Quantum of So What?

 

"The name's Bland. James Bland."

Two years ago, my son and I settled down in the dark of a movie theatre to see Daniel Craig take his turn as Agent Double 007 in Casino Royale.

We enjoyed it throughly. It was a bit overlong,  but Craig’s portrayal of Bond as a man of high octane action, few words and bigger body counts was a refreshing jolt of Jason Bourne inspired energy into a series that had grown flabby and tired.

So now it’s 2008, and he’s home from college for the weekend and seriously desiring to see the new Bond flick, Quantum of Solace. Being the kind and benevolent despot that I am, I plunk down the $14 bucks for two tickets and settled down in the dark hoping to repeat the experience.

Not even close. Quantum of Solace is plagued by more than just a lousy title. It’s badly shot, directed sloppily by Marc Forster, who was an odd choice to do a action flick based on films such as The Kite Runner, Finding Neverland and Monster’s Ball. Bond movies aren’t exactly character-driven and Forster shows no adeptness for action thrillers and their set pieces (car chases, fist-fights, explosions, flying glass and gunplay).

In the effort to make James Bond mean something again, they’ve taken away much of what him unique. If you were waiting for Craig to deliver the signature line, “The name’s Bond. James Bond,” you had to wait for the end of Casino Royale. It’s not a spoiler to inform you in Quantum he never says it at all. He’s too busy jumping, running, hitting, kicking, shooting and killing his way through the relatively short (106 minutes) running time.

I get that Craig plays Bond as a fighter, not a lover, but even the woman in this installment are little more than scenery. Olga Kurylenko is smokin’ hot, but like Bond, she’s out for blood, not a bed and as Strawberry Fields, Gemma Ashton has a fitting Bond girl name, but little chemistry  with Craign and not much to do in her handful of scenes.

Oh, and there’s still no Miss Moneypenny. Judi Densch gets to hang around and be both outraged at Bond’s blunt instrument approach to spying and maternal as he’s denying his hurt for his lost love Vesper Lynd.

The villian of the piece, Dominic Greene as played by the French actor Mathieu Amalric is all bulging eyes and bluster, but no real threat and doesn’t even come up with a particularly interesting plot.

James Bond shouldn’t be less interesting than the silent-but-deadly Jason Bourne or the one note Frank Martin played by Jason Statham in the Transporter CGI fests, but he’s more bland, than Bond.

A solid “C” when I’m feeling charitable and a “C” minus when I’m not.  It’s not that Quantum of Solace sucks.  It just doesn’t soar.  It feels hurried and busy moving to the next action sequence to actually tell us anything about the mysterious Quantum group or the threat they post.  Before we can learn anything about the organization Bond is killing anyone that could tell us anything.

Oh, I almost forgot–the opening credits song by Jack White and Alicia Keys is simply horrible. Keys took the place of the human trainwreck that is Amy Winehouse and the results are so punishing to the ear, I can’t help but wonder if Winehouse might have been a better choice than the psuedo-soul stylings of Keys.  

Previously, before “Another Way to Die” the worst Bond song was “Die Another Day” by Madonna and though some people love it, I never got into Duran Duran’s “A View to A Kill.”  This stinker may let both of them off the hook.

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