CARY JOJI FUKUNAGA DIRECTING BOND
Why Boyle’s exit isn’t bad news…
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.