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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Quantum of Solace (review)

Bond Guy

We can only blame Casino Royale. The 2006 reboot of James Bond was so brilliant, so satisfying, so organically of the moment that it could only prove hard to top, and even hard to equal. You have to appreciate that, on an intellectual level, going into a sequel like Quantum of Solace, even though your movie-loving gut is getting all squirmy with anticipation like you’re a kid waiting on Christmas morning. But that doesn’t make it any easier to take when what your head tells you is likely to be the case actually turns out to be the case.
Absent Casino Royale, I’m pretty confident I’d be hailing Quantum of Solace as a smart, sophisticated action movie, one that gives us all-too-believable villains and an antihero to fight them who’s only a few shades off the bad guys’ brand of scariness, a “good guy” whose goodness is questionable, though he does seem somewhat appropriately chagrined to learn of the damage he leaves in his wake. There’s that to celebrate, for one: here’s a big, loud, wild action movie in which the protagonist is forced to face the damage he leaves in his wake, and in fact appears to be affected by it.

But not affected enough, not in a way that lingers through the film. It’s not Daniel Craig’s fault — he’s a dangerous presence, and a thoroughly masculine one, in a thoroughly modern way that acknowledges that men are feeling creatures too. I blame screenwriters Paul Haggis (Letters from Iwo Jima, Million Dollar Baby) and Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (who both wrote Johnny English and Die Another Day)… though they also wrote the previous film, so I’m not sure what the hell happened. But Casino Royale was about Bond in a way that Quantum of Solace is not, which sounds contradictory, seeing as how the whole plot is pretty much set in motion and kept in motion because Bond is driven by a desire to avenge the betrayal he suffered in that flick… or maybe just by a desire to understand it. But his motives feel not just secondary but entirely superfluous to everything that happens here — if it weren’t his grief it’d be something else that’s the excuse for it all, and it almost doesn’t matter what the excuse is. His emotional state of mind — I know, a Bond with an emotional state of mind! that’s what made Casino so fascinating — is just the thin icing on a cake, and the cake acts like it doesn’t particularly want any icing on it, since it’s already so crammed with enough creamy action filling for anyone to stuff his face with.

The action is indeed creamy and delicious. The flick opens with a car chase — complete with a hearty exchange of gunfire, natch — through heavy traffic in narrow tunnels and then onto treacherous quarry roads. It’s exhilarating, in a theme-park ride way, and expertly directed by Marc Forster (The Kite Runner, Stranger Than Fiction), who, if he doesn’t show much hint here of the heady imagination he’s shown in his previous films, well, at least there’s still something movie-movie to enjoy. Next up there’s a footchase across the crumbling infrastructure of medieval Siena, Italy, complete with slides off terra cotta roofs and daring leaps on and off balconies, that left me exhausted just watching it. There’s a plane chase that ends spectacularly. And so on, and on.

I don’t want to downplay the importance of action bits that are stylish and clever and pulled off in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re being pandered to: that’s hard to do, and it’s always welcome. But Casino Royale led me to believe that I’d get more from its sequel than I do. Hell, I’m the choir a film like this is preaching to, with its evil corporate oligarch (Mathieu Amalric: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) as the evil villain, who destabilizes governments at the behest of his corporate buddies and for the benefit of corporate profit. With its theme of ecological devastation itself as something be considered “evil.” And that all feels like icing, too, like the tweak in the motives of the bad guys that could just as easily have been, you know, the simple evil desire for sharks with freakin’ lasers on their heads.

Here’s the thing: Quantum of Solace feels too much like the Bond movies of old that Casino Royale promised us were done for good. The opening credits feature an animation that harkens back to the silliest aspects of the old Bond… like the anonymous female bodies meant to represent the playboy aspect of Bond. (Casino’s harkening-to-the-past animated opening avoided that.) That’s so not what even Solace is about — certainly, Olga Kurylenko’s literally kick-ass Camille is pretty much the awesomest Bond girl ever, from a feminist perspective. But Solace feels like it’s trying to be old-style Bond, without the camp but also without the, dare I say it, heart that Casino had. Bond isn’t quite an empty tux here, but almost, and it might only be Craig’s (The Golden Compass, The Invasion) grounded performance that keeps him this side of real.

