Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quantum of Solace

DAN - The latest James Bond film comes from Marc Forster, director of such films as Stranger Than Fiction and The Kite Runner. The story is a direct continuation of Casino Royale, which is unique for a Bond film.

I did not grow up on 007. I started regularly watching the franchise when Pierce Brosnan stepped into the role, and I’ve only seen a handful of the classic films. I, like many, was thrilled by Casino Royale when it came out two years ago. It fit the mold of a Bond film while simultaneously breathing new life into the series.

Solace isn’t as innovative as Royale; instead it seems to rely on the success of its predecessor to hold the audience’s interest. In that sense, I find it difficult to think of this as a stand-alone movie. It’s more like an afterthought of the previous film. And I like it.

The action sequences worked for me, but you’ll hear a lot of people complaining about them. I don’t need to see every punch and crash from a distance in order to follow what’s going on; in fact, that would be a little too disconnected for me. I like to feel each jolt as if I were in the middle of the action.

The main villain and his Chinatown scheme weren’t entirely memorable for me, but they served their purpose in allowing Bond to purge himself of lingering ghosts. He’s still a “blunt instrument,” but he’s on his way to becoming the suave spy we’ve come to recognize. This is the story of a man with a thirst for revenge. He simultaneously redeems and loses himself by fighting through the (literal) fires of hell.

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STEVE - For 46 years and 22 movies, audiences have attended regularly to see Ian Fleming’s iconic British spy. James Bond was a household name long before Michael Phelps was treading water. He was fighting Russians during the cold war. Ridding the world of cheesy villains through the 80’s and 90’s, and has been seducing women and drinking shaken martinis to the present, all the while evolving but still keeping the charm, wit, and rapport that is James Bond.

However, after 46 years it would appear that neither the producers nor director of the latest Bond outing have seen a James Bond film. Because I can tell you that this is not a James Bond movie. Where are the gadgets, the drinks, and cool cars? Q and Miss Moneypenny?

There are Bond girls, two, as are typical of all good Bond films, the first he quickly seduces and then tosses to the side. The other, however, gets away without even a hint of debauchery? What? How is this possible?

Every good girl knows that if James Bond offers to share his bed with you… then you take that opportunity. Sleeping with James Bond is the one exception to the rule when in comes to intercourse with strange men Okay… maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration. But nonetheless, things that are meant to happen in a Bond film, staples of the Bond convention, are tossed aside without thought or concern. No shaken Martini, no famous, “Bond, James Bond.” Not even a dry subtle quip or pun.

I grew up with James Bond. Watching old Bond movies with Dad over the holidays while stuck at Grandma’s is holiday tradition. I know what a James Bond movie is. This is not a James Bond movie.

This is a sad and tormented James Bond. Not that I have an issue with that, but A.O. Scott of The New York Times brings up an interesting point, “Is revenge the only possible motive for large-scale movie heroism these days? Does every hero, whether Batman or Jason Bourne, need to be so sad?” Indeed every hero needs something to push them while fighting bad guys, but does James need to be sad? Does he need to have revenge? I say no, Bond is better than that.

Overall, this movie is nothing more than a very mediocre, poorly edited, poorly shot action movie that had potential, but fell short of the mark. I still believe that Daniel Craig is the best Bond to date, rivaling if not overcoming the epic Sean Connery. Unfortunately, this movie suffers from being a little too Jason Bourne than James Bond.

2 comments:

Dan said...

I thoroughly appreciate both of your reviews, Dan and Steve. I also appreciate that you two seem to have had such dichotomous film-watching experiences. I will be seeing this one soon. By the way, you two need to watch and post a review of Mongol. That is all.

fishbowl said...

It's a pleasure to see such an increase in reviews. Keep it up come prestige Oscar season.