After wowing the crowd with Skyfall in 2012, Sam Mendes was the obvious choice to come back and make the upcoming untitledBond 24. For a brief period of time, though, rumors flew that he both was and wasn't going to return, along with word that Bond 24 and 25 would tie together in a mini narrative arc. Well Mendes did ultimately decide to come back to the Bond fold after all, and apparently Daniel Craig had a huge part in luring him back... without even knowing it!
IGN has picked up an interview that Mendes did with the British Film Institute where he offers a couple of statements on Bond 24's current phase of production, and where he's going with the next film. The main factor that seems to have retained Mendes in the James Bond universe is having actors like Daniel Craig at his disposal. The director admitted that he was inspired after seeing his two time co-conspirator Craig on the stage in the recent stage production of Harold Pinter's Betrayal. Said Mendes,
"I was reminded what a fantastic actor he is outside of James Bond. It inspires you to think of other ways to use him and allow him to express that. Ralph Fiennes is another great example."
So Sam Mendes' return seems to have been clinched because Bond 24 has the director reuniting with Daniel Craig and Ralph Fiennes in search of new ways to explore pre-existing characters - characters who are still integral figures in the British film lexicon, despite having previously suffered at the hand of some rather rote character dynamics. With his cast returning, along with Skyfall co-writer John Logan, Mendes doesn't look content to just go with the same old story. While the crew may be the same, this ship is looking to set sail for some new narrative waters, without sacrificing any of the narrative innovation that the previous film had displayed.
As for the exact shape of Bond 24's script, Sam Mendes only had this to say:
"The next one – it’s being written... It’s ongoing. For me, so much of it is about script. It’s like the building of a boat – once the boat gets on the current, it’s gone. If there’s a hole in the boat, you’re fucked. So you’ve got to make sure there’s no holes in the boat, and that’s what we’re doing now."
Sam Mendes has brought his previous background as a stage director into his process with every film he makes, leading to a string of pictures that may not have always been narratively compelling (ahem, Revolutionary Road) but have always showcased actors and actresses that are focused and zoned in on their character's motivations and movements. Skyfall was a blockbuster filmmaking trial by fire that proved Mendes is able to not only able to bring that sort of intensity to a film with huge action set-pieces, but also that he surprisingly knows how to film those action set-pieces in a dynamic way (unlike his immediate predecessor, Marc Forster). He might be a busy man, but he knows where he's going with Bond 24, and he's going there confidently.
Bond 24 is set for domestic theatrical release November 6th, 2015; with its UK release being a week earlier on October 30th.