The latest mission for James Bond: Find a new director. As the franchise’s official Twitter account announced Tuesday afternoon, the 25th entry in the series will no longer be directed by Danny Boyle, who left the project over “creative differences.” While no further announcements have been made, losing Boyle a few months after he officially signed onto the project will almost assuredly push back the release of the film, which is slated for November 9, 2019.
So goes another turbulent spell for the storied franchise, which is only three years removed from its star, Daniel Craig, saying he’d “rather slash [his] wrists” than do another Bond film. Craig, of course, officially confirmed he’d be back for Bond 25 in 2017. (Hey, must be the money!) The Boyle-Bond marriage felt off from the onset: The man behind movies like Slumdog Millionaire, Sunshine, and 127 Hours, Boyle’s the kind of director you might hire to lead a series down a bold new path, rather than serve as the crescendo of Craig’s five-film stead as 007. To wit: Boyle wanted to work on his own script for Bond 25 with John Hodge, despite the fact that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade—who’d written all of Craig’s previous Bond films—had already been tasked with penning a draft. MGM and the producers reportedly had the final say between the two scripts; given Boyle’s exit, his script presumably lost out. It’s easy to see how such an arrangement could lead to a split.
While the search is undoubtedly underway for a new director to helm Craig’s final Bond film—Twitter’s got some solid suggestions—the latest shakeup reaffirms what’s become increasingly clear: James Bond is in desperate need of a fresh start.
The good news is that turnover is nothing new to James Bond, a franchise that has spanned six decades, 24 films, and seven different leads. Its ability to adapt and represent different eras has allowed it to remain relevant over such a long period of time. Whether it’s the suave, Mad Men–esque vibe of Sean Connery’s initial films from the ’60s, the campy, sci-fi influences that dotted Roger Moore’s ’70s installments (may we never forget the Moonraker poster), or the Cold War–era thrillers of Timothy Dalton’s turns in the ’80s, the Bond films are excellent blueprints for the evolution of Hollywood. Plus—and this certainly matters more to the studio—the Bond movies consistently make bank, and when a certain star’s shine begins to fade, they have the ability to hit the reset button.
That’s probably what would best suit Bond 25, considering that Craig’s relationship with the franchise is akin to Eric Bledsoe tweeting about the Phoenix Suns. I’ve already floated the notion of Daniel Kaluuya assuming the role of a revitalized James Bond, and I’m still extremely for it. But even with a solid replacement like Kaluuya, a rebooted 007 would still need to embrace a new tone, one better suited for 2018. It’s been six years since Skyfall, the last good Bond film, and in a Hollywood era when comic books and other gigantic IP reign supreme, six years is a long time to be irrelevant.
Thankfully, audience interest in spy-centric stories hasn’t waned. The Kingsman franchise—which imitates Bond films as much as it pokes fun at them—is going strong. Two successful films in, plans are already in place for more movies, spinoffs, and possibly even a TV series. And then there’s the still-thriving Mission: Impossible franchise, which reached new heights (literally) after July’s critically acclaimed, box office–winning Fallout. Bond might feel stale in comparison with these movies, but they’re of the same ilk, proof of a hungry audience—and Bond go can from stale to fresh quicker than any franchise.
When Casino Royale—the best contemporary Bond film, and Craig’s first foray as 007—dropped in 2006, it was a breath of fresh air featuring a subversive take on the “Bond girl” and a far bleaker and more brutal MI6 agent than Pierce Brosnan could’ve ever hoped to be. While resetting Bond would likely mean shelving the franchise for longer than originally intended, dropping another underwhelming movie like Spectre would be a worse outcome. Wherever James Bond goes next, it needs to be exciting, to feel new—lest it fade into obscurity.