The passing of the torch from Sam Mendes: big mistake or wise move?

The news has been announced today that, much to Bond fans misfortune, Sam Mendes has turned town the opportunity to direct the next James Bond film. After his recent success with Skyfall, the news has brought about very mixed opinions as to whether this is good or bad news for fans of the franchise. I have to admit that personally I am torn.

On one hand it is bad news for a fan such as myself, Skyfall was one of my favourite bond films and was a stunning piece of work. Knowing what Mendes has done to the franchise and how he has lifted it back up after Quantum of Solace (Question of Sport) it is quite upsetting to hear that he won’t continue to work his magic and create more films that are amazing. Within one film he managed to bring Bond in to the modern era, whilst keeping him classic at the same time, adding depth to the character and introducing us to one of the best villains there has been, played of course my Javier Bardem. It was a triumph of a film, so it is a shame that we don’t see more work like this, the Oscar winning British Director clearly left a lasting impression and showed how a Bond film should be made. But this does lead me to the ‘however’ of the argument.

On the other side of this coin there is of course positives to the situation. Firstly his work was tremendous and he has set the franchise up beautifully to continue in a way that it should be done, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be done by him. In my mind he has done a classic case of kick starting the process, lighting the fire, taking the first step in to what could easily be the start of something brilliant. He has then stepped back from his creation and let it take it’s own course. It’s sort of like a teacher showing you exactly how to answer a long exam question; they do it perfectly and then leave the rest down to you.

Secondly from this he has boxed quite clever in the sense that he’s quit while he’s ahead. With many film makers nowadays continuing a franchise is quite a difficult thing to get right because if the first one is done so well then the others can’t possibly compete. I have respect for him in that sense because he would rather leave it when it was still good rather than run the risk of it slipping out of his grasp. I was so pleased when Skyfall received the BAFTA for outstanding British film because it  was the first time that a Bond film has been recognised at a major award ceremony. Mendes knew he had to do something outstanding for the 50th anniversary of the franchise and he exceeded the very highest of expectations, but now the expectations are even higher I think even he would struggle to out do himself.

There is talk already of who should direct the sequel, with many names being recommended but none being confirmed thus far. Mendes has set a very high standard for making a Bond film so the next person to take to the director’s chair should only do so knowing the challenge they’re taking up. Some people have responded to the news by suggesting that Paul Thomas Anderson should take up the job. Now I love PTA’s work and I think he is excellent at what he does, but the term “wrong gig” springs to mind when suggesting he makes a Bond film. It would be like getting Stanley Kubrick to make a Indiana Jones film; their talent would be too much for the franchise to handle.

So the future is looking, well unknown at the moment for Bond. Until a new director has been secured bond fans will have to keep their ears to the ground. But I think I can speak for most people when I say I think Mendes did a brilliant job with Skyfall, and yes the passing of the torch so early in the relay is not one that we wanted to see this early, but it’s one that I’m sure won’t be a mistake. Unless the next film goes the same way as Quantum of Solace. In which case I think I’ll have to be writing a strongly worded letter to Mendes requesting his immediate return to the franchise. And failing that is shall turn in to a rather Goldfinger type scenario. “Do you expect me to talk?” “As a director I would expect some level of communication to take place, but primarily I want you back on that set now and you show them how it’s done!”. Or just another letter, depends what mood I’m in.

Feel free to leave comments on your opinions towards the the news, and also if you feel up to it feel free to leave suggestions as to who you feel should direct Bond 24.

As per usual I shall leave it at Au revoir. 

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