Monday, April 13, 2009

Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace
2008. Rated PG-13.
Director: Marc Forster. Starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Giancarlo Giannini, Gemma Arterton, Jeffrey Wright, David Harbour.

Plot: An attempt on M's (Dench) life by the mysterious Quantum organization leads Bond (Craig) to Haiti where he meets the beautiful Camille (Kurylenko). She in turn, leads him to Quantum's leader Dominic Greene who is of course, trying to take over the world in some form or fashion. Action ensues. Or re-ensues, since it starts with a car chase, but nevermind.

The Good: The action, duh! These sequences will flat knock you on your butt. It amplifies the Bourne-style in splendidly brutal fight and chase scenes with amazing stunts. However, it's careful to never get into the gizmo heavy cheesefests that marred the Pierce Brosnan 007 flicks. This Bond also has another thing in common with Bourne, he's ruthless, in fact moreso. He's piling up quite a body count. To pull this off, Daniel Craig is perfect. Whether or not he's the best Bond is a matter of opinion. What isn't open to debate is the fact that he's given us by far the most athletic version of the character. Aside from the physical stuff, we also notice that for the first time, a Bond movie isn't a stand-alone adventure. It's actually a real sequel that often refers to it's predecessor. This further humanizes our hero, even as he's performing unbelievable feats. He often has thoughts of revenge and can't sleep due to the events of the prior movie. The relationship between Bond and M continues as it did in Casino Royale as well. That is, it provides a solid foundation and seems to grow during the movie. It helps that Judi Dench has been wonderful in the role.

The Bad: The story is convoluted and rushed. This seems to be a constant Bond problem as the bad guy has to go through a whole lot to take over the world and Bond has to go all over the world, quite literally, to figure things out. As a result, he seems to discover a lot of things either by accident or unintentionally implied psychic ability and we are left scrambling to catch up. The movie is also formulaic. In CR, there were long sections of the movie devoted to us getting to know the new Bond. Here, those sections are stripped away and we just follow the same leftover steps. As far as Bond villains go, Dominic Greene and the evil general we meet later are a bit bland. If the Bond reboot needs anything, it's "a better brand of criminal" to quote The Joker. Oh, and what happened to the creative names for the bad guys and the Bond girls. Hearing the outlandish and sometimes racy names of these characters was part of the fun. I realize they wanted to get away from some of the more silly aspects of the franchise but they could lighten up just a tad. Dominic Greene and Camille? Where's the fun in that?

The Ugly: He keeps tearing up my Aston Martins!

Recommendation: As with any of the Bond movies over the course of 40 years, it's a must-see for fans. It's also a must-see for action fans since it may be the genre's best film of 2008 that doesn't include a costumed hero (unless you consider a well-tailored suit a costume). It's also not as good as CR. While, it's certainly a fun ride, the movie between the action scenes is lacking. Fortunately, those action scenes come early and often and are all dynamite.

The Opposite View: Mike McGranaghan, Aisle Seat

What the Internet Says: 7.0/10 on (4/6/09), 65% on, 58/100 on

MY SCORE: 6/10

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