‘Quantum of Solace’ leaves out notorious ‘Bond’ action
November 20, 2008
Revenge is a dish best served cold. But in the case of “Quantum of Solace,” the 22nd Bond film, it is best served with gratuitous pulp. The first true sequel in the franchise, picking up immediately after the close of “Casino Royale,” QoS continues the series reboot by stripping away everything quintessentially Bond - the gadgets, the wit, the seductive charm; but in doing so, the creative team strips away any sense of identity this new 007 can claim. Art house refugee director Marc Foster, fleeing the independent scene in favor of bigger budgets over bigger story, seems to have forgotten that QoS is “Casino Royale 2,” not Bourne 4.
But Bond will survive and be back again in the inevitable sequel. QoS comes with the bitter taste of an a typical middle movie. It has no beginning and a hemorrhaging hole where an ending should be. Sprinkled over the top is a shadowy story about Quantum - the new Spectre - and their head puppet’s, a ruthless environmentalist, attempts to steal a country’s water supply. The fact that 007 needs to stop him is never really expressed, Bond just does. The chaotic pacing makes the plot hard to follow, resulting in an overwhelming sense of confused apathy.
The problem is the action; sequences that should enhance the plot are instead put into the drivers seat with a brick on the pedal. The trademark energy is missing, replaced by a shaky camera filming jumbled close-ups mashed together into a schizophrenic illusion of action. This new Bond tries to kick ass, but loses himself among a frantic patchwork of aimless chase scenes. I found myself mentally checking each off: airplane, boat, car and foot. The problem is that not one of these sequences is very enthralling or memorable. Each plays out as an intrusion, not extension in the plot.
Daniel Craig, reprising his role as the world’s most infamous spy, does well enough with what little he is given, but fails to bring any semblance of charm to the role. As this new interpretation wants to prove, Bond is who he is because of a dark past. QoS attempts to tie-up the loose ends from “Casino Royale,” sending Bond after those responsible for Vesper Lynd’s death. We see a broken man, desperate for revenge. He acts without thinking, driven by the numbing comfort that comes with the realization that hitting makes being hit hurt less.
This gritty character arc flirts with incredible possibilities. We are offered a chance to see a new Bond emerge, one rough around the edges, forged into an emotionally hollow killer bound by nothing but duty. But what we are given is a whiny, prepubescent Bond who never learns that his license to kill comes with a price. He simply runs all over the world, kicking in the teeth of everyone he meets, ignoring any character evolution in favor of a 105-minute tantrum. Hopefully now that he has it out of his system, the 23rd entry can get back to reinventing the suave and sophistication that make James… Bond.
The Bond saga has endured for 46 years and counting. No matter what happens, audiences can always count on the fact that there will be another Bond movie. He is a character that allows us to live vicariously through him, and escape to a place in which bad guys lose and the hero gets the girl. QoS changes nothing, and as the final, infamous “gun-barrel” sequence hints at, the real Bond will be back.
Ken Weigend is an alumnus of UW-River Falls. He was editor of the Student Voice during spring semester 2010.