Friday, November 21, 2008

Bourne...Jason Bourne - Sorry, my mistake!

Quantum of Solace

Release: 11.14.08
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 41 minutes

Matinee ($$$)

Picking up shortly after Casino Royale, James Bond (Daniel Craig, Layer Cake) brings the villainous Mr. White in for questioning. After an attempt on M's life (Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal), White escapes and Bond is in hot pursuit. The trail leads to the environmentalist Dominic Greene (Mathieu Almaric, Munich) and his lover Camille (Olga Kurylenko, Hitman). Bond must go rogue, disobeying MI6 orders, to prove Greene is part of a larger conspiracy known only as Quantum.

Bond 22 kicks off like a good Bond film should; with an action packed adrenaline rush that flows into the title sequence. The title sequence, a sandy silhouette of Bond, bullets and curvaceous babes was extremely satisfying for this fanboy. From there, the film continues with an action-heavy front end, though much of those scenes are an unrecognizable blur. One particular fight sequence instantly reminded me of the Bourne series. First, I blamed director Marc Forster (Monster's Ball) for being unable to shoot action properly; having to rely upon a frenetic, indiscernible flurry of shots. Ironically, my research uncovered that second unit director Dan Bradley was hired specifically for his previous Bourne work. Many PG-13 films tend to rely on blurred action to keep the film short while maintaining a faux brutality. Personally, I'd rather have stretched the run time of Quantum over two hours if it meant clearly-shot fight sequences and well framed chases.

Speaking of time, Casino Royale may have clocked in an hour longer, but Quantum felt just as long. The beginning action had to diverge into a lengthy exposition of Bond, Camille and Greene's stories to give the climax the proper umph. Craig still approaches Bond as a no nonsense, unstoppable force of reckoning. Kurylenko played Camille as stubborn, her story tragic, and she pulled off the anger and sympathy while still looking amazing. Dench played the normally unshakable M with a tinge of vulnerability at the thought of a powerful, secretive society right under her nose.

Dirty Undies
Car, plane and boat chases, highlighted by plain ol' ass-whoopings were plentiful, even if the action was a jumbled mess more often than not. Kurylenko was oh so hot, even with the barely explained scarring. My friends would have preferred to have seen more Gemma Arterton (and I assume her character), but Kurylenko was the appropriate fit to match Bond's fixated and hurried pace.

The Money Shot
I like the homages in Quantum; the Universal Exports business card and the Goldfinger scene helped to remind me this was in fact a Bond film and not some Shooter, Bourne or Transporter wannabe. The superb acting, story and the few allusions to Bonds of yore make Quantum of Solace a formidable addition to the 007 history. I, with five friends in tow, went into Quantum with expectations high. When we all exited expressing similar misgivings about the dark direction of the series, it couldn't let it go unmentioned. Bond has been a spy of unparalleled prowess for decades, it's time he starts to act like one.


Creative Suggestions
I feel the conclusion of Quantum leaves the door open for the series to see a return to familiar ground. Here's a few things that will make this Bond fan extremely happy:

1) Hire a director that can balance well-developed story telling with coherent action sequences.

2) Get some new writing blood so you can lighten (just a bit) the weighty emotional turmoil of the characters.

3) M needs a Miss Moneypenny, if for nothing more than to give Bond a softer, more playful side.

4) We need a nearly unbeatable henchman. A big, burly mutha that Bond can't smackdown in five to seven seconds. He doesn't need any steel-rimmed hat or metal teeth gimmick, he just needs to present a challenge that can't be removed with fists.

5) Bring back the quips! A Bond is only as good as his banter and ability to laugh in the face of danger. I'm not saying go all "Snowboards and California Girls" on us, but a little fun is acceptable.

6) How about Bond have better gadgets than a cell phone that takes really great photos? Again, the car doesn't have to turn invisible, but can we get a tear gas pen?


7) Major Boothroyd a.k.a. Q must not be absent any longer! Hiring Ricky Gervais or Simon Pegg is a bit of overkill for such a small role. Might I suggest Alan Tudyk of Firefly fame or that naked stand-in from Love Actually, Martin Freeman. A charming fellow along these lines will help soften the rugged exterior of Craig-Bond. This, EON Productions, is non-negotiable.

Large Association of Movie Blogs


  1. I agree with 1. They should have used the director for the first film. No to 2,3,4,5,6,7. Keep the goofy characters, bs gadgets, etc off screen. If you want to see that stuff, you have 20 Bond films to choose from.

  2. Great review RW, I haven't bothered watching the bourne films so I don't know what your talking bout willis...
    But overall you nailed the tone of the film, and its questions. ^
    To me the film seemed very "Spy Who loved Me,,, I love the direction these Daniel Craig , Bond films are going!!!!

  3. @filmbook- True. There are 20 movies to refer to.

    I have to stick by #4 & #7.

    A tough henchman would be nice. Ultimately, Bond can shoot him for all I care. I'd just like to see him not beat someone silly in under a minute.

    I love Q and he wasn't always goofy. Bond can go without gadgets but a goto guy from the MI6 Help Desk for the tough tech would be handy.

    I'm afraid the serious <-> silly pendulum may start inching back to 2-7 to draw back the Casino Royale audience they lost this time 'round.

    @790- Thanks! I've enjoyed the Bourne films, the stunts just get harder to follow with each film.

    Overall. I do enjoy this new Craig-Bond. Spy Who Loved Me is one of my fave Moore-Bond films. I just wish Craig had the chance to "keep the British end up" with Kurylenko!

  4. Yeah "The Spy Who Loved Me" is a favorite of mine!
    I also liked "For Your Eyes Only" and the classic, "To Live and Let Die!".
    These new Craig films are right behind!!!

  5. All great choices 790! Those are the best of Moore no contest. I'd throw in Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice for Connery.

  6. "I'd just like to see him not beat someone silly in under a minute."

    He didn't beat Dominic Greene silly in a minute.

    My favorite s of the old films are On Her Majesty's Secret Service and View to a Kill.

  7. @film-book:

    "He didn't beat Dominic Greene silly in a minute."

    See, and that bugged me because Greene was a poof compared to the others. Why did it take him so long to lay him out?

    I sold all my Bond DVD last year. It's time to start upgrading to BluRay so I can enjoy all View, Majesty and others again.

  8. Greene does have an axe. This makes the length of the fight more plausible.

    What kind of Blu-ray player do you have? PS3?

  9. Very true with the axe.

    I have the Panasonic BD35. I've only watched the Shakira concert on Blu Ray so far... I really need to get more use out of it.

  10. Too bad. If you had a PS3 you could at least play Metal Gear after Shakira.

  11. If I had a PS3, I'd never write reviews again! I used to be such a game addict. I couldn't imagine revisiting yet another vice. I'll stick with my obsession for movies and Shakira.