“Quantum of Solace” Will Leave You Barely Shaken, Only Slightly Stirred
November 14, 2008
“Quantum of Solace” Will Leave You Barely Shaken, Only Slightly Stirred
By Debbie Schlussel
The best thing about “Quantum of Solace”–the latest James Bond flick–is that the aptly-named villain-in-chief, Dominic Greene, is an environmentalist wacko, a “green” fanatic.
And, like most of them, he’s a Gulfstream eco-hypocrite, who actually rapes the land and victimizes indigenous peoples, while raising money in the name of helping them. The movie debuts today, and I was shocked that Hollywood dared go there, especially since the script is co-written by uber-leftist Paul “Crash” Harris.
Still, the villain was boring. He doesn’t compare to Blofeld (full name: Ernst Stavro Blofeld)–my favorite repeat Bond villain (best played by the late Telly Savalas)–or even Jaws. Not even close.
And aside from portraying the green movement as utter hypocrisy, the movie was dull, only so-so. Note to the Broccoli family (which owns the rights to Ian Fleming’s James Bond movie franchise): Stick to more glamorous locales than Bolivia (the setting for a significant chunk of this movie), which was very Bolivi-oring.
As was the case with “Casino Royale” (read my review), I continue to struggle to like Daniel Craig as the new James Bond (sadly, the first James Bond actor to have posed nude–not classy, just gross; Sean Connery came very close to doing the same) . I want to like him as Bond. He is masculine, hot, charismatic, and sexy . . . in a haggard, Vladimir-Putin-lookalike kinda way (I also try to forget his horrid role in the equally horrid pan-terrorist “Munich”). And they love to show this well-toned Bond with his shirt off, great for red-blooded women like me.
But the humorless script didn’t help him much. James Bond is supposed to be fun and casual–a hail fellow well met who is a good sport and doesn’t take himself too seriously, even when he’s getting the bad guys. But this movie was the exact opposite. It was smothered under the weight of seriousness, revenge themes, and bitterness. Don’t get me wrong–I love revenge, a motive and response which is under-rated and over-panned. But I just didn’t feel it here. It was empty and stupid.
One turn-on: Fortunately, Craig’s Bond wasn’t girlie-manish and metrosexual in “Quantum,” my chief objection to him in “Casino Royale.”
I wasn’t overly thrilled with Craig’s debut in “Casino Royale”, but I liked this one far less. I now have a better appreciation for “Royale”, which really was far more Bondian in tradition, tempo, and demeanor. “Royale” had a discernible, plausible plot and heart-pounding action. This one had lots more action, but it was mostly dull and unexciting action, which left me cold. That’s unless you count the scene of Bond repeatedly walking through massive flames of fire, unhurt. That’s a “Come on?!” moment that’s hard to believe. And while, yes, most Bond movies have stunts that are just not believable, the flamewalker stuff was just blatant in-your-face BS.
There was some great shooting and cool gun scenes. Love those guns–suave men with guns are hottt. But other than that, yaaawn.
Daniel Craig: Bond . . . James Bond, or Putin . . . Vlad Putin
And this one was missing even more of what Bond is all about and what makes male moviegoers want to be him and female movie fans want to “date” (euphemism) him: “shaken/not stirred” drinks, sexy women, and cool gadgets. Does our depressed economy translate into a shortage of all of those? Apparently so. While Ian Fleming’s written-page Bond was actually not a womanizer, that’s not the bachelor (except in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”) Bond we’ve come to know on-screen. But in “Quantum”, Bond has only two women (who are strikingly flatter than General Motors’ profits and the main course at IHOP). The cool gadgets? Well, there aren’t any. Didn’t you hear? Sharper Image went out of bid’ness. And the drinks? Well, “shaken, not stirred” is gone from the Bondian dialogue. I don’t remember even hearing the “Bond, James Bond” line.
Especially in this sad economic state of affairs, we more than ever need more of this stuff in our escape at the movies. And they gave us less. It’s like we flew coach on Northwest to Greater Bondia, and they not only took away the peanuts because of someone’s allergies and the snacks to cut costs, but they ripped the cushions out of the seats, too. Plus, they lost our bags (but not the bags underneath Craig’s eyes).
Oh, and remember “M,” the elder Bond boss? It was bad enough when un-Bond-like women’s lib transformed Bond’s boss from male to female (Judi Dench). Now, it’s worse. The senior citizen was supposed to be a cameo, but now she’s a co-star. Too much of her, far too less of Bond women, gadgets, cars, and drinks. What is this–“AARP Magazine” on film? Apparently, Helen Thomas is doing the casting for Bond girls now and the guys writing Dench’s growing share of dialogue think she’s one.
Then, there’s the murky, absurd “plot”. It’s a mess and hard to discern. The movie takes place immediately after “Casino Royale”, but you needn’t have seen that to understand this. Bond and M discover moles in the British Secret Service that work for this unnamed criminal organization. Apparently this same organization is responsible for killing Bond’s true love (agent Vesper Lynd who is killed at the end of “Casino Royale”), and he wants revenge. Meanwhile, he meets a Bolivian woman who has her own similar motivations in trying to stop the eco-villain and his criminal organization from installing their own dictator in Bolivia , a corrupt general. Asleep yet?
And the plot isn’t just weak. As with all weak plots these days, it’s anti-American, the fail-safe Hollywood plot device. Two geeky, evil CIA agents are working with the eco-terrorist villain to help the corrupt general take over Bolivia , and only Bond–of course!–can stop them. Not that I love the pan-Arabist Valerie Plamesque CIA, but hey, the MI-5 and -6 guys ain’t no saintly champions of Western values either. Kim Philby, anyone?
The one cool thing in the movie was ripped off from “Goldfinger”. A Bond girl is found dead in Bond’s hotel room covered in black oil. Remember the Bond girl found in a hotel room covered in gold paint? Been there, seen that.
Yes, there are some funny lines in the movie, but very few and far in between, unlike most Bond films. And, frankly, the best line in the movie was a serious and true-to-life one uttered by the eco-terrorist:
While America is tied up in the Middle East, Latin America is falling like dominoes to the Communists.
So true, and it’s something I’ve been shouting from the rooftop of this site for a number of years, as President Bush did nothing to stop Daniel Ortega and other Communists from retaking power in our Southern Hemisphere neighbors.
Exit question: Will Hollywood ever have the guts to make James Bond fight Muslim terrorists the way he fought Cold War Communists? James Bond bedding scantily-clad Muslim women under the noses of Bin Laden acolytes, then rubbing their faces in it and his bullets, is exactly the excitement we need. And so does he.
Bottom line: The movie was entertaining and not objectionable. But it just wasn’t what we expect from James Bond. Not only wasn’t it a great Bond movie. It wasn’t even an average one. It was just okay, and–as much as I hate to say it–in terms of a Bond movie, it was sort of mediocre. I love James Bond and James Bond movies. But I don’t love “Quantum of Solace.” It was just “eh”. That’s why I can only give it . . .
Debbie Schlussel is a movie critic for the Sirius Patriot Channel and a member of the Detroit Film Critics Society.
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