Spectre continues to lead the box office in its second week of release and while it doesn’t look like it will be another Skyfall, the movie will certainly do some solid business. Where the James Bond franchise will go from here is now a question of debate. The biggest question is whether or not Daniel Craig will return to the role that made him a household name. However, there’s another successful member of the franchise that may also be signaling that he’s not looking to return to the series: Director Sam Mendes.
Mendes directed both of the last two entries in the James Bond mythos, and while he would likely by the go-to director for the next movies as well (the one thing that we can be sure of is that, one way or another, there will be a next movie), it looks like it probably won’t be Mendes behind the lens. In an interview with Deadline, Mendes calls Spectre the end of a journey, both for the character, and for himself.
Without giving too much away, the difference here for me is, this movie draws together all four of Daniel’s movies into one final story, and he completes a journey. That wasn’t the case last time. There is a sense of completeness that wasn’t there at the end of Skyfall, and that’s what makes this feel different. It feels like there’s a rightness to it, that I have finished a journey.
Sam Mendes had implied following Skyfall that he would not return, but then -- with Daniel Craig's prodding -- he made the decision to do so. Mendes implies here that part of the reason he changed his mind was because Skyfall wasn’t "complete." Now with Spectre wrapping up a story arc, something most Bond films have never bothered with, Mendes apparently feels that he’s finished something here. While he doesn’t definitively say he’s done, he does say there are other stories he’d like to tell.
Mendes also speaks about whether or not Craig will return, or rather, that there’s simply no way to know right now. He says Craig exhausts himself while filming, so it’s to be expected that he would say he doesn’t want to return immediately after filming. After a few months of rest and separation, though, the director thinks Craig may have a different view, though he also admits that he won’t, and that Craig may be ready to be done as James Bond, as well.
From a cinematic and storytelling perspective, Spectre would certainly be a good place to refresh and restart. A new director will bring new ideas into the franchise, with or without a new actor. Who would you like to see direct the next James Bond movie?