Sunday, 2 November 2008

Quantum of Solace (2008)

New Bond is here with the reinvention reboot of the franchise into a grittier, more conflicted and stoic, less smug and ultimately pained human who bleeds and gets hurt a lot, jumps around a lot and is quite Jason Bourne. In the process, quite a few set pieces have been scaled down to involve more hand-to-hand figting and less big explosions on space stations, which is good for Bond and good for current film trends, currently favouring conflicted sociopaths. Much has been made of the title and its literary almost understated meaning and the White Stripes' attempt at a theme tune. This is despite the definitive version being made by Adam and Joe for their amazing 6Music show and Song Wars. So yeah, while the comparisons with Bourne and with arty more thoughtful cinema, let's focus on the film itself. It's building up into a trilogy featuring a mysterious organisation that one hopes must culminate in SPECTRE and Blofeld. In the meantime, we're thrown into the thick of the action with a car-chase, an aborted torture scene and a rooftop scarper and dodgem, before the plot kicks in with the usual Bond guff of meglomaniacs trying to take over the world. The lead villain is as apathetic and weedy as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, but we're dealing with evil businessmen not pumped up machos, so it's understandable that their ability to change worlds with cash rather than chops is believable. There's a strange subplot with Bond's girl seeking revenge on a rape-happy Bolivian general and there's no real chance for chemistry. But then Bond is haunted by the delectable Eva Green/Vesper, and only manages to nob Gemma Arterton, looking pretty special as Strawberry Fields. It's action all the way as Bond and M play cat and mouse and she allows him the necessary space to do his job properly until a plot development leads her to look in-house. It's blistering stuff, fast and well-paced until the end which is a bit of a damp squib intermission break as revelations about the organisation unfold away from the audience. The problem with the film, apart from a duff Bond girl and a disposable Bond girl, is the action is all edited too close to the flailing bodies with choppy snappy fast cuts and the annoying shaky cam made famous by 24. The thing about 24 was it was about tense quickly unfolding situations rather than body-blows and chases. So it feels a little like the director isn't too sure how to direct action, which is a shame as there's so much of it going on. There's no massive set-piece but it's nice, it feels like a proper film, rather than a series of set pieces hung together by hammy acting. I was about to say 'more realistic' but let's be honest, this is Bond and while they have made him grittier and the tone is darker, it's still a Bond film, with or without cheesy Brosnan. Craig does a great job as a nearly silent sociopathic spy on a quest to quell the guilty voices in his head.. It's a good film, shame about the action.

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