The search for a “Bond 25” composer has ended with the perfect choice: Dan Romer, who provided offbeat, eclectic scores for director Cary Fukunaga’s trippy “Maniac” series and haunting “Beasts of No Nation” feature. IndieWire has learned that Romer will soon reunite with Fukunaga on “Bond 25,” currently shooting in London.
There had been speculation that the director might tap Oscar-winner Justin Hurwitz (forming a Team Damien Chazelle triumvirate with cinematographer Linus Sandgren and editor Tom Cross) or franchise vet David Arnold, who brilliantly scored Daniel Craig’s first two Bond outings, “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace.”
But after glimpsing last week’s tantalizing Jamaican sizzle reel with the spicy temp track, “Boom Shot Dis” by Kully B & Gussy G, it became clear that Romer could provide the right musical ingredient for “Bond 25” (which was nearly titled “A Reason to Die” ). That’s because Romer excels at finding the appropriate vibe with quirky, eclectic unpredictability. And that’s in sync with Fukunaga’s reel, which was luscious, dark, and frenetic. His message was clear: Bond in Jamaica is still hot, hot, hot!
While Bond has slipped into comfortable solitude, soaking up the Jamaican scenery, old CIA pal Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) comes calling, as does sultry MI6 agent Nomi (“Captain Marvel’s” Lashana Lynch). The respective encounters in the sizzle reel are a case of neon meets noir, which hints at a fresh visual palette for Craig’s last mission as Bond. It’s apparently about genetic engineering with Rami Malek as the latest baddie. Judging from composer Romer’s previous work, though, his eclecticism will come in handy.
In Netflix’s mind-bending “Maniac” (starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill), Romer utilized vibraphone, synth strings, and percussive beats for exotic sweetness and danger. In the war drama, “Beasts of No Nation,” he created something much more ethereal with synths. And, more recently, with “Ramy,” the Hulu series created by and starring comedian Ramy Youssef about a first-generation American Muslim living in New Jersey, Romer teamed with Mike Tuccillo to tap a percussive tension and synth sense of unease. Romer had breakout success with “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (scoring with director Benh Zeitlin), and has shown versatility with “Zoe” (starring “Bond 25’s” Léa Seydoux), “A Ciambra,” and the video game, “Far Cry 5,” which exhibits country, rock, bluegrass, gospel, and industrial styles.
The challenge of scoring Bond, of course, has always been about bending but not breaking the rules established by John Barry. Arnold was successful in launching the Craig era, but it was more of a struggle for Thomas Newman on “Skyfall” and “Spectre.” He was out of his comfort zone when it came to action, and it showed on “Spectre” when he leaned heavily on his “Skyfall” themes. And it didn’t make it any easier with director Sam Mendes adding more touches from the Connery era.
But imagine Romer musically shaking up the Bond franchise. He could be as bold as Fukunaga allows, experimenting with strange sounds and haunting themes. And the fact that the film is set in Jamaica, Italy, Norway, and London should play to the composer’s versatility. Plus, there’s no reason why exotic flavor can’t punctuate the action scenes with location-specific instrumentation. As for the iconic Bond theme, Romer can make use of Arnold’s familiar version while offering his own unique twist.