As Cool As A Fruitstand

…and maybe as strange. A movie blog.

Quantum of Solace

Posted by Hedwig on November 12, 2008

One of the reasons I’ve always liked Bond films is their reliability. The movie would open with a pre-credits action sequence mostly unrelated to the rest of the movie. The openening credits would feature abstracted nekkid women. Bond would wear a tuxedo on several occasions. Pretty much every vehicle he used (be it a car, a truck, a boat, a train, a plane etc.) would be destroyed. There would be gadgets, terrible, innuendo-laden puns and other corny one-liners. Bond would sleep with at least two girls, and one of them was likely to turn out evil. Bond would drink martinis (shaken, not stirred) and at one point say “The name is Bond, James Bond”. And the location where the final fight took place would go up in flames.

I’ll admit: as genre rules go, these are fairly scrict. But I don’t think they’re particularly restrictive. Connery’s tougher, more sexist and arrogant Bond fared fine within its limit, as did Roger Moore with his jokier, sillier interpretation, and Lazenby with his more human one. Yet to telegraph that they’re “re-inventing” the franchise, that they’re “updating it for the 21st century”, the maker of Quantum of Solace have discarded about half of them, leaving us with a fairly competent action movie that’s barely recognisable as Bond.

And you know what also used to be a Bond tradition? Action scenes you could oversee. They were grand and they were, on occasion, frenetic, but they never were chaotic. The first 10, 15 minutes of Quantum, I had a lot of trouble following what was going on. When an italian policeman said “it’s a black [car] pursuing a gray Aston Martin”, I was relieved, because I wasn’t even sure how many cars there were, and the foot chase through Sienna that follows is incomprehensible. Fast editing isn’t bad, perse (see also: The Bourne Ultimatum, for an example of how it should be done), and I’m not even saying it’s out of place in a Bond movie, but to me, it jarred, much more so that the great black-and-white opening scene in Casino Royale.

But to throw a bone to the old-time fans, would it have hurt them for Bond to say his name? I’m ok with leaving out the Martinis (though he does drink a couple of Vespers), and I suppose I can live with a few one-liners less, but now Bond gets a girl into bed (the only one, incidentally) without saying anything. Bond is supposed to be the suave, seductive spy. Leave out the two adjectives, and you just have Bourne v. 2.0. 

I complain too much, I know. After all, I can see the attraction of this grittier, more violent Bond. The action scene that takes place during Tosca is pretty much fantastic. Jeffrey Wright isn’t given much to do as Felix Leiter, but he still rules. They seem to have used “Quantum” in the title more or less correctly (in the QM sense, so to mean something incredible small, not big as with those moron’s who use the term “quantum leap”). And partly because tradition of one exotic place after the next is still firmly in place, the Bond movie is still that very elusive thing: a movie every member of my family can enjoy (yes, even my mom – Tosca is her favorite opera). 

I’m curious where they’ll go next. Now that the “new Bond” is firmly established, I kind of hope they’ll let him relax a little (while staying gritty), let him joke a bit and be the deadly seductor he’s supposed to be. And even if this particular installment didn’t quite live up to my expectations, I’ll be in my seat opening weekend for the next.

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5 Responses to “Quantum of Solace”

  1. Lanchka said

    Every time I start wondering whether the blogosphere has swallowed you, you pop back up 🙂

    So glad to hear about Quantum of Solace; we won’t have the chance to see it in the theater but I’m looking forward to it even more than the last Batman movie. Well, my brain hasn’t got anything left in it except the energy to ogle over Daniel Craig in addition to baby talk so I hope that someone else leaves a rather more discerning comment below this one.

  2. Kaj said

    We’re very much on the same page here, especially when it comes to the action editing. Although I did dig that shot where the camera follows Bond and his enemy falling through and off that installation inside that building in Siena.

  3. I couldn’t agree more about this film being barely recognizable as a James Bond movie.

    I disliked this film a great deal, and while I’m sure I’ll see the next, like you, I doubt I will be excited about it at all. This was just as much of a letdown as Casino Royale was a “comeback,” for me, but many will disagree.

  4. Sam Juliano said

    Hedwig, I think that use of TOSCA was the only thing I liked about this dreadful film of car explosions and gunfire. It numbs the mind, but I applaud you for being on to it. Nice review here.

  5. I simply hate this film with a passion.

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