Sunday, 14 December 2008

Quantum of Solace


Directed by: Marc Foster
Screenplay: Paul Haggis and Robert Wade & Neal Purvis
Starring: Daniel Craig, Oleg Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric & Judi Dench

So Bond 22 comes along and it really is a case of ho hum. Before I start, I must confess, I’m not a huge Bond fan. I know weird for a dude who loves action films. I mean I’ve enjoyed some of them but I just find it’s a case of its pretty much the same thing every time. Despite what you may have heard about this instalment it’s pretty much the same thing again. Yeah, it’s more serious, the gadgets toned down (though they are still there in the shape of a nifty mobile phone that lets him do all kinds of things) and he only beds one sexy lady (with some refreshingly drastic consequences). But despite the muted palette, the lack of quips and the fact that Bond is on a mission of revenge (we’ve even seen this before in Licence to Kill) it’s still business as usual. Bond is as superhuman as ever, surviving ever increasingly dangerous scenarios and shrugging it off by the next scene; as the film progresses the action becomes more ludicrous, in particular a dogfight which ends in a parachute jump that only people in a Bond film would survive; there is a an evil villain (Amarlic) who is trying to take over a government or the world or something and manages to still have a huge hideout out in the middle of nowhere that gets blown up come the finale; and M gets all flustered with Bond. So yeah, business as usual.

What sets it apart is the slightly more serious tone than other adventures. Bond is working to his own rules (avenging the death of Vesper from Casino Royale) and doesn’t care who he kills on the way. But despite the seriousness of everyone, and the unrelenting po-faced ness of proceedings, QoS stills falls into routine Bond territory. We know exactly how it’s going to end and, as mentioned, there is even a big hideout (granted it is less hi-tech than previous instalments) that Bond has to infiltrate and, of course, blow up. Many are comparing it to the Bourne films in style and execution and while QoS shares similarities in the action department (at least in the opening scenes) and the muted palette, it doesn’t share the emotional undercurrent or relentless pace of a Bourne film. The first 35 minutes is packed full of over-edited action sequences but then QoS slows down to a meandering pace, the characters all soulless shells, us viewers never really caring who is who, what they are doing, and after some time not really bothered if Bond finds the person he is looking for. I was lead to believe QoS was a non stop action film but other than the opening third, the film seemed to drag. The action is no great shakes either. Well it probably is it’s just that filmmakers these days seem to think they have to over edit everything to give it a sense of realism, QoS being a major perpetrator of this crime. The opening car chase is a blitzkrieg of fast edits that dilutes any tension or excitement. Open up the action, let us see it, lets us be involved then we will be excited by the action scenes. To be fair the foot chase cum fight hanging from rafters is pretty good but, again, needed to back off in the crazy edit department.

Craig is good as Bond (and as good as any of the rest) and the foxy Oleg Kurylenko (Hitman) is also good and a refreshingly tough and believable female character for a Bond movie. QoS is not quite the unholy mess its reputation has but is not really that great either. Maybe it’s arty director Marc Foster’s (Monster’s Ball) ‘different’ direction, the over edited action or just that Bond is running out of juice? I don’t know. Bond fans will be split down the middle on this one while other viewers, like me, will come away thinking ‘been there, seen that’ and the action could have been better. Ho hum.

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