24 November 2008

Movie Review: Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace
Released 14 November 2008 (US)
Running time 109 minutes
Starring Daniel Craig as 007 James Bond
Directed by Marc Forster

Not my type of genre here. I hate films with lots of explosions, as a general rule. But absolutely no one compares Bond series films to works of cinematic high art; they compare them to other Bond series films. Therefore I will do likewise and base my assessment of this film contra its predecessors.

As with all Bond films, you get the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The good: Liked Daniel Craig as Bond. The word for his performance is "intense." Wish he could have been afforded more dialogue, but what he had worked. Craig as Bond is more animal, less cerebral. Maybe too much of an action hero. But that's not the actor's fault.

Cinematography was actually quite good, for a Bond film. The director's touches are quite evident in the short but obvious "atmosphere scenes" he uses to set up a sequence. Appears to me like something out of reality television, but at a cinematic level it works better.

Appreciated the fact that there was relatively little sexual content in the film, and that the leading "Bond girl" didn't end up in bed with 007. Perhaps a new age has dawned for Bond, after all.

The relationship between 007 and M was perhaps most developed in this film, of all the Bond films. In fact, it is central to the plot of QoS. Made sense to me, but don't know how Joe Blow from Marrero will like this turn of events.

The realism of this film was well above average for Bond. Of course, I am speaking of the same franchise that gave us Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever, so that's not saying much. But truthfully speaking, this may have been the most realistic Bond (as realistic as possible, at least) yet. No impossible gadgets observed, no insane evil villains with their crazy evil lairs and their over the top plans for world domination. The villain in this story, if you can call him that, represents the banality of modern evil. And to boot, his interests and the interests of the world's governments (particularly that of a certain superpower) align. Fancy that, a Bond that dares, for once, to call governments villianous! (See what I mean about realism?)

Also, I very much liked the next to last scene. Very, very much liked the touch of the young woman who was the next "Vesper in waiting." One of the most poignant scenes in Bond history.

The bad: Too many explosions and unrealistic acrobatics and pyrotechnics. A standard Bond complaint. Are these still spy films or has Bond become an action franchise? You do the math.

Didn't like the Strawberry Fields character. Don't know why, other than she reminded me too much of Britt Ekland's character in The Man with the Golden Gun. Mary Goodnight, anyone?

Throwing Mathis' body in a dumpster and leaving it there. Yes, it was poignant in a way (at least for me, having been down and out and all that), but how disrespectful can you be? And then Bond takes his money. Nice.

No Q or Moneypenny. Frankly I don't care one way or another (Bond films have improved, I believe, by sacrificing some of their old school 'traditions') but I thought I'd throw it in there for the Bond purists out there.

Had no problem, personally, with this being a rather direct sequel to Casino Royale, having seen that film on its release in 2006. Regrettably, though, you cannot even begin to understand QoS without having viewed its predecessor.

The ugly: Damn jigsaw editing! I darn nearly had an epileptic seizure while trying to follow the chase scenes. You couldn't tell who was doing what, or what was happening. Just another lame stunt from the "razzle dazzle" school of directing.

Lost the train of the plot one too many times. At times only had the faintest idea what everything on screen was all about. Bond films are not known for their strength of plot exhibition.

Final comment: I like the new direction the Bond franchise is taking. I really, really like it. But it is not what Bond is about, at least to Joe Blow from Marrero and other casual Bond fans. Bond is about glamour, style, and artifice to a substantial degree, and all these things have to possess an amount of originality.

Sad to say, but Bond offers little original anymore. In its glory days, Bond was the trend and drove the trends. Now Bond follows the trends. Can't say this is any good for the franchise.

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