Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quantum of Solace review

Here be the text that appeared in the Sunday Times yesterday ^_^

The names Bond, James Bond. An iconic line for an iconic character, and a good as any introduction to the twenty second film in the long running series, Quantum of Solace. One of the sore points of the movie however, was the director Marc Forster’s (known for films such as Monsters Ball and Stranger than Fiction) decision to not have Bond utter the line. A fine point to niggle at, but a point nonetheless. The film starts chronologically straight after 2006’s Casino Royale, and doesn’t let you go until the end. Speaking of Casino Royale, if you were worried that the traditional psychedelic opening sequence would once again not have any scantily clad women in it, there’s no need to worry. There are enough giant sand covered women in the opening to satisfy anyone. 

            Bond is out for revenge following the death of Vesper Lynd (his love interest in Casino Royale, and arguably the only love in Bond’s life) and his superiors are worried that Bond’s motivations will lead to disaster. The end of the last film leads to the revelation of the mysterious organization known as Quantum, an Illuminati-like terrorist group. They are a serious threat to the world, the seriousness of which can basically be summed up in the line that Mr. White gives to Bond and M, “Well, the first thing you should know about us is, we have people everywhere.”

Once again, Dame Judi Dench takes up her role as M, the head of MI6. The relationship between M and Bond is given more room to breathe than in previous films, and makes for a wonderful almost mother and son dynamic.  

            Quantum has their eye set on controlling a precious resource in Bolivia, and through their environmentalist front man Dominic Greene (played by Mathieu Almaric) is well on their way to wreaking havoc through a coup. Bond’s job is to find out everything he can about them, and of course find closure.

            Daniel Craig is once again excellent as Bond, portraying a cold, sexy and ruthless man, whose broken heart keeps him awake at night. The action sequences are all brilliant, many of them looking quite painful to watch. Craig in fact suffered several injuries while shooting the film, one requiring eight stitches to his face, and another incident in which his fingertip was sliced off. One of the gripes that I’ve heard about the new direction the Bond series is taking is that it seems to be moving away from the one-liners and the fantastic. The film is grounded in reality, with themes such as oil and water being important resources that a large majority of the world need, and even the recent stock market crash being mentioned.

            What this means though, is that we don’t get villains like Jaws or Oddjob (the man with the killer bowler hat) instead we get Dominic Greene who looks just like your average businessman. With films like Taken and the Bourne series though, it’s no wonder that Bond has had to reinvent itself to keep up with the times, and it makes a marvelous movie and is lots of fun to watch.

            Some of the plot is a bit hard to follow at times, and Bond never feels much like he’s threatened at all by the bad guys. But, these are small points in an overall quality and surprisingly beautiful film. The stunning vistas, attractive women and bombastic action pull you into the experience. It is Bond, and it is good.