Saturday, May 9, 2009

Quantum of Solace, the Letdown

**Like all movie reviews, beware of spoilers.**

I recently watched the latest James Bond installment, Quantum of Solace. About halfway through the movie, I thought, I'm really glad I didn't see this in the theater. The rest of the movie confirmed this sentiment. My main disappointments were with the plot, Daniel Craig, Bond's character development, and the editing choices—so pretty much the whole thing. Here's the longer version of my intense disappointment:

From the very beginning car chase, the plot of the movie was hard to follow. The previous movie was referenced as if we'd just seen it the day before, not three years prior, and as if we were as intimately familiar with all the characters as they were with each other. Names were tossed about, photos flashed across impressive computer displays, and conversation during pivotal information-giving scenes was bandied about at speeds that had me rewinding the film just to get a second rundown...and still being confused. At which point, I thought, I'll just enjoy the film as entertainment and not try to follow along, which is an incredibly disappointing way to watch a film...

Especially when Daniel Craig was not at top form. For a young Bond at the beginning of his career, Craig was looking mighty old in this film. And whether it was his acting, bad directing, bad script, or bad editing, the character development was all over the place. Sometimes Bond seemed incredibly competent and then he'd do something so stupid that even I, as an untrained civilian, know not to do. His motive, while pure and true through the whole film, was hard to find expressed in anything but his bloodthirsty actions and never in emotion. There didn't seem to be a steady progression for Bond through the movie—no growth, not change. It was like his character was already set in stone, yet since I've seen "later" films when Bond is older, I know that the Quantum Bond was not at all like later Bonds, therefore implying that he had some growing and changing yet to do. Apparently that was all happening off screen.

To top everything off, whoever gets the final say on the editing had the attention span of an MTV music video viewer. Almost all actions scenes were either juxtaposed in quick flashes with something else, either more action, or, for some unfathomable reason, once with a horse race. Everything was choppy, with the longest shots being no more than ten or so seconds (yes, I got so bored, I counted). Given that the plot was already so difficult to cipher, choppy edits didn't help.

The largest insult to the Bond franchise would probably be the fact that this didn't feel like a Bond movie at all. Yes, the main character could do some amazing fighting/running/killing/driving, but so can a lot of action heroes. Bond lacked is suave sophistication of the other films. I'd not even quibble over that, considering that this is supposed to be early Bond, perhaps before he developed into Mr. Cool, but for the fact that this film had none of the cool gadgetry that exemplifies a Bond movie.

If you haven't seen it, don't pay to, that's for sure.

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