Alright, I know I said I tend to ignore the mainstream. However some things will always be excluded from this, and James Bond is one of them. It’s James Bond damnit, and I’m English!

Things started out quite well for Quantum of Solace. I was expecting the titles to have been jazzed up, and they had. I like the song, but don’t have much to say about it – have a listen below. The title video was reasonably good, although not stunning. Despite this, though, I’d enjoyed Casino Royale, so I was distinctly optimistic at this point (although already a third of the way through my popcorn, why must they show so many adverts? It’s not as if anyone remembers them after the film, Orange excluded…).

The song, by Alicia Keys and Jack White:

It soon became apparent that the writers of Quantum of Solace have never watched a Bond film in their lives.

This bunch of witless muppets have fallen prey to peer pressure. They have followed the conventions of modern spy and action films – they’ve tried to make James Bond gritty and realistic. Presumably this was intended to ensure blockbuster success, by following “what the people want” – but, sadly, they have failed to grasp the fact that James Bond is its own genre.
Bond films are defined by their humour, their over-the-top villains, their snazzy gadgets, and above all the very fact that they are not realistic (What’s with this fad for realism, honestly, who goes to the cinema to watch reality?). The creators of Quantum of Solace have paid roughly the same amount of attention to these essential concepts as a steamroller does to a flowerbed.

I’ll try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but there will inevitably be some filtering through of major plot points.

The film opens with Mr Bond and M interrogating a captive in a clearly annexed building in Italy, and within five minutes you’re biting your lip and murmuring “Shit!” under your breath – a brilliant opening dialogue. Then we meet another instance of Sheeple Production. The Earthquake Camera. This is a visual device I hate with a fiery passion – yes, when one is running around, chasing people and fighting, one’s vision jerks around quite a lot. A person’s eyes compensate – a camera doesn’t, and a fight scene in which you can’t tell which person is which because they’re never in the frame for more than a second is utterly pointless.

Someone just got clonked round the head with a metal pole – but I have no idea who, I didn’t see their face. Should I be gleeful or sympathetic? Who’s actually winning? What was that, it looked like a moose! What’s going on? Oh bugger this for a lark, I give up. When do we see something we can actually glean information from?

Another utterly pointless feature of Quantum’s production is the muck, both literally and figuratively. Bond does tend to get covered in such charming substances as blood, guts, and machine oil quite frequently; which I suppose is passable. However, this is James Bond. The very essence of James Bond’s being is inhuman suavité. If he’s going to be off camera for half a minute, he will wash and redo his bowtie, even in the middle of the bloody desert. He has a built in wash’n’wax, and the credit crunch is no excuse to wait ’till he gets home and do it with a sponge! He maintains a constant air of serene eminence: even when he is clearly terrified, distraught, screwed, or all of the above; he still looks noble.
But not in Quantum of Solace. It appears to be an attempt at making him appear to be a real person – thus, of course, completely missing the point of James Bond. Daniel Craig covered in fake sweat and mud, and crying is moving – but it’s not Bond.

More frustrating, though, is the exclusion of some of the best things about Bond.

I think in the whole film, I heard maybe two witty one-liners – two! There may have technically been three, but one of them wasn’t funny. No cheesy chat-up lines whatsoever; in fact he only slept with two women, and neither of them were taken (One of whom ended up being the most Bond-esque thing in the entire film – a screamingly desperate reference to Goldfinger – for those who don’t mind spoilers, this is what I’m talking about.). Is it really possible that the film industry has become more moderate over time?!
Suddenly, James Bond is just James Bond. No “The name’s Bond, James Bond.”; no Martinis to be seen – shaken, stirred, stuccoed or otherwise. I forgave these omissions in Casino Royale, as it was supposed to depict the prologue of the Bond story – the transition from a regular secret agent(?) into the wonderful Bond. He just hadn’t yet fully established his panache. This is not the case in Quantum of Solace, and these gaping holes make evident a shameful failure on the part of whoever hired the writers.

Another horrendously lacking element is the gadgets. The sum total of all the gadgets used by Bond and MI6 are a wall-mounted Microsoft coffee table and a cameraphone. That’s it. There was a car chase – how did Bond get away? A gun out the window, and he rammed a few people.

The villain in Quantum is just as boring. He doesn’t have an ice palace, and isn’t obviously neurotic. You know he’s evil and wants to take over the world and must be stopped – but you know that because you’d been told. He doesn’t display his megalomania on-screen until the final few minutes, by which point it’s too late. You don’t have time to get to know him as an evil, psychotic bastard; and you can never really hate someone unless you know them.

All in all, Quantum of Solace was a fairly good spy film; and an absolutely bloody terrible Bond film.
Oh, and lunch afterwards was similarly unpleasant. I nearly smacked a toddler with a plate. 🙂

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