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Sam Mendes’ ‘Bond 23’ Could Be Action-Free

Written by on October 24, 2011 

Though Sam Mendes‘ image is perhaps still firmly tied to the domestic dynamics of his 1999 debut American Beauty, he’s shown, over the years, an uncommon cinematic versatility for a stage-turned-film director, most notably in his brilliant and overlooked Road to Perdition. So while some may have been confused and ambivalent when it was announced that he’d be helming the forthcoming Daniel Craig-starring Bond 23, I was pleasantly surprised at the notion of Mendes‘ wide-ranging talents being displayed to a massive international audience. (Quantum of Solace, a mediocre installment by most accounts, still managed to make nearly $600 million worldwide.)

In an interesting turn of events, however, it looks as if Mendes may be putting the magnitude of his built-in audience to the test — he’s planning, according to source that spoke with Express, to strip Bond 23 of its expected “stunt and action scenes to make way for more dramatic acting,” perhaps delivering something “more award-worthy” in the process. In the words of one unnamed source, “There are growing rumors Sam Mendes is cutting out the action scenes and making [the film] Oscar-friendly.” [LatinoReview]

It’s no secret that Mendes was a risky commercial choice for the project, but this news brings that risk level to a different dimension. Even if the axing of action is ultimately in service of a more “refined” film, it’s clear from Quantum of Solace‘s financial haul that audiences aren’t necessarily looking for something better — they’re simply looking for more of the same. In the Bond world, this very much includes those high-priced action set pieces. After all, Casino Royale, the much more acclaimed entry in Craig‘s canon, only grossed about $10 million more than the far-inferior Quantum.

However commercially dangerous, though, this announcement adds a strange anticipation, for me, to the project. I was initially looking forward to Mendes adapting his talents to the Bond world, to see him stretch himself like he’s done multiple times in the past. But, upon further thought, it may be even more intriguing to have him do the opposite. Bond doesn’t seem like a character suited to the interior, dialogue-driven atmosphere of something like American Beauty or Revolutionary Road, but, success or failure, such a departure should be a fascinating experiment either way.

What do you think of this announcement? Will the film’s commercial prospects be substantially affected?

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