Sunday, November 23, 2008

"No Mr. Bond, I Simply Have Eight Cats" AKA, Rickey Reviews Quantum of Solace

"Quantum of Solace" kicks off very much in medias res, with an imperiled James Bond being pursued by nameless bad guys in a high octane car chase scene that would make most defensive driving instructors crawl into the fetal position and weep softly. At the end of the chase, Bond solemnly exits what was once a beautiful Aston Martin, leaving behind the wrecked car and any preconception that audience might have had that this is a traditional James Bond movie. This is because "Quantum of Solace" is more a revenge tale than a spy thriller. The films picks up exactly where "Casino Royale" left off, as a vengeful James Bond seeks retribution for the death of his lover Vespa in the previous film. In this iteration of bond, you'll find no Q designed gadgets, no cocky one liners, and very little sex. It's almost as if the writers for the film convened and agreed that under no circumstances would they give Mike Meyers any material to use for another horrid Austin Powers movie.

And in that they definitely do succeed. The film is fast, sleek, taut, and completely replete of the charm that makes a Bond movie a bond movie. Sure, there's a lot of globe hopping, and Bond does get his passport stamped more times than most of us will in a decade, but it's somewhat unnerving to see him moodily drinking alone in an airplane bar in one scene. Does the inevitable next installment tackle his worrisome drinking problem? What humor does manage to bubble to the surface of the film comes from Bond's serial inability to capture bad guys rather than kill them. The action scenes in the film are fast and furious to say the least and Rickey found himself needing a break from "Quantum of Solace's" strenuously over edited action scenes. (a modicum of respite, if you will). One wonders: if a movie director sets up 37 cameras to record an event and splices the footage together into an incomprehensible fragmented mess, did the event actually occur in the first place?

As Bond, Daniel Craig performs admirably. The problem here is that unlike the previous movie, this script casts him as a blunt instrument hellbent on revenge, rather than a spy in his formative stage. Everything Rickey enjoyed in "Casino Royale" -- all the suaveness of a movie revolving around something as simple as a game of cards -- seems to have been cast aside as this movie expands it's scope to the global scale. For a Bond flick that clearly tries so hard not to be a Bond flick, there's a surprising amount of cliches lingering in it: the prerequisite reptilian villain with a nefarious global plan (although it is a fitting and timely one), the tough as nails female sidekick, and the fiery climax at the bad guy's sleek futuristic hideout. To the movie's credit, it features a great nod to a certain scene from "Goldfinger," the locales that Bond traipses to are adequately exotic, and the acting is strong all around, although Rickey felt that Jeffrey Wright was criminally underused. But what bugged Rickey the most is that for all it's rooftop acrobatics (when did parkour become part of the MI6 training program?) and whiz bang action, the film just boiled down to a simple and shallow revenge tale.

From a grating opening credits sequence (new rule: Jack White and Alicia Keys aren't allowed in the same room together ever again) until the fierce display of pyrotechnics in the finale, the movie just didn't do it for Rickey. Not that we don't see what they're trying to do: writing a three movie story arc that delves into how James Bond becomes James Bond. And while yes, we're sure that the third will be just, like, totally awesome, we wonder if all the brooding exposition was necessary in the first place. What's wrong with introducing a protagonist who is fully fledged? Why do movie studios have to expend the GDP of a small nation before they actually get to the good stuff: a beloved character acting like the audience expects them to? Because if they're not going to make a fun Bond movie, well ...a reportedly $230 million budget would've gone a long way to help ameliorate the global crisis that "Quantum of Solace" focuses on...

[posted at Humor Blogs]

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Jeff said...

"new rule: Jack White and Alicia Keys aren't allowed in the same room together ever again"

LOL... Where do I vote?

I agree with Rickey's assessments of this movie. If it wasn't being sold as a Bond film per se, it would have stood up pretty well on its own. But the historical standards that every new Bond film is measured against causes this one to come up short.

Alex L said...

I dont understand why people like Alicia Keys, its just not the same if shirley bassey isnt hammering out a theme song. Its shorter than Casino royale isnt it, becuase in my opinion that was to long, or just paced wrongly. Almost had more false endings than Lord of the rings. well for me it did.

Smitty said... I wait for this to come out on DVD then? The Smitty Family home entertainment system is top-notch after all...

Adam said...

I agree the theme song sounded like cats in heat sharing a trash can as a house.

But Rickey is too harsh on the movie! The opera scene was dope!

Rickey Henderson said...

Smitty: Rickey advises you wait 'till the DVD release, yes. It's just an "ok" movie.

Adam: Heh, Tosca's not for everyone... but yeah, that scene was fun.

Toasty Joe said...

OK, Rickey, I've been away but now I'm back. See post. By the way, the Flitgirl loves Daniel Craig, and therefore I hate him.

Haley said...

Hey Rickey,

Much sadness that I didn't get to attend the viewing, but you should be relieved that you never had to look over and see me in the throws of a full on Daniel Craig hallucinogenic love fest. Trust me, it aint pretty. Or at least, not as pretty as he.

Rickey Henderson said...

Toasty: welcome back sir! (about damned time...)

Haley: Craig does wear a tux well, Rickey will give him that much. Dude's a bruiser too.