So, you know, it’s not at all a bad thing that I could spend half of this movie trying to decide whether I like Craig best in the tux, in the white jeans, or in the dark jeans, but that’s not enough. We’re not anywhere near this yet, but if this trend continues unchecked, Bond could turn into a, well, Bond guy, a fetishized version of himself. I don’t want to see that happen. I don’t think anyone wants that to happen.

Craig has been joking to the press that, what with the world economy collapsing and all, they might have to shoot the next Bond film in Birmingham, eschewing all the glamorous global locations the Bond flicks have always indulged in (this one being no exception). And you know what? That would be great. That would force the creative team to be, you know, creative in their storytelling, force them not to rely too much on what Bond has been before and put their own uniquely 21st-century stamp on the character and on the kinds of stories he can play a part in. That’s what made Casino Royale so very, very good. It seems to have been forgotten here.


MPAA: rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sexual content

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
  • MaryAnn

    Before anyone asks: It was the dark jeans. Definitely the dark jeans.

  • Barb

    I rarely go to the movies (at most two a year) and QoS was actually going to be the 3rd for the year (being fave Iron Man and 2nd Dark Knight). I’ll wait for the Blu-ray release on this one.

  • MaSch

    Awesomest Bond Girl from a feminist perspective: Didn’t you find the backstory of Camille horribly generic? I had the feeling that I heard it told from a thousand movie women, half of them using the same accent.

    *SPOILERS*

    So she has this “Elektra”-thing going, and I am all for this “Elektra”-thing, cause it’s cool, but in “For your eyes only”, the Bond girl already mentioned Elektra as a, hmm, role model, and in “The world is not enough” the leading Bond girl, whose father was killed, was freaking called “Elektra”. Could there not be a good kick-ass women with other motives than revenge or her kick-ass-ness? There are other cool women in literature which could be adapted apart from good old “Elektra” (by the way, I’m talking about the Greek Elektra, not the comic Elektra).

    On the other hand, I’ve been waiting a long time for an attractive woman in a Bond movie not to fall for James (aside from M), and Camille is, at last, a Bond girl not to sleep with Bond (although this is probably due to a lack of a good occasion to do so).

  • Patrick

    How disappointing! I’m now clinging to the hope that I will disagree with you, which I doubt…

  • Your review is spot on. I was tempted to express my disappointment here a couple of weeks ago but I didn’t want to prejudice you or your American readers.

  • Martin

    Maybe it’s because I’ve had a little flight experience but I found the plane chase preposterous. How anyone that calls themselves a fighter pilot (even in a prop fighter) can be out gunned by an old twin engined cargo plane is beyond me. It’s the aeronautical version of 10 men shooting at Bond with assault rifles and all missing yet Bond hits them all in 6 shots.

    And I can’t be the only person livid at Bond still trying out new drinks? I don’t mind removing cliché when it’s against the flow of the story but isn’t it too much to ask that he drinks a vodka martini? He doesn’t even have to say the line!

  • MaryAnn

    Could there not be a good kick-ass women with other motives than revenge or her kick-ass-ness?

    Sure. It’s not her backstory that makes her awesomely feminist — it is rather cliched — but her attitude and her strength and her unwillingness to play the victim. And also Bond’s reactions to her are pretty feminist, too: he’s not threatened by her, and he doesn’t take advantage of her, and he actually becomes something of a mentor to her without there ever being an icky condescending vibe to it.

  • vlad

    I read an article about the preview, where Tom Cruise got laughed at when his preview of his movie came on. In the movie Cruise wears an eye patch. http://www.observer.com/2008/o2/quantum-solace-offers-peek-2009-watch-out-tom-cruise

  • Just got back from this movie, and I’m pretty sure it’s the worst Bond movie of the bunch. (Some would say License to Kill, but this movie is practically based on that one, including the woman who wants revenge on one of the bad guys.) Heck, the main character could be anyone; there’s no James Bond-ness in him.

    And the action scenes are among the worst ever put on film; I’m not sure what you saw in them. Everything was done in quick cutting extreme closeup with CGI.

    Anyway, you should read Ebert on this one. It’s his best review in years, although like many of his recent reviews, it gives away both the big twist and the ending.

  • Greg

    Having seen QoS, Mary Ann has been very kind in
    her review. Story wise, action wise and even Bond villain and Bond girl wise, this is extremely lame and I suspect negative word of mouth amongst North American filmgoers will have an affect.

