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A Quantum of Coherency


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King Kong returns: Daniel Craig is back to wreak havoc once more upon the legacy of the Bond franchise.
By Lance Berry

Yes, I know…I did say that I’d never see another James Bond film as long as Daniel Craig was playing the role. But friends wanted to see this, peer pressure’s a bitch, so what can you do?

You can stay away from Quantum of Solace, is what you can do.


Yes, this isn’t your father’s James Bond…but since this is a reboot, then could we stop ripping off dad’s Bond? A later scene where a female agent is killed by having her body filled with oil, and leaving her naked body face down on the bed and covered in the inky liquid isn’t so much a homage to Goldfinger as it is a dead ripoff. Poor Jeffrey Wright(W., The Invasion) is suckered in once again to play CIA operative Felix Leiter, and again has next to nothing to do. What’ll happen in the next film–will we have a large Asian man who throws a bowler hat, but instead of Oddjob, his name will be Dayjob?

…..
And that is what the Bond franchise has become: a series desperately trying to reinvent itself as relevant in a Jason Bourne world, while clinging to fragments of its past as a safety blanket to appease older fans.

And in the end, this newly imagined world is definitely not enough.

Lance Reviews QoS
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King Kong returns: Daniel Craig is back to wreak havoc once more upon the legacy of the Bond franchise.Yes, I know…I did say that I’d never see another James Bond film as long as Daniel Craig was playing the role. But friends wanted to see this, peer pressure’s a bitch, so what can you do?

You can stay away from Quantum of Solace, is what you can do.

A direct sequel to 2006’s Casino Royale, Solace picks up right after the ending of that film, only now Bond is being chased in the opener by unnamed bad guys on a road in Italy. Nearly totaling the Aston Martin in the process, Bond manages to escape pursuit and deliver the mysterious Mr. White(Jesper Christensen) to a secret holding area where M.(Judi Dench) and a couple of other MI6 agents await. The opening credits roll, and as designed by special effects company MK12, these are the most random, unattractive and meaningless credits in the history of the franchise–and yes, they are worse than the ones for Casino Royale, because at least those title shots primarily related to the film. The randomness of these titles are complimented perfectly by the title song “Another Way to Die” by Alicia Keys and Jack White, and which surprisingly doesn’t sound as bad in the film as it does on its own.

The story picks up post-titles with the interrogation of White, who reveals that his organization has agents every-where. Proving this is one of the MI6 agents in the holding area, who immediately turns on Bond, missing him but managing to wing M with a bullet. There ensues a chase across rooftops and through buildings, culminating in Bond killing the agent in self-defense, but which leaves him without any immediately solid leads on how it is that a trusted agent who’s worked with M for nearly two dozen years could be a turncoat.

This is one of the strengths of Quantum of Solace, but which is never fully played up enough: that a mysterious organization exists which is more than likely equal to or more powerful than MI6, and is so entrenched and devious that they could corrupt supposedly loyal agents to queen and country. After this initial shocking turn of events–which allows White to escape in the confusion–M displays caution, but never an ounce of paranoia, as she rightfully should. She explains to Bond that the turncoat was her personal assistant for at least eight years, yet after the betrayal, she never has additional security around her, and has scenes where she’s in the company of only one or two agents at a time. How can anyone who’s been betrayed in such a nearly fatal manner be so lackadaisical about security after such an event?

As for the chase between Bond and the double agent; it’s both staged and choreographed quite well, though it takes more than a nod from the freerun chase in Royale. Here though, there is more than a heightened sense of danger, but unfortunately it’s the only well-choreographed chase/fight scene in the entire film. Director Marc Forster(Monster’s Ball, The Kite Runner) is a dramatist–not an action director, and the rest of his sloppily, choppily shot and edited chase and fight scenes(where one can barely tell what’s happening and to whom) glaringly announce this fact.

