3 April 2009

Thoughts On: Quantum Of Solace.

Viewed on DVD...

Y'know what they forgot to do with this Bond movie? Make a Bond movie.

It ain't horrible. Certainly not "invisible car" horrible. It's an earnest pic. It has lots of giddy-up. Daniel Craig is proving to have legitimate star quality. The story makes basic sense and stays within the realms of possibility by making the maniacal plans of its villains conform to very real world maniacal plans (i.e. Latin American water privatization, propping up dictators, all that good, patriotic stuff). Is it telling that Bond villains no longer feel the need to one-up anything you can see reported on CNN or even Fox News, albeit in the two minutes per day they AREN'T focusing on lost puppies and manufactured populist outrage?

In this latest outing, the flash-editing action scenes are taken to a new, rods-and-cones melting level. I found them disorienting even on my home screen (home screens generally lessen the disorientation effect). The weird thing about Quantum Of Solace, which has both feet firmly planted in the "grimness and violence automatically makes a movie better" mindset, is the things they forgot to include.

One is a sense of menace about the main villain. I said in a previous post that Bond villains simply haven't mattered very much in the last seven or eight pictures. As if to refute my point, the producers of Quantum decided their villain would be slimy, but not in the least menacing. In fact, he's so NOT menacing you don't even realize the son of a bitch is the main bad guy until about five minutes from the end of the film. At which point I thought to myself, "Oh yeah, Bond films always have big-time bad guys. Funny how I forgot about that."

Another weird thing they forgot was the MacGuffin. There's an evil plot afoot, but it's not exactly a "missile headed for Pittsburgh", or even a stolen teddy bear with microfilm inside. It's just routine international malfeasance. Most other Bond films would've figured out a somewhat more pressing agenda for its bad guys. Quantum is content to exist principally a revenge story.

In fact, it's a bit of a remake on that second Timothy Dalton film. Y'know, the one with the shark that chews on Felix Leiter, back when Felix Leiter was played by a guy who looked like Schneider from One Day At A Time? NOT a good Bond movie template.