Bond shaken again as director Danny Boyle leaves over ‘creative differences’


Danny Boyle’s sudden departure from Bond 25 reflects a franchise in turmoil. We have no doubt it will survive, but should it?

With 23 entries and 60-plus years of history under its belt, Bond is one of Hollywood’s sturdiest film franchises. It is also perhaps the most troubled.

The saga of Ian Fleming’s suave secret agent has hit another roadblock, parting ways with Danny Boyle, who was slated to direct the next installment. The official @007 Twitter account dropped the news Tuesday afternoon with a cryptic statement:

Boyle’s involvement in the untitled movie had been confirmed just three months ago, in May. In addition, star Daniel Craig would return, and John Hodge, a frequent Boyle collaborator, would write the script. Although it was disappointing (if not exactly surprising) to see Bond’s exclusion of women and people of color continue, the prospect of the Trainspotting director enlivening an aging franchise with his stylistic panache was intriguing.

Danger has been swirling around Bond for a while. Since his promising introduction in 2005’s Casino Royale, Craig has expressed ambivalence about his relationship with the role, threatening to quit seemingly after every outing. The drama reached a nadir with 2015’s Spectre. Before premiering to lackluster reviews, the Sam Mendes-directed movie was dogged by leaked emails between studio executives that hinted at a bloated budget and a fatally flawed script.

Of course, Bond has recovered from missteps in the past; it followed up the dreary Quantum of Solace with the critically acclaimed Skyfall, which had the smarts to offset its somber tone with dazzling visuals courtesy of Roger Deakins. Yet, it’s hard not to wonder if the franchise might be finally approaching its expiration date.

Like fellow 1960s touchstone Star Trek, it has struggled to evolve with the times, its fantasy of wealth and masculine power looking not only regressive, which it always was, but also quaint. The constant rumors attaching Idris Elba to 007 indicate not only an abiding desire to see Elba in a suit but also a tacit acknowledgment of James Bond’s waning appeal.

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Ultimately, leaving is likely the right move for Boyle, whose energy would be ill-served by the stubbornly stodgy Bond and whose previous project, T2 Trainspotting, was a scathing portrait of men teetering on the brink of obsolescence.

Bond 25 is scheduled for release on Nov. 8, 2019.