QUANTUM OF SOLACE

(2008)
With Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Giancarlo Giannini, Gemma Arterton, Jeffrey Wright
Directed by Marc Forster
Reviewed by JB

Blofeld's gotten very tall since his last appearance      I finally understand the Roger Moore years. Bond movies are products of their time.The original Bond films starring Sean Connery were a brand new movie genre - the Super Spy film. By 1971, the genre had already been parodied so much that even Connery's last "official" Bond film, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, felt like a parody of James Bond parodies. By the time Roger Moore took over in 1973 with LIVE AND LET DIE, it was hard to make a serious Bond film because the genre had been played out. With STAR WARS and the Indiana Jones films, the late 70s and 1980s erupted in fun adventure movies, and the Moore films fit right in, because they were what audiences wanted. This also explains why the Timothy Dalton films, especially LICENSE TO KILL, nearly killed the Bond franchise in America. We were not ready for The Dark Bond just yet.

     Well, we're in the Daniel Craig era now, and, befitting the mood of our time, now we like The Dark Bond, because dark is the new pink. Batman is dark, Spider-man went dark, they want Superman to be dark (bad idea). Even Harry Potter gets darker with each new film. So Dark Bond is in, and I think it is inarguable that they found the best man to play him in Craig. In his second outing as 007, Craig remains my second favorite James Bond of all time (sorry, but Sean Connery is still the epitome of all things cool). Craig owes little to any other Bond, and resembles none of them, yet he simply is Bond, at least Bond for the 2000s. He is the first Bond since Connery with enough screen presence to consistently make the films feel that they are about the spy himself and not about the guns, gals and gadgets. Connery managed to do this through his first three or four films, before the outlandish elements of the series started overshadowing him. It will be interesting to see how long Craig can hold onto the center in this rebooted era.

     Since everything today has to be sequelized or trilogied, QUANTUM OF SOLACE is the first Bond film that can be really be called a sequel. It's a continuation of CASINO ROYALE, picking up moments after that film ended, and together they would make one really great four hour and fifteen minute epic (BOND WITH THE WIND?). The action sequences too, fit right in with this era, with lightning-fast editing and few shots lasting more than half a second. There are chases and fight scenes edited so schizophrenically that half the time you might be wondering what the hell is happening. If there is one thing that needs to be changed in the Craig era, it is the action. Slow it down a little, let us know what's going on, and give us a couple of good post-kill Bond lines. I mean, these are supposed to be James Bond movies, right?  

A Bond girl who is not slept with? Things HAVE changed!     I don't have any quarrel with lack of gadgets - is there really any point of the gadgets now without the late Desmond Llewelyn around to show Bond how to use them and say things like "Oh, do pay attention, Double-O Seven!"? Besides, after the  the Invisible Car of DIE ANOTHER DAY helped destroy what could have been one of the best - and darkest - Bond films ever, I really haven't been too keen on finding out what other kind of other silly crap Q-Branch has been cooking up in his gadget kitchen in the intervening years. I do like this new Bond girl, played by Olga Kurylenko. Unlike the talented Halle Berry, Kurylenko knows how to act in a James Bond film, and unlike Denise Richards, Kurylenko knows how to act, (Ooh, that was cruel). Bond never gets around to sleeping with her, probably because he actually has some respect for her, seeing as how they are both out to revenge the deaths of people they loved. And that's a good thing - no "Oh, James, take me around the world!" moments in this film. And I am still firmly loving Judi Dench in her sixth go-round as M, and I like that Bond's CIA friend Felix Leiter has been played by the same actor (Jeffrey Wright) for two films in a row. However, I'm not sold on the villain, Dominic Greene, nicely played by Mathieu Almaric. His scheme of gaining control of a major resource for profit feels like they couldn't come up with anything else. If you going to be an evil madmen, then at least try to take over a major resource in order to create your own race of mind-controlled Fem-Bots villains or something. I know, I know, this is a new, more realistic Bond, but still... it's been ages since we've seen a really good super villain in a Bond film.

     QUANTUM OF SOLACE is not as good as CASINO ROYALE, but it ranks with such films as LICENSE TO KILL or FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. Daniel Craig finally gets to do his first "gun barrel" opening sequence with the classic James Bond theme blasting on the soundtrack, although they leave this until the end of the movie. It's like the people behind the films are telling us that they have finished clearing the decks, have established Daniel Craig as the new guy, and the next film will be an actual, old-fashioned James Bond film. Let's just hope they don't give him an invisible car. And, please, can we get somebody like Paul McCartney or Carly Simon to do the next theme song?3½

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HOW TO TALK LIKE A BOND VILLAIN

"Be careful of this one, Mr Bond. She will not go to bed with you unless you give her something she really wants... but you make a fine couple - you are both, what is the expression? Damaged goods."