From magnificience to malaise in just two years.
Beyond Chaos - wrote on 06/12/10
Quantum of Solace, compared to Casino Royale - that stupendous franchise reboot in 2006 - is a huge disappointment. What's more, it's underwhelming. James Bond should never be underwhelming.
Unlike most, I thought this entry was pretty decent. Although it needed to slice out three-fourths of the action, replace it with plot and bump up the running time to about two hours, I wasn't pissed off at the end result. To quote Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, "Suppose that's something."
There's been much criticism about the controversial "shaky cam" cinematographic technique. The action sequences are indeed ineptly shot but they're not too hard to follow. The problem is there's so many of them that it becomes ridiculous. Apparently Michael G. Wilson/Barbara Broccoli/Marc Forster felt that five full minutes of dialogue might bore the audience so it would need to be punctuated by car chases, rooftop flights, fisticuffs, speed boating, DC-3 dogfights and a shootout intercut with Tosca.
Peter Lamont, production designer since 1981's For Your Eyes Only (absent just from 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies) and Daniel Kleinman, main titles designer since 1995's Goldeneye have been replaced by two far less talented individuals. The picture looks cheap in places (despite being the most expensive installment of all) and the faux-retro opening credits are terrible.
At first I derided the Jack White/Alicia Keys theme 'Another Way To Die' as excruciating but eventually discovered it improves with enough listens. This is far from the nadir of 1974's 'The Man With The Golden Gun'.
Prickly, blistering guitars suffuse a delirious soundscape of bleating horns and skittish piano chords. White/Keys' aural cacophony and inane lyrics may pale in comparison to Chris Cornell's red-blooded dazzler 'You Know My Name' but their song remains a mild success.
Paul Haggis/Neal Purvis/Robert Wade handed in their collaborative script juuuuuust before the writer's strike deadline and it shows (why no one felt compelled to tinker with it after the strike is beyond me). The plot is insignificant (stealing Bolivia's water supply - ZOMG!) and the roles are underwritten. Sadly, this even includes Daniel Craig's.
Olga Kurylenko (Camille) and Gemma Arterton ("Strawberry" Fields, whose ultimate fate is a strange homage to 1964's Goldfinger) are two of 007's least memorable ingenues. In fact, I'd go so far as to call Judi Dench (M) the film's true Bond girl. Mathieu Amalric (playing Dominic Greene with bug-eyed sleaze) is such a great foil that his character especially would have benefited from being fleshed out.
Unfortunately, Greene's lair - Perla De Las Lunas - is perhaps the dumbest of the series. This is a giant, vacant hotel (or as I like to call it, the Hindenburg on land) nonsensically located in the middle of the desert. What's more, it's powered by hydrogen fuel cells instead of solar energy. Naturally, the entire cardboard set blows sky high within seconds of Bond's arrival. It makes even less sense than that laughable giant cargo jet in 2002's Die Another Day.
To its credit, Quantum of Solace moves along at a relatively brisk pace, David Arnold once again turns in a haunting score (which inexplicably doesn't use the Bond theme) and Daniel Craig is still excellent as the world's greatest spy. If only he'd been given better material to work with this time around.
Those looking for cinematic proficiency can take solace in the heartrending death scene of an amiable protagonist; its counterpoint is the limp d*ck resolution of the Vesper subplot.