  • Ryan

    Yeah, this review is spot on, and probably even a bit kind…I was not at all enthralled by the action sequences which seemed lifted from ‘Bourne Identity’

  • I’m actually shocked that you didn’t mention the gratuitous vagina in this movie, MaryAnn. Yes, the female lead was a surprisingly feminist character, and the movie in general treated women surprisingly well. But the brief scene where a woman is about to get raped by a bad guy until she’s saved by the female lead, and the camera specifically focuses on the bare vagina of the almost-rape-victim? As if her being tied down, kicking and screaming, onto a bed with a known rapist and all-around asshole wasn’t clear enough for us? It was clear that this girl was saved from a rape. The specific shot that showed her bare vagina as she was escaping added NO extra information to the scene, and thus was explicit, unnecessary nudity. The fact that it was during a rape escape was incredibly exploitative and offensive. It turned a scene that was mostly just characterized by its violence into something overtly and unnecessarily sexual. We all know the attempted rape was supposed to be about violence and not sex. Why remind the audience it was about sex by flashing a vagina? Must Hollywood always turn women who are victims of violence into women who are victims of sexualized violence? Actually, now that I think of it, the dead girl in the movie who was drowned in oil didn’t need to be naked, either, nor did the camera need to pan out far enough for us to see her shapely dead ass…although that girl was defined by her sexual relationship with Bond, so there’s a bit more justification for that sexuality to come out in her death, I guess. (Plus it was a throwback to the image of the dead gold girl from that earlier Bond movie…Goldfinger, I think?)

    Anyway, I actually rather liked this movie. But that 2-second vagina shot, which clearly had to be filmed entirely on its own, offended me deeply. It also made no sense stylistically, considering that the other female characters were treated with quite a bit of respect in the film.

  • D

    They flashed a vagina? Are you sure? I remember the rape scene more or less, but not that. I would actually be surprised to see hardcore nudity on a James Bond film, which despite its sexualization of women has never done that before, I think. Even more because this seemed to be a more sophisticated kind of bond film…

  • A.J.

    Honestly, I was surprised to see it too, but as offensive as it was, it was sort of funny from a shock factor perspective. It was truly the last thing anyone expected to see there.

    This was a sophisticated Bond film? This was a Roger Moore Bond film with Daniel Craig taking his spot. That said, I loved it. I actually laughed my way through half the movie. “You’re an acquiantace of someone I know.” -Kill. That line double me over. Not to mention there was a foot chase, car chase, motorcycle chase, boat chase, and plane chase all in the same movie. It was a return to the over the top action of earlier Bond movies. It probably needed more high tech gadgets though.

    I would liken this movie to Live Free or Die Hard or maybe Pitch Black because of its extreme action mixed with funny one liners. However, they did steal a few scenes from the Bourne series, which I thought was rather weak.

  • MaryAnn

    I know the scene that Lianne is talking about, but I don’t remember a naked vagina. And I think I would remember that.

  • blake

    “Why remind the audience it was about sex by flashing a vagina”

    Other people I know have said this.
    I haven’t seen it the film so I can’t comment.
    But you’re not alone in thinking it, Lianne

  • Jester

    I agree with Gordon and Greg. I walked out of the theater feeling very ambivalent about this movie, in a way that I can’t completely explain.

    The fact that they were perched on old-school Bond tricks — particularly chases involving every possible combination of motorized vehicles — was part of it. At first I didn’t mind it. Then it felt like someone had a checklist in front of them. Car chase, check. Airplane chase, check. Boat chase, check. The fact that they combined this with some incredibly poor CGI and blue-screen work was more of the problem. The plot was completely incomprehensible.

    But beyond this, there was nothing to *like* about Bond here. Of the other movies in the series, this movie has the most similarities to License to Kill, but even in that one, you could sympathize with what was driving Timothy Dalton’s Bond. Not so here. Even at his worst, Bond should understand who he’s killing and why.

    I’m a big, big fan of the Bond movies — I own all of them to date. I *loved* Casino Royale.

    But this one’s in my bottom ten Bond movies somewhere. Maybe in my bottom five. What an incredible disappointment.

  • Ben

    Yeah, there was totally a vagina shot. It was as the girl was getting out of the bed and you could clearly see that she had a Brazilian done with her pubic hair.

  • Jim Mann

    I was also disappointed by this film. I liked it, but I expected much more.

