Sunday, November 23, 2008

Quantum of Solace

Although a critical disappointment, the latest installment in the James Bond franchise has managed to rake in over $100 million domestically. For those jazzed by Daniel Craig's debut in the reboot, Quantum of Solace offers more of the same: car chases, boat chases, chases on foot, chases in the air, blood, carnage and a brawling, badass Bond.

Quantum fills the bill as far as it goes with the bombardment of set pieces starting with a car chase through a narrow tunnel on a Italian mountain road and capping it all off with flames and pyrotechnics of an exploding Bolivian enclave. It's BAM! POW! ZAP! right out of the gate and the action doesn't let up--until a bit of a lull in the middle of the movie and a relatively anti-climatic ending.

Critics whined about the darkness of this vengeful, grief-stricken Bond. The double-entendres, the hedonistic misogyny, the high-tech gadgets are largely missing from this version of the franchise. Frankly, I don't miss any of that.

What I did miss was a sense on the edge of my seat tension. Marc Forster's forte is not action, and it shows. The action sequences were intricate and well-choreographed. But, the way they were shot and edited made it confusing to watch. Too bad. A lot of talent and effort went into the construction of these set pieces--Daniel Craig even sustained injuries during filming. But what ended up on screen was such a muddled jumble, the fabulous stunt work and special effects couldn't be fully appreciated.

Forster also was obviously profoundly affected by the Kristallnacht scene in Cabaret. He uses the cross-cutting technique twice in Quantum. But instead of heightening irony or illuminating paradoxical parallels, it just adds to the confusion.

Also missing from the film was a worthy villain. Mathieu Almaric was suitably slimy but he was no match for the charisma of Craig's Bond. This installment revived the super-secret evil organization--known as "Quantum." It's the same-old spy shtick complete with a world domination agenda, double-agents, elite membership and secret decoders rings. (Okay, not decoder rings--but hidden earphones deposited in special opera swag bags. Yeah--it didn't make much sense to me either...)

And finally, Stevie was right: The theme song sucks. Alicia Keys' and Jack White's voices do not blend well together making for a oddly clashing dissonance. I doubt this one will make it onto a Best of Bond collection...

It wasn't a bad action movie, but it didn't live up to the promise of Casino Royale. Hopefully now that avenging Vesper's death is out of Bond's system (and perhaps with a better action director), his future adventures will get back on track.

4 comments:

  1. I just think the name is off-putting. What does it mean?

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  2. Hmmm-"Quantum" is the name of the super-secret evil organization and "Solace" is what James Bond is seeking after the death of Vesper.

    But seriously, this is the franchise with films named "Octopussy" and "Goldfinger."

    "Quantum of Solace" is refreshing in comparison!

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  3. nice review - agree that action scenes were not shot properly - made it a bit confusing. The story - I dont know - was like set between the Chases (car / plane/ boat / hey they missed ponies - but it wasn't Indiana Jones so its ok)
    Also it seems like they got great feedback for the run-chase in Casino so they got two this time.

    but movie was cool - was surprised how less bond speaks -
    Also weaker and confused M and absence of Q

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