Monday, April 6, 2009

Bond review #2 - Quantum of Solace

Friends, there comes a time when a franchise wears itself out, or at least a time when the bigwig studio heads think it has. A new direction is needed. Believe me, after Die Another Day they were right. We got Casino Royale out of the deal, which is fine by me. It was different, it was exciting, it was fun. Then, a few years afterwards, we got this one. Quantum of Solace.

It's not based on an Ian Fleming story, even though it takes the title of one of his short stories. Surprisingly enough, it plays a lot like a Timothy Dalton era Bond film. Bond beds only one woman, he's lost some of his humor that was in Casino Royale, and the villain sucks. If those were the only issues, I'd love it as much as I do the Dalton bonds, because truthfully, both of those were pretty well done movies. No, no, no... We have a few problems here.

Problem number one is the editting. Holy crap, was the editor on speed?! I timed one of the fight scenes and ther was a cut every 1.2 seconds! It's outrageous, it serves no purpose, it's headache inducing, it needs to go away. Used in moderation, as in Chronicles of Riddick, (not a great movie), it's fine. Bond can order his martinis shaken all he wants, but I don't think the audience wants to be literally shaken to headache. Shaky cam + fast cuts = bad idea.

The movie isn't all bad. It's short, I believe the shortest Bond movie yet at 106 minutes. It has more Judi Dench, which is always a blessing. We get to see the effects of Vesper on Bond. But what about the things important to a Bond movie, even one that is in a series decidedly different than the one that preceded it? What about the megalomaniac villain? Bond as a sex symbol? The gadgets? Not important here. This one was supposed to be a about story, about people. It failed, sorry to say.

I can't see this as a Bond movie. It's a regular action movie that just happens to have someone named James Bond in it. Now before everyone starts saying it's supposed to be different, and to watch Casino Royale again, chill... I loved that movie both as a Bond film and a regular piece of cinema. I'm down with the reboot. It was needed for today's audience. Yet Casino Royale had more to please me. It was well written, I didn't feel like I was being rushed, and Bond wasn't an action hero.

Here in Quantum of Solace, Bond is Jason Bourne. He's mopey, he's a cold blooded killer, and he's going against the system. The first and third points are part of the reason the series was rebooted in the first place! Let's remember Die Another Day even if I'm sure we don't want to. Bond was tortured for months and came back a mopey beaten man. He went against the system in many of the recent Bonds, and it was becoming lame. Sure he had done it many times of the series, but with Brosnan he did it twice in a row. He got too close to the rest of MI6, and it brought the series down. What with M getting kidnapped in The World Is Not Enough, to Bond being part of a prisoner exchange brought about by M in Die Another Day. They fixed the distance part, but my god, let's not focus on MI6 so much, okay?

The story for this one was hard to follow. All I know is that Bond is trying to avenge Vesper's death whilst MI6 is trying to find out who's putting moles with them, and who they are. Of course, both are related, but honestly I don't remember how. Bond meets up with some South American lady who is trying to avenge her parents' death, and together they end up finding out about a group called Quantum. Then they end up in a desert with a hotel run on fuel cells in the middle of it, and all hell breaks loose. That's about it... Honestly I still don't know what it's about. Bolivian droughts or something. I'm not gonna count off for this though, because stories in Bond films are usually McGuffins.

Location: 5/10 Nothing really here to write home about. We have Haiti, Austria, Bolivia, and Italy pretty much. We spend the most time in Haiti and Bolivia, but these new Bond movies I don't think are going for pretty locations. It felt like I was watching the Bourne Supremacy actually with the brief country hopping.

Villain: 2/10 Man, this was a weak villain. He's a weasley little guy and he's essentially a rehash of Robert Davi's character from Licence To Kill, but more of a weenie. Some would say the real enemy here is Quantum, but since we never really find out exactly what Quantum does, it doesn't count. It's a set-up for the next movie. The evil businessman idea is present in Blofeld, but here the villain is a joke. I don't feel like he'd kill any one of his henchmen just for fun like I did with Blofeld.

Bond Girl: 4/10 She's pretty forgettable. Heck, now I don't even remember her name. Let's just say she's a lesser version of the Bond girl from For Your Eyes Only.

Direction/Design: 5/10 Sure it's done okay, but the action sequences suck. Who decided they needed the director of Kite Runner and Finding Neverland for this action film anyhow? Most of Bond is second unit work, and this second unit director here needs to stop using shaky cam during fight scenes. If I want a documentary, I'll buy one.

Theme: 4/10 This is done by Alicia Keyes and Jack White. It would have been better if it was a simple White Stripes song. I'm glad Amy Winehouse was sacked or whatever though. I personally like the song fine, but it's not a good Bond song, sorry to say.

Overall: 4/10 This is a bit hard to do. It's not good as a Bond film, but it's a great action movie. Since I'm rating these as Bond films, I have to give this one a low score, sorry to say. Hopefully we get an actual James Bond film next time, eh?

As for the Blu-Ray, the sound and video quality is reference grade. I have heard people say it's one of the best on the market to show off your home theater. However, the bonus features are pure fluff pieces and boring for the most part. The music video to the theme is included, as well as some back-patting pieces that say they are featurettes, but are in truth about 3 minutes long. That's about it. No commentary, no BD-Live features, nothing else really.

James Bond will return next week in... Live and Let Die

1 comment:

  1. I forgive a lot of this film because it really is just a big finale to the Casino Royale story. Standing alone, it's not great, but I feel like watching the two back to back might be a pretty fun evening.