    For me, one problem was the action scenes, especially in the first half of the movie. There were too many of them. We went from action scene to action scene with barely a pause, and with not enough of the other things that make Bond Bond.

    To me, the best Bond film is still Goldfinger (though Casino Royale would be in my top three). Goldfinger has several great action scenes, but the heart of the movie is Bond and his interactions with the others in the film. There is just not enough of that in Quantum of Solace.

    Jim

  • When I first saw the vagina, I thought I was seeing things…but then I wondered why the camera would have a specific shot of her legs spreading as she got off the bed if it WASN’T to show what was or wasn’t (underwear) between her legs. I saw the movie with my roommate, and she saw the nudity, too.

    So I guess the shot was brief enough that not everybody noticed…take that into account with my angry rant. Still, it makes me wonder, again, why the hell the filmmakers decided to include it (and shoot it specifically). It doesn’t make any sense to me.

  • And I can’t be the only person livid at Bond still trying out new drinks?

    The martini that Bond was drinking on the plane was the drink that he invented in “Casino Royale” which he had named a “Vesper” martini. The recipe is Ian Fleming’s own, and is a staple among martini aficionados like myself.

    A vodka martini is a vulgar, flavorless concoction. You need gin to properly balance out the flavor of the vermouth or kona lillet (in the case of the Vesper). Bond never drank one in the books, and thankfully they’ve removed them from the movies.

  • MaryAnn

    When I first saw the vagina, I thought I was seeing things…but then I wondered why the camera would have a specific shot of her legs spreading as she got off the bed if it WASN’T to show what was or wasn’t (underwear) between her legs. I saw the movie with my roommate, and she saw the nudity, too.

    I noticed the shot and thought it was a tad odd, but I didn’t see a naked vagina — I saw a clothed crotch.

    I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I know what a vagina looks like.

  • Patrick

    “I noticed the shot and thought it was a tad odd, but I didn’t see a naked vagina — I saw a clothed crotch.
    I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I know what a vagina looks like.”

    I thought it was a clothed crotch, as well.

  • gyro_44

    Regarding the so-called “vagina shot”: I’m positive those were just flesh-colored panties we were seeing. Although it also gave me pause for a moment. There is no way a shot like that would make it into a PG-13 film.

    I agree with Mary-Ann and most about the film. Craig is fantastic, but at best I was “whelmed” by QoS. Here’s hoping for greatness from the next one.

  • MaSch

    I guess the DVD (or the Blu-ray) will tell the truth about that shot. I didn’t see cloth, I didn’t see a vagina, I thought that from the camera angle either the one or the other should have been visible – I’m guessing CG to keep it PG-13.

    Anyone reminded of Jessica Rabbit?

  • amanohyo

    Only in America could you have a three day internet conversation about the momentary flashing of a vagina. Have we learned nothing from wardrobe malfunctions of the past? Or maybe the movie is so mediocre that this is the most interesting thing to discuss… anyway, I want in on this pointless discussion.

    I totally get that presenting a rape scene in a pornographic manner is not cool, and admittedly I haven’t seen the movie yet and don’t plan to. But, I think the vagina dialogue is circling around the main point which is: Was the shot gratuitous or not? There is nothing about bared labia or breasts or a penis that is inherently inappropriate for any scene, depending on how it’s handled (heh heh).

    However, a gratuitous upskirt shot during an attempted rape, is something I would be irked by regardless of whether or not the lady (or crossdressing gentleman) is wearing panties. Even then, it’s difficult to judge, since the shot might be meant to emphasize the vulnerability of the victim. Does this shot linger for several seconds, or zoom in noticably? Is there any other person in the shot? Does a funky beat faintly emanate from Bond’s iPod/detonaton device? I honestly don’t understand what the hubbub is all about.

    Anyone who happily watches James Bond casually murder dozens of people should have already been exposed to dozens of bared labia (possibly even their own) as far as I’m concerned. Don’t people take their children to museums anymore?

  • amanohyo

    On second glance, Lianne did make a case for the gratuitousness of the shot (although I’d have to disagree with her point that rape is solely about violence and not about sex). I’ll read through the previous posts more carefully next time.

    I wanted to work in a Pussy Galore reference in my post sooo badly, but I resisted…. cuz I’m classy. Seriously though, it seems incredibly silly to criticize a Bond movie for objectifying women or glorifying some kind of sick male power fantasy.

