With "James Bond 23" set to start shooting late this year, targeted for pre-Thanksgiving 2012, the way is clear for Daniel Craig to sandwich it in between "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "The Girl Who Played with Fire."

The downside is that Sam Mendes will direct the Bond film.

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I find Mendes' "art" films snide or bloodless or both, saved only by a performance or two, like Kevin Spacey's in "American Beauty" and Maya Rudolph's in "Away We Go." The closest he's come to a Bond-like film was the gangster movie "The Road to Perdition," and that was just about as rarefied and dull as any graphic-novel adaptation I've ever seen.

With Mendes at the helm, I fear an even worse replay of Marc Forster's "Quantum of Solace." Craig provided the main reason to see that mixed bag, which tried to meld the smash-and-grab, go-for-broke thrills of the Bourne movies with abstract aesthetic conceits -- like building a sequence around the huge eye on a set for "Tosca." Either the camera was in the wrong place to for us to see the actors whole or the editing prevented us from appreciating their stunts.

If we're doomed to Mendes being the director, let's hope that longtime producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli hire an ace action specialist to help him out. It wouldn't be an insult but rather the continuation of a long and honorable Hollywood tradition. After all, Yakima Canutt and Andrew Marton, not William Wyler, staged the chariot race in Wyler's "Ben-Hur."

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