Some thoughts on Quantum of Solace

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I will have to wait for the DVD release of Quantum of Solace to issue a full analysis — I’m not afraid to admit that I didn’t understand a lot of it the first time around. The key question of my Bond analysis – “What does James Bond actually do to save the world?” is still a little vague for me twelve hours after watching the movie. I know he goes to a whole bunch of places and kills a whole bunch of people while on the trail of this Dominic Greene character, but I’m not exactly sure why he’s doing it and I’m not exactly sure how he’s going about it. If I had watched Casino Royale earlier in the morning I would probably be better oriented, and if you have that kind of leisure time at your disposal I recommend doing so — a number of key plot-points revolve around things that happen in the earlier movie.

Quantum is the most “realistic” Bond yet — Casino Royale feels like Live and Let Die in comparison. There are no gadgets, no Q, no fantasy vehicles, no Moneypenny, few quips, no ridiculous deaths, no Second Villain With A Surreal Physical Thingy, only one difficult-to-believe seduction. It’s kind of like For Your Eyes Only on steroids — and speed. When Bond slows down to drink five martinis and complain about a lack of sleep, you feel it — the movie is draining and assaultive. The big plus is that the third act does not revolve around a card game, which allows for a much more plausible excuse for a good deal of action.

Daniel Craig continues to be the Best Bond Ever, brutal, efficient and utterly uncaring — but with tiny hints of impish wit and still giddy about the idea of the British government paying him to do all this cool shit. He gets to beat up and kill a lot of people in this movie, and there’s a cool bit of business with each one of them.ย  He goes through more cars, guns, knives, phones and whatnot in this movie than Sean Connery did in his entire career, and tosses each one away when he’s done, treating his Aston Martin like a used kleenex and a treasured keepsake like something he found on the bottom of his shoe.ย  James Bond, The World’s Greatest Detective also shows up late in the movie, when Bond discovers the key to the villain’s nefarious plan through the brilliantly deductive process of, literally, falling into a hole in the ground. Jeffrey Wright is back as Felix Leiter, which is certainly welcome news. Giancarlo Giannini is also back as whoever it is he’s playing, which isn’t such good news because I can’t remember what he did in Casino Royale except run color on the poker game.

The movie’s realism is a good thing — I would say that, in terms of believability, Quantum is to Casino as Dark Knight is to Batman Begins — but it makes the ludicrousness of the ludicrous parts feel that much more ludicrous. It’s not enough that the movie climaxes with dual duels featuring Bond and his leading lady beating up their respective villains — the dual duels must take place in an exploding hotel. It’s not enough the movie begins, sans preamble, with a high-speed, Bourne Supremacy-style car chase — the chase must also take place on the slopes of a marble-mining operation. It’s not enough that the comely assistant die — she must die in an homage to Goldfinger.

(Many have complained about the Bourne Supremacy-style editing, which has been executed by none other than the Bourne Supremacy editor. I don’t have a problem with it, and to me it’s refreshing to see a Bond movie with a editorial point of view — generally, the makers of Bond movies do their best to stay the hell out of the way, to hide any stylistic quirks, which isone of the reasons why Bond movies always seem to be disconnected from the time and the society they’re supposed to spring from, why they seem more closely related to Elvis movies than spy movies — pageants, not narratives.)

(And while we’re here, let me also add that I love the Jack White song under the titles — sorry, not only do I think it’s an excellent Bond song, it’s one of the few Bond songs that I could imagine listening to for its own sake instead of “ironically.” I mean, let’s face it, no one listens to “Goldfinger” or “Live and Let Die” and says “Man, what a great song.” Because they’re not great songs, they’re great Bond Movie songs, which means there’s something patently ridiculous about them. People like the good Bond Movie songs because they remind them of the movies. “Another Way to Die” is the first Bond song that I could imagine having a life outside the movie itself.)

(That said, I’m not crazy about the title sequence itself, but I greatly prefer it to the cringe-inducing “Cartoon Bond Shooting Hearts Out Of His Gun” sequence of Casino.)

As for the women, I like Camille and her revenge plot, but it seems inserted into an already-too-complicated plot. By the time her plot comes into focus, the movie is almost over and it’s hard to care about her fears and desires. One protagonist with one goal is good, two protagonists with one goal is almost as good, two protagonists with two different goals strains viewer sympathy, two protagonists with two different goals that, coincidentally, happen to both be reached at the same time in an exploding hotel pushes the envelope a little too much.

How cool is the bad guy? In Bond Villian terms, he’s not cool at all — he doesn’t even have bleeding eyeballs for heaven’s sake. For that matter, he’s played by the guy from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly — how on earth are we supposed to feel threatened by a guy who spent his last movie paralyzed from the eyeballs down? His second-in-command is even less threatening — he has a dorky haircut and looks uncomfortable holding a gun. ย In fact, I’m beginning to think that coolness is completely off the table in contemporary Bond-movie terms. ย The bad guy’s evil scheme, being of a piece with the rest of the movie, is a very realistic thing, barely Bond Villianesque at all.


