(There are limited spoilers. But if you cared about spoilers, you'd read this after seeing the movie, anyway.)
When your girlfriend compares the new James Bond flick, “Quantum of Solace,” to the shoot-em-up assassin movie, “Hitman,” you know this isn’t your father’s James Bond.
Capricorn had never seen a James Bond movie before. Coincidentally, this summer I saw the new Indiana Jones installment with a friend who had never seen any of the Indiana Jones movies before. On a related note, I evidently hang out with hermits and see movies under a rock someplace.
I walked into the theater on Sunday night expecting a Bond movie with the same class, action, thrill, laughs and violence as the initial Daniel Craig-led Bond, 2006’s “Casino Royale.”
QOS did not disappoint, except of course for that silly title that sounds like an angst-ridden teenager trying to title their poem about death and despair. I think “Revenge Best Served Shaken, Not Stirred” would have worked better.
At least it’s not “Revenge of the Sith.”
From the opening moments, Craig encapsulates all that people want in their Bond, as it is, after all, our Bond. He’s intelligent, witty, debonair— yes, debonair, like Cary Grant with an automatic assault weapon— and as physical as any Bond before him. The action scenes could have found a home in any of the “Bourne” movies. I’m always impressed with the different ways Bond producers allow the title character to get his way out of trouble, too. In QOS, Craig gets to use a car, a dirt bike, an SUV, a plane and a boat. He was one train away from starring in a sequel with Steve Martin and John Candy’s corpse.
For a full synopsis of the movie, go here. The basic premise is Bond seeking revenge against a secret terrorist agency, Quantum. His girlfriend, Vesper, had killed herself because she was forced by Quantum to betray Bond at the end of “Casino Royale.” At the center of Quantum, there’s a new villain, Dominic Greene, who is trying to connive world leaders into investing in his environmental group, Greene Planet, which is a front for his secret plan to control a huge, untapped water supply in Bolivia. Talk about An Inconvenient Truth.
The action picks up an hour after “Casino Royale” left off, and there are plenty of chase scenes to go around in the opening minutes to rival the excellent scene in “Royale” when Bond chased his target up, around, and on top of a construction site.
More than the action, what sets these most recent two Bond movies apart from previous installments is their ability to delve more deeply into the characters. Craig gives Bond depth beyond the “agent with a license to kill” mindset, showing compassion, sorrow and pain, but not to the point that it interrupts his work.
The new Bond girl, Camille, is played adeptly by the gorgeous Olga Kurylenko, who holds her own in scenes with Craig and isn’t just a sex object. That might be because it’s also the first time Bond doesn’t get in bed with the main Bond girl, as he’s too busy most of the time recklessly killing suspects, much to the chagrin of his boss, M, and the rest of the British government.
Not to fear, though, traditional Bond fans. Bonds finds time to sleep with another woman, Strawberry Fields, a red-haired beauty sent by the British Consulate to take Bond in for debriefing. Let’s just say things don’t go well for Ms. Fields, and I’m not talking about contracting a disease from Bond, who is approaching Wilt Chamberlain territory after all of these movies’ worth of lovemaking. You know he's not using protection.
Revenge and killing, not romance, serve as the primary fodder for QOS, however. Bond is unusually brutal this time, in part because he’s full of anger after the death of Vesper, a woman he loved. Craig does well in showing some restraint so as to not make Bond cartoonishly vengeful like some Sylvester Stallone movie. It’s also refreshing that Greene, played by Mathieu Amalric, does not have any gimmicky physical traits that have long been a staple of Bond movies.
That forces Amalric to become despicable and emotionally disturbed on his own volition, which he does well in his limited scenes. In all, QOS is a perfect blend of Bond qualities. I’m sure all of those fans who protested Craig’s selection as the new Bond feel silly now. Craig’s Bond is on par with the best of Bonds before him, and with the ability to beat up those past Bonds, as well.
And yes, Capricorn greatly enjoyed QOS. Now all I have to do is get her to see Casino Royale.
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