Is Nicolas Winding Refn about to go mainstream on us?

The Danish director is teaming up with a pair of 007 writers for an action thriller with huge commercial potential.


Luke Channell

Renowned for his stylish aesthetic, love of extreme violence and use of expressionistic symbolism, Nicolas Winding Refn is a divisive filmmaker with a dedicated cult following. He’s also a director who has flirted with mainstream success in the past, so it may come as no surprise to learn that Refn is reported to be teaming up with screenwriters Neil Purvis and Robert Wade – co-writers of five James Bond outings including Skyfall and Spectre – on an as-yet untitled Asian-set action thriller.

Refn made his name in the mid-late ’90s with slick genre features Pusher and Bleeder, but it was 2011’s Ryan Gosling vehicle, Drive, a critical and commercial success packed with style and substance, that saw Refn earn his spurs as a serious art-house visionary. He followed that up with Only God Forgives, which despite being beautifully lensed proved too cryptic and too bewildering for some viewers.

Given that the screenwriting duo he’s collaborating with are known for producing highly marketable scripts, this latest project could be a watershed moment in Refn’s career. Before that, however, audiences will get the chance to see the director’s horror thriller Neon Demon, which centres around aspiring model Jesse (Elle Fanning), whose youthful vitality is devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women in modern-day Los Angeles. Early promotional material for the film channels the same neon-lit aesthetic as Drive and Only God Forgives, but the fact that the distribution rights have been bought by Amazon Studios suggests a confidence in its mainstream potential.

Given that all of Refn’s films to date have provoked plenty of discussion while managing to retain a distinct visual style, we’re intrigued to find out exactly where he plans on taking us with each of these upcoming projects.

Published 2 Feb 2016

Tags: Nicolas Winding Refn

Suggested For You

50 films to look forward to in 2016 – part 1

By Little White Lies

From Michael Caine conducting to a cartoon sausage, check out which releases are hot on our radar for the year ahead.

Only God Forgives

By Adam Woodward

Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn reunite with a vengeance in this beautiful and bruising Bangkok thriller.


Ryan Gosling: ‘When I was a kid we lived with Elvis for a year’

By Adam Woodward

The Lost River director reflects on his childhood and ponders the myth of the American Dream.

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.