star Wars movie, which was appropriately met with controversy, especially given how many male directors in that cinematic universe have proven not to be so “ready” themselves. Broccoli can’t afford to make the same director mistakes that Lucasfilm has, and she should put forth the effort to at least meet with a few female filmmakers before making a final decision, if only to hear different ideas. Perhaps a woman could coax some charm out of Craig, who looked completely disinterested throughout Spectre, as if he was as bored as the audience.
No matter who directs James Bond 25 or distributes it, the tentpole is currently dated for release on Nov. 8, 2019. Warner Bros. had a DC movie slated for Nov. 1, but Wonder Woman just landed a December 2019 date, and given the likelihood that Warners would release DC movies in subsequent months, there has been speculation that Bond 25 is simply becoming the studio’s November release. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Eon and MGM have had plenty of time to figure out what direction they want to take Bond. Could Craig’s character be killed off in the next film, with the 007 code name passed on to a younger agent? Only time will tell, but it’s heartening to know that the Bond producers are getting that much closer to make some important decisions. The fate of the Craig incarnation of this franchise hangs in the balance, yet there’s so much more at stake. Stay tuned…
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief