Sunday, March 29, 2009

Quantum of Solace

Casino Royale gave James Bond a completely fresh start in quite the same way that Batman Begins restarted the Batman series. It started again at the beginning and in keeping with the times when even superheroes needed to be more complex and angst-ridden, it made Bond more human and hence more realistic compared to the almost superhuman spy we had gotten used to after previous outings. But Quantum of Solace carries things too far. With almost none of those unique trappings we've come to love about Bond, it is barely recognizable as a Bond film and hence, rather disappointing.

QoS begins almost immediately after Casino Royale as Bond takes Mr.White back for questioning. Mr. White soon escapes and Bond takes off after him. While he is primarily driven by revenge, he also learns about a secret organization called Quantum and a man named Dominic Greene, who is artificially creating a drought in Bolivia.

This is a film where Bond never says "Bond, James Bond", he doesn't order his drink "shaken, not stirred" and he utters no puns or one-liners. Q, along with his array of fancy gadgets, is absent as is Moneypenny. The familiar James Bond theme music is muted as we get only slight hints at a few places and the filmmakers have also dispensed with the usual opening shot of Bond shooting at us from the white circle before the circle is covered with blood. So QoS seems to take an almost perverse pleasure in not giving us what we expect from Bond.

Ofcourse, what we do get are other Bond staples like exotic locations and impressive action setpieces. Bond globetrots quite a bit as he pursues Greene and Quantum. The first footchase is spectacular and though none of the other action sequences match up to it, the airplane escape and the boat chase are well-staged. Olga makes a nice Bond girl. She is smart and sexy, has a valid reason for tagging along with Bond and has her own backstory as she is driven by revenge too. Mathieu Amalric, who reminds us of Steve Buscemi, makes a rather weak villain and his actual plan seems more suited to a corporate thriller than a Bond film. Naturally, his final showdown with Bond isn't particularly energetic.

I was one of those who was happy with the new Bond in Casino Royale. But the new direction he seems to be going in is making me wish we had the old Bond back.


At 8:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BB, I completely agree with you. QoS could have been any generic action movie that are dime a dozen these days. While Casino Royale was a welcome change from the caricature that Bond had turned into, QoS does not have the soul of a Bond movie.


At 2:15 AM, Blogger KayKay said...

BB,I have a pet theory about this duo of Bond flicks which is that its film-makers are slowly easing themselves into the familiar Bond tropes we've become familiar with.
Case in point:
Casino Royale's (CR) babe-free credits intro, while Quantum Of Solace (QoS)slowly re-introduces feminine silhouettes into its sand-blown credits opener.
The Gun Barrel shot without the moving spotlights preceding them in CR, while QoS actually ends with the traditional spotlight segue into the gunbarrel shot.
I think the idea is to set up the whole Vesper story angle as a plausible explanation for the traditionally cavalier way Bond treats his women in the earlier movies.
This is a Bond re-boot, it's almost an origins tale. And traditionally when a Bond movie goes over the top in gimmicks and gadgetary, there is an attempt to bring the series down to earth.
CR is a back-to-basics response to Die Another Day's over-reliance on pyro-technics and gadgets (the invisible car still makes me shudder) and it certainly isn't the first time such a re-tweak of the Bond-ian formula has taken place.
The ludicrous space-bound Moonraker was followed by the more grounded For Your Eyes Only while Licence To Kill followed the flashier Living Daylights.
This is very much a Bond for the post-911 world, cynical and dangerous.
But like you, I'm looking forward to the resurgence of the traditional 007 who's more Bond and less Bourne:-)

At 10:55 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

kumar, "does not have the soul of a Bond movie" - that was perfectly movie. it was acceptable as a generic action movie but not as a Bond movie :)

kaykay, interesting theory there on the Vesper angle serving as the foundation for his attitude towards women. but in these times, I don't think we'll ever again see Bond treat women the way he did in those movies. I for one will be glad to get back just the sense of humor that led to all those verbal puns and one-liners :)


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