Bond director conquers new ground

In Arts & Entertainment, Film & TV, Top Stories
Courtesy of MCT

Skyfall finally hit theaters Friday and director Sam Mendes took audience members on another memorable 007-thrill ride.

Mendes has directed a handful of masterpieces, including American Beauty, Jarhead and Revolutionary Road, which qualifies himself as the perfect man to direct the next 007 installment with a fresh new interpretation of the classic world of super spies.

“You tell a story that hasn’t been told before and you push the character in directions he hasn’t been pushed before,” said Mendes.

Avoiding repetition with the previous films, a daunting challenge for any 007 director, was never an issue for Mendes.

“The nice thing is that I have producers that are willing to let me go to places that they’ve never been before in a Bond movie,” Mendes said.

Who doesn’t like the idea of James Bond kicking some royal behind in Shanghai as a proper Brit?

Most importantly, fans get to find out not only what Skyfall is, but where and why plays such a pinnacle role in James Bond’s history and character.

“I think if I developed it as remaking the same film and doing the same things as the last 22 movies, I probably wouldn’t have been interested in making it,” Mendes said.

With a strong mindset like this, the Bond legacy has been able to last a long time. Bond has been around since 1962, marking 2012 as its golden 50th year. Best of all, it doesn’t look like Bond is disappearing from the radar any time soon.

“We are living in a world where people don’t equate large commercial films with having to be light,” Mendes said. “In other words, it’s possible now to be dark.”

Along with having the classic elements that make Skyfall a true Bond film, Mendes takes on the story with raw themes that ultimately make the character more human and relatable.

“I spent a bit of time pretending with the writers that we didn’t have to do all the things that Bond movies normally do,” Mendes said.

For Mendes, this included action sequences, Bond girls, locations and the cars.

This gave the director time to figure out what the story was at its bare root, then layer the important Bond elements back like a delicious seven layer chocolate cake.

“I’ve always loved it (the Bond world) as a kid, and it was always fun being around that,” Mendes said.

The scene where Daniel Craig (James Bond) and Javier Bardem (Silva), the main antagonist, meet for the first time took two days to shoot.

“That scene was the most exciting for me,” Mendes said. “But the most difficult scene was the first ten minutes of the movie, which was the opening action sequence, which was actually very complicated.”

This opening action sequence was something fresh for Mendes.  His repertoire has consisted more of character-based dramas, but his unique touch managed to shine through in Skyfall.

“What drew me was that it wasn’t a character based drama,” Mendes said as he laughed. “I wanted to get myself out of some habits.”

Mendes saw great opportunity (in doing what he does best) to develop his perplexed and almost paternal relationship with the character M, as well as take a look into Bond’s past through a new angle with more angst.

Mendes also covered some elements from the James Bond books that had never been touched on before in film.

“A director is only ever as good as his collaborators,” Mendes said.

The cast is a perfect bag of mix. From Judi Dench’s (M) classy performance that makes you wonder if she descended from an ancient line of English queens, to Ben Whishaw (Q) as the cheeky hipster computer genius with the tension releasing one-liners.

“I think hopefully it’s the right mixture,” Mendes said. “I think you need enough new ideas to shake it up, but you also need enough craft to be able to do the other things that people expect and hope for in a Bond movie.”

Another obstacle that any 007 director has to face is the massive wave of opinions that crash in the moment a James Bond movie has been announced. It’s a type of white noise that can fluster even the best filmmakers, but Mendes tuned out from the beginning.

“You quickly realize that everyone’s Bond is different,” Mendes said.

Some people want gadgets like sharks with laser beams attached to their heads (whoops, wrong spy movie!), while some prefer a full two hours of poker faces over the cheesy one liners. You just can’t win!

Without giving too much away, Mendes’ Skyfall is a fresh addition to the James Bond series. If I said anymore, Bond would probably come after me. Not cool.

Visit theaters and see Mendes’ version of James Bond. It’s a pleasant surprise to say the least.

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