Daniel Craig

With the recent disappointing confirmation that Sam Mendes will not return to helm Bond 24 following SKYFALL, eyes now turn to just who will be able to match, or even top, the highest grossing feature in UK box office history, which is also widely considered to be the greatest Bond film ever. We’ve gathered together seven prime candidates who may be able to do the character justice, after an epic exploration into the fragile psyche and past of our bed-hopping Bond.

In no particular order, we begin with…

ben-affleck-300x300Ben Affleck

Nobody is hotter than Ben Affleck right now following his Oscar win with fact-based political thriller, ARGO. His gritty crime flick, THE TOWN, showed us he can handle some impressively thunderous action set-pieces in a grounded real world setting, much like his award-winning favourite which has just hit DVD/Blu-ray. Let us also not forget the emotional impact his adaptation of Denis Lehane’s gripping novel, GONE BABY GONE had. Affleck  had been rumoured to direct the much anticipated JUSTICE LEAGUE, before the script was tossed out, while his next effort behind the camera is expected to be an adaptation of Stephen King’s THE STAND.

michael_mann_1295040Michael Mann

In terms of visual style, few trump Michael Mann. While he may have made a misstep by shooting period gangster thriller PUBLIC ENEMIES on digital format, you need only go back to his 1994 L.A. crime epic, HEAT, to see Mann would fit perfectly into Bond’s world. We feel his noirish flair would stand him in good stead were he to dip his toes into the secrets of MI6, with a host of dedicated big names behind him eager to follow. Imagine HEAT’s close-combat tactics transported to England as 007 goes head-to-head with, say, Mann’s THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS lead, Daniel Day-Lewis, in the middle of Trafalgar Square!

99262-240x240Martin Campbell

Yes, we all know THE GREEN LANTERN was a parcel of cack, but come on, after reinvigorating the franchise twice before with the action-packed reboots (of sorts), GOLDENEYE and CASINO ROYALE, why not give Kiwi Campbell another go. Perhaps after delving deeper into what make Craig’s Bond tick with Mendes’ SKYFALL, maybe a back-to-basics actioner would make Campbell the ideal choice. He’s set up some awesome car chases, gun battles and jaw-dropping stunts, not only in those aforementioned Bond outings, but with the likes of EDGE OF DARKNESS, and even his underrated THE MASK OF ZORRO.

Kenneth-Branagh-4-2048x2048Kenneth Branagh

While he is currently directing and starring in a reboot of Tom Clancy’s American spy thriller, JACK RYAN, this could be a job that comes in handy if Sony come calling for Kenneth Branagh. The British thespian is fast making a name as a genuine Hollywood contender, following nearly two decades of bringing the legendary works of great Brit William Shakespeare to the stage and big screen. Branagh has already impressed with Marvel’s big-budget interplanetary superhero effort, THOR, while his much maligned MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN retelling had its grandiose moments of sheer spectacle, despite being over-bloated.

christopher_nolan_1280616Christopher Nolan

After his handling of the greatest comic book franchise of all time in THE DARK KNIGHT trilogy, Nolan would be the fans’ obvious choice. Again, like Branagh and Mendes, his Britishness would suggest he’s an ideal contender to leave us shaken and stirred. However, it remains doubtful he’d be willing to work with another studio, following his close connections with Warner Bros, but we live in hope. Working alongside his brother Jonathan would ensure the script had smarts, while an exquisite shooting style from cinematographer Wally Pfister would cement Nolan and his team as the perfect candidates. Barbara Broccoli: ask Warner  if they’d pimp out their prized possession.

David-Fincher-411094-1-402David Fincher

Following SKYFALL’s dark journey into the past, perhaps Bond could go even darker with David Fincher in charge. If anyone can twist the knife by taking control of a tantalising and – now – tormented character such as 007, while adding elements of surprise, mystery and intrigue, it is the SEVEN and FIGHT CLUB helmer. Daniel Craig took the lead in his excellent THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO remake, so it is a tempting prospect to see the duo collaborate once again. Furthermore, Fincher’s work is known for its honest brutality, whether physical or mental, and pushing boundaries is what he does best when tackling any genre. Would you let Fincher loose on Bond?

Nicolas-Winding-RefnNicolas Winding-Refn

Speaking of brutality, if anyone could attack those senses, DRIVE’s Nicolas Winding-Refn would be the man. His outstanding 2010 neon-noir offering was the best film of 2011 by far, so how it wasn’t included in the Oscar-nominations is one of those inexplicable snubs that leaves a bitter taste. Having just vacated the modern-day reboot of cult 80s series THE EQUALIZER due to creative differences, it would be difficult to see him toning down his notorious vicious style to accommodate another action pic. Still, we’d love to see him behind the camera, if only for a fist fight involving Bond and BRONSON lead Tom Hardy, as hulking throwback villain Jaws. Oh the crushing magic that would create!

Feel free to throw us your own ideas Bond fanatics as we’d love to hear them.