This Friday, 007 will put the tuxedo back on, order up another drink, and return to the world of international intrigue in “Skyfall.” It has been a long journey for the franchise, with four years passing since the last installment, the underwhelming “Quantum Of Solace,” but the series is back with a bang. Featuring what is arguably the most high-profile cast to date — with Javier Bardem, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris and Ralph Fiennes joining Daniel Craig and Judi Dench — the picture also features impressive talent behind the camera, with Sam Mendes (“American Beauty,” “Road To Perdition,” “Revolutionary Road“) at the helm. And for this latest movie, patience was not only a virtue, but an asset.
As many folks know, production was held up as MGM sorted through a very public financial quagmire (that also stalled “The Hobbit” films). But Mendes used the opportunity to his best advantage. “We had a stroke of luck on this movie, ultimately, which was at the time one of the most frustrating things, which was the temporary bankruptcy of MGM which for me was a bit of a nightmare because I’d really prepped the movie and was ready to go into full-scale pre-production, and we had to halt everything, if you remember, for something like nine months,” Mendes told Metro UK. “But in that time we worked on the script. I knew every scene intimately, and we kept working. We had two weeks of rehearsals, which is a relatively new thing for the Bond franchise. We had a read-through of the script, and [series producer] Barbara [Broccoli] said to me, ‘It’s the first read-through we’ve ever had of a Bond movie!'”
And it seems that extra time has allowed Mendes to deliver a film that is currently receiving flat out raves from most quarters, including our own positive review, which ranked it alongside “Casino Royale” as one of the best Bond movies since the Sean Connery days. But it has been a marathon for the director who reveals he had been working on the movie right up until October 9th (it first screened for UK press on October 12th). And while they would likely be glad to have him back, Mendes says he’s delivered all he ever wanted with “Skyfall.”
“It’s been a fantastic experience, but it’s been completely exhausting,” the director explains. “Do I want to do another one? I’m a shadow of my former self. [laughs] No, I don’t know. I felt like everything I wanted to do with a Bond movie, I put into this film. So I would have to be convinced that I could do something that I loved and cared about as much if I was to do it again. I think the great risk of repeating oneself is that one doesn’t have the great store of ideas that you have when you first tackle a subject.”
Regardless of whether he’s back or not, it seems Mendes has left an unforgettable mark on the franchise. “Skyfall” opens in the U.K. on October 26th, and in the U.S. on November 9th.