Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Quantum of Solace

“You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads!”
Dr Evil – Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Dr. Evil may not have been a character in the Bond universe but he perfectly summarizes what the James Bond franchise had become; Bond was no longer about a badass British spy, but a man who had an invisible car, a watch that could shoot laser beams, drank an endless amount of martini’s and could bed any woman – and he happened to also be a spy. After 40+ years on the silver screen Bond had ceased being relevant and was simply a caricature of what it used to be. With Die Another Day Pierce Brosnan and crew tried to do something different with the franchise, but it was still far too farfetched to be ultimately different – Bond was getting overtaken by the likes of Alias and Bourne.

For 2006’s Casino Royale it was decided that the series needed a new angle, so not only was Pierce Brosnan out and Daniel Craig brought on as the “controversial” choice for the new Bond (why he was considered controversial for being blonde when Connery was a Scott and played the Englishman I have no idea) but the series was effectively “rebooted” starting at the beginning of Bond’s career. Casino Royale brought Bond back to the present, out of science fiction and made him relevant again.

That brings us to the latest Bond film Quantum of Solace which also brought on a series of “firsts” for the franchise – the film is the first direct sequel to the previous film, and maintained the same writers as Casino Royale. For once people behind the scenes were paying attention to the myth of Bond and not his gadgets – this is about the man and the spy not the explosions and the toys.

Quantum of Solace picks up literally where Casino Royale left off – Bond has captured Mr. White and brings him to M for interrogation. That’s where the fun starts, as we realize Bond is still clinging to Vespar’s memory Mr. White reveals that there is a large and powerful terrorist organization at play and manages to escape when an inside man tries to kill M. This starts Bond on his new quest to find this organization and figure out how it was tied into Vespar.

What I loved about this movie is that they were able to bring some of the loved elements of Bond into the film without making them feel like the cliché’s they were just a few years ago. For starters there is the very elaborate credits sequence at the beginning of the film, and the target shot at the end. There is also the wonderful homage to Goldfinger and we see Bond drinking a martini among other things. If you are a fan of the franchise you will spot the homage’s. I also enjoy that one of the Bond girl’s full names is Strawberry Fields, but that you never find out her full first name in the movie – just her last, I had to IMDB the movie to find out her name; it’s an homage to names like Pussy Galore without the cheesiness of actually having to hear it during the film and being forced to suppress the giggles.

I also am a giant fan of Daniel Craig. I first saw him in Layer Cake and when I found out he was Bond I was far too excited. I think that Craig is an exceptional choice for Bond and is probably my favorite right along with Connery. Craig makes me believe that Bond could not only kill a man but be the ladies man – both of which are critical to the essence of the character.

While I don’t think Quantum of Solace was quite as good as Casino Royale that is in no means intended as an insult to the movie. The film is a great addition not only to the Bond franchise, but to the body of film.

Director: Marc Forster
Writers: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis & Robert Wade
James Bond: Daniel Craig
Camille: Olga Kurylenko
Cominic Greene: Mathieu Amalric
M: Judi Dench
Mathis: Giancarlo Giannini
Strawberry Fields: Gemma Arterton
Felix Leiter: Jeffrey Wright
Mr. White: Jesper Christensen
General Medrano: Joaquin Cosio

M: It'd be a pretty cold bastard who didn't want revenge for the death of someone he loved.
James Bond: I don't think the dead care about vengeance.

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