Why Boyle’s exit isn’t bad news…

Total Film - - Teasers - JC

For six decades, we’ve watched it­er­a­tions of Ian Flem­ing’s gen­tle­man spy that may have re-tweaked the fran­chise for­mula, but never rad­i­cally de­parted from it. Yes, we could deal with the killing of a beloved char­ac­ter in Sky­fall, but could we have tol­er­ated the off­ing of 007 him­self – re­port­edly what as­signed di­rec­tor Danny Boyle and his screen­writer John Hodge sug­gested for their un­ortho­dox Bond 25?

Ul­ti­mately, what­ever it was that wouldn’t wash with Bond maven Bar­bara Broc­coli (an as­tute guardian of the fran­chise with a proven nose for what au­di­ences want from their spe­cial agent) led to Boyle’s de­par­ture three months be­fore pro­duc­tion started on the ba­sis of ‘creative dif­fer­ences’. Within a month, Broc­coli and her co-pro­ducer, Michael G. Wil­son, had an­nounced dark horse re­place­ment Cary Joji Fuku­naga, a di­rec­tor whose most no­table re­cent run-in with a fran­chise was bail­ing on It due to dis­agree­ments over creative di­rec­tion and his self-con­fessed dis­like of be­ing “mi­cro-man­aged”. A rush de­ci­sion? Wouldn’t Fuku­naga sim­i­larly strug­gle un­der Eon’s leg­endary con­trol and Daniel Craig’s clout? Was he the right guy for this jewel in the Bri­tish cinema crown?

Well, yes – hav­ing made a name with stylish, vi­o­lent and ur­gent fare such as Sin Nom­bre, True De­tec­tive and Beasts Of No Na­tion, it’s clear that Fuku­naga can han­dle the ac­tion and cool re­quired by 007. But more im­por­tantly, his ex­pe­ri­ence with It, plus his work­ing re­la­tion­ship with be­he­moth pro­duc­tion houses like Net­flix for Ma­niac and HBO should have primed him for Bond’s high-wire bal­anc­ing act of com­mer­cial and creative. He can­not have gone into ne­go­ti­a­tions with Eon with­out un­der­stand­ing ex­actly where his artis­tic con­trol tip­ping point was – per­haps more so than Boyle – mean­ing he should be a steady hand as he steers this in­stal­ment to its new Valen­tine’s Day 2020 re­lease date.

And let’s talk about that – for all Bond’s gritty evo­lu­tion, his ro­man­tic en­tan­gle­ments and treat­ment of women have re­mained prob­lem­atic. Fuku­naga (the fran­chise’s first Amer­i­can di­rec­tor) showed with his out­sider view of a Bri­tish clas­sic in 2011’s Jane Eyre that he could cre­ate on-screen steam and strong fe­male char­ac­ters on top of a fresh spin on a known prop­erty. And as one of the youngest helmers of the series

(at 41), he may en­sure that Bond 25 re­flects more acutely the post-#MeToo world we live in to­day. Mis­sion ac­com­plished, Bar­bara Broc­coli.

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