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Immersed in Movies: What Sam Mendes Will Do If He Returns for 'Bond 24'

Photo of Bill Desowitz By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood May 29, 2013 at 12:50PM

So, after all the jostling the last couple of weeks to find the next Bond director (the list of suspects included Chris Nolan, Tom Hooper, Ang Lee, Matthew Vaughn, and Nicolas Winding Refn), Sam Mendes is back in play for 'Bond 24.' What producer Barbara Broccoli and star Daniel Craig want, they usually get, especially after "Skyfall" made $1.1 billion.
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'Skyfall': Mendes and Craig
'Skyfall': Mendes and Craig

So, after all the jostling the last couple of weeks to find the next Bond director (the list of suspects included Chris Nolan, Tom Hooper, Ang Lee, Matthew Vaughn, and Nicolas Winding Refn), Sam Mendes is back in play for "Bond 24" (and, rumor has it, "Bond 25"). What producer Barbara Broccoli and star Daniel Craig want, they usually get, especially after "Skyfall" made $1.1 billion.

Apparently Mendes likes what scribe John Logan is cooking up next for 007 (reportedly a two-part story arc continuing more of the serious side of Fleming on display in "Skyfall"). It was just a matter of pushing back the schedule a year to clear Mendes' theatrical plate of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "King Lear."

Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig

But Mendes makes so much sense for keeping the continuity intact. Taking their time didn't hurt "Skyfall." In short order, Bond's endured a rite of passage and a mid-life existential crisis in this unofficial trilogy. Craig's demystified Bond and Mendes has reintroduced some of the classical style and wit, essentially bridging the gap between Fleming and Connery.

So now the table's been set for a new MI6 extended family with M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Whishaw), and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris). If indeed Mendes returns to make the "Skyfall" follow-up at the end of next year at the earliest for a Thanksgiving 2015 release, we can expect that he will be fully engaged. When I spoke with him about making another Bond last year, he replied that he was very interested in continuing the journey but that he needs to feel the same sense of ownership."I put everything I ever wanted to make in a Bond movie into this movie and you can see how rich and full it is of ideas. Whether people like it or not, I made my film. And it's a big task to ask for that again. It needs time too."

John Logan
John Logan

To be sure, wherever they go with Bond, he can't carry with him as much emotional baggage, but Mendes maintained that Craig has to be at the center of the story and gain new insight. "We're sort of regenerating," he added, in reference to "Doctor Who." "The best moments happen organically."

In other words, Mendes would continue to bring to the franchise what's been lacking for quite some time: texture and detail and characterization. No wonder his proudest moment in "Skyfall" is the mischievous six-minute opening dance between Javier Bardem's sly Silva and Craig's competitive Bond. It's all dialogue and performance.

Mendes even claims that he's interested in regenerating an arch-nemesis for Bond, whether he's called Blofeld or is an original creation (which is the preference of the producers): "I think there are all sorts of possibilities about things and people who could come back from the past," Mendes teased.

But what many Bond fanboys are aching for is more enjoyment from 007. Maybe they will take Bond at his word when he says he's ready for his next assignment "with pleasure."

This article is related to: Daniel Craig, Sequel, Sam Mendes


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.