Weekend Roundtable: Who Should Direct the Next James Bond Movie?

After the blazing success of ‘Skyfall’, Sam Mendes has turned down the offer to direct the next James Bond movie, claiming that he wants to devote himself to theater for a while. All things considered, that’s probably a wise career move on his part. How do you top a billion-dollar blockbuster? Almost anything is destined to be seen as a disappointment. Better to go out on top. Nevertheless, James Bond will return, and somebody will have to direct the next movie. In this week’s Roundtable, we offer some suggestions.

Daniel Hirshleifer

Jonathan Mostow hasn’t had a hit in years, but he has a clean style that will fit Bond well, and he knows how to tell a story without too much muss or fuss. I don’t think the next Bond film will top ‘Skyfall’. Instead, EON should just focus on making a really tight, sharp picture that’s a lot of fun, and Mostow can deliver that in spades.

Shannon Nutt

With all due respect to New Zealander Martin Campbell, I’ve always felt that – like James Bond himself – the best Bond directors come from Britain. Therefore, I’m nominating Joe Wright to helm the next Bond flick. Wright proved that he has a knack for action pieces with ‘Hanna‘, and has dazzled with his camera movement and visuals in films like ‘Atonement‘ and ‘Anna Karenina‘. He has the ability to infuse a Bond picture both with breathtaking action and the kind of emotional stakes that Mendes brought to the latest installment. I would love to hear his name announced as the franchise’s next director, but alas, I fear we’ll get some hack like Guy Ritchie (who gets my vote as the worst possible pick for directing Bond!).

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

Whenever I come across a headline reading “Who should direct the next _________?”, my kneejerk reaction is always to fill in that blank with “Edgar Wright.” He clearly has a knack for action, both on the visceral adrenaline rush end of things and in terms of pure craftsmanship. If only more action flicks could be as well-staged and coherent as the brawls in ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World‘! Wright’s stylish eye, boundless imagination and razor-sharp wit would be extraordinary assets as well. I know some might sneer at Wright not being a traditional choice to helm a Bond film, but he’s really not any further out of left field than Brad Bird taking the reins of ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’, and look how well that turned out.

Mike Attebery

Now that the Bond films have become a prestige franchise, I’d like to see Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson reinforce the transition by having a director with an even more distinctive style follow Sam Mendes’ perfect Bond outing. While I was a little disappointed with the American adaptation of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘. I’d love to see David Fincher and Daniel Craig re-teamfor a Bond picture (particularly since Bonds 24 and 25 will likely be delaying ‘The Girl Who Played with Fire’ whether Fincher directs that film or not).

Brian Hoss

Despite being a huge Bond fan, I tend accept that there really isn’t any single perfect Bond film. I also feel that the movies need to avoid either being too goofy or too serious, and have to balance incredible stunts with a degree of believability. All the Daniel Craig films are excellent in my eyes, but still have cringe-worthy moments. That being the case, why not reunite Craig with his ‘Layer Cake‘ director Matthew Vaughn? He’s a filmmaker who clearly knows how to handle character development, action and intrigue The worst thing that can happen is that people who think that ‘Skyfall’ is nearly flawless will complain, which is going to happen anyway.

Luke Hickman

For me, ‘Skyfall’ was nothing more than a Michael Bay movie without lens flares and slow motion. It’s way too long and full of plot holes that it tries to distract you from with pretty pictures. Because of that, I want to see what a Bond movie would be like if Michael Bay actually did one – not because I think he’d be good at it, but because that would reveal ‘Skyfall’ for what it really is, an effortless and rushed waste of time. With one of the writers returning for ‘Bond 24’, I’m sure that all of those flaws will continue. ‘Skyfall’ lovers were enchanted my Mendes’ direction, but the same wouldn’t fly with skepticism. They won’t expect a Bay movie to be any good, so when it turns out to be identical to ‘Skyfall’, the truth will be revealed and I’ll be vindicated.

Josh Zyber

Making a Bond movie can be a nearly thankless task for an A-List filmmaker. The director has to adhere to certain franchise standards and conventions without inserting too much of himself into the formula. Over the years, the producers have turned down requests by James Cameron and Quentin Tarantino, both of whom lobbied to direct Bond pictures. A Cameron or Tarantino James Bond movie would inevitably be more about Cameron or Tarantino than about Bond, and that wouldn’t be in the best interest of the franchise.

