Tuesday, December 2, 2008

'Quantum' Offers Little Solace, Plenty of Action

I saw "Quantum of Solace," the 22nd James Bond 007 film, during the Thanksgiving weekend, as I'm sure many people did. For those of you who saw the movie, I welcome your thoughts about it, and for those who have yet to see it, I promise no spoilers in this review. I will, however, try to give you a little idea of what to expect.

This film is definitely fine as a standalone, but I think you would be much better off and more engrossed in the film if you watch "Casino Royale" (the Daniel Craig film, not the spoof) before seeing Bond 22.

I personally did not like "Casino Royale." I should clarify that by saying there is no single Bond film I dislike, but it definitely was not one of my favorites. "Quantum of Solace" is the same way for me, but I do think it is better than its predecessor. I have no problem with Daniel Craig — I think he makes a good Bond — but the story and lack of JamesBondiness in 21 and 22 just push me away a bit.

"Quantum of Solace" is definitely more of a thrill ride than "Casino Royale." Rather than poker scenes straight off of late-night ESPN2, we have a car chase, a boat chase and an airplane chase — all we need is a ski chase to make this the most cliché Bond film of all time. Those elements were fun enough, but they're overdone in Bond films. The best action sequences came in the hand-to-hand, up-close-and-personal fight scenes involving Craig. These scenes seemed straight out of the Bourne movies, but they are entertaining and well-done. No Pierce Brosnan storming a building and taking out a whole army by himself, but it'll do.

While there is plenty of action, the film offers little comfort to Bond fans who felt after "Casino Royale" that the series was moving too far away from its roots. We have M, and we have Felix, but we don't get much else in the way of what makes James Bond who we know him to be. Even the "Bond, James Bond" and witty Bond lines we have all come to know and love were replaced with dry banter. The Aston Martin is featured, but forget it having an ejection seat. Forget Q Branch altogether — the only gadget this James Bond gets is a camera phone (one of more than 20 product placements).

The storyline itself moves slowly, and it really doesn't advance the characters much further than "Casino Royale" did, though the story is drawn out to be concluded in a later film as Craig's Bond finds out that the Quantum is much like SPECTRE of Bonds in the past. However, don't expect to see a Blofeld here, or even a remotely interesting villain. Nope, Bond fights an Al Gorish sissy in this one. It seems the timeless ideas behind characters such as Jaws, Odd Job, Baron Samedi, Goldfinger, Nick Nack and others are dead. No villain who can't feel pain because of a bullet in his brain. Not even a blood-crying Frenchman. And don't even get me started on the walk-on, bullet-shooting scene being moved to the ending credits.

Overall, this movie is better than some others in the series, but it's lacking what makes it a real 007 flick. Hopefully, the 23rd film will advance the story more, bring the same action and get back to incorporating some classic needed Bond elements.

"Quantum of Solace" gets 3 shakes, not stirs, out of 5 from Relatively Journalizing.

1 comment:

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