Well, it's the 22nd time James Bond has made it to the big screen and things sure have changed. Some of those changes are a breath of fresh air, but a lot of them are just the opposite. Let's go ahead and use an altered version of the Stewie Griffin "compliment sandwich" method to start off this review, where I'll begin with something good, mention where things need improvement, and then end with something good. Ooook let's see something good for anyone who complained that Casino Royale was too long of a movie, you'll be happy to know that Quantum is nowhere near as lengthy. Where this movie needs improvement
- It's way too fast paced
- The villain is the least intimidating individual ever
- Half the action sequences are sliced together so hardcore you can't even see the action
- It doesn't feel like a James Bond movie
aaaand something good, something good M is cheeky and reminds me of my Grandma.
Alright first things first, this movie doesn't feel like a James Bond epic It feels like an action movie. James Bond isn't supposed to be an action hero. Jack Bauer is an action hero, Jason Bourne is an action hero, John McClane is an action hero, but not James Bond. "James Bond" is an attitude, a style. When James Bond meets his villains face to face, we picture the actions and dialogue being different than if say Jean-Claude Van Damme finally meets his villains face to face (or foot to face, same thing).
So now you might find yourselves asking, "Scott you good-looking bastard, if Quantum of Solace doesn't feel like a James Bond movie, what kind of movie does it feel like?" The best way I can put it is, Quantum of Solace feels like a 4th Jason Bourne movie, minus the cool plot and with Daniel Craig instead of Matt Damon. Why does it feel that way? I don't think it's the fault of Daniel Craig. I like Daniel Craig and think he makes a great Bond; he's charming, handsome, and intimidating when he needs to be. It's the plot and the crew that we're going to chalk this up on.
Why the plot? This is the world of James Bond. We're used to a suave Bond foiling a plot of delusional world corruption. Now before I go any farther don't mistake me for saying I don't like the "real element" that lots of movies are using these days. Take Iron Man for example with Robert Downey Jr. I didn't have a problem with the fact that new age 2008 Iron Man was fighting terrorists in the Middle East (to coincide with current events more) even though it never happened that way in the comics. It worked. The real element didn't work this time in Quantum of Solace. This time around we have an emotionally scarred James Bond (read: emo) after losing his girl from Casino Royale, involved in a dual-revenge plot which leads to a completely different villain involved in the same organization that Mr. White was involved with, (Casino Royale), Quantum.
Not only is it a little tough to stay on track with the plot, but it moves at a really quick pace. Something else about this movie that happen way too fast are all the action sequences. The movie opens up with an intense car chase through the Italian countryside " but you barely get to see any of the action. All the shots are insanely shaky/unrecognizable and last about .00029 seconds before switching to another shot just as shaky. It's pretty much the same thing if the Director reached out of the screen and started punching you in the face over and over shouting "CAR CHASE!!! IT'S A CAR CHASE!!! SO INTENSEEE!!!!"
The part that really sucks is that pretty much all the action scenes are cut that way " you just can't see any of the good stuff happening. If there's someone getting the life punched out of them I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that the audience would like to SEE the damn action. Part of the reason this feels like a weak Bourne movie is because the second-unit director and stunt coordinator Dan Bradley, along with the co-editor Richard Pearson worked on the actual Bourne movies before being brought onto Quantum. Unfortunate.
Now back to more important things aren't Bond villains supposed to be at least a little bit intimidating? Remember Baron Samedi? Jaws? Hell even Oddjob? They were some Bond bad guys that would at least make you a little nervous. Quantum's bad guy Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) doesn't even make you flinch. In fact, his stare is weird and his teeth are weird so he might actually make you snicker. Now a lot of villains are supposed to not be judged by their looks but by how they act. Sure, Greene is ruthless in the fact that he will have people killed at the drop of a hat, but all the "badassity" the man has instantly falls out the window when you meet his right hand man/bodyguard/bff/whatever, some tall fruity glass of water who probably weighs 117lbs and has a bowl haircut. The sad part is I think Director Marc Forster intended that character to be serious instead of some kind of inside joke, but at least half the audience and I had to hold back snickers during some important scenes and lines of dialogue every time that weirdo gimped onto the stage trying to act tough.
The Bottom Line: Come on, a Bond that doesn't feel like Bond? That makes me sad. It's not all bad though, there IS a lot of action (even though you can't see half of it) and some pretty entertaining scenes with Daniel Craig doing his "still getting the hang of being a spy" thing. If you're a die-hard Bond fan you've probably already gone to see this and know what I'm talking about. I'm not telling you to NOT see Quantum of Solace, but you can definitely wait until its out of theaters to catch it.
Grade: Shaky/lightning quick editing, out of place plot and overall mood are going to bring this down to about a C . I can deal without having a funny female lead character name like Pussy Galore or Xenia Onatopp, I can deal with the fact that they didn't play the Bond music until the ending credits, and I can even deal with the fact that Bond didn't sleep with the female lead at all, but a Bond villain who's overall scheme is just plain weak? You've cut me deep, Hollywood. SPOILER: (Oh no, he wants to control NOT oil like you're led to believe, but water! Not only that, the water supply of just Bolivia!! Someone please think of the children!!)