Spectre has been a big hit at the box-office, making $545.2 Million worldwide and rising. With Casino Royale making $600 Million and Skyfall having a haul of over $1 Billion and all four of Daniel Craig’s Bond movies having positive ratings on Rotten Tomatoes it has been a very successful era for the series.
Spectre has received mixed reviews, dividing audiences into people who loved it or hated it. People who have seen Spectre know it’s a homage to the Bond movies of the 60s and 70s and it was a much lighter affair to the previous Craig movies. They also know that it did feel like the end of the Craig era.
Sam Mendes has also stated that Spectre will be his last movie for the franchise and it looks likely the next Bond flick will be a reboot of the series. So we at Monkeys Fighting Robots will look at 15 directors who can move the series forward, looking at both directors who can continue the darker, realistic tone of the Craig Bond movies and ones who could revert back to the lighter adventure approach.
Music photography turned director Anton Corbijn is a man who knows how to make a thriller – having The American and A Most Wanted Man. Both movies would be well suited to the Bond universe: The American tells of the lonely assassin and gunsmith who travels to a small Italian town for one last job, while A Most Wanted Man – based on a John le Carré novel – is about a German spy in Hamburg leading an operation to bring down a terrorist financier whilst having an internal conflict between doing good and the harsh realities of being a spy. Both movies on a character level would serve as a model for making James Bond more like that character written in Ian Fleming’s novels.
The American and A Most Wanted Man are both much slower paced movies: The American can easily be described as an anti-action movie, deliberately underplaying the action, making it more grounded. If Corbijn did get the Bond gig he would need to pick up the pace.
Corbijn’s movies have been blessed with excellent acting and as you would expect from his background, great cinematography. He could easily do more with a bigger budget and visit fantastic locations and because of Corbijn’s connections in the music industry ensure a great band or singer to perform the title song.
Joe Cornish has only made one movie as a director, but it was one hell of a fun movie, the horror-comedy Attack the Block. On a limited budget of £8 Million, Attack the Block was an impressive feat of special effects and had strong action and comedy – making the movie a cult delight. Cornish has since been linked to A Good Day to Die Hard and the King Kong prequel Kong: Skull Island.
Although Cornish only has one directing credit to his name he has plenty of experience as a writer – writing and starring in the sketch show The Adam and Joe Show and working with Edgar Wright on The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn and Ant-Man, both very entertaining romps.
It would be unlikely that Cornish would be handed on the directing reigns, but it is not impossible. Editor Peter R. Hunt and editor/second unit director made their directorial debuts with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and For Your Eyes Only respectively. Both movies being held in high regard by Bond fans. Matthew Vaughn was also considered to direct Casino Royale after his directorial debut Layer Cake.
Welshman Gareth Evans has had an unusual route towards becoming a director, moving to Indonesia to fulfil his dream: and the results were magnificent, giving us two of the best pure action movies in recent years – The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2. Although The Raid: Redemption was light on plot it excelled at being an action experience, having some fantastic martial arts fights – and its sequel being even bigger regarding action and plot. The Raid 2 was as much a crime epic like The Infernal Affairs trilogy and The Godfather movies as well as being a great action movie. Evans was able to expand the form of action with the sequel, having car chases as well as fights.
Evans could be even more creative with his action sequences if given a Bond level budget as he showed with The Raid 2 he can handle more elaborate plots. Evans is pretty much his generation’s John Woo. Plus his “Raid” series star Iko Uwais would make an awesome assassin or henchman.
Oscar winning director Tom Hooper has been in EON’s sights to direct to a Bond movie, being shortlisted to direct Spectre when Sam Mendes stated his intention to leave the series. Hooper has shown himself to be a prestige director, making The King’s Speech, Les Misérables and the upcoming The Danish Girl and his refined approach would easily fit for a character known for his tastes for expensive suits, exclusive casinos, high culture events and high end champagne. Mendes has a similar filmography of prestige and if EON wants a movie like Skyfall then Hooper would be a good fit to repeat that approach.
Though Hooper is famous for his historical movies, he started out as a television director, working on series like the Newcastle-Upon-Tyne set teen programme, Byker Cake, East London soap Eastenders, the police-procedural drama Prime Suspect and HBO’s John Adams, so knows how to stay within certain constrains that franchise filmmaking requires. Hooper has also worked on commercials, including one of Jaguar where Mark Strong, Ben Kingsley and Tom Hiddleston revelled in their villainy and Britishness.
Kim Jee-woon is the first of two Korean directors to make it on this list, a celebrated filmmaker in his homeland. Kim is a man who has had a very eclectic career, making dark psychological thrillers like A Bittersweet Life and I Saw the Devil, horror in the form of A Tale of Two Sisters and the comedy Western The Good, the Bad, the Weird. Kim has also made an English-language actioner, the Arnold Schwarzenegger led The Last Stand.
