Monday, December 1, 2008

Quantum of Solace

As a die-hard fan of James Bond, I thought that I would get to see a movie that unashamedly tries to be as serious as any Oscar contenders. After all, wasn't Casino Royale a critical and public success worldwide? The truth is after one year of waiting, Quantum of Solace turns out to be a joke (not that I laughed while watching the film). All in all, if you're in for gunfights and explosions, then this will certainly be your cup of tea.

The film continues where Casino Royale left off. While he's thinking about avenging the death of his girlfriend Vesper, James Bond (Daniel Craig) has to track an organization that seems to be everywhere. This leads him to Dominic Greene, a business man, who wants to topple the Bolivian government (with the help of the CIA) in order to bring to power general Medrano. In fact, by doing it, Greene wants to be assured that he can control Bolivia's water. However, as Bond's mission goes on, he'll ally with Camille, an agent who wants to avenge the death of her parents at the hands of general Medrano.

While Casino Royale contained a few good surprises, Quantum of Solace, on the other hand, obeys too much to the old formula of the franchise. With that said, we're left with a storyline that blandly evolves through different levels: Bond finds something, goes after it and kills people. That's it. That's all. However, while we look at the final version, this formula was brought to an unfathomable peak of ugliness.

Therefore, any exploitation of a premise literally seems to be absent from the movie. In fact, between two explosive action scenes, the development of Bond is unfortunately one-dimensional. So, director Marc Forster (Monster's Ball) can say whatever he wants, but his minimalist approach doesn't work, because neither the extremely thin dialogues nor the over-abundance of action scenes manage to convey with nuances Bond's inner feelings. Besides, add to that Forster bad directing which makes Daniel Craig (Munich) unable to express Bond's inner feelings through his poker face (no play on words intended).

With that said, the only thing that seemed to count for the three scriptwriters were the action scenes. If you want to judge the movie's bright side, at least, you'll be satisfied to see that Daniel Craig is in a better shape than ever. To that matter, Roger Moore (The Spy who Loved Me) wasn't wrong when he said that involving ourself in an action sequence of a James Bond movie is exhausting (and dangerous)!

While Daniel Craig doesn't have much margin of manoeuvre in this film to showcase his real talent, Olga Kurylenko (Hitman) surprised me at the end when we saw the fear in the eyes of Camille when she faces (and even after it) general Medrano. Unfortunately, the script doesn't place a smart emphasis on the ambiguousness of Kurylenko's character. As for French actor Mathieu Almaric (Munich), although he's trying to be near the character of Auric Goldfinger (who was played by Gert Frobe), I wasn't really convinced that he plays the bad guy. Of all the actors, only Judi Dench (Die Another Day), as M, seemed to be the only character who can display feelings.

Finally, Quantum of Solace, as a movie, displays the symptoms of a franchise that inadvertently came back to its bad habits inherited from the Brosnan era (starting with Tomorrow Never Dies): focus on the action scenes and few (if not none at all) attention to the dramatic aspect. Although this film shamefully surfes on the prior success of Casino Royale, it still remains a must if you're only in for the action scenes. However, it's not because a film has a lot of action that it's smart. Above all, if you like James Bond movies, just watch it and judge it for yourself. Moreover, since when does James Bond refuses to say "My name is Bond, James Bond" in a movie?!?!? I want my money back! Ok, I forgot to tell you that I had a ticket that gave me the right to see this film for free.

Rating: 2.5/5

Quantum of Solace
UK/USA (2008)
Length: 104 minutes
Genre: Thriller
Screenplay: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis
Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Almaric, Judi Dench and Gemma Arterton

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