Back at base, M and Special Agent Tanner(Rory Kinnear, who doesn’t hold a candle to Michael Kitchen, who played the same character in 1995’s Goldeneye) come up with enough of a lead that sends Bond to Haiti, where he immediately fights and murders a man who might have been able to give him more intel on the mysterious organization. In fact, Bond’s proclivity to immediately killing anyone he comes into contact with becomes a running joke throughout the film, as he rubs out leads at least three times. This was admittedly funny to a degree, but not when you take into context that Craig is playing the Bond role not so much as a secret agent, but as a slightly less gamma ray induced cousin of the Hulk. Craig takes every opportunity to smash his way through people and things, displays nearly superhuman strength by ripping a metal handle off a door with no effort whatsoever, and continues to display all the charm of a dead raccoon in the role. One almost expects him to end every declarative state-ment to any other character with the words “or I’ll kill you”, or to yell “BOND SMAAAASH!!!” when confronting a foe.

To Solace’s credit, as this is the very first direct sequel in the history of the franchise, Bond is still grieving over the death of Vesper from the last film, and he’s on a mission to find her killers and achieve that much talked about quantum of solace at any cost. However, it seems producer Barbara Broccoli has forgotten what the Bond character himself is all about: stillness of thought and calm assuredness when pursuing any mission…because emotion and recklessness is what gets you killed in the field. Even back in the Timothy Dalton days, during his weakest(and ironically, last) outing in License to Kill, Bond was on a mission to find the drug dealer who maimed Felix Leiter and killed his good friend’s wife. Yet he kept his calm and wits about him while pursuing his vendetta, because any slip-ups would have cost him his life. In Tomorrow Never Dies, Pierce’s Bond mourned the murder of his love Paris, but when confronting the man who had killed her, he got a measure of vengeance, then moved on… because as he told Natalya in Goldeneye when she asked him how he could be so cold, “that’s what keeps me alive.”

Yes, this isn’t your father’s James Bond…but since this is a reboot, then could we stop ripping off dad’s Bond? A later scene where a female agent is killed by having her body filled with oil, and leaving her naked body face down on the bed and covered in the inky liquid isn’t so much a homage to Goldfinger as it is a dead ripoff. Poor Jeffrey Wright(W., The Invasion) is suckered in once again to play CIA operative Felix Leiter, and again has next to nothing to do. What’ll happen in the next film–will we have a large Asian man who throws a bowler hat, but instead of Oddjob, his name will be Dayjob?

Rounding out the cast is Olga Kurylenko(Max Payne, Hitman) as Camille, Bond’s sidekick on his adventure, and another wronged party seeking revenge. Thank God Kurylen-ko is easy on the eyes, because the mix of her bad fake Spanish accent and her lame acting is one deadly combina-tion.

The script itself, by writers Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade(the usual suspects responsible for Casino Royale) is all over the map–figuratively and literally, jumping from Italy to Haiti to Bolivia and back again. The main plot centers(more or less) on attempts to control all the water in a small backwater nation. In charge of overseeing this hostile takeover is Dominic Greene(Mathieu Amalric), CEO of an environment friendly organization, and without a doubt one of the lamest villains ever introduced into a Bond film. Naturally, he’s accompanied by the most useless henchman ever(Anatole Taubman), in order to make himself seem more suave. Amalric has bug-eyes reminiscent of the legendary Peter Lorre, but instead of being taken seriously, make him look simply ridiculous and only moderately insane. His hench-man has literally nothing to do except get tripped down some stairs by the aforementioned female agent, who receives her death from Greene for this affront. The henchman even dies in a lame manner, having never once had a confrontation of any kind with Bond. In fact, during the final fight between Bond and Greene, the latter is suddenly able to battle our secret agent with a ferocity which men twice his size haven’t been able to muster…a sheer act of desperation on the part of director Forster to instill some threat in the final act.

And that is what the Bond franchise has become: a series desperately trying to reinvent itself as relevant in a Jason Bourne world, while clinging to fragments of its past as a safety blanket to appease older fans.

And in the end, this newly imagined world is definitely not enough.
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“d**n you, Lance–I’ll get you for this review! Daniel Craig SMAAASH!!!”

 

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Mathieu Amalric(right) plays Mr. Bug Eyes. Anatole Taubman plays the most useless henchman EVER.
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Olga Kurylenko plays the female foil in this film. At least she’s good to look at, because her acting…wheewww!
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“I’ll attack you with Maniac Power!” Um…no. Least convincing fight scene on the books.

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“Okay, Gigantor…the next time I activate you, try not to destroy what’s left of the franchise, okay?”

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