Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Movie Review: Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace (2008) 6/10
James Bond (Daniel Craig), having shot Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) at the end of Casino Royale, interrogates him and learns of a secret organization known as Quantum. Following sparse leads, Bond finds Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) and pursues him to the Bolivian desert. Directed by Marc Forster.

The other day I was interviewed by E! Online and I defended Bond against the notion that he's losing ground to, or imitative of, Jason Bourne. And now I have to say that the first ten or fifteen minutes of Quantum of Solace are indistinguishable from The Bourne Ultimatum.

I don't know, I am inclined to blame Marc Forster. He's an artful director who has never done action before, so naturally he'd imitate an artful action director. But for Bond, it doesn't work. Bond movies have strong narrative flow, and the crazy-quick-cut approach just doesn't do it.

A lot of Quantum of Solace felt like someone else's movie. Someone else's soundtrack. Someone else's title song. Someone else's title design. It made me want to watch a Bond movie.

Not that this wasn't a good movie; it was. It wasn't a great movie, and it was too short, too snappy, and too confusing. But it was good. There were beautiful touches, and Marc Forster's eye for framing a shot was very apparent. This may be the finest composition you'll see in a Bond film. There were lovely visual homages; the Goldfinger one being the most obvious, but The Spy Who Loved Me is there as well, and just prior to the climactic battle, a lovely visual and plot reference to the short story For Your Eyes Only. (You can't miss it.)

So much is going on that it's hard to describe; a villain with a complex plot, a huge, shady organization behind him (but not a part of his plot so much; I suspect a SPECTRE-like organization with many fingers in many pies, a conglomerate), the CIA (and hello, Leiter), Bond's hunt for revenge for Vesper, Camille (Olga Kurlyenko) with her own revenge motives and her own sub-plot, motivation, and secondary characters—I'm getting tired just listing it all. And, while the plot may not be as complex as Octopussy, it may take me longer to figure out, because it all goes by so fast.

So now I've had the night out at the movies I've been anticipating for two years. I'm tired, I'm a little let down. I think most people will love this movie, and I think it's natural for the hardcore fan to be pickier. I feel like I'll like this movie better on DVD, when I can slow down a little, back away a little, and replay lines that go by too fast.

(Quantum of Cross-post)