Sam Mendes will not direct James Bond 24. Sam Mendes will not be returning to the director’s chair for the follow/sequel to Skyfall. I found Skyfall to be highly enjoyable (belated film review coming soon as well as a Blu-ray review) so this news was ill received. I would have thought Skyfall producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson bent over backwards financially to secure Sam Mendes for the next Bond film. They must-likely did but the one thing they could not give Mendes was the time he needed between James Bond projects.
In a recent interview, director Sam Mendes said:
It has been a very difficult decision not to accept Michael and Barbara’s very generous offer to direct the next Bond movie. Directing Skyfall was one of the best eperiences of my professional life, but I have theatre and other commitments, including productions of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and King Lear, that need my complete focus over the next year and beyond.
On returning to Bond in the future:
I feel very honored to have been part of the Bond family and very much hope I have a chance to work with them again sometime in the future.
Here is a question: How many directors have taken time off from Bond for other projects and then returned to the director’s chair? Martin Campbell is the only one I know of.
Skyfall producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson were very gracious in their reply to the news of Sam Mendes’ announcement:
We thoroughly enjoyed working with Sam, he directed our most successful Bond movie ever, Skyfall. We would have loved to have made the next film with him but completely respect his decision to focus on other projects and hope to have the opportunity to collaborate with him again.
With Sam Mendes out, who could possibly be in? The speculation has already begun.
A list of 8 directors that could replace Sam Mendes and direct James Bond 24:
I love his eye, his way of shooting action sequences, and the way he can tell a visual story. If he had control over the script and its elements, Nolan is probably the best choice for Bond 24’s director’s chair. He did place into the beginning of Inception a Bond-like moment with Cobb if you remember.
2. Alfonso Cuaron.
His remake of Little Princess was better than the Shirley Temple version and Children of Men was one of the best films of 2006 (and one of the best films set in the near-future). The intimacy he showed in Little Princess harnessed with the on-screen complexity of Children of Men could give Bond’s backstory, still only hinted at, and Bond 24’s main storyline the incendiary spark they need.
After seeing Contagion and Traffic, Steven Soderbergh may be the natural choice to direct Bond 24 but not the best choice (Nolan). Soderbergh is the choice you would make from your head, Nolan is the choice you would make if you had vision. Soderbergh could easily bring the world-view, multiple characters, and characters storylines to life with flourish in Bond 24 the way he has in the past.
4. Rupert Wyatt.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was better in many aspects than people had been expecting, especially in the heart on-screen. Wyatt might be able to create a surprising Bond film but would surprising be as good as Goldeneye, Casino Royale or Skyfall?
5. Matthew Vaughn.
Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class was practically half a Bond movie, between the glittery ’60s sets and Kevin Bacon’s Blofeld-with-superpowers. Vaughn is a hot franchise commodity right now — he was in the discussion for Star Wars: Episode VII and is also producing the new Fantastic Four. To top it all off, Vaughn was responsible for Daniel Craig’s breakout role in Layer Cake.
6. Martin Campbell.
This is the no-brainer choice to direct Bond 24. I might choose Campbell over Nolan if only for the fact that I would like to see what Nolan would do with a Bond film. Campbell has already made two Bond films, two of the best ones: Goldeneye and Casino Royale. Green Lantern sucked but his Last Resort‘s pilot episode (watch here: Last Resort (2012): Season 1, Episode 1: Captain, reviewed here: TV Review: Last Resort (2012): Season 1, Episode 1: Captain) was fantastic. Campbell is the safe choice. The producers know exactly what they will get if they chose him again for a third Bond film.
7. Joe Wright.
Joe Wright, who practically seems like a younger version of Mendes. Like Mendes, Wright has directed a Best Picture nominee (Atonement) but has also shown he can do decent action scenes (Hanna). Like Mendes, Wright makes movies that emphasize gorgeous imagery. (In this metaphor, Roger Deakins = Seamus McGarvey.) Like Mendes pre-Skyfall, Wright is coming off a noble-failure experiment (Away We Go = Anna Karenina) and could be open to a surefire hit.
8. Kathryn Bigelow.
Zero Dark Thirty is Kathryn Bigelow’s business card for the director’s chair of Bond 24. Here is the problem: Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson probably do not want the “a 007 movie set in something that roughly resembles the actual geopolitical realities of the moment.” They probably do not want a film where Bond is in the field gathering intel, observing, et ecetera. They want chases and exciting locations. If Kathryn Bigelow could get on-board with that, her getting the nod would be revolutionary to the series. Kathryn Bigelow would bring real world, modern day spying to Bond 24, something that was only in the background of Skyfall (e.g. M’s trial about the 00s).
There you have it. May picks for the next director of James Bond in James Bond 24. Who would you pick for the director’s chair from my list or from your own?