Sunday, November 16, 2008

Movie Review: Quantum Of Solace

I am currently reading a book by John Cork & Bruce Scivally, which deals with the history of Bond movies, the background behind-the-scenes stories and all the small little things that went into making Bond movies. It is a fascinating book with excellent photographs. It tells us about the many ideas they've tried with Bond and the number of ideas they wanted to try but didn't have the courage. The timing of reading that book fits in well with the release of the latest Bond installment. Having spent a good part of my life as a maniacal bond fan, reading Ian Fleming novels and digesting obscure Bond trivia, I was more than enthusiastic about Quantum Of Solace. Casino Royale was a refreshing movie in many ways. It finally tried out an idea of the rugged, cruel, thug like Bond that Ian Fleming envisioned. They would've executed it in 1987 with the Living Daylights had they managed to extricate Pierce Brosnan from the Remington Steele contract. But that is history. Daniel Craig is the new exciting Bond who might've got a nod from Fleming.

We already know that Daniel Craig as James Bond is a brute. He fits the description of Ian Fleming's bond - rugged, handsome-but-not-a-chocolate-boy, well-built and most of all a cold blooded animal. Casino Royale showed us that Bond. It was exhilarating. It gave us the adrenalin rush that many of the previous Bond movies did not. It revived an enterprise that was going stale, an enterprise that had locked itself by trying to stick to a 60s formula. The problem with this movie is that it does not build on the platform that Casino Royale had so wonderfully established. The only new thing this movie provides is more of the new Bond. But we've already seen that. A coincidental pattern in Bond history is that the movie that introduces a new actor playing Bond has been slower paced and a little bit more introspective. The second James Bond movies of those actors (From Russia With Love, Man With a Golden Gun, License To Kill, Tomorrow Never Dies) were all fast paced action thrillers that didn't waste too much time with dialog but filled the movie with once chase scene after the other. Not Quantum Of Solace.

Quantum Of Solace starts in a frenzy though. It has the traditional pre-title scene where Bond does the impossible and escapes from near death situations. This movie is a bit more edgy with its camera work. It has these first-hand view kind of quick shots where you get to see the action the way the Bond sees it. The editing is all extremely fast paced and slick. But it is hard to figure what the hell is going on. There is lack of clarity. Some sequences are awesome but most make you wonder "what is really happening". The title credit do show the traditional images of naked women, guns and bullets but isn't as impressive as some of the previous title sequences. I didn't think too much of the song either (by Alicia Keys). The movie continues to be fast paced in the post-title sequence also. Makes up a few silly scenes along the way. However, suddenly mid-way through the movie, the pace changes abruptly, the movie slows down and lingers unnecessarily on moments that have no larger meaning.

This new Daniel Craig sequence of Bond movies recreates some of Ian Fleming's concepts. This Bond looses a girl too and seeks revenge. This movie introduces a new secret organization much similar to Ian Fleming's S.M.E.R.S.H or S.P.E.C.T.R.E. This secret organization also has penetrated most intelligence agencies in the world. All very good. But the crux of the movie's plot is just too small time. It is almost like some small country will have water problems if Bond doesn't intervene (I am trivializing of course). Compare that to satellite eating satellites and world destroying moon stations. Don't get me wrong. The movie entertaining. But its got no new tricks. Offers very few surprises and the action sequences (maybe because of astronomical expectations) aren't that impressive. Somehow when I left the movie I had a feeling that I saw too many little things - some impressive and some not so much - that didn't add up to anything greater than the sum of the parts. The only consoling thing is that this franchise has opened up possibilities that the previous versions did not. So better luck next time.


maxdavinci said...

twas a let down right from the title song.

seemed like the fourth installment of the bourne franchise and not bond.

The witty one-liners seemed to be missing though the chase sequences and some parts were slick!

water crisis in bolivia doesnt threaten the world, but I guess tehy were laying the platform fro quantum in the further stories...

rads said...

heh, looks like most came out feeling the same way. No big shakes.

Sean Connery and then Pierce were the best imho.


Maddy said...

Where is World dominance? Water crisis in a S.American country, is that the best you can come up with you story/screenplay department of studio? Next time better go for benson or faulks novels.
Bond girl is fabulous, though.
Felix Leiter was very much underused.The most brutal bond film ever.The most forgettable title score.No exotic locations.

But,i always love Brosnan as Bond.

Big disappointment.