By this point in his career, Sam Mends has pretty much become a household name. The celebrated director is now the man at the head of the James Bond franchise, and is also responsible for American Beauty, Jarhead, and Revolutionary Road. Even though his film work is what he’s best known for, he has directed many more plays than movies. It’s the theater work that gives Mends another dimension that hasn’t really been seen in the other directors that we’ve showcased so far. The play you’re most likely to know that he’s directed would the revival of Cabaret. Or, by its other name: the greatest revival and musical of all time.
But that’s an argument for another day.
If you’re already a fan of Mends, you may have noticed that I purposefully skipped over a film – Road to Perdition. If there’s any film of Mendes’ that has the True Detective gene, it’s Road to Perdition. As a gangster that’s been betrayed by his adoptive parent and boss, Michael Sullivan — played by the always great Tom Hanks — simultaneously seeks revenge and shelter. There’s also the small matter of Paul Newman, whose performance cannot go unseen. Road to Perdition has a noir feel that’s practically ripped from old hard-boiled stories and pulp novels.
Which is perhaps fitting since it’s based on a graphic novel.
Road to Perdition is a haunting film, and if Mendes could bring even an ounce of the tension that runs through it we’d have one hell of an episode — assuming that the current plan is still to have a rotating roster of directors. Mendes’ films tend to have a very keen sense of style, which is what something like True Detective most calls for from a director. We also need to be careful here; we’d prefer directors that could continue the flow of first season director Cary Fukunaga while leaving their own mark.
It would be very interesting to have a director with a healthy background in theater who would perhaps be willing to bring some of that to a series. If you’re not familiar with Sam Mendes’ work (how could you not have at least seen American Beauty?) check out at least Road to Perdition and report back. We need more directors with a defining sense of style instead of ones that will simply cop Fukunaga’s style just for the sake of continuity.