Quantum of Solace

There are many kinds of spy movies. They range from the cartoonish, with hyper-competent heroes and flamboyant villains to realistic portrayals of the flawed men and women who pursue this career and what they actually do, which is no where near as exciting as most movies would have us believe.  Bond has always been on the cartoonish side of the scale. The emphasis is on an entertainment with great stunts, cool gadgets, fast cars, and beautiful women.  Two years ago with Casino Royale, Marc Forester and Barbara Broccoli tried to move Bond a little bit further to the realistic end of the scale. Back then they almost wholly succeeded. With Quantum, however, they have run into the brick wall of expectations, both their own and those of the fans.

It’s inevitable when you have a highly successful series of 22 films. In Casino and in this film they’ve stripped away a lot of the Bond formula, but there are obviously some elements that are considered sacrosanct like big action set pieces at the beginning and the end and Bond getting involved with two women.  The first hurts the new realistic tone because they couldn’t resist putting some pretty incredible if not impossible things into the film. For instance you can’t open your parachute a few hundred feet off the ground and expect to walk away. You’d be jelly.

The two women thing hurts too. The structure of this plot really only provides for one and the second one is superfluous. She has no purpose other than to be the second Bond girl in Quantum of Solace. If they weren’t trying to make a more realistic Bond, I wouldn’t say anything but leaving her in is a tip off that this really isn’t a move; it’s an installment. In Casino Royale they made a movie.

I will say that Daniel Craig is probably the best actor to ever play the lead and his performance is an excellent extension to the brooding, dangerous Bond he developed in the first movie. But I think that another part of the formula is getting in the way here. Bond has always been something of a cypher. We have no idea what his childhood was like or what he did before joining MI6. You never see him on a day off. Despite a brief mention of Bond’s back story in Casino, Marc Forster, the director stays away from this topic. I’m not sure if this is because of an official ban by the producer and owner of all things Bond, Barbara Broccoli, or if Forster is simply reluctant to mess with such an iconic figure. Either way, after 22 films, many of them utter crap, it’s obvious that you can’t break Bond. Why not give him a life, give him a psychological reason for being like he is? If it flops you can always reboot again.

All that being said, Quantum of Solace gets the Bond pass. There’s a certain segment of the population that has to see it and I’m a part of that. I can’t tell you not to see this film. The stunts are great; the gadgets are cool; the cars are fast and the women are beautiful.

It could be more, but that’s enough.


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November 2008
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