Thursday, November 20, 2008

Quantum of Solace - Movie Review

QUANTUM OF SOLACE (**1/2) - Starring Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, and Giancarlo Giannini.
Directed by Marc Forster.

I'm a big Bond fan. In 1999, for lead-up to The World Is Not Enough, my friend and I watched every Bond movie in order within a month's time. They had to be the Broccoli Bonds, which meant we skipped Woody Allen's Casino Royale and Sean Connery's Never Say Never Again, which was basically a remake of Thunderball. My wife has hated Bond ever since, but it was a great pop-culture overloading experience. (I eventually saw the wacky Casino Royale version. Never saw the black-and-white Jimmy Bond made for American TV in the 1950's.)

Now of Pierce Brosnan's four movies, I consider GoldenEye the best and The World Is Not Enough the worst, although Die Another Day was the movie that had the shark-jumping moment of Bond riding the wave with obvious help from CGI. Bond stunts should always be primarily done by stuntmen so we can believe people could do this. Once CGI-Bond surfed, Brosnan's time as Bond was over.

Which means Quantum of Solace will likely be to Craig what Tomorrow Never Dies is to Brosnan, what Thunderball is to Connery, what The Man with the Golden Gun is to Moore. Not the best of his Bonds, but not his worst, and an easily forgettable chapter in the library. Craig's only had two, and Casino Royale was better, and if QoS winds up being Craig's worst Bond movie, good for him.

This Bond is still bitter over the betrayal and death of his one true love Vespa, and in seeking revenge, he stumbles across an international conspiracy by a multi-fingered power-ring called QUANTUM, which is the 21st century's SPECTRE. We don't know who the head is but I do hope in a couple more movies we learn it's a cat-stroking bald guy named Blofeld. But I digress.

Marc Forster seems like a good, quirky choice to direct a Bond film, and you'd think he'd bring to Bond what Paul Greengrass brings to the Jason Bourne series. Good direction on the acting parts, and quick-choppy editing on the action parts. But for my taste, the action scenes were too choppy and too quickly-edited. Many times I couldn't tell what was going on, to the point that I wished the movie had one or two less action sequences than it did.

The Bond-girl here is a generic model/actress type named Olga Kurylenko. I'd put her on the same memorable level as Carole Bouquet. Who? Exactly. (For Your Eyes Only.) Mathieu Amalric, brilliant in The Diving Bell & the Butterfly, plays the villainous Dominic Greene, who's the corporate backer of a military coup in Bolivia. I thought he did well. I can see why Amalric asked if he could have a scar or something, but his eyes are memorable enough.

As for Bond, my hope for the third movie is he gets his sense of fun back. Craig's Bond is an angry cold-blooded killer, and that's cool and all, but I'd like to see Q show up, see Bond crack a smile here and there. Bourne can be Bourne; now let Bond be Bond.

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