Sunday, November 23, 2008

Quantum of Solace

If you only watch the opening minutes of the latest Bond film, Quantum of Solace, you'd be forgiven for assuming that it's THE GREATEST JAMES BOND FILM OF ALL TIME.

Kicking off mid-way through a breathtaking car chase, which sees Daniel Craig fend off bad-guys and Italian carbinari in a gadget-free Aston Martin, before moving swiftly onto a rooftop chase in Sienna, during their famous palio, it's high octane thrills from the word 'go.'

But while the blistering pace continues from that point on, the quintessential qualities of a James Bond movie dry up - making Quantum of Solace, on the whole, more like a Jason Bourne style spy-thriller than anything resembling the James Bond franchise we've come to know and love.

Director Marc Forster is deliberately trying to steer the Daniel Craig-era movies away from what went before, but he wildly oversteps the mark by shedding some of the staples of the series. Gone are the gunsight opening credits. Bond, despite drinking a large quantity of them, never orders his martini 'shaken, not stirred.' There are no gadgets, barely any witticisms and Bond-girl Olga Kurylenko receives nothing but a rather chaste 'hard kiss on the mouth' in the final scenes.

Don't get me wrong - Quantum of Solace is, as far as action adventure movies go, blisteringly exciting and well made. It's just, instead of being 'all mouth and no trousers,' it's the other way around. There's so much action and so many thrills that the complex plot is pared down to the barest essentials and the exposition ends up being entirely inadequate, leaving us all one step behind Bond's deductions as he tracks the evil 'quantum' organization across the globe.

That got my goat as well - it's all very well to plunder the original Ian Fleming novels for inspiration, but taking such a completely unrelated story and concept and shoehorning the title into the script is pretty clear proof that neither Marc Forster nor producer Michael G. Wilson or even writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis, and Joshua Zetumer really 'get' what Ian Fleming's James Bond is all about.

Only in the final moments of the movie, where James Bond finally tracks down the man he holds responsible for the death of Vesper Lynd, do we see a flash of the character Ian Fleming invented. As Daniel Craig stomps off sullenly, into the snow, he manages to communicate to all of us that we shouldn't worry.

The scriptwriters, producers and directors might not 'get' Bond - but he does. And, at the end of the day, that's what really matters.

Highlights:
  • Wrecking an Aston Martin during the opening moments.
  • Judi Dench is sublime as a fussy, motherly, but ultimately ruthless 'M'
  • Brutally realistic violence
  • Indulgent location filming in Sienna, Haiti, Bolivia and beyond
  • Daniel Craig, who keeps his 'Bond' persona pitch-perfect, despite script and direction conspiring against him.
Lowlights:
  • It's simply not a 'Bond' film
  • The plot zips from points 'A' to 'B', but bypasses 'C' and rushes straight to' Z' via '27.'
  • The fight scenes are great, but the action sequences are totally unbelievable.
  • It's all too fast paced - we need longer to take a breath between stylish, stunt-laden set pieces.
  • That awful theme, although not as bad in context, still remains a stunningly poor choice.

7 comments:

Sarah said...

That was and amazing movie. I saw it last Saturday. Seriously amazing.

April said...

As always Rols, we are in agreement. Now if we could just get you to accept Jesus into your heart we can commence to taking over the world. ;)

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Absolutely and categorically agree with every word of this review.

The Chemist said...

I haven't seen it, and I'm not really a religious Bond fan, but from what I've been hearing from reviews such as this, I'm better off not watching it and waiting for the next one.

No gadgets? I liked that the gadgets in the last bond film were more or less scientifically accurate (otherwise I really have to work at suspending disbelief). Still, you can't have a Bond film without gadgets!

Coffee Bean said...

I love April!

Meghan said...

Guilty confession...I've never seen a Bond film...

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