March 9, 2020

Sam Mendes Barely Survived Making Bond Films

Mendes survived James Bond
Sometimes blockbuster filmmaking can be torture.

We all do it, right? 

Think about what our Bond film would be like? 

Who would you cast? What is your take? How would you approach the venerable and bankable half century-plus old franchise?

[Editors note: I'd want to coax Sean Connery out of retirement to play a real aged original James Bond who's coming to terms with all the violence, harm, good, and impact of his life in his old age, perhaps facing death related to years of substance abuse. Bond by way of The Irishman.]

The reality is far from the fantasy though. Being at the helm of something of this size and scale is like walking a tightrope, over time (and recapped nicely by Indiewire) Sam Mendes has peeled back some of the layers for us. 

"...There is no victory. Just survival.” - Sam Mendes

One main reason? Exactly what we started with. The more people who have an idea of what Bond could be, or what they would make it, the harder it is for anyone tasked with this to actually execute effectively. 

Mendes told The Sunday Times: “It’s just so hard. You feel like the England football manager. You think, if I win, I’ll survive. If I lose, I’ll be pilloried. There is no victory. Just survival.”

Mendes has proven himself one of the great filmmakers of his era, launching with American Beauty, but more recently reminding us with 1917. It's interesting to look back and consider how he made one of the more celebrated Bond films in Skyfall, but also one wrought with production issues in Spectre

What makes these movies so challenging, beyond the expectations of the audience? 

Sometimes it is that they do not have a finished script!

"There has always been an element that Bond has been on the wing and a prayer." said Mendes. 

Internal memos released in the Sony hack revealed some of the back and forth over Spectre, that led to its various challenges. There were attempts to change the casting, slash $50 million from the budget, and alter locations last minute. Some of this is business as usual. But when you add in the stakes of Bond... it can feel like life or death. 

Clearly it did for Sam Mendes. The aptly titled No Time to Die (not directed by Sam Mendes to no one's surprise) hits theaters November 25.      

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1 Comment

It is really a shame he felt like he just needed to survive the process.

The beginning of Skyfall was the strongest opener to a bond film in quite some time.

Though I guess the details of a good spy thriller can get pretty complicated, and that is the disconnect between the books and the films.

How to have a deep experience but yet keep it shallow enough that the masses at the theaters can enjoy it.

I really hope he can hit a home run with the next film and not merely survive.

His action is good, but the story and villains don’t quite have the same iconic feel as the past iterations. With the next film being about an organization, dunno if that is going to help or hinder the story,

March 9, 2020 at 5:51PM

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Kyle Dockum
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