Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quantum of Solace

There is a measure of comfort in going to a Bond flick. Trusting in the rich history of the series (though I'm still a little mad at George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton), I walked into the theater looking forward to an intriguing storyline, Vodka martinis (you know...), and Bond, James Bond.
Given the expectations set by its 21 predecessors, I don't quite know what to make of Quantum of Solace. It was definitely a Bond film, keeping up the tradition of patriotic espionage in the face of a world-threatening crisis. The crisis was timely, too, posing questions about globalization, the environment, and the invasion of technology into our daily lives. This was a good move on the writers' part. I was getting a little bored of watching Bond thwart communism.
In other ways, Quantum is a step in another direction for the Bond character. Daniel Craig reworks the mold by showing us a side of Bond previously only hinted at (in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1969): falling apart, vulnerable, maybe even weak. The woman he loves has been killed (no spoiler if you've seen Casino Royale, 2006), and he's left to pick up the pieces and live first, as always, for queen and country.
Quantum further deviates from tradition in its heavy reliance on Casino Royale. The struggles Bond is left with at the end of Craig's first Bond performance are played out in this story, and it's no hard guess to say we'll see him in the next Bond film resolving issues this movie leaves open.
Like I said, I'm not sure whether or not I like this one. Bond films tend to stand alone. If I hadn't seen Casino Royale (I still recommend Ken Hughes' 1967 spoof), I would have been totally lost.
While I appreciate the new dynamic brought to the character, Bond's character has traditionally been marked by static charm and gentlemanly espionage. The question has always been: How will he deal with this one? Quantum asks the question: How will this one deal with him? It also seems that what the film gains in character complexity it loses in plot. There are a lot of explosions, fast-paced chases, and interesting gadgets. But the real 'spy stuff' could probably have fit in a half-hour TV special.
So the jury's out on Quantum of Solace. As a final note, however, I do want to compliment Marc Forster for taking the sex down a notch. Don't misunderstand me, sexual implications come with the Walter PPK. But it was artfully downplayed, which was probably a good decision given that half of us are still in shock over the nearly pornographic role Halle Berry played in Die Another Day (2002).

Thomas Johnson, Copy Editor

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