Danny Boyle's 007: what can we expect from the next James Bond?

The Trainspotting director is working on a script for the 25th Bond film. From nods to #MeToo and Time’s Up to Trainspotting-style sleights of hand, here’s what we might get

If the James Bond film producers Eon really want to shake up 007, they should employ Quentin Tarantino – not Danny Boyle – to take charge of the next film in the franchise. Tarantino has long had designs on Bond, and nobody writes better dialogue for Christoph Waltz – so much so that the latter’s underplayed Ernst Stavro Blofeld in 2015’s Spectre was a pale shadow of the Austrian maestro’s freewheeling, rambunctious turns as SS officer Hans Landa in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009) and as bounty hunter Dr King Schultz in 2012’s Django Unchained. Imagine Blofeld escaping from jail and going after Her Majesty’s top agent in the forthcoming 25th official Bond flick, this time armed with the dazzling repartee and perfectly poised badinage of a Tarantino script. Now that would be something worth seeing.

But Bond has always been a producer’s franchise, and Eon would no more hand over its prized asset to a maverick film-maker such as Tarantino than they would let Lars von Trier (also a Bond fan) take charge of the cameras.

We are left, most likely, with Boyle, who last week revealed he is working on a script for Bond 25, with an eye to direct. That might not be such a bad thing, for there are few British film-makers more suited to the task of overseeing Daniel Craig’s final turn as 007. The Trainspotting director is a safe pair of hands who will add extra kinetic energy to the action set pieces without the risk of ejecting more than 50 years of Bond history through the sunroof.

Working on 007 tends to iron out a film-maker’s more interesting rough edges, but there is usually enough space for a smattering of style and panache. This was perhaps most noticeable on Sam Mendes’s Skyfall. The Oscar winner began well, by adding trademark emotional intelligence to 007’s arsenal. But by the time he came to shoot its sequel, Mendes had become enveloped in a fog of bland Bondisms, leading to the stylishly workmanlike Spectre. Still, he undoubtedly left us the most psychologically complex 007 so far.

What ingredients might Boyle sprinkle into the Bond stockpot? He has hinted that his version of the dapper spy will exist in the world of #MeToo and Time’s Up, a universe where the charming Mancunian is likely to be more comfortable than Tarantino or Von Trier. I’ve written about the difficulties of viewing Bond through a feminist prism – this is a creation of a very different time, and there is a danger that introducing powerful female figures into 007’s immediate circle will only serve to bring about the destruction of Eon’s prized asset. On the other hand, the series has killed off almost all of its heavyweight female characters, while leaving Bond alive. Maybe it deserves to be put out of its misery.

Danny Boyle in 2017.
Safe pair of hands … the name’s Boyle, Danny Boyle. Photograph: Ian West/PA

There might be a clue as to Boyle’s potential handling of the issue in his recent film T2: Trainspotting, which (spoiler alert!) allowed us to wallow in nostalgia for the original movie’s gaggle of Scottish lost boys, only for a young woman on the periphery of the story to swoop in and take the big prize. Such sleight of hand would be difficult to repeat in a Bond movie, but we should remember that the most crushingly emotive moment in Craig’s stint as the spy remains his reaction to the apparent betrayal of Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd in 2006’s Casino Royale.

In that film, at his most raw and exposed, Craig was at his best. If Boyle can harness a little of the complex energy between men and women, he might leave the saga in an even more fascinating place than some of his more radical peers might have managed.


Ben Child

The GuardianTramp

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