While Mendes does take great pride in the high-rise throw down, the Istanbul chase sequence and Bond and Silva’s standoff in the tube, he’s also quite fond of the quieter moments, the ones that come in between the action set pieces and give Skyfall a heartbeat: “The way that the movie breathes in and out between the high intensity action and the subtleties of performance is one of the things I’m most proud of. Some of the scenes that give me the greatest pleasure are in the midst of a big action movie, you will have a scene like Javier Bardem’s first scene as Silva, which is a six-and-a-half minute dialogue scene in which they barely move!”
Of course, a scene like that can only be a success with solid direction and a good performance. Bardem recalled, “Sam gave me this great note, which is uncomfortableness. We wanted to create somebody that creates uncomfortable situations rather than being somebody scary or threatening.” And boy, is that six-minute scene an uncomfortable moment for Bond and, in turn, the audience.
Silva’s a particularly troubling villain and not just because of Bardem’s threatening yet eerily amusing nature, his disconcerting blond locks or his vicious vendetta against Bond - but also because his choice to attack MI6 via hacking is extreme, yet realistic. Producer Michael G. Wilson pointed out, “There is a cyber war going on out there and if you know about the United States blowing up a Russian pipeline about 15 years ago, if you know about, recently, the Stuxnet situation where the Iranian centrifuges were sent out of control, this is all part of what’s going on, but the public is not too aware of it.” He noted, “Nothing we showed there is beyond the present capability of any of these military hackers to achieve.”
As for gadgets and technology on Bond’s end, Craig was thrilled not to have to deal with them. “If you look at the original gadgets, what was sexy about them was Bond took out a box, stuck it on the door and pressed a button, the red light came on and that’s kind of sexy.” But he also pointed out, “To have Bond on a computer at a screen, I think is f*cking boring. And I think technology on the whole is boring.”
However, that’s where Ben Whishaw’s Q comes in. Craig continued, “We brought Ben in who is Q and a whiz and we have this clash of the two worlds. And kind of together there’s a potential there to make a really great team. It just means Bond doesn’t have to be dealing with technology. And we very deliberately have kept the gadgets simple. And we use them. We don’t sort of put them in extraneously.”
The same is true of James Bonds’ coveted Aston Martin DB5. Mendes explained that the car’s inclusion worked “partly because it’s a relief after an incredibly intense 15-minute action sequence.” While a fun throwback, the DB5 is primarily used to let the movie breathe out and reboot itself before the third act. Mendes noted, “It was very carefully placed there.”
We’ll have to wait and see whether or not the DB5 resurfaces in Bond 24 or 25, but we do know that Craig will be back to see the franchise through to the milestone. Craig remembered back to when Wilson and longtime producing partner Barbara Broccoli first offered him the role: “When these two approached me originally, I was just a little bewildered that they would even come to me.” While there was some hesitation and concern about being typecast, Craig laughed a pointed out, “It’s not a bad thing to be typecast as James Bond, is it really?”
With that issue out of the way and Skyfall heading towards what could be immensely positive receptions – both with critics and at the box office - Craig is absolutely ready for more. “As soon as we get the script, I’ll be really up for doing 24 and hopefully this will be a success and we’ll have sort of some momentum.”
Mendes, on the other hand, said, “It’s been a fantastic experience, but it’s been completely exhausting.” When asked if he’d like to return to direct more Bond movies, Mendes responded, “I don’t know. The truth is, I’ve never sought to be a primarily commercial filmmaker.” He went on to explain that taking gigs is often about timing and that “I needed a challenge and a sense of excitement and something totally new, and I felt like everything I wanted to do with a Bond movie, I put into this film, so I would just have to be convinced that I could do something that I loved and cared about as much if I was to do it again.”
Whether Mendes regenerates and finds the little something that can derive that same passion - or a new director approaches 007 with the same mentality, the future of the franchise should be in good hands, either way.
Follow Perri on Twitter @PNemiroff.