After Sam Mendes, I think the producers might have a shot with another past Oscar winner: Danny Boyle. The ‘Slumdog Millionarire‘ director has proven versatile in exploring many different genres, from dramas (‘127 hours‘) to thrillers (‘Shallow Grave‘) to horror (‘28 Days Later‘) and even sci-fi (‘Sunshine‘). He seems due for a spy movie. He’d bring some energy and verve to the action sequences while deftly balancing the dramatic bits. Yet I believe he’d be able to do that without imposing too much of his own ego on the production. And he’s even British, which is definitely in his favor.

Who do you think should direct the next James Bond film? Tell us in the Comments.


    • Gregor

      Could not agree with you more. Imagine a Bond with the atmosphere and style of “Children of Men” and the fun and great visual ideas of the third Potter. Especially in those departments “SKYFALL” was a big disappointment for me. They should also go back to shooting on Film. The way they handled the ALEXA for SKYFALL was shit. Looked like fxxxn’ Television.

    • Cuaron is my pick, too. Definitely proven that he can pull off action scenes and he has such a great visual style. Hopefully Gravity does well and he gets a shot at some big movies.

  1. Ted S.

    I’m with Josh and Mike, Boyle or Fincher could definitely make a great Bond flick.

    I stopped reading Luke’s comment when he started comparing Skyfall to a Michael Bay’s film. I guess he saw a different film than I did.

  2. Scott

    There’s no sense in spit Balling an American. Directors name because the producers have stated time after time that only a British director can direct a Bond. They turned away Spielberg who, in turn, directed raiders of the lost arc. Wonder who won that one?

    • Josh Zyber

      Several previous Bond directors were not British.

      Martin Campbell (GoldenEye, Casino Royale) – Kiwi (New Zealand)
      Roger Spottiswoode (Tomorrow Never Dies) – Canadian
      Lee Tamahori (Die Another Day) – Kiwi
      Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace) – German born, raised in Switzerland

      Guy Hamilton (Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, Man with the Golden Gun) was born and raised in Paris, but to English parents. I’m not sure what his official nationality was.

  3. Eric

    I would like to see several of the suggestions, but I disagree with David Fincher, even though I love many of his films. I fear his unique camera work and visual style wouldn’t work in a Bond film. Michael Bay was a ridiculous suggestion!

  4. JM

    Bond 24/25 needs to double-down on the epic and invest the entire billion.

    Written & directed by The Coen brothers.

    Kathryn Bigelow just won’t cut it.

    Hire Terrence Malick to shoot the making-of into a docku-pastiche.

    Michel Hazanavicius can do the official parody.

    Michael Bay can cut all the trailers.

    Martin Scorsese can lay down three commentaries on everything.

    Michael Mann can showrunner the HBO series set between 24 and 25.

    & Bernardo Bertolucci can crank out a classy Bond 00X tie-in for Vivid.

  5. Dan

    How about Christopher Nolan. I would only ask that he would have a little bit more of a sense of humor, and I think he could make it work very nicley!

  6. Josh Inman

    Brad Bird

    He’s proven he can make a competent live action blockbuster (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) and has a flare for the classic Bond feel (The Incredibles). Chances are good that he’d bring along Michael Giacchino, who’s score for ‘The Incredibles’ was the best “Bond” score since John Barry departed the series.

    • Ian Whitcombe

      In point of fact, John Barry was originally slated to score The Incredibles.

      I like Giacchino’s final score for the film, it just so happened was that first teaser was the first time I ever heard the OHMSS theme, and those few bars in the teaser were vastly more memorable than the final score ended up being.

    • CK

      I would have to disagree on Brad Bird. Despite all of the love it gets, to me, if Ghost Protocol proved anything, it is that Bird can’t handle a competent live action movie. Every complaint that Luke Hickman had about Skyfall is multiplied by a hundred in that movie.

  7. Mike

    Personally, I think Brad Bird should stick to animation. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is waaaaay over-hyped.

  8. I think Tomas Alfredson would be great. He’s the director of Let The Right One In and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Now I loved Let The Right One In before I saw the American remake, but the remake helped showed how if the small details and subtleties were different it greatly diminished the impact of the story. Sure he’s never made a big budget action movie before, but neither had Sam Mendes.

