“Quantum Solace” (2008)

November 24, 2008

Something was certainly shaken, but I'm not talking about the martinis.

 

I remember the time when I, like many others, eagerly awaited the opening of Casino Royale. Not only was there a new Bond to carry on the 007 legacy, but the entire franchise was moving in a new, more realistic direction. It was very successful, too. It may have been a change of pace, but it brought a great deal of seriousness to the James Bond characters while retaining the intense action sequences. While the new Bond was alien to us, it was clear that in time he would grow into the smirking British spy we have all come to know and love.

Quantum of Solace (2008) was supposed to be the bridge between Bond the heart broken and Bond the badass.  I excitedly awaited this movie just as I did when Casino Royale came out, even though I saw it a week after its initial release. Unfortunately, the twenty-second entry in the 007 franchise was not what I thought it would be.

The plot is pretty similar to the classic Bond movies. MI-6 finds out that the villians are part of a huge global secret organization, and they don’t know much about them other than the organization is evil. Bond is constantly chastized for being too reckless (and rightly so), but nonetheless goes in to check things out.  If anything, he is still eager to get revenge for the murder of Vespa, his lover from Casino Royale. Of course, he picks up one or two other chicks along the way, one of them being another spy. Throughout the movie M is constantly panicing from her little safe haven, falling easily for the villians’ misinformation. After confronting a series of loathsome baddies, Bond is able to find out more about the organization and comes closer to finding Vespa’s killer. The extra element of revenge gives the plot a little more dimension, especially since Bond is still a bit young and inexperienced.

While the storyline might be normal for a Bond flick, the cinematography and editing are very different from the traditional 007 movies. This is particularly true for the action sequences. Director Marc Forster and his production team went with the dirty, intense cinetographic style as the Bourne franchise. Although this look might be getting popular with action films, it usually doesn’t work, and Quantum of Solace features several chase scenes that can be more disorienting than entertaining. Many shots throughout the film are so quick and sloppy that it hurts the film more than helps, which is sad because some of the visuals are truly creative and interesting. Most people would rather see a Bond film for the action and excitement, and unfortunately they are going to be disappointed. The action itself is often lame and nonsensical, even for a Bond movie. We’ve seen far better boat chases in many other Bond flicks, all of them with proper composition. Sure, these movies often are cheesy and over the top, but why is a villian taking refuge in a hotel with exploding walls, and why the Hell is it in the middle of a desert?

Once again, Daniel Craig pulls off the intense and convincing performance we saw in Casino Royale. Pyshically, he is also the most impressive actor to ever play Bond. Craig performs many of his own stunts. Towards the end, he injured his hand during a fight scene. You don’t get many actors that are that hardcore.

However, the things the spy does in this film are very erratic, even for a reckless 007. He acts more like a murderous thug than a spy. Everytime he encounters a suspicious character he instinctively kills them, without bothering to investigate. he a special agent, or an assasin? He was never this inept at spywork, even when he started out in Casino Royale. I’m guessing that these rampages are the result of Bond’s thirst for revenge, but he seems awfully cool and detacted for that to be the case. The concept might be there, but the execution is off. Meanwhile, M is on the other end of the spectrum, and never seems to calm down. Bond’s CIA friend, felix, simply drinks himself silly. My, what a cheery little group of people! For once I’m starting to miss the charming campiness of Thunderball (1965).

Yet, this flick isn’t all doom and gloom. While Bond might be a little crazy, he still manages to seduce beautiful women and pull off an amusing pun every once in a while. Everyone’s favorite swanky Brit undergoes a great deal of character growth, and eventually evovles into the womanizing do-gooder we recognize, but up until then he is an entirely different creature. The film was always supposed to be dark, but there is so much anxiety built up in this film that it becomes too dark and nihilistic. The negativity is obvious, but the character development is not.

5.0 out of 10

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