Sunday, November 30, 2008

Quantum of Solace. indeed.......

well, such is our schedule these days that one of the main reasons we got to watch the new James Bond film was that it seemed to be a good 30 - 40 minutes shorter than the average Bond. i momentarily forgot that deciding on a film to watch because of the running time is invariably an ill-advised method.

it's difficult to comment on Quantum of Solace without following the lazy path most reviews have; or for that matter without just taking apart those lazy reviews. i will do my best, then - something the makers of this film may have pondered doing but opted against.




plot? let's have a bash - it's something of a follow up to Casino Royale as we are all aware, pity i didn't think to re-watch that one to pick up some of the finer plot points. basically, it's Bond running around after stumbling on some sort of plot by an organization called Quantum who have opted to corner the world's "most precious resource" in South America, whilst possibly seeking some sort of revenge or information about (*** SPOILER ***) the dead woman from the end of Casino Royale, Vespa.

now, it's not an unreasonable fear to have if you hear the plot of a Bond film is "cornering the world market". it could be that Bond is taking a "serious" approach to a Dr Evil plot out of Austin Powers, the parody going full circle. fortunately this doesn't happen here, but unfortunately it's because there is next to no development of the "baddies" at all. there hasn't been all that much of that in past Bond films i suppose, but at least they were enigmatic or tantalizingly interesting in glimpses.





what also makes it tricky to follow the film is (*** SPOILERS ***) the astonishing array of people who could be bad guys. we seem to have various governments around the world that could be crossing, double crossing, triple crossing and, if it exists, quadruply crossing each other. it was a good deal more straightforward in the Cold War era, with a nice big wall through Berlin showing you where the good and the bad stood.

i suppose it's possible that this "Quantum" lot are being lined up to be a sort of equivalent of SPECTRE (or whatever they were called) from the 60's Bond films. it's hinted at with lines such as "we have people everywhere", and there is something in Bolivia (or wherever it is in South America that they are supposed to be) that does look like a slight homage to a massive hollowed out volcano. that no one has ever noticed before.

much has been made of this film being "action packed", and indeed it is. there's no arguing with the quality of the stunt work and chase sequences here, they are first class and all rather entertaining. they are, however, all rather frustrating, as the 30 - 40 minutes shaved off a usual Bond running length would mostly be those pesky scenes of dialogue that link it all together and make making sense of the film a straightforward affair.





a good deal of noise has been made of Bond "borrowing" from the intense and impressive Bourne films. the lazy reviews have left it at that, which is a shame. Bond has always borrowed from popular culture, be it music, movies, art, whatever. borrowing the action style sensibilities of a masterpiece that is the Bourne trilogy is sensible and no bad thing, at least. let's not forget the disastrous, ridiculous action sequences which turned up in Brosnan-era Bond films when they felt the need to be "inspired" by the likes of True Lies and Mission : Impossible.

allowing for the, shall we say "cheeky" re-creation of a rooftop chase from one of the Bourne films (i think the last one), what you kind of wish the makers of Quantum of Solace had taken from the Bourne films is the ability to make a linear, coherent story structure from a fundamentally incoherent plot scenario. that's a fancy way of saying could they not have made it in such a way that it made sense and was easy to follow? there's so many instances of Bond receiving information that's never handed over to the audience that every now and then you think you are watching National Treasure 2 again. enough! there will be another Bond, you don't need this kind of trickery to build suspense or anticipation in the audience.

Quantum of Solace does have one major redeeming feature, and that's Daniel Craig. despite being wildly indifferent to Casino Royale and rather ho-hum about this one, do you know i think in Daniel Craig they really do have the best actor yet to play Bond?

forget all this "the only Bond was Connery" business. whereas he was exceptional in two exceptional Bond films, Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice, he was rather pedestrian in the other, dull ones that he appeared in, and the "only Connery" bunch tend to mouth of from a stance of a false sense of nostalgia. my personal favourite will always be Roger Moore, because watching him in the part did what the films were supposed to do - entertain and thrill you. poor Timothy Dalton was never really given a decent chance with the awful Living Daylights and the "too dark for Bond at the time" Licence To Kill. and you can only wish that Brosnan's time as Bond was made as invisible as the ridiculous car in the last one he did.

Daniel Craig looks like he could well be the business. he made this film watchable for a start, which is the hallmark of a quality actor. if Mr Craig is going to survive in the role then they had better give him some decent films to be in, really. i'm still not at all sure why they don't go about remaking or "re-imagining" some of the earlier films with him in the part, there is plenty of margin to update the likes of Live And Let Die, The Man With The Golden Gun and, yes, even Goldfinger.

watching Quantum Of Solace isn't quite the "what were they thinking, exactly" thought provoker that Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull was, but you end up with a similar hollow feeling after watching it regardless. if whatever they do for the next one resembles chunks of this, expect the cries of "Bond has run its course, retire the series" to be louder and, of great concern to us fans, of more substance than usual.

if you head off to see it, best of luck!!!



be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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