54 Responses to “Some thoughts on Quantum of Solace”
  1. therrin says:

    What do you mean by Bourne Supremacy style editing? When I think of what the Bourne films are known for, I think of the cinemetography on the fight scenes* but that isn’t what I as a complete layman would assume was called editing. Is that the editing, or is it something else?

    *The way Bourne shoots its action scenes (which is also how Batman Begins shot most of it’s action) is my one complaint with the films. I can withstand almost any sea-sickness inducing forms of filmmaking, but watching a Bourne scene tends to give me a headache and leaves me with no idea what the hell just happened. I usually just give up and try to spot dead bodies on the ground at the end because I certainly have no idea who punched who and when.

    • black13 says:

      I concur. I tried very hard to like the Bourne movies, but the camerawork and the editing made me physically uncomfortable.

    • Todd says:

      The action scenes in The Bourne Supremacy have that thing where they’re terrifically exciting, showing everything at once, with a loss of some narrative coherence as a result. In Quantum, there’s a tendency to not just tell the “story” of the action in miniscule cuts, but to also throw in lightning-quick shots of other things happening at the same time — a parade, an opera, people in the crowd. It gives a much more impressionistic sense of the action, rather than a linear this-then-that sense.

      • swan_tower says:

        I could never focus on the editing in Bourne III; the cinematography was too busy making me seasick.

        And I don’t get seasick.

      • Anonymous says:

        My screening companions and I debated the editing–they found it irritatingly fast and confusing, and I loved it. The Tosca sequence is superb.

        To my eye, the biggest problem with the action sequences (true of most movies these days) is the staccato nature of the motion itself, for which I blame digital video. It seems to render fast-moving action choppily. I didn’t notice it in the driving scenes, but during the hand-to-hand combat scenes, I really saw it. I miss the smoothness of celluloid capture. (Mind you, I haven’t bothered to find out how this movie was actually shot, so I may be wrong.)


    • QoS needs to come with a warning – Do NOT Sit in the First 10 Rows.
      We booked online, sat in the first row (you can stretch your legs…) and then discovered that we would need prescription glasses to focus on the action. It is, as Todd says, quite a draining film to watch…

  2. I’m glad I’m not the only one that disliked Casino Royale’s credit sequence.

    I had a fantastic time watching Quantum of Solace.

    The two things that popped out for me:

    1.Felix’ boss was really really dorky. I was hoping it would turn out to be an act, and it really wasn’t. I was hoping he’d turn out to be at least somewhat competent.

    2.Bond takes a fantastic amount of abuse in the film.

  3. black13 says:

    (I haven’t seen Quantum yet, probably won’t see it on the big screen for lack of time.)

    I’m losing a lot of respect for you because of your liking that audio atrocity. (Then again, you also liked Cloverfield, pretty much for the same reasons why I detest it…) (Then again, I also hated the Casino Royale opening sequence.)

    But, the exploding hotel? Doesn’t stretch credulity so much if you consider that in Casino, Bond sank a building.


    Using a handgun.

    • Another vote for the opening song being atrocious. It’s all over the place and utterly fails to mesh Jack White and Alicia Keyes at all. I can’t at all imagine that song coming close to living a life outside the movie. The music video will be played on MTV for a few weeks and then die forever.

      Haven’t seen the movie yet but heard the song at the movie’s website.

    • Officially, you can sink buildings in both Venice AND Amsterdam. Coffee anyone?

  4. jbacardi says:

    Hey, I liked the theme song to “Live and Let Die”!

  5. wyldkyss says:

    I like your summary here. ( twittered the link)

    I have to say, I love the title sequences from a graphic standpoint for both of the newer Bond movies. That said though, I do agree that they don’t really fit the bond movies in atmosphere. They’re too clean and shiny and pretty for James “Thug Life 4 Real” Bond.

    But they’d make fantastic music videos.

    • sxyblkmn says:

      James “Thug Life 4 Real” Bond.


      each time i see you say this it trips me out. i think because i keep hearing tupac playing whenever bond is kicking some fool’s head in or seducing yet another woman

      • wyldkyss says:

        I wouldn’t be completely shocked if he did ๐Ÿ˜› But I DID like seeing a slight transition to thuggy thug thug thug Bond to eeeeeeh slightly more polished and impish thugy Bond through this movie. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • blagh says:

      They’re too clean and shiny and pretty for James “Thug Life 4 Real” Bond.

      What bugged me more, was that they didn’t keep a consistent level of detail – the people would switch from posterized screen capture to dated 3D models, and at no point would they have the same depth and detail and colour that the card bits flying around had. It felt (and probably was) tacked on at the last second.