Kim can easily make a dark psychological Bond movie, the premise of I Saw the Devil is a spy getting revenge against a serial killer by capturing and torturing him before releasing him and repeats the process over and over again. While with The Good, the Bad, the Weird Kim shows he can make something more light-hearted and any Bond director should be able to mix both approaches.
Maybe Kim could give a role to his regular actor Lee Byung-hun.
Starting his career as an actor Baltasar Kormákur has become one of Iceland’s biggest named directors – working in both his native land and in Hollywood. Kormákur is a man who has worked in a number of genres, ranging from dark dramas and thrillers like with Jar City, comedy-dramas and action-thrillers.
English language audiences will know Kormákur for Contraband (a remake of his own thriller Reykjavik-Rotterdam), the action-comedy 2 Guns and the recently released Everest. Although his English-language movies have been met with decent, if unremakeable reviews, Kormákur has shown himself to be a capable action director and worked with top-of-the-range special effects. 2 Guns was particularly praised for the Mark Wahlberg/Denzel Washington team up.
Kormákur’s Icelandic work has been critically praised and his style of action could fit a Bond movie. To use another example of Bond directors – Martin Campbell and Roger Spottiswoode’s best work as filmmakers has been on Bond series and Kormákur could follow in their footsteps.
Christopher Nolan is a fanboys favorite and they would love to see him direct or reboot any franchise or property, so getting him to direct would be more fantasy then reality. But there are signs of hope, Nolan is a self-confessed Bond fan and has stated that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is his favourite movie in the series. The Bond series has also influenced Nolan’s filmmaking; he hired stunt co-ordinators from the Bond series when directing Batman Begins and the mountain chase action sequence in Inception was based on his love for Bond films. Back in 2013 Nolan was on a shortlist to replace Sam Mendes to direct Spectre after Mendes initially stated he was not going to return to the series. Nolan’s dark style that looks at psychological themes would make him a good match for the Bond series and his influence on the series he loves has already been felt on Casino Royale and Skyfall.
With a filmography that includes Oldboy, J.S.A: Joint Security Area and Stoker, Park Chan-wook is easily one of the best, if not the best filmmaker to come from South Korea, developing a cult following in the West because of it. Park is known for making dark movies, the ending of Oldboy attests to that, yet still includes a sense of dark comedy. Park has ventured into comedy, making I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK and Stoker was his first English-language movie. Park is an English-speaker and he was linked to direct the spy thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, but turned it down.
Park has plenty of experience working in the crime and thriller genres, making the Vengeance Trilogy, a tense atmospheric psychological thriller with Stoker that has a Kubrickian style and J.S.A: Joint Security Area was both an investigation story and a personal drama, set to the backdrop of the international tensions between North and South Korea.
Just imagine if Park could replicate a scene like the hammer fight in Oldboy for a Bond movie.
Back in 2013 when it looked like Sam Mendes might not return to direct Spectre, bookmakers William Hill made Guy Ritchie the favorite to replace him. At the time it seemed like a mismatch because Skyfall was a darker, serious take on the Bond series and Ritchie is known for having a lighter touch. But after seeing Spectre being more of a homage to the Sean Connery and Roger Moore era, a Guy Ritchie directed Bond movie does not seem so ridiculous.
Ritchie is a flashy director, known for quick editing and dialogue and disjoined of time. HIS fans love him, his distracters say he is a poor-man’s Quentin Tarantino. Yet Ritchie has been able to resurrect his career as a top action director after the failure that was Revolver. His Sherlock Holmes movies are entertaining action flicks, having some well staged sequences, plenty of wit between its two leads and a lot of intrigue and twists: good ingredients for a Bond movie. Ritchie also directed The Man From U.N.C.L.E. which gives us a taste of what a Guy Ritchie Bond movie could be. Maybe Henry Cavill could be Ritchie’s Bond.
Norwegian director Morten Tyldum is a man well acquainted with the thriller, making Headhunters and the historical drama The Imitation Game. Though Tyldum was nominated for an Oscar for The Imitation Game, it’s his works on Headhunters that puts him in good stead to direct a Bond movie.
Headhunters is a thriller based on a novel by Jo Nesbø and is the highest grossing Norwegian movie to date. It is also a movie that has some of the features you would want from a Bond movie, its hero is a ruthless womanizer, it is set in the world of fine art and the villain played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was a very suave, determined ex-Special Forces soldier. Headhunters also had a surprising amount of humor while also maintaining a constant level of suspense.
Nicolas Winding Refn
Since making movies like Bronsan and Drive, Danish Nicolas Winding Refn has become a fan favorite to direct many franchise films, including the Bond series. He was even on the shortlist to direct Spectre with Nolan and Hooper.
