Bond 24 director shortlist: the yays, the nays and the no ways


6th March 2013

In some of the most exciting news about somebody not doing something ever, it's emerged that Skyfall director Sam Mendes won't be returning to "helm" the next Bond film, even though he never said that he would and often suggested that he wouldn't. Still, that's no reason for us not to pull on our Roger Moore underpants and boot up the Speculatotron 2000, if only so we can say "told you so, ner ner ner-ner-ner" in the unlikely event that we're right. In a Shiznit first, Neil and Ali double-team James Bond to lay down the rules for who should and shouldn't be allowed within megaphoning distance of Bond 24.

Neil: Empire's exclusive report broke the Mendes news this morning, and an entire Twitter's worth of idiots immediately started suggesting the poor bastard's replacements. Obviously I was one of those idiots, and in what is basically an extended tweet, here's the list I think Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson should be staring at very hard right now.
Kenneth Branagh

If Skyfall proved anything, it was that Bond benefits enormously from a director who gives as big a shit about characters as exploding helicopters. The most obvious Mendes clone would therefore appear to be Ken "neth" Branagh, a man who has characters coming out of his arse. A few years ago, suggesting Branagh for Bond would have been regarded as insane as, well, suggesting Sam Mendes. But since then Skyfall, Thor and Branagh's hopefully-great take on America's own Bond, Jack Ryan, point to worthy former stage directors taking Bond to the emotional depths and explodey highs that rejuvenated the hero to the tune of a billion dollars.
Joe Wright

I'll be honest: of Joe Wright's five films, I've seen a grand total of one: Hanna. And I didn't really like it. I'm pretty sure I can blame the script for that though, which Wright wasn't entirely responsible for. But one thing Hanna did have was a government agent in a spectacularly-shot and choreographed fight scene, and I'm fairly sure that of his other films there's some emotional gubbins and worthwhile character interplay going on, so he seems like a good shout to me. Plus, check out Tom Hollander as Hanna's villain: if that's not a prototype for Javier Bardem's Silva then I'm Shirley Bassey. (I'm not Shirley Bassey)
Kathryn Bigelow

In 50 years and 23 films, Bond has been directed by just eleven people, all of whom have been in possession of a penis and, most likely, a couple of testicles. With the demise of Judi Dench's M, it's time another woman gave Bond his orders, and there's nobody out there better equipped for the job than Kathryn Bigelow. Clearly capable of action, with a strong directorial vision and the ability to craft some seriously tense shit, Biggo is a tantalising prospect for 007. And if anyone out there still thinks that a woman shouldn't be in charge of Bond, address those concerns to Barbara Broccoli and see what she has to say. Most likely she'll say "shove off".
Matthew Vaughn

It seems unfeasible that Matt "hew" Vaughn hasn't, at some point, been approached to direct a Bond film. His work with Daniel Craig on Layer Cake alone must surely make him a shoo-in for a phone call from Bond producers Eon, especially since his star has been booted into the stratosphere with Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class. He's currently working on a project called The Secret Service, but if he were to "pull a Vaughn" and leave that half way through to direct Bond 24, imagine the headlines. Go on, imagine them. Can you imagine them? I bet you can.
Martin Campbell

Know what the Bond franchise needs right now? It needs the director of Green Lantern. Which is to say that it needs Martin Campbell, double-Bond-rebooter (with GoldenEye and Casino Royale) and knower of what audiences want from the alcoholic sex tourist at any given point in time. Cambo also seriously needs a hit, and his Bonds were incredibly successful, so why not? Apart from Green Lantern. Christ, Green Lantern was shit. Please don't mention Green Lantern again in the context of James Bond. In fact let's just forget Martin Campbell, if only so that we never have to be reminded of Green Lantern again.
Ali: All fine choices, Neil. The only one I'd quibble with is Kathryn Bigelow: not because she wouldn't do a fantastic job, but because we'd have to read nine thousand blogs asking whether a woman can really direct a Bond movie. SIGH. While you're staying positive about Mendes jumping ship, I'm already feeling cautious; some of the names floating around the web are making my stomach do flips. Babs, MG, do me that favour you owe me: steer clear of these five fellas for Bond 24.
Quentin Tarantino

No sooner had Sam Mendes slammed his metaphorical Aston Martin in reverse gear, the Twittersphere (read: 'A collection of people who should be working') suggested a bevy of replacements. Bizarrely, and for reasons I don't quite understand, Quentin Tarantino appears to be a fan favourite. Now, I love the work of Mr T as much as any fool, but what I don't want to see is a James Bond film that's 170 minutes long, with a tense 20-minute scene in which 007 and Blofeld discuss their favourite advertising brands from the 70s while playing a deadly yet ironic boardgame. Tarantino is too in love with his own voice to ever be one of Bond's commanders.
Tom Hooper

I've seen a few people mention Tom Hooper as a possible stand-in for Mendes on Bond 24, but I'm not entirely sure if they're joking. His CV looks way more impressive on paper than it does on film - two Best Picture nominations and one win for The King's Speech flatters him - and he struggled at times with the scale of Les Misérables. Bond is as big as it gets - you don't want another Marc Forster on your hands. Hooper would be Hollywood's idea of a classy replacement, but there's a limit to how many extreme close-ups and dutch tilts audiences can handle.
Steven Spielberg

Like Tarantino, Spielberg has previously shown an interest in directing a Bond film, but Cubby Broccoli shut his butt down and he never bothered asking again. Good. It's illegal to be anything but a fervent fan of The 'Berg, but even the greatest directors make for an ill fit sometimes. Bond's coldness and trademark lack of sentiment means he's not a hero Spielberg could handle; the director's love of daddy issues would inevitably make an appearance in order to humanise Bond, when really, we like him just the way he is: an unflappable bastard who secretly loves being a shit.
Paul Greengrass

Had we been having this conversation back in 2008, pre-Quantum Of Solace, Greengrass would have been a fine choice. Having Paul Greengrass direct a Bond movie post-Skyfall, however, would feel like a step backwards. Bond tried being Bourne, and he wasn't very good at it; Mendes' calm hand steadied Skyfall's ship, whereas Greengrass' shakycam approach would only rock the boat. The Greengrass is always greener on the other side, or something. Nobody wants Moby on the soundtrack.
Christopher Nolan

I'm not entirely sold on the idea that Christopher Nolan is a bad choice to direct a Bond movie, but he's the most obvious choice, and that sets alarm bells ringing. As soon as Bond rests on his laurels and abides by the status quo, you find yourself watching a CG 007 doing kitesurfing. Nolan has the desire and the talent to do Bond justice, but let's face it: as good as his big franchise films have been, it's between-Batman movies like The Prestige and Inception that'll stand the test of time. If he wants to cast Marion Cotillard as a Bond girl though, that's okay with me.

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