Quantum of Solace (aka: B22) — movie review
Posted on November 17, 2008 by Kris Nelson
“Nooo! Not the Aston Martin or the Platner pieces! Noooo!” See, climb into the head of a designer and you will probably get that reaction to the latest James Bond franchise installment, Quantum of Solace. Unlike the ridiculous Die Another Day, where the precious Vanquish survives unscathed (and tell me how a V12 can’t shake an XKR, okay even with thermo-vision — and wouldn’t it have been great if the villain was driving a Kia or Hyundai to keep with the country loyalty thread), Solace‘s Aston Martin DBS gets shredded left and right. *sniff* Later on, a room filled with Plater dining tables and chairs burns in most likely a CG explosion; even still I cringed and maybe, okay, cried a little. I have a love/hate view of these Platner particulars, contemplating a purchase despite their bicycle spoke (worse yet, radial-laced lowrider wire rims even) appearance, not to mention the hefty $2-3K per chair/table pricetag. Anything to avoid the ubiquitous plague of Eames and Bertoia. Well, at least they didn’t destroy a Jaguar XJ220 or a Zaha Hadid ‘Mesa’ table or Ross Lovegrove ‘Go’ chair.
So for the 99.9% of the world who couldn’t give a hoot about those details, you’ll be pleased to know that Daniel Craig also cracks a bunch of baddies without abandon, allowing for a spectacular display of trashing and mashing with style. Now Chris didn’t much care for the rapid editing, but I thought it enhanced the urgency. In fact, I felt the suspenseful ramp-ups so intensely that I was actually concerned, but then I was like doi, Bond can’t die. And boy, were there a lot of opportunities to “worry” about him: beyond the obligatory car chase, there are boat chases, plane chases, parkour rooftop chases, hydrogen cell fireworks, axe-wielding furor, self-torturous sorrow and desire for vengeance, and worse yet, women that won’t immediately succumb.
Enter Strawberry Fields, (played by Gemma Arterton who was born with six fingers on each hand and a disfigured ear), who wilts after a quick scoff and shrug-off and pays for it in a fateful homage to Jill Masterson in Goldfinger. Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko, right) plays hard to get to the end, shrouded by her own demons and thirst for revenge, miffed by Bond’s muddled meddling.
This is where I must say that the complete lack of otherwise haughty sensuality must fall on the misdirection from Marc Forster, who created clumsy relationships in both Stranger than Fiction and Monster’s Ball. In fact, the “sex scene” between Bond and Fields is a cut-away harkened to pre-War Japanese films where affection was barred. Not saying that skin is necessary, but give us some chemistry.
Besides the lack of innuendo, Quantum of Solace is also quite light on the political tip, and I was left chuckling alone in the packed theatre yet again. Quips with Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) concerning the basics of knowing/bedding your enemies boded well with the entire premise and presence of betrayal. Hey, tyranny and Marxism are always funny… just as long as it’s not happening to your country (fingers crossed).
Another maybe minute detail is the opera scene. Now I’m definitely no opera expert, but I appreciate the parallels between Tosca and Bond’s past and present heroines and believe it wasn’t just a random choice. Besides, it’s one of the bloodiest productions and held its own in an awkward simultaneous slo-mo shoot-out in the theatre cafe. Hopefully that will clear up a lot of confusion viewers had.
In Quantum of Solace, we see a broken Bond, a morose Bond, an emo hero, if you will, who has to learn the hard way that there are other fish in the sea, still hung up over the loss of Vesper Lynd (Eva Green in Casino Royale). Because of this, we also see a reckless Bond; his rebellious antics resulting in multiple murders of not only his benign targets, but his buddies, too. God, wake up James!
Big up for Camille’s realistic breakdown in the fire scene, villain Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) going rage-aggro in the final battle, Bond’s “toys” taken away, and for including Jack White for the theme song. I sympathize with Amy Winehouse, who was originally slated but was sacked at the last moment, probably due to her own rebellious antics. Oh, the bitter irony.
Big down for using so many Ford vehicles, but that really added to the whole megalomaniac masquerading as an environmentalist/humanist thread.
While I am still not in full support of the choice for a blonde Bond (I was hopeful for the rumors of Clive Owen or even Julian McMahon), Daniel Craig exemplifies the return of beefy, shirtless, action-oriented Bond, and fits the vengeful edge necessary for Quantum of Solace. Perhaps the next cycle after Craig will return to classy, witty, wise-ass Bond like Chris and my fave Roger Moore, and then we’ll shake and not be stirred.
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