Since Winding Refn’s early days as a director in Denmark, he has shown a prehensility for crime movies, from the very realistic and downbeat look of The Pusher Trilogy, a surrealist approach for Bronsan and the neon lit, neo-noir world of Drive. The Shanghai assassination scene in Skyfall had a similar look to Drive due to its use of lighting.
Winding Refn has worked with some great actors in his career, including Tom Hardy who is a popular fan’s choice to replace Daniel Craig and the Dane could easily handle action sequences like car chases and shoot-outs. But Winding Refn does have art-house sensibility and some of his movies like Valhalla Rising and Only God Forgives have divided audiences.
Since bursting onto British television screens with Spaced, Edgar Wright has been known as one of Britain’s brightest directing talents. Over the years, Edgar Wright has developed a big fanbase for his work with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost on The Cornetto Trilogy and the cult movie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Edgar Wright has shown himself to be an accomplished comedy and action director, his movies being known for their witty dialogue exchange, quick cutting and camera pans and well staged and choreographed action sequences.
Edgar Wright is a man who knows about genre filmmaking, deconstructing types of movies while paying homage to them. Shaun of the Dead was dubbed a romantic comedy with zombies, while lampooning George A. Romaro’s Living Dead series (earning him and Simon Pegg a cameo in Land of the Dead) and Hot Fuzz took the very American genre of the buddy cop genre and placed it in a small English village, resulting in blood and hilarity. Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and The World’s End are masterclasses on how to film action sequences and it would great to see him work again with cinematographer Bill Pope. It would be easy to see Edgar Wright getting to play around with the tropes of the Bond series such as gadgets, guns and girls. The Bond series would be a great canvass for his talents and if the series continues to go down a lighter, more retro route Edgar would be very suited to sit in the director’s chair.
However there is a word of caution regarding Edgar Wright; he was famously linked to write and direct Ant-Man for Marvel but ended up leaving the project because of studio interference. He was also linked to direct Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol before Brad Bird got the job.
The other Mr. Wright to make it onto this list is London-born Joe Wright. Joe Wright is best known for making period dramas like Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. Yet it is his work on the cult actioner Hanna that put Joe Wright in good standing for the Bond gig. Hanna is an excellent action movie, taking the silly premise of a 16-year-old girl being raised in the wilderness to be the world’s best assassin and played it straight. Hanna’s three stars, Sairose Ronan as the girl thrown into a world that she has learned about in books, but never experienced in real life, Eric Bana as her bad-ass secret agent father and Cate Blanchett being the villainess of the piece gave great performances. Hanna was a stunning little action movie with its highlight being a two minute tracking shot before Bana kills four CIA goons.
Joe Wright has also shown himself to be a master technician during his career, making visually distinctive movies and having a love for long continuous shoots. Atonement has a brilliant one set on the beaches of Dunkirk, lasting five minutes and Anna Karenina’s dancing sequence, showcasing everything it needed to without a word of dialogue.
Even when Joe Wright stumbles like with Pan, he still shows himself to be a director with a scene of audacity. The introduction into Neverland in Pan was a mine full of slave children being forced to see “Smells like Teen Spirit”; a moment people either love or hate.
Matthew Vaughn is often a fans favorite for many upcoming projects, including whenever the Bond series requires a new director. There is precedent for this, Vaughn’s directional debut Layer Cake helped Daniel Craig land the Bond gig and he was approached to direct Casino Royale before Martin Campbell was hired.
Ever since making Layer Cake, Vaughn has become known as A director who uses bright cinematography and art direction – having comedy and emotional dramatic moments and incredible action sequences. Vaughn is also a director who has a strong understanding of genre and subverts it: he did it with superhero genre in Kick-Ass and the spy-action genre with Kingsman: The Secret Service. Vaughn also shows appreciation for the genres.
Earlier this year Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service which was a very adult version of the Bond movies of the 60s and 70s, having spies with fancy gadgets, international travel and a megalomaniac villain who has boundless resources and his own mountain lair. Vaughn also injects a few Bond references into X-Men: First Class, such as when Moria MacTaggert infiltrates the Hellfire Club meeting.
Vaughn was able to reboot the X-Men series with his signature style, surely he could do the same with Bond.
Hailing from Québec, French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve has had a meteoric rise as a director in recent years. Since 2011 his mystery drama Incendies was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and his English language movies, Prisoners, Enemy and Sicario have all been critically highly praised.
Villeneuve has shown himself to be able to make complex thrillers with a dark psychology edge, which would make him a great fit for the Bond series. He showed earlier this year’s Sicario that he can handle action sequences. When Villeneuve spoke to Coming Soon he stated that he loved the Bond series and would want to make a Bond film.
Villeneuve is also becoming a very in-demand director, he was linked to Terminator Genisys before Alan Taylor got the gig and he is currently attached to direct a sequel to Blade Runner.