For me, Sam Mendes left the Bond franchise shaken and stirred with his extraordinary entry into the series SKYFALL. That sounds like hyperbole, but as a long time Bond fanatic, he brought some verve into the franchise, mixing in some incredible visual panache (also thanks to cinematographer Roger Deakins) and much needed contextual awareness.
So, hearing that, according to Empire Magazine, Mendes will not be returning to direct BOND 24 is incredibly depressing. Mendes, the first Oscar-winning director to helm a film in the Bond series, is a man who could go from directing emotionally wrenching dramas like ROAD TO PERDITION and REVOLUTIONARY ROAD to, well, one of the best action movies – no, movies – of 2012. For me, SKYFALL is one of the best films to ever feature the most famous secret agent. Mendes brought back Bond better than ever.
It isn’t only me who thinks so either: The film became the seventh highest grossing film of all time (fitting, eh?) crossing the billion dollar mark recently, won the BAFTA for Best British Film, and won the Academy Award for Original Song, with that cool, haunting melody of Adele’s. SKYFALL is a bit of a weird anomaly in the Bond series in that it is a total class act: from Mendes to Javier Bardem to Ralph Fiennes to Deakins. And it is damn good.
But, Mendes told Empire Magazine that it was a “very difficult decision”. With commitments to new stage productions of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and KING LEAR, it renders his “next year and beyond” busy. But Mendes says, “Directing SKYFALL was one of the best experiences of my professional life”.
It’s sad to see him go. Of course, that leaves us with the question of who next will handle the man with the license to kill. Commence the speculation!
That Mendes was such a top tier director, especially in comparison to the previous directors of the franchise (a majority of which were directed by one of three people), it does make one wonder what kind of directors BOND 24 could attract. Previously, the most acclaimed directors to helm a Bond film were Michael Apted (director of the UP documentary series, most recently with 56 UP) with THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH in 1999 and Marc Forster (director of STRANGER THAN FICTION, MONSTER’s BALL, and FINDING NEVERLAND) with QUANTUM OF SOLACE in 2008. Both films were extremely disappointing qualitatively, the latter probably being the most disappointing after such a high with Martin Campbell’s CASINO ROYALE. QUANTUM OF SOLACE was the first (and hopefully only_ direct sequel in the franchise, and its script had numerous issues (many of which had to do with the Writer’s Strike). Not only that, but Forster could simply not direct an action film, with many of the sequences so poorly edited that there was no sense of place or linearity. Apted’s Bond film was run of the mill, but dumber, Brosnan fare, with Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist (remember that?).
Besides those two directors and, if you want to count him, Martin Campbell (who directed GOLDENEYE and CASINO ROYALE, two of my favorite Bond films), the directors list hasn’t been star studded. Now that Mendes has directed a Bond film, does that mean that producers Michael G. Wilson and Batrbara Broccoli can get bigger names behind Bond, and therefore (possibly) better Bond films as a whole? Let’s not count on Christopher Nolan directing a Bond film, though. As enticing as that sounds, it may be unlikely with his full slate.
One thing out of this is good, though; SKYFALL’s screenwriter, John Logan, is signed up for the next few Bond films. Logan is responsible for such brilliant screenplays (yes, I said brilliant) as Scorsese’s THE AVIATOR, Tim Burton’s SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET, Verbinski’s RANGO, Ralph Fiennes’s CORIOLANUS (who, ironically, played Mallory in SKYFALL), Scorsese’s HUGO, and the upcoming Aronofsky film NOAH. Partnered with long time Bond scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, we can, at least, count on them for a good story. I hate to say it though…
SAM MENDES WILL NOT RETURN IN BOND 24.
But who will make their entrance? What directors do you think should helm a Bond film?