    That’s the whole point of the movies. All that cheesy Casino Royale romance novel angst is icing on a stale misogynist cake. And M occasionally calling Bond out on his misogyny doesn’t make the movies any less misogynistic, because you’re not supposed to identify with M. I hope I live to see the day when they lay this outdated dinosaur of a franchise to rest.

  • amanohyo:

    “although I’d have to disagree with her point that rape is solely about violence and not about sex”

    I agree with you–but that’s not what I said. I said *this* attempted rape was supposed to be about violence and not sex. The bad guy takes things that aren’t his, by force if necessary, and in that scene, he was taking sex.

  • amanohyo

    I was referring to these lines:

    “We all know the attempted rape was supposed to be about violence and not sex. Why remind the audience it was about sex by flashing a vagina”?

    I would argue that any rape scene is already about both violence and sex. In other words, that any attempt to film a rape scene that is only about violence is destined to fail. The degree to which each aspect is emphasized depends on the situation, but you’ll never be able to completely eliminate sex from a rape scene.

  • blake

    Has there ever been a topic on the FF that has mentioned the word “vagina” so many times ?

    Maybe MaryAnn should give the supposed vagina it’s own thread ?

  • MaryAnn

    I think it’s pretty much accepted fact among psychologists and other people who study these things that rape is not, primarily, about sex but about power. There are numerous studies demonstrating that most rapists are already in sexual relationships, and that many rapists do not orgasm during rape. (I don’t have time to hunt down links, but I’m confident in these assertations.)

    I also agree, though, that in this case, the dividing line between “exploitation of a near-miss rape victim” and “exploiting a near-miss rape victim” is tricky.

    I disagree, though that

    it seems incredibly silly to criticize a Bond movie for objectifying women or glorifying some kind of sick male power fantasy. That’s the whole point of the movies.

    That may have been true of the previous Bond films. I don’t think it applies to the Craig films. These are clearly trying to get past that aspect of the Bondian past.

  • amanohyo

    I understand and respect that they are trying to get away from the whole homicidal sex-god with gadgets and one-liners thing and be more character driven with the Craig films, but they’ve still got a long, long way to go before they even nip at the heels of something like the Bourne movies, which are fairly corny and male-centric already.

    I actually liked the cheesy romance parts of Casino Royale, but is there really that much more nuance to be had from the Bond character? Maybe they’ll prove me wrong with the next one, but from the sound of things, they already got a bit lazy with this one.

  • MaSch

    What also irks me quite a bit about the shot is that it occurs during the ending of the movie which is notable for *not* showing (plotwise relevant) things. If you can refrain from showing Bond questioning the bad guy, you should also be able to refrain from making an upskirt shot of a near-miss rape victim.

  • Grant

    I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the problems with Quantum of Solace lie with the editing. Much has been made of the observation that this is, at about 1:50, the shortest of the Bond films. And where Casino Royale was a tad light on the action set pieces, Quatum seems to go a tad overboard. Meanwhile, where plotting was crucial to Casino, this plot is both convuluted and moves in fits and starts between action scenes. My suspicion is that the film was edited down to minimize the “plot time” between chases. Though I admit, this doesn”t explain the crotch shot. :
    Still and all, I’ll take Craig over any bond since You Only Live Twice. And I enjoyed a pair of firsts: Bond drunk and emotional, and Bond retaining injuries for longer than the next jump cut. Hopefully, the next Bond will find the happy medium between action and story. I’m still excited. :)

  • MaryAnn

    I also agree, though, that in this case, the dividing line between “exploitation of a near-miss rape victim” and “exploiting a near-miss rape victim” is tricky.

    *head smack*

    Obviously, I meant to say here, that, in this case, the dividing line between “exploitation of a near-miss rape victim” and “vulnerability of a near-miss rape victim” is tricky.

    *another head smack*

  • Spencer

    I loved this movie, but more for the way it fit into the Bond “canon” than its individual artistry.

    Sean Connery always had a bit of cruelty and brutality underneath his suave demeanor, and it is fitting that the first two films which set up that character indulged full-force in that side of Bond. I see the overarching story as being one where Bond starts out as a human wrecking ball who has deep and wild reserves of emotion underneath his harsh exterior. In Casino Royale, he got his heart shredded. So, blinded by inconsolable rage (as M says), he seeks revenge in completely nihilistic fashion.

