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Thursday, November 27, 2008 0:40 | Filed in Reviews, TV/Film

The new James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, received a somewhat mixed response. Hardly anyone went as far as to say “don’t go and see it”, but a number of reviewers expressed concern that it wasn’t as good as it could — or should — have been.

As you may expect, there were a goodly number of reviewers from the mainstream media, but there’s no fun in listening to them, I’d rather hear what normal people think (well, as normal as bloggers get, anyway).

I like him [Daniel Craig] because he’s chiseled and rough around the edges, dangerous and mysteriousShannon from Milan To Minsk

Well, that’s one for the ladies. Daniel Craig is a good Bond because — and I think I’m interpreting Shannon correctly here — he’s hot. And other people seem to agree, albeit for different reasons…

Craig is still very much the number two Bond almost ready to push aside Connery’s one, which is an unusual stance to take considering that the 22nd Bond film is generally very disappointing.

What I found a huge mistake was that Quantum of Solace follows directly on from its predecessor Casino Royale, the two movies effectively making one whole. So if you’ve not seen the previous film in the last 24 hours you’re stuck

Stephen from Booked Out

And that’s a fair point. I do certainly agree with Stephen that I didn’t know who half of the characters were supposed to be, and the film follows on immediately from the previous one, starting with the first of many chase scenes. I wouldn’t entirely agree about being stuck however; I think it was possible to work out sufficient of what was going on — he’s a goodie, that bloke twirling his waxed moustaches and cackling maniacally is a baddie — without remembering the plot of Casino Royale.

This Bond can probably be best thought of as “Chase Scene of Solace”, as that is primarily what it is. It consists of a goodly number of extended — and generally very well done — chase scenes stapled together with a little bit of plot. The plot that exists is pretty good, but the majority of the “intrigue” thing seems to have gone out of the window, to be replaced by … well, chase scenes.

One chase scene in particular, culminating in a fight in a bell tower, is particularly well done until the fight scene. At this point it gets a bit messy. Rather than clearly following the fight and allowing the combatants slightly supplemented by camera-work to take the scene, the scene is given almost solely to the cameramen and editors. We get to see pieces of glass break and fall in slow motion, then speeding up as the camera twists back to the fight, which we see for the briefest of moments before the camera cuts away somewhere else.

The fight scene should focus on those fighting; not on crazy camera angles. You want to see a good fight scene, you see the one from Grosse Point Blank.

Similarly, as Stephen also points out, the film touches on a number of themes — such as obtaining power through control of a country’s water supply — none of which are developed nearly as well as they ought to be.

While the Dominic Greene character in Quantum of Solace is quite interesting, General Medrano seems to have been picked from the Big Book of Stereotype Villains™. He wears army fatigues (obviously), is rough, gruff and misogynistic (I don’t actually remember him saying “I like a girl with spirit”, but you can hear him thinking it). He also wants to take control of his country because … well, because he does. These sorts of villains aren’t very complex.

Imagine a Hollywood-ised Saddam Hussein, only a bit thinner. That’s it, you’ve got him.

It’s not a great Bond, but then, surprisingly few of the Bond films actually are. Bond, like Dr Who, owes much of its success to the fact that it’s been at least reasonably good, and that it’s been going for a long time. So people will still want to see what happens next.

It’s an action film; lots of fighting, lots of chase scenes, and it has moved considerably away from gadget-Bond (I think maybe too far away, but it’s probably difficult to get that balance right). As a Bond film it is okay; it’s gone a bit “Bourne Identity” which I don’t think is the right territory for Bond, but it’s certainly not terrible.

If you wanted to see it anyway, go and see it. Just don’t expect too much.

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3 Comments to On Quanta

  1. Shannon says:

    November 27th, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Yes, it’s true, I like him for the ‘hot’ factor, but I do have some other — less shallow — opinions of the film, pretty much all agreeing with your assessment.

    I didn’t expect Quantum of Solace to be so much a sequel to the point that although I have seen Casino Royale a couple times I was also lost as to who was who in this movie, err um, film. I felt a little fuzzy on the plot, and my husband and I were pretty disappointed in that regard. Justin said the exact same thing as you about it seeming like Bourne Identity as we were watching it in the theater. And as a more interesting point than my in depth ‘he’s hot’ comment, Justin and I both agree that we like that Bond looks like he was just in a fight or chase after being in one — he has cuts, he’s dirty, and his suits get torn. We also commented on the lack of cheesy dialogue in this film, which made it a lot easier for me to like, and the fact that Bond wasn’t quite as big of a slut in this one as in others.

    But overall, I liked the fight/chase scenes and thought it was fun to watch for several reasons.

  2. Anthony says:

    November 27th, 2008 at 11:14 am

    I think it does seem to be the Empire Strikes Back of a trilogy. Not much really happens, but it does link the first and third nicely (I hope).

    Basically it was all just to set up up this mysterious Quantum organisation, which will hopefully make a good third film.

    But it is like they’ve seen Bourne and heard everyone say it’s the new Bond… then made the old Bond the new Bourne. Or something.

    Anyway I’ve been on a bit of Bond splurge recently having bought the box set of Ian Flemming originals. I’m half way through the 5th in the series (From Russia with Love) and I’m yet to come across a gadget of any sort.

    Moonraker was the biggest surprise. Moonraker was actually a test nuclear missile that a team of ex-nazis tried to reprogramme into blowing up London. Not even a hint of Moore-style-zero-gravity-eye-brow-raising.

    So these newer films are actually truer to the books than ever. Well apart from the fact Craig’s Bond isn’t constantly getting high on Benzadrine.

  3. chartroose says:

    December 2nd, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    I know this will seem silly and superficial, but Daniel Craig should not be Bond because he’s a blonde. Bond should be tall, dark and handsome, not short (5′9), blonde, and wrinkly.

    I’m sure he’s a good actor, but why can’t he be good in something else?

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