4.26.2009

Movie Review: Quantum of Solace

Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench
Directed By: Marc Forster
Written By: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis & Robert Wade
MGM, 2008
PG-13; 106 minutes
3.5 stars (out of 5)

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Let me begin by saying that the first James Bond movie I ever saw was The Living Daylights. And I liked it, at the time, and the following License to Kill. I realize that these were not considered some of the better Bond films--and aren't even now--but these were my introduction to the genre as a whole. And I never could find it in me to enjoy the Sean Connery or Roger Moore movies. Blasphemy, I know. But I couldn't make it past the production values and the obvious age of those films.

And then Timmy Dalton gave way to Pierce Brosnan, whom I had known as Remington Steele. Which was perfect, to my way of thinking, at least until I saw the movies, most of which were awful (though I sort of liked the one with Michelle Yeoh).

So then Daniel Craig arrives on the scene. And he doesn't look at all like the suave James Bond everyone knows and loves; he's not slick, he's not glib in the face of danger. He's gritty and earthy and HE'S PERFECT AS BOND.

Or, at least, he's perfect as the early Bond, the one getting his start in Casino Royale. Here's a man who makes mistakes. And he has to live and deal with the fact that others often pay the ultimate price for those mistakes. And it's not something he just takes in stride; it's a real weight on him.

Quantum of Solace picks up not long after Casino Royale left off, and so we're watching Craig's Bond deal with the immediate aftermath of those events, and we're watching the character being shaped into what he's destined to become: that polished agent who will one day know that he wants his martini shaken, not stirred. But in the meantime, he's still just tasting his options.

My husband has an interesting theory that this new take on Bond wouldn't have been possible or attempted if the Jason Bourne movies (The Bourne Identity et al.) hadn't been so hugely successful. He may be right on that.

Now while I really loved Casino Royale, it meant that QoS had a lot to live up to . . . which it didn't. It simply wasn't as good, though I concede that would have been truly difficult to manage. But the character trajectory is headed in the right direction, and this Bond's relationship with M (Dench) is also a joy to watch--those tidbits of the movie melt in your mouth, they're written so well.

Overall, QoS appeared to be a means to an end, a way to put Bond on the path and continue to establish his character. It also came across as a series of action sequences, during which I could only think, And to think they have to set all that up again for another take after this one . . . That alone must take all day! Which is to say, while many of the actions sequences in Casino Royale were riveting, many of those in QoS were not so much, therefore my mind wandered. And yet QoS is far shorter in length than Casino Royale!

In the end, a recommended movie--but don't watch it too late or when you're too tired, because it's not SO great that you might not nod off from time to time.

1 comment:

Christine said...

I didn't think I'd like Craig as Bond, but CR was fantastic. I liked QoS, but not as much as CR. I'm hoping the third one with him will be much more brilliant.