The James Bond movie franchise celebrated its 50th anniversary in style back in 2012, when the Sam Mendes directed Skyfall earned some of the best reviews in the series and became the first 007 adventure to make $1 billion at the global box office (without 3D surcharges even). As one might expect, the fact that Mendes returned to the director's chair for the followup, this year's Spectre, only added to the anticipation fans have for the upcoming film, considering that many of them enjoyed his take on the MI6 mythos and are curious to see what he has in store.
By all accounts, we should be in for another thrilling Bond movie when Spectre premieres, but there will probably be an undercurrent of bittersweetness to the affair. Even though he was previously rumored to be attached to helm the untitled Bond 25, Mendes has recently come out publicly to say that Spectre will likely be the last 007 movie he makes.
In an interview with BBC Radio, Mendes stated that although he has had a great experience making his two Bond movies, the time has come for him to step away from the franchise and let someone else take the reins:
"It feels almost, even though we’ve just finished shooting it, like one big experience and it was a fantastic life-changing thing. It really is more a lifestyle choice than a job. I don’t think I could go down that road again."
Those who have been following the development of Spectre from the beginning know that Mendes almost didn't return for this fall's outing before finally signing on. The director was influenced by his feeling that he hadn't yet completed the entire Skyfall story with his first Bond flick, and this project offered him the opportunity to build upon the characters and themes he had introduced. If the teaser trailer is anything to go off of, there's plenty of connective tissue between Mendes' two Bond movies, and ideally they will work in harmony to tell a multi-pronged narrative that's captivating on a number of levels.
Mendes' impending departure may be a sad reality for fans to consider, but it is easy to understand where he's coming from. Calling the shots on a massive tentpole (particularly one like Bond) can be a grueling task for even the most dedicated and enthusiastic directors. In addition to the "normal" shooting schedules for Spectre, Mendes' team also had to deal with the film being hit by the infamous Sony hacks last year, which probably was none too pleasant for those involved. As much love and admiration he has for the character, Mendes probably wants to step away and recharge his batteries before focusing on something new (a la Joss Whedon after Avengers: Age of Ultron).
One of the silver linings here is that James Bond is not a film franchise that's defined by the singular vision of one filmmaker. For more than five decades, the series has seen a number of directors step in to put their own spin on 007, which has kept the movies fresh after all these years. Mendes leaving simply opens the door for another talented helmsman to oversee Bond 25 (which will be a landmark occasion in its own right), and fans are already probably dreaming about names like Christopher Nolan operating behind the camera. Daniel Craig's tenure as the iconic spy has been one of the series' most successful, so whichever studio distributes the next film will want to keep that momentum going by hiring someone just as skilled as Mendes and seemingly end Craig's run with a bang.
Spectre will be in U.S. theaters November 6, 2015.
Source: BBC Radio