“My name is Bond, James Bond.”
Recognized as the greeting of James Bond, those watching Quantum of Solace in theaters (and other media) will find this phrase sorely missing. If it only was the only thing missing.
With Casino Royale, the James Bond franchise was given a much needed shot in the arm with the introduction of Daniel Craig as Bond, taking over from Pierce Brosnan. With a story that went back in time to introduce us to where James Bond came from and how he became the 007, it was an interesting twist with a story that finally was believable and not completely outlandish. With plenty of action and style, Daniel Craig put James Bond back on the map as a franchise that I actually could start looking forward to watching again.
With Quantum of Solace, I’m wondering what happened.
In QoS, our favorite agent picks up a while after his beloved and double-crossing Vespa died. Set on revenge (or so it seems), he goes after those involved, killing them as he encounters them, in his search for the one responsible. In the middle of this he bumps into a plot involving corrupt environmentalist out to make a quick buck as well as a CIA that is plotting to overthrow the Bolivian government in their quest to secure oil riches for the USA. Being somewhat familiar with the history of the CIA and what they have been up to in the last few decades, it is not outlandish to think that it is something they could be involved in and it makes you wonder that if there’s a nugget of truth in the CIA connection, maybe there’s something involved in the greedy greenies out for a big buck in the name of saving the environment?
At any rate, that’s a discussion for a different day. Going back to Bond, I find that this thirst for revenge that Bond naturally denies that even exists (he is driven purely by duty, naturally) mixed in with a plot to overthrow a government in South America is not really a good mix for James Bond. To me, it just doesn’t work. It’s not because it’s outlandish either, it’s just because it’s not a good story. At least I don’t think so.
Now, looking a bit closer at the movie itself, there many more aspects that are either good or bad as seen through my eyes.
First of all, the opening scene was pretty cool. Nice chase scene. However, I would have to say that the action taking place after the intro music, the part right after the chase, is much more interesting and fascinating. It should all have been part of the opening. The way the movie is cut now, the action is interrupted by a terrible movie intro with a theme song that’s just completely horrendous. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything so unfitting a Bond theme. It’s too bad that the traditional Bond opening is shoved towards the back with the credits.
So, a good action sequence is ruined by a mediocre theme song and intro. It’s not the only thing that makes this not a good Bond movie.
I’ve already mentioned the missing greeting. After all, what is James Bond without “Bond, James Bond?” Not James Bond.
Furthermore, where’s the gadgets? Q was not in Casino Royale so I can understand he’s not in QoS either but there are always gadgets of some sort. Not so much in this one. Yes, there were the earpieces at the theater performance and yes there was the cell phone with GPS tracking and the very cool interactive display and MI6 HQ (or wherever that was) but nothing that really stood out. There must always be gadgets.
One thing the movie has is plenty of action but it seems very unfocused somehow, very erratic, not smooth. A sense of sophistication is missing, I think. To me, Bond has always been a secret agent and although a killer, also a sophisticated gentleman and very cleaver in his own way. I missed that as well.
Can I forget cars? Yes, there’s an Aston Martin in the opening sequence but what a waste. The chase scene is cool and the Alfa Romeo is a car that I also like but gosh, I wanted more car!
James Bond movies have always in one way been majestic in a sense. Bigger than life. Missions that would appear impossible. These two last movies have toned down this a notch but I can’t help but miss Bond climbing all over massive cliffs or fighting on huge radio telescopes or massive underwater fights with dangerous sharks etc. To me, there was always a sense that whatever situation Bond was in, the situation itself wasn’t just perilous but also the environment. Although there are certainly dangers in QoS, they’re not there in the same sense as before.
Finally, what’s with the Bond girls? James Bond always bumps into women in a hostile setting of some sort where very often he must not only fight them but also win them over to his side. In QoS there are a couple of women but neither are antagonistic in any real way towards Bond. In fact, they are allied with him almost from the very beginning and even though it takes a while for it to become obvious to him ti was pretty clear to me fairly early. In fact, what we end up with is a secret agent on a mission of revenge that bumps into a women also out for revenge.
Looking at things from a technical point of view, the special effects aren’t bad, as is to be expected. I don’t think the movie is cut very well. In fact, there are numerous scenes when it seems like part of the scene was cut out for whatever reason and they feel as if they’re not tied together very well. There’s also way too much camera movement in some scenes which makes it hard to follow the action. It’s almost like there was an attempt to make up for location with shaky cameras.
So, having complained, I guess I should say that QoS is not completely worthless. In fact, it’s not necessarily a bad movie, it’s just not a good Bond movie. In fact, if you imagine replacing Daniel Craig with Matt Damon, QoS could just as well have been another Jason Bourne movie and frankly, that’s the way it felt to a large part of the time. Watching it was therefore not a complete waste but I surely hope that now that Bond has satisfied his craving for revenge that we can move on to something more interesting in the future.
Once can’t help but wonder if the Bond franchise is changing direction. I would hope that hopefully not. There’s plenty of action out there already. Let’s get Bond back to where he belongs, classy and witty action that throws in a bit of awe and gadgetry.