Monday, November 17, 2008
422 - Quantum of Solace review
“Quantum of Solace” takes the James Bond we met in 2006’s “Casino Royale” and strips him of nearly everything interesting. All that remains from Daniel Craig’s first outing as the British super-spy is the brutality, which has been amplified to the point where the knob breaks off and all we receive is noise, simultaneously ostentatious and bland.
Gone is the image of Bond as a ladies man, clad in an impeccable designer suit and irresistibly suave. Here, his suit is filthy from his dozens of fistfights and romps through the dirt. He looks more like the kind of guy targeted by a bouncer at a dive bar than a globetrotting secret agent. Good for cover, bad for a Bond movie. His legendary sex drive has been reduced to afterthought, subordinate to a bloody quest for vengeance. When he sleeps with a fellow agent here, it’s as if by custom rather than joy, pleasure, or work. Why copulate with a gorgeous woman when you could drive a knife through the throat of an ugly man, seems to be this Bond’s motto. Well, why should I watch the Bond character become pointlessly vicious when I could admire Jack Bauer’s grisly antics instead?
When “Casino Royale” reset the franchise, the results were beyond expectations. Bond was flawlessly portrayed by Craig as a neophyte to big league intrigue, a hard and predatory man with an axe to grind and a duty to fulfil. Bond’s glamour was combined with the degree of ruthlessness prior installments had whitewashed over, to great effect: here was an spy that clawed his way to the top, who fought and bled and then loved, ever so briefly, before he was crushed.
“Quantum of Solace” picks up immediately afterward, and sees Bond solely as a killing machine, an instrument of death that exterminates all in his way. Does anybody fondly recall the previous 21 entries for their double-digit body counts and perpetually scowling lead? Under director Marc Forster’s incompetent direction, Craig’s performance is one-note, and that note isn’t even the anger ostensibly driving the mayhem: it’s boredom.
Opening with a car chase through an Italian village, “Quantum of Solace” keeps the violence coming, presented to us via a series of borderline incomprehensible cuts popularized by the “Bourne” series. Bond gets in karate fights and shootouts and we might be able to set aside our incredulousness at the film as a whole if we could tell what was going on, but we can’t, so we won’t.
In “Casino Royale,” Bond traveled to places that made the film appropriately resemble a travel guide for the super-wealthy: the beaches of the Caribbean, Lake Como in Italy, Casino Royale in Montenegro. The destinations in “Quantum of Solace” are less inspiring: the slums of Haiti, an Austrian opera house, a Bolivian desert. What, did Bond villains stop enjoying nice scenery? The film climaxes in a palace that begins exploding when bullets begin to fly, which strikes me as a poor choice of home for anyone, much less those prone to attracting gunfire.
To add insult to copious injury, the opening titles are deadly dull, and the theme by Jack White is the worst I’ve heard, and I’d be amazed if many Bond aficionados disagreed. For a Bond film like this, allow me to say “never again.” And may I never have to say that again.
1.5 out of 5
For those in the know about guns, for the first time since "Goldeneye," Bond's sidearm of choice is the Walther PPK. Since "Tomorrow Never Dies," Bond had used the more modern (not to mention practical) Walther P99. My take: bad choice. The P99 offers a superior shell (9mm or .40) and magazine capacity (16+1 or 12+1) to the PPK (7+1 rounds of .380). Considering that this Bond is so intent on killing people, the switch is quite lame.
Posted by James at 11/17/2008 12:24:00 AM