    Along the way, he realizes first of all that the destruction he leaves behind him is abhorrent, and secondly that part of that destruction is his own self. He only gets a quantum of solace (!) from indulging his rage– it’s just not worth it. So, he decides to wrap himself in another part of his personality (his traditional suave and cynical demeanor) and shut off his emotions entirely except for one: love for Queen and country.

    This Bond is a “get it out of the way because we have to” kind of movie, to me. It closes the story arc of the darker, grittier Bond and makes the slick and polished one all the more cool because we understand WHY that is his raison d’etre, and also because when the cruel side flashes to the fore, we can be genuinely afraid of what he might do. That was the significance of placing the iconic walk-turn-shoot shot at the END of the movie instead of the beginning.

  • Mel

    1) I’m pretty sure it was flesh-colored underwear.

    2) Doesn’t the MPAA watch movies obsessively for that kind of thing? I’m pretty sure a vulva shot would be an automatic NC-17.

    3) I agree with MaryAnn that the Craig reboot is trying to move away from the traditional objectification of women. I think in many ways they’re aiming the movies at a female audience now; most of the people I know who love the reboot are either women, Western martial artists (Craig’s Bond’s hand-to-hand fighting style is radically different from any of the others, and much more realistic and entertaining), or both. And I don’t think any of the other Bond’s would have reacted to Camille’s intentions at the end the way he did–no questioning, no judgment, no sexist comments about how women shouldn’t do things like that, just factual “Here’s how you will react and how you can deal with it.” I’m not sure Camille is the most feminist of the Bond women, but I think Craig is the most feminist Bond.

    I didn’t think the movie was as coherent as Casino Royale, and I kind of miss the over-the-top villains, but I’m really fascinated by the reboot and looking forward to see where it goes (I don’t find Craig particularly attractive, but he’s a very interesting actor).

  • I promise this is the last time I’ll talk about this, but even if the crotch WAS covered, it was still a gratuitous up-the-skirt shot during a scene of violence and the whole “exploitation” argument still stands…it’s just a bit less offensive because of the lessened severity of the gratuitousness.

    And Mel, I totally agree with how you described Craig as the most feminist Bond, particularly in this movie. The few “don’t worry–I’ll save you, little lady” moments from early in the movie melted away as he came to recognize her as a capable adventurer. And he hugged both the girl in Casino Royale and Camille during freak-outs, but he did the same with Matthis (sp?) in Quantum, proving that the action was intended as a source of comfort to all of his friends, not just the friends he thought he could nail later. Hell, it even proved that this Bond is man enough to not have the GAY-EW reflex when touching another man.

  • millie

    Even with lowered expectations, I really didn’t enjoy this movie. It hit all the expected notes, but it felt so flat and joyless. I enjoyed Daniel Craig and Judi Dench’s performances, but that’s about it.

    SPOILER
    For all the talk about Camille and how her character is a departure for Bond girls, I thought she was groan inducing; when she asked Bond “what now?” after fulfilling her revenge, I thought “Nothing! Your character is empty beyond that clichéd revenge angle (I mean, the villain shot her father, raped and killed her mom and sister, then burnt her house, really? I guess he forgot to steal her Bible), now you can exit the movie and never be heard from again!”

  • Sophie

    I’m coming to this a bit late but I got the impression that the crotch shot was done on purpose to reassure the audience that the girl hadn’t been raped – ‘see, she’s still got her knickers on so nothing bad can have happened!’

    This movie could have earned my undying love if, at the end, Bond advised Camille to try piracy now that her career or revenge was over but they missed the chance.

  • Mike Barrett

    I understand why a director wants a lot of close cuts, and fast action in a chase scene. He wants you to make the viewer feel part of the action. So maybe it’s just me, but as much as I like to feel part of the action, I also like to see Bond be Bond. The plot of the chase scene shouldn’t be “There’s really exciting fast cars and Bond’s car looses the driver’s door and there’s shooting and twisty roads and then he gets out of it.” I’m at a Bond film! Sure I want to see the impossible-ness of the situation, but I want to see HOW Bond got out of it. Yeah, Bond is lucky, but his success is more than just luck.

    I didn’t see Casino Royale. Perhaps that’s why it seemed to me that Bond didn’t really connect with anyone in this movie. Yeah, he was kind of a mentor to the girl but in a “you do your thing, I’ll do mine” sort of way.

