Friday, September 14, 2012

Quantum of Solace

2008 ***

I though this was worth another look, but alas my opinion is unchanged. Casino Royale was an exciting, game-changing achievement for the James Bond franchise that shut the mouths of anyone skeptical of Daniel Craig or this newfangled (back then) idea of the "reboot," my mouth included. But if they'd led with Quantum of Solace instead, there probably wouldn't be any Bond franchise anymore.

After a brilliantly promising opening car chase, Quantum just turns to flat, fizzy soda and stays that way. For me the lifeblood of any Bond flick is the action sequences, and there are the requisite amount -- they're just marked by some bad visual communication. They're not quite as bad as the shaky-cam/jumpcut/Uwe Boll faux action meatloaf I often gripe about, but there were multiple times a killing blow was struck (to a plane, boat, guy) and I squinted, said "huh?", rewound for a second viewing and still came up empty. Perhaps getting the director of Monster's Ball has something to do with this deficiency.

I've read that people have found the plot confusing, but I suspect that's because they don't realize the truly underwhelming place it gets to. The story shoots for relevance, as the villainous cabal is a bunch of amoral rich people, but the cinematic punch of their master stroke isn't really a punch at all. "We are now THE Department of Water for all of Bolivia! And we will DOUBLE your rates!" I'm not sure if there's anything actor Mathieu Amalric could have done to beef up his villainy; he was excellent in Munich so I give him the benefit of the doubt. But ultimately he's written not so much evil as just rich and entitled, and that doesn't cut the bad guy mustard outside of a John Hughes movie.

"If Blaine goes to the prom with that poor girl I will just SHIT."

Finally there's the matter of what could be the most ridiculous setting of a Bond climax ever. It's a super-fancy hotel for super-rich people that for no reason at all is located in the middle of the desert. It's basically a supervillain lair that you rent out, and I know I'm right because it comes complete with a self-destruct device. There's one tossed-off comment about the hotel's fuel cells, and then shortly afterwards a jeep crashes into the wall in the parking garage and without any further help THE ENTIRE HOTEL CATCHES ON FIRE. Can you imagine if there was a building -- no, excuse me, a hotel-- with such a ludicrous, lethal flaw? It's like putting the Death Star exhaust port in an enclosed space with a bunch of drunk people and several SUVs.

To be fair, Daniel Craig and Judi Dench are always great and the character arcs are worthwhile. I tease French James Spader up there, but he and the rest of the cast all hold up their ends. I would never suggest skipping it, because I love James Bond movies and of course you gotta see all of them. But tonight I kept waiting for the happy surprise and it never showed.


AC said...

love this review, and not just because i agree with every word (which i do). keep flexing those reviewer muscles, octopunk, you're on fire!

JPX said...

Excellent review as always! I have yet to see this one and your review is not inspiring me to do so, however, as you note I have to see every Bond flick. I need to watch this before Skyfall.

Catfreeek said...

Great review! JPX you have to watch it.

DCD said...

I'd like to see this too, although maybe I'm not as inspired to now! It's on my list anyway...

Landshark said...

Yeah, totally agree with every word. I think your math is off though. That definitely adds up to a **1/2.

K always makes fun of the title, which she can never remember. It's like they just took a couple vaguely impressive sounding words and threw them together. Did they discard "Modicum of Avarice" or "Minutiae of Respite?"