Watching Quantum of Solace

Having grown up on James Bond movies, I have been conditioned to expect certain lines, images and sounds. As a result, I was curious to see what would survive when the franchise was rebooted with Casino Royale. They played with the martini line but maintained the title theme and gave us a fresh start (although I still think Daniel Craig is too old for Bond at this stage in his career).

The movie was pretty terrific although I noted at the time that the pacing was odd and the entire final third felt like a separate film. SO, going into Quantum of Solace, which Deb, Kate, and I did last night., I wanted to see what they would do next especially since this is the first film that was a direct sequel.

The events from Casino provide Bond’s motivations and colors everything he does in this film. Here’s the first problem with the new film: it does a piss poor job of reminding you what happened in the previous installment. When Mathis is reintroduced, I had forgotten who he was and what his involvement with Bond and Vesper were. Similarly, when Bond says M was wrong about Vesper, I have no recollection what she said in the previous film.

While Bond films are known for their action sequences, this one felt by rote. We had fist fights, a car chase, a boat chase and a plane chase. Ho hum. They were uninvolving thanks to what I call “in your face” editing so things flash by so quickly, you have no real sense of what’s going on. You get impressions based on the glimpses you have in your field of vision. Storytelling is tossed out the window for style but leaves you either confused or frustrated.

The movie is praised for being a taut two hours but I would have dearly enjoyed ten more minutes if characters actually spoke to one another as characters not plot exposition and surface characterization. Also, the movie utterly ignores time. You have no idea how much time has passed from the first scene to the last. We have no idea how Bond changes his clothes so often, when he sleeps, eats and so on. After having no access to money or passports, we next see him in a boat heading to see Mathis. How?

It wasn’t all disappointing.

Turning SPECTRE into Quantum was a fine updating but at no point did you really have all the dots connected for you, instead they expected you to follow along and not ask too many questions.

I loved the computer interfaces and graphics. The entire Opera sequence was the best part of the film, striking the right balance between action, tension, style and a nice reveal.

There will be a third chapter with Craig and company and one hopes they do a better job.

Also: We were eagerly awaiting the trailers for Star Trek and Watchmen but only saw the former mixed in with half a dozen others. Star Trek looked cool on the computer but is clearly bets seen on the silver screen. The sets and costumes look nicely updated and it got everyone in the audience, even Deb, excited. The Spirit’s final trailer looks good, less like Sin City and intriguing. I sat there murmuring, though, “It looks nothing like Will Eisner’s Spirit” but the majority of the audience won’t know that and I hope it does well for all concerned.

4 comments

  • Susan O

    I thought the film ok, but not as a Bond film. They’ve removed everything that made a Bond film a Bond film – Q (or replacement), gadgets, the high-tech car, the HUMOR, and the theme song stank. Here, Bond was more assassin than spy. I realize that’s part of the script, but I didn’t like it. If I want to see mindless shoot-em-up, I can watch Bourne Identity or something else. I like Daniel Craig fine, but I’m sure he’s capable of more dialog than he’s been given so far.

    The Star Trek preview was a knife in my gut. Maybe I’m too much of a purist, but just when it started to look ok, I couldn’t get the fact that Spock served under Pike for ELEVEN YEARS before Kirk out of my head, and I felt sick. Why torment us with hope of a good film, and then ignore the gospel completely? If they want to do a movie under similar precepts, fine, but don’t call it Star Trek (the same problem I had with Enterprise, and the new Battlestar). (I was about to say that treatment would never fly for Star Wars fans, but I think the last 3 films speak for themselves).

    I’ll see it, I can’t help it, but I expect to be crying through the whole thing._

  • Heather Dean

    Nothwistanding the obvious disappointments that you are experiencing with Quantum Solace, a solace it did not give. What about the women? Were they classic Bond?

  • Paul B

    I had the experience of seeing Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace about twelve hours apart, thanks to a friend screening the CR Blu-Ray. Seeing them that close together eliminated some of the continuity issues you had, but not everyone is going to see the two that close together.

    Something I noticed in both films, moreso in Quantum, was Bond finding things he needed and just stealing them–tuxes, boats, cars, whatever. “Say, I need this and nobody’s yelling or shooting at me, so I’m just going to snatch it.”

    I really enjoy a good cinematic car chase, and I have to say I’m getting a little tired of the quick cuts that characterize just about every action sequence in just about every movie these days. I’m not gonna reference the scene everyone does, but look at films like Smokey and the Bandit or The Blues Brothers–you get long, wide shots of cars covering long stretches of road. Now everyone wants to be Michael Bay or the Warchawski brothers. “Hey, this shot’s almost half a second long! Can we cut it to a quarter of a second? Just long enough to register that we made a cut? Great, do it!”

    It also seems to me that the level of collateral damage inflicted by Bond and his adversaries has really ramped up in the last couple of films. Sure hope that wasn’t a hospital or anything really important whose construction was colossally disrupted in Casino Royale…

  • Paul B

    Oh, yeah–“I’ve answered all your questions,” says Green to Bond. Too bad the audience wasn’t privy to that conversation.

    The showing I attended was preceded my at least 20 minutes of trailers, which unfortunately did not include Star Trek. I, too, thought the Spirit trailer felt very much like Frank Miller and not at all like Will Eisner.

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