Saturday, 10 January 2009

Movie Review: Quantum of Solace (2008)


So here is the obvious little fact that seems lost to some movie-makers: when every scene is trying to be a highlight, none of them are.

The latest Bond movie is a mish-mash of attempted highlights, and they all fall into the been-there, done-that category: the car chase; the foot chase; the fight to the death in a hotel room; the boat chase; the airplane chase; the jump from an airplane without a parachute; the out-of-the-way high-tech building that explodes at the ho-hum climax of the movie. The scenes come one after the other at a dizzying pace with no attempt to take the time to build up any kind of thoughtful plot or character. We are left with a hodge-podge of ridiculous scenes that melt into one big mess of boring action.

Director Marc Forster does not help things at all in the editing room. His idea of introducing fake kinetic energy by micro-editing every scene, ensures that we never actually know what is going on. It is a lot easier to chop a scene into a million tiny incomprehensible edits than to actually plan an action scene into a truly visually stunning sequence. The lack of thought in the movie is therefore confounded by a lack of any truly stunning action moments, since no moment can actually be memorable if it lasts for all of 1/1,000th of a second.

So here are the broken pieces of the attempted story in Quantum of Solace: Bond (Daniel Craig) is still pursuing the shadowy evil organization Quantum that he was after in Casino Royale. He is a bit off-mission, since his attention seems to be just as focused on getting revenge on the killers of Vesper, his love interest from that Casino mission. Quantum has infiltrated the British Secret Service, so Bond and M (Judi Dench) do not know who to trust, as Bond runs around Europe and South America in search of the next chase scene.

This all leads to a Mr. Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a member of Quantum masquerading as a high flying environmental entrepreneur, whose latest scheme is to help overthrow the government of Bolivia, (with help from the CIA, naturally), in favour of ruthless military dictators in return for Quantum controlling a piece of desert -- below which runs the water supply for the whole country. Or something. The holes and unexplained developments are much larger than the plot itself, since the movie never actually pauses to give the unfolding story or any of the characters a chance to breathe.

The Bond girl, although remarkably there is neither sex nor even romance between her and Bond, is Bolivian secret agent Camille out to stop Greene from handing her country to the junta, but also pursuing her own revenge theme. As played by Olga Kurylenko, Camille is actually the most interesting thing about this movie. The airhead role goes to actress Gemma Arterton, playing an MI6 agent named, wait for it, Strawberry Fields. She does get into bed with Bond.

After the intense and emotionally involving Casino Royale, where the characters mattered and the plot was allowed to develop, this latest Bond outing is an unfortunate disappointment.






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