Posts Tagged ‘007’

Director: Marc Forster

Cast: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric.

Rating: 3/5

‘Quantum of Solace’ is a direct sequel to ‘Casino Royale’, so watching that first is a must. It also brings a much needed reality check to the series, making the films run into each other instead of our previously stereotypical super-spy saving the world every single time from space-based lasers and other nonsense. Craig is a superb Bond, erasing the criticism of his initial casting and really starting to emphasise the darker nature of the character without completely destroying the humour and sex appeal of previous Bonds. And this is the film’s biggest problem – it’s still the milestone of expectation of the earlier films, knowing that legions of fans want nothing more than Moneypenny and Q, ‘Bond. James Bond.’, Vodka Martinis and some straight-up sex.

Most of the best aspects remain from Casino Royale. Daniel Craig if not the best Bond ever is certainly the best actor to have played him and his interaction with Judi Dench’s M has plenty of on screen chemistry . Mathieu Amalric’s villain Dominic Greene follows in the tradition of the Craig era Bond baddies. In that he’s not a maniac sitting in a bunker trying to destroy the world. He is just a very greedy man wanting to make lots of money and killing anyone who stands in the way of his corporation. I can’t help thinking that maybe a little more screen time could have been dedicated to character interaction.

The plot is very weak and un-involving, in my opinion. The story does have originality in it. Let’s face the fact that in the global economy, nations compete with each other for foreign investments. That aspect is pushed to the extreme in the film with Greene’s scheme and deal with Bolivia. True enough, some governments out there make deals with these kinds of “investors” even if it would mean danger. Come to think of it, the last time I saw deep intelligence politics as far as the Bond movies go was in ‘From Russia with Love.’ But honestly, being a huge Paul Haggis fan, I was expecting a plot as exciting as that of Casino Royale. I was let down. The saving grace in the plot would be sub-elements like how the teething relationship between Bond and M continues to build with the development of trust, as well as the return of limited allies whom we’re likely to see feature in future Bond films. What I also love is the fact that in his transformation phase, Bond is portrayed to be vulnerable.

Director Marc Forster seemed to lack the knack for directing action sequences though, with everything in quick edits and delivered in a blur that it’s hard to figure out who’s Bond, who’s not, that you just switch off and consider two stuntmen taking potshots at each other. The stunts and chase sequences along with the edits is very Bourne-esque. Well this does not come as a surprise since they hired the editors and the 2nd Unit Director from the Bourne Series

What is impossible to forgive however is some quite atrocious editing in the action scenes where everything is so blink-and-miss. What makes it even worse is that director Marc Forster has some great visual ideas, especially a shootout in a restaurant where the only sound heard on screen is the sound of the opera but all this is bloody ruined by subliminal editing where shot lengths are micro seconds! You’ll have to see the movie to find out how terrible it looks. In fact a large percentage of the film feels like it ended up on the edit table.

The film even has something approaching subtext, by virtue of Marc Forster’s superb visual sensibility. An example includes Bond cradling a badly wounded friend, juxtaposed with an earlier scene in which he calmly ‘cradles’ a wounded foe awaiting his pulse to expire. Best of all though, is a pregnant pause shared by Bond and Greene just before the mayhem begins at the Tosca that literally speaks a thousand words.

All in all, fast cut editing technique, dangerous stunts and endless action pieces all make it entertaining but this misses out on the gadgets and witty one-liners that make Bond … well Bond. Take away the references to MI6 and it’s hardly any different to your regular action blockbuster. On the technical side, the influence of films like the Bourne or Die Hard series is strong. The camera has been brought much closer to the action, a lot more use is made of hand-held or just generally shaky cameras. This is not representative of the Bond films I grew to love over the years.

Same goes for the music- it is an excellent soundtrack, some really nice tunes in there, but it just isn’t Bond. In fact the classic full orchestra Bond theme can’t even be heard once during the entire film. All of these things by themselves aren’t bad at all but the series has just gotten a little too far from its roots.

There are two ways of looking at this. One is the positive opinion in that QOS is infinitely better than some of the crap we saw under the Bond banner in the 70s and 80s, perhaps even better than some of the lesser Brosnan films. That is the correct opinion. The negative opinion is that QOS is ultimately disappointing in many ways and should have been better as it eventually turned out to be just-another-popcorn-action flick. Unfortunately that is also the correct opinion.