James Bond may be heading to the most dangerous place of all… the suburbs.
The LA Times online (via Hero Complex) is reporting that Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes is in serious discussions to direct the next installment in the James Bond series (#23 if you’re counting along at home). But before you get up in arms over the announcement just remember that they’re still in negotiations and nothing is confirmed. In fact, not only is MGM currently in limbo looking for possible buyers or investors, but the script by Bond regulars Neil Purvis and Robert Wade is still being written with the help of Oscar-nominee Peter Morgan (The Queen). No director would sign on without a completed screenplay. Well, okay, maybe Marc Forster…
The online community went nuts for the news last night with a pretty even split between folks who see this as good news and those who view it as a crime against nature. Both sides have their merits I suppose, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Mendes directing a Bond film.
1. Mendes is not an action director. Sounds like it should be a con (and indeed it is) but it also means that he’s someone who spends time crafting strong characters, deep plots, and interesting visuals. And while Road to Perdition and Jarhead are far from action movies they’re closer to the genre than Marc Forster ever got before his turn at the Bond helm (Quantum of Solace).
2. Mendes already has a working relationship with Daniel Craig who starred as a bad guy in Road to Perdition. This isn’t necessarily a big deal, but anytime a director and star have pre-existing chemistry it goes a long way towards maintaining a smooth work environment.
3. Mendes is married to Kate Winslet, and she would make a pretty kick ass Bond girl.
4. The choice is so unexpected, odd, and fascinating that it needs to happen just so we can see what the hell it would look like. Nothing kills a franchise quicker than predictability and a lack of risk-taking, and injecting an Oscar-winning director into the world of Bond is an incredibly interesting move.
1. Mendes is not an action director. Those who disliked Forster’s action sensibilities on Quantum of Solace will probably expect the same issues from Mendes. (Personally I enjoyed the hell out that movie and took it solely as a companion to the still superior Casino Royale, but a lot of people hated it.) While Mendes may improve on the character depth and dialogue the Bond films rely on strong action scenes and set-pieces.
2. Mendes makes movies about people who think too much. Bond needs to think obviously, but he needs to react quickly and decisively. He doesn’t have time to hang out in the garage smoking pot or sitting in the kitchen contemplating an affair… he needs to slam back his martinis and bang the henchman’s girlfriend on a second’s notice.
3. Mendes’ Bond may try to seduce the teenage girl (or boy) next door. No one wants to see that happen.
4. Mendes may bring along Kevin Spacey to play a Bond villain, perhaps as the head of Quantum. I like Spacey, but his villains are almost as over the top as John Travolta’s. Evil caricatures are old-school Bond and don’t belong in the more rough and tumble world of the Craig films.
Again, this is the very early stages of the next Bond movie, so Mendes may still drop from the list of possibilities in the near future. For right now though he’s apparently the most likely candidate for the job… so what do you think? Can he direct a Bond movie? Should he direct one?