Friday, 7 November 2008

No Solace to be Found.

A review of the new James Bond film Quantum of Solace

I have always been a fan of James Bond, preferring him over Indiana Jones and I have never had time for marvel based superheroes. I read all of Flemings books when I was 14 and had seen every Bond film in one long summer when ITV showed them all in sequence leading up to the premiere of Tomorrow Never Dies. My favourites are From Russia with Love, You Only Live Twice and Goldfinger. Watching the new film with Daniel Craig left me longing for these films of old. For a director to hold a take for longer than 3 seconds, to stay within the same ten mile geographical area for more than minute. For it not to leap oceans and cross deserts as fast as commercials go from advertising Tampax adverts for women to extolling the seductive allure of Lynx for, to begging for money to help stop aids in Africa. To say the film transcends time and space is to say that the film has jettisoned any kind of reality and grounding in any kind of disenable plot. It is one long commercial for action and action not very original at that. To say that of course is to say that the plot so to speak is reduced to nothing more than scene setting, a 30 second exposition before Bond goes off to smash another nameless villain’s head in, or run across roofs or shoot someone. QOS is like a live action version of GTA4 and Bond pretty much does the same as the character in the game. Bond is not really a character at all now, he is a symbol, a short hand for violence and destruction.

It’s a bad film. You have a sort of queasy feeling like after you eaten a McDonalds and saying to yourself what the hell did I do that for? The real question is why did they make such a hash of it? After Casino Royal they did I believe a fine job of recapturing Bond from the puerile Brosnan years. Bond apart from the early moments largely keeps his feet on the ground and there is more emphasise placed on story, character and acting. Craig especially was refreshing in the role, as he brought a much needed toughness and a brutish, thuggish, simian cold sadism.

Craig has been wasted in the new film which is the greatest disappointment. He has not yet earned the role nor made a significant mark. I believe he could offer the best Bond since Connery. It seems unlikely he will be given the chance. The producers seem intent on playing the lowest common denominator.

The film does prove to me a suspicion. That is that I don’t think the Bond films really succeed when working outside the domain of Flemings fiction. Ask yourself the question- did Casino Royal work because of Craig, the absence of silliness and the presence of a more realistic serious story? Or did it work because it stuck close to Flemings original?



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