With the sudden departure of director Danny Boyle from “Bond 25” over “creative differences” with franchise producers Barbara Broccoli, Michael Wilson, and star/co-producer Daniel Craig, what happens now? (Update: The Telegraph reported that the split was due to Craig’s objection to Boyle’s casting of Tomasz Kot from Amazon’s “Cold War” as the Russian baddie in the modern-day Cold War plot.)
Keep in mind that production was supposed to start in December, with a domestic release date of November 8, 2019 (through MGM). But that remains in flux, depending on whether a minor or major rewrite is required. Worse case scenario could mean pushing the release date back to fall 2020.
Several directors have been shortlisted, including two UK rising action directors, Yann Demange (“’71,” Sony fall festival entry “White Boy Rick”) and David McKenzie (“Hell or High Water,” upcoming Netflix actioner “Outlaw King”). Others being mentioned are Jean Marc-Vallee (HBO’s “Sharp Objects”) and Edgar Wright (“Baby Driver”). But the betting money is on quirky and well-respected Brit Demange.
Complicating matters, though, is the fact that Boyle brought his own radical twist to the table, working closely with his chum and long-time collaborator, “Trainspotting” series scribe John Hodge, which immediately hooked Broccoli, Wilson, and Craig. Hodge turned in a script they liked, and they fast-tracked the production while scrapping the previous screenplay by long-time Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. This was unprecedented from the Eon team as far as auteur risk-taking.
The story concept was ripped from such current headlines as Russia geopolitical meddling, #MeToo and #TimesUp, though it’s been contentious updating the Cold War element. “You write in real time,” Boyle told The Guardian. “You acknowledge the legacy of the world of Bond and you write in the world — but you also write in the modern world as well.”
Added to the intrigue is speculation that the plot also involves incarcerating Bond and the threat of imminent death. However, Boyle evidently got in over his head trying to maintain that delicate balance between the modern world as we know it and the rules of the Bond legacy.
But with Boyle and Hodge out of the picture, journalists are rushing to the conclusion that they’re jettisoning the project, and either reverting to the Purvis and Wade Plan B or starting over. But that doesn’t make sense. The Boyle/Hodge script belongs to the franchise and has momentum behind it. Even if they’re dissatisfied with the current draft, Purvis and Wade are available for rewrites.
It makes much better sense to see this story through with an edgy but less precious director such as Demange. Better yet, why not let Craig direct? He knows Bond and the franchise inside out and can rely on the veteran production team to help him say goodbye in the most relevant and unpredictable way.
Now that would be the biggest twist of all.