What to expect from Danny Boyle's James Bond

With the news that Danny Boyle is on board for Bond 25, we ask if the Trainspotting director should close Daniel Craig's time in the franchise with a kiss kiss bang bang?

Feature by John Bleasdale | 30 May 2018
  • Casino Royale

James Bond has a new director, and his name's Boyle, Danny Boyle. The Academy Award-winning filmmaker was last week confirmed as the new helmer for the long-running spy series, but don't expect the Trainspotting director to be shaken and stirred by his latest project. It won’t be the first time he's worked with 007.

In a film clip for the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games, which Boyle directed, Daniel Craig turns up at Buckingham Palace as Bond to escort the Queen via helicopter and Union Jack parachute to Wembley Stadium for the opening of the Games. It was an audaciously witty meeting of icons, long before Cool Britannia had been buried under the Brexit blues. Can we expect a royal cameo in the new Boyle Bond? Or is 007 going to get hooked on heroin? Will Boyle have the goldfinger? Or will his film be thunderballs?

It’s funny to remember now, but Daniel Craig began as a controversial James Bond. When a fast boat on the Thames delivered the new 007 windblown and green around the gills to a waiting press pack, there were howls of protest. 'No Blond Bond!' petitions were set up and websites like Daniel Craig is Not Bond called for a boycott for the as-yet-unmade Casino Royale. Why not Hugh Jackman? Or Christian Bale? Or Clive Owen? But surely not the guy who one disgruntled fan referred to as looking like “a charmless Big Issue vendor”.

Of course, Casino Royale then came out and effectively revitalised the whole franchise. Pierce Brosnan had looked the part but the films – especially The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day – had often fallen between the stools of the thriller and the silly. The Bourne films meanwhile gave the same vicarious globetrotting espionage jollies, but were also cleverer, more exciting and far less daft. Craig’s second outing Quantum of Solace tried too hard to follow the Bourne aesthetic – with the shaky cam ruining the set pieces and the Hollywood writers’ strike delivering a visibly unfinished script to work from. With Skyfall, Sam Mendes managed to once more inject some vim before surgically extracting it with a rusty spoon in the execrable Spectre. A jaded Craig repeatedly expressed his reluctance to continue in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – “I’d rather slash my wrists” – but like Michael Corleone in Godfather III, every time he thinks he's out, something pulls him back in. Presumably the paycheck.

But with Boyle in the Aston Martin driving seat, there’s a good chance that Craig can go out with a kiss kiss bang bang. First of all, Boyle is a solid director who has proven his hand in a broad range of genres – thriller, science fiction, horror, yoof drama. He can do the serious character work as well as the humour and the dynamism, and he knows how to use music – an important component in the Bond films.

Second, his arrival brings a shake up in the writing team with longtime collaborator John Hodge replacing Neal Purvis and Robert Wade who’ve penned all the Bonds, with occasional help from Paul Haggis, since 1999’s The World Is Not Enough. Purvis and Wade – whose credits also include Rowan Atkinson’s parody Johnny English – have been hit and miss, with some great ideas and some clangers. A fresh pair of eyes can’t hurt, though it’s likely Wade and Purvis will be called in at some point.

Finally, with Daniel Craig becoming the third most prolific Bond actor on his fifth outing in the tux, there’s an extremely good chance this will be the last for the 50-year-old actor. His Bond has told a linear story, a saga of becoming 007 and then swiftly becoming disgruntled. The move to the next Bond will be trickier than when the films were self-contained adventures. But I’ve got a radical solution for Danny Boyle: kill James Bond. Think about it. This would close the Craig story completely and do something unprecedented in a Bond movie. The title could be License to Die. Then for the sequel, you get JJ Abrams in and start talking up ‘alternate timelines’.

Production of the latest entry into the James Bond franchise will begin shooting in December this year and will be released in the Autumn of 2019.