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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Quantum Of Solace

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Quantum of Solace –   This Bond Has Lost Its Value

In reviewing the 22nd film in the James Bond franchise, I can’t help but think of that that tried and true saying, “If it’s not broken, why fix it?”, since it is so applicable here.  Certainly the film series, which began with Sean Connery as British secret agent 007 up to the most recent portrayal by Pierce Brosnan, has undergone a major makeover now that Daniel Craig is filling the shoes of the iconic super spy. The way I see it, he’s not what I would call a new and improved version. On the contrary, we have lost of one of the coolest, suave, and sexy male characters ever to hit the screen, the brain child of late writer Ian Fleming who first created Bond for his series of spy novels that has been adapted to screen and became one of the most successful film franchises ever.

Gone are the staple characters and details audiences have grown accustomed to and expect from a classic Bond film. No where to be seen in Quantum of Solace is weapon/gadget inventor Q, M’s secretary the flirtatious Miss Moneypenny, or the characteristics that make Bond, well, distinctively Bond. Not once does Bond introduce himself as “Bond, James Bond” or say “shaken, not stirred” when ordering a drink.

I said in my review of 2006’s Casino Royale, that introduced Daniel Craig as Bond, he doesn’t do it for me.  I thought then and I still do now, that he lacks the looks, sex appeal and charisma needed for the role. Steel blue eyes and sculpted pecs can’t compensate for big ears, sunken cheekbones and the facial appearance of a boxer who has spent too much time in the ring.   In addition, 007 was originally a handsome debonair ladies man with humorous quips, but has been transformed into a brooding, smirking, cold blooded, killing machine. Craig portrays Bond as emotionally void, with no personality;   the kind of man who does not think twice about tossing his dead friend and ally into a garbage can.

Ditching all of the great elements that have made it work, the latest installment focuses on Bond as more of a serious action hero with issues including that of trust between him and M.  As an action piece there are multiple chases either on land, rooftops, in the air, or on water, along with a fair share of explosions, fights, and shoot outs.  But the camerawork is so jittery, dizzying, and the frenetic editing makes it hard, no almost impossible, to decipher what is happening and to who. If director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, The Kite Runner) working from a script by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis ("Crash", "In the Valley of Elah") is attempting to copy the style and action of the Bourne spy series, he has failed terribly.

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This followup to Casino Royale picks up where it left off, after the death of Bond’s lady love Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) and Bond is desperate for revenge.  The unfolding plot revolves around Bond’s attempt to get to villain, Dominic Green (Roman Planski lookalike Mathieu Amalric, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly), a major player in a secret criminal organization called Quantum (that explains “part” of the title, the rest makes no sense) with moles everywhere.  Posing as an environmentalist Green seeks funds for his company Green Planet’s Tierra Project that “promises to rejuvenate the world on the edge of collapse” but instead is used to finance military coups in exchange for land and the control of water rights.  Forget oil; water is the valued commodity with forced droughts the impending danger at stake.

As for the requisite Bond girls, well, while indeed pretty, that’s the best I can say for the two, as  they fall short of being interesting or fiery femme fatales.  Bond eventually hooks up with Latina Camille (played by Russian born Olga Kurylenko), whose family was brutally killed by a Bolivian general named Modrano (Joaquin Cosio).  Yup; she, too, has a revenge agenda on her mind.

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The other pretty young thing is Miss Fields (Gemma Arterton, whose character is listed in the credits as Strawberry Fields although her first name is never mentioned) a fetching redhead, from the British consulate. Strictly expendable, with little to do other than sharing a lackluster kiss with Bond in bed, she later is found dead face down dead in a scene that pays homage to the Bond classic, Goldfinger.

Other than globe trotting around the world to glamorous international locations as Italy, Haiti, Bolivia, and Russia, Quantum of Solace is a big bore that makes me long for the return of the old Bond storylines, with maniacal villains and their schemes and threats to take over the world.  Quantum’s French villain has no defining feature, not even a scar, and comes off as just a ruthless businessman with a bit of a Napoleon complex.  Wasted are Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini as Mathis, and Jeffrey Wright as CIA operative Felix Leiter who has two or three very brief scenes.

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Even the opening credits sequence is not sexy and is uninspired with a forgettable theme song, Another Way To Die, by Jack White and Alicia Keys.  As a dedicated fan of the Bond series, I am so very disappointed by the new direction the series has taken. This re-invented Bond leaves me shaken, but definitely not stirred.