  9. Scott

    Roger Spottiswoode, born in Ottawa and raised in Britain. Lee Tamahori was born in New Zealand. Maori ancestry on fathers side, British on mothers. In 1840 the treaty of waitangi was signed between the British crown and various Maori chiefs, bringing New Zealand into the British Empire while giving equal rights with British citizens. There is still extensive British settlement throughout New Zealand thus allowing Martin Campbell and Marc Forster to direct a Bond film. Like I said, you have to be British to direct a Bond film. Or come from New Zealand which I guess is still, on the smallest of margins, is still considered British.

  10. Gregor

    I would go for John Woo with Chow Yun Fat as the Villain. They didnt have a decent action scene in bond since the opening sequence of CASINO ROYALE. I want awesome slowmotion shootouts – theyve gone missing over the last few years.

  11. Scott

    Notable British film directors that can direct a Bond film:

    Danny Boyle
    Kenneth Branagh
    Stephen Frears
    Paul Greengrass
    Terry Gilliam
    Neil Marshall
    Anthony Minghella
    Christopher Nolan
    Guy Ritchie
    Ridley Scott
    Matthew Vaughn
    Edgar Wright
    Joe Wright
    David Yates
    Peter Yates

    Right now Guy Ritchie has the edge on everyone else from what I have heard. But for me, Paul Greengrass or Matthew Vaughn.

  12. Scott

    Sorry to be that guy but you can’t direct a Bond movie if you’re not British. So if you’re American but have dual citizenship or a British parent then yes, you can direct. If youre director of choice is not British then sorry, it’s not going to happen. hasn’t happened in 50 years, won’t happen now.

  13. Scott

    And Josh, Guy Hamilton was born in Paris to parents of British nationality thus allowing him to direct 4 Bond films.

  14. Cameron

    My vote goes to the newly knighted, Sir Kenneth Branagh. Layer Cake is one of my all time favorites, so I’ll jump on the Matthew Vaughn bandwagon as well.

  15. Scott

    Marc Forster is from New Zealand which is still considered a British colony thus allowing him to direct a bond film. The Producers won’t let anyone not associated with Britain direct. Am I honestly the only person who knows this?

    • Josh Zyber

      Forster is not from New Zealand. Born in Germany, raised in Switzerland, currently lives in Los Angeles. Has dual German and Swiss citizenship, but not any British commonwealth.

      Martin Campbell and Lee Tamahori are from New Zealand. You’re confusing Forster for one of them.

  16. Jak Donark

    I was waitin for someone to mention Ridley Scott. Too bad Tony’s gone, I love his movies but I think his style would clash with what’s expected of a Bond film. Ridley’s very adaptable, his Bond would be interesting. A safe choice of course would be Vaughn or Ritchie, but like was mentioned above I would be beyond excited if Edgar Wright got the job. Scott Pilgrim is one of my all time favorites and I can’t wait for him to finish his red white and blue trilogy.

    Also it was mentioned earlier about John Barry scoring Incredibles. Michael Kamen was also involved, but passed away. The two had worked together before on Iron Giant. But I’m still very pleased with Giacchino’s score. He would be great to get to score the next Bond(s). If they can get another frequent Pixar composer, why not him?

  17. Tom Haggas

    Danny Boyle would be great, but he’s pushing forward with Trainspotting 2, so it seems unlikely at this point.

  18. Scott

    Oops, you’re right. In Bonds 50 years there has been one non British director. Considering himself Swiss, he is the first non-Commonwealth director to helm an Eon-produced Bond film. But considering how that turned out I don’t think the
    Broccoli’s will venture down that road again.

  19. Scott

    The grumbling and what is considered to be one of the worst Bond films to date is exactly what I’m talking about. If gross is your measurement of a successful Bond film then I nominate Micheal Bay.

    • Josh Zyber

      Quantum of Solace was a mild disappointment, especially coming off the much-superior Casino Royale, but to call it “one of the worst Bond films to date” is ridiculous hyperbole. Have you never seen Die Another Day, or A View to a Kill, or Diamonds Are Forever, or Moonraker? There’s absolutely no comparison there.