    One of the basic plot points of the movie is there is a secret organization that is has spies everywhere, yet they never seem to know what Bond is doing or try to oppose him until they virtually trip over him. Sure, they kill people who help him, but off camera, when he’s not around.

    Now my petty problems. 1) Hydrogen doesn’t explode like that. 2) Empty cargo planes with two engines on a good day don’t climb at half that rate. I laughed out loud when Bond pointed the nose of that crate with one of it’s engines out at the sky. 3) Secret meeting at the Opera? Really? If you’re not going to meet face to face, why be in the same room? 4) Where’s the cheezey humor? “No Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.” 5) Isn’t it a law that in every Bond film Bond is given some way-cool spy equipment, and then uses it to save the day at a crucial moment in a way it was not intended to be used?

  • John

    Mike, you really should check out Casino Royale. With the Daniel Craig era, they are really trying to get away from the cheesy humor, the over-the-top-ness and the super-spy gadgetry.

    I’m not saying they’re really succeeding on all counts, but they are trying.

  • I must confess that I thought this was an interesting take on the movie.

    Personally, I preferred Casino Royale but still…

    Now my petty problems. 1) Hydrogen doesn’t explode like that. 2) Empty cargo planes with two engines on a good day don’t climb at half that rate. I laughed out loud when Bond pointed the nose of that crate with one of it’s engines out at the sky. 3) Secret meeting at the Opera? Really? If you’re not going to meet face to face, why be in the same room? 4) Where’s the cheezey humor? “No Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.” 5) Isn’t it a law that in every Bond film Bond is given some way-cool spy equipment, and then uses it to save the day at a crucial moment in a way it was not intended to be used?

    While we’re at it, why not mention the way the film undermines an otherwise good speech about natural resources being washed away into the sea by having said speech refer to that happening in the most famous landlocked countries in the world. I’d like to think the screenwriters had their hearts in the right place but still… how little research do you have to do to not know that Bolivia is a landlocked country? What’s next? A speech in Geneva on how rising ocean levels are going to affect Switzerland? Focus, people.

    Anyway, I would have happier if the director had not been so determined to extinguish the spirit of the late Terence Young with his busier-than-it-needs-to-be camerawork.

    Especially since the movie’s most effective scenes–the scene in which the arch-villain revealed that he had people everywhere, the final revelation concerning Vesper Lynd, etc.–were usually not shot that way.

    And, yes, I could have done without the obligatory rape-or-near-rape scene as well. No matter how it was shot.

  • Nathan

    What a weird bunch of comments…

    (SPOILER)

    But Sophie is right. There was a shot to show that the woman still had underwear on and that Camille had gotten there in time to save her from being raped — symbolically saving/avenging her sister and mother or whatever.

    I liked the film but wasn’t blown away. I’m all for Bond’s descent into the Bourne world but they could have given it a little more depth.

    And it might have been my favorite Bond main title sequence ever — women emerging from and disappearing into sand might say a lot about this particular Bond’s state of mind, no?

  • MaryAnn

    women emerging from and disappearing into sand might say a lot about this particular Bond’s state of mind, no?

    Really? In what way?

    I thought the credits sequence was particularly unsuited to this new Bond.

  • Nathan

    Well, this Bond seems haunted by the death of his former lover and it appears as if all his relationships with women (except M)are transitory. So female figures being covered or uncovered by shifting sands or dissolving into sand and being blown away on the wind seemed appropriate to me.

    Or maybe I liked the opening credits because I’m a big Jack White fan, I dunno…

  • MaryAnn

    Anonymous silhouettes of cartoonishing “sexy” female figures does not say “women” to me. It says “faceless pseudo-human blow-up dolls.”

  • Nathan

    Yeah, but it’s a Bond movie.

  • bitchen frizzy

    Just saw this movie. I agree with the review: QOS doesn’t stack up to Casino Royale, but it wasn’t a bad action flick. I was entertained, and it wasn’t anywhere near the worst Bond movie ever.

    The camerawork and editing of the action sequences was annoying, cliche, and detracted considerably from the overall experience. When the action sequences in an action movie are hard to follow and distracting… well, that’s long stretches of wasted celluloid and wasted time.

    Crotch-shot controversy comment: I also think the intent was to show that the damsel had been rescued in time. If the director had wished to be salacious, he would have shown bodice-ripping and boobs a-flouncing. Thankfully, he didn’t.

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