      • wyldkyss says:

        Yeah, and that is why it felt like a music video. Like, Chuck Anderson’s style… which makes me think maybe it just didn’t translate so well from 2-D to 3-D motion. :/

        (Plus, seriously. Women made of sand? Who wants that?!)

      • swan_tower says:

        Also, other than sand, I didn’t get a coherent set of visuals from this title sequence. The card sequence grew on me with time — I like the way the silhouette-fights were done; the movement in them works, surprisingly well — but this one was all flailing bodies without much visual impact, and I found the song entirely forgettable. (Though again, it may grow on me. Madonna’s “Die Another Day” certainly did, much to my surprise. Which is another example of a title sequence with a much more distinct set of visual motifs: ice/diamonds and fire/electricity, with a few scorpions tossed in for flavor.)

      • Anonymous says:

        I think it was supposed to use retro elements (those dated 3D models) in a contemporary way. Like the really mannered use of a different hokey font every time the movie introduced a new location. The insanely old-timey Western font (for London? I’ve blotted it out) really irked me.


  6. Anonymous says:

    just got back from seeing Quantum of Solace; it was entertaining at least, but it could have done with six or seven fewer chase scenes

  7. Anonymous says:

    Few thoughts:

    1. I, too, enjoy’d the theme song immensely. I am also a sucker for LuLu.

    2. Re: the villain. He appear’d as Hugo Drax’s son in MUNICH (selling guns and bombs to *gasp* Daniel Craig!) and Blofeld’s son in THE DIVING BELL . . . There’s also a scene in that one where Obanno, the Nigerian general from CASINO ROYALE, reads him Graham Greene. He seems to be a proud graduate of the Bond Villain correspondence school.

    3. Re: the villain’s plot. While I was glad to see a sinister real-world scheme, I think they could have done more to bring it home. Then again, my Mom does volunteer for and I may be biased.

    4. I was very glad to see that they kept Mr. White alive. His reaction at the Opera was one of my favorite scenes, and I hope they give him more to do in the third one.

    5. Did it seem at all a retread of LICENCE TO KILL to have Bond stumbling around in South America? Only instead of compromising the CIA’s plans for the villain, the CIA’s in on it, so he’s reaching his goals by pissing them off?

    -Le Ted

    • Todd says:

      Re: Few thoughts:

      Excellent catch that Greene is Drax’s son, I’d forgotten about that. You could say it is his destiny to be a Bond Villain — and, by making his scheme clear-eyed and realistic, he’s also rebelling against his cinematic father, whose scheme made no sense whatsoever.

  8. woodandiron says:

    I really enjoyed this movie and I don’t particularly understand where a lot of the critics are coming from (especially Roger Ebert’s silly desire for the ridiculousness of Bond films past).

    I think a good way of seeing this movie is as the ultimate last act of Casino Royale. That movie set up who Bond was, what he was supposed to do, and then threw in a love interest. The love interest betrays him and dies. Bond realizes his business doesn’t allow for real love but in order to move on and become the super spy we all know and love, he has to brutally go after those he feels are responsible for the death of his love interest and if that revenge desire dovetails nicely with stopping a sinister plot in Bolivia, all the better. That action over with, he’s free to be the cold slick super spy.

    • swan_tower says:

      It’s a middle act, not a final one. Or that’s how I read the end-of-film references to Quantum, the group that was meeting at the opera; there’s a whole lot more there than just Greene and his water-control plans.

      If I were writing this as a series of novels, the third installment would be the one where Bond heals his emotional trauma, instead of just putting it in its grave; so far we’ve had the great story of why and how he became a cold-hearted bastard who will never connect emotionally with a woman, so the final step would be to make him capable of love again. But that only works if you’re operating in a close-ended series, which they are unlikely to do. (For that matter, I’d also like to see the Batman films be a trilogy, providing resolution to the thematic arc and making good on the implicit statement that Bruce Wayne can’t survive that life forever. Kind of like Bond’s line last film about “double 0’s tend to have a very short life expectancy.”)

    • For what it’s worth, I kind of agree with Roger Ebert.
      I prefer those moments of calm ingenuity that you see in Bond films – break the light and electrocute his metal teeth, not 10 minutes of fisty cuffs in a sandstorm… It is the mental aspects of Bond that I am fond of – if it was his braun, I would watch old Arnie films (though only if he renounces Republicanism…)

      • swan_tower says:

        Casino Royale had a bit more of the calm ingenuity. (I love him breaking into M’s apartment, and also her “how the hell does he KNOW these things?!” line when she finds out he’s using her name and password for the database.)

        I agree with liking the brainy Bond moments — but I would not trade the current hard-edged realism for the cheesy freak villains of yesteryear if you paid me.

    • johnnycrulez says:

      If the next movie has him a cold slick super spy then you point will be validated, but on its own I just found myself missing the spirit of the old Bond movies.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I like the song LIVE AND LET DIE on its own, myself, and I particularly like the Guns and Roses version.

    That’s just me, though.

  10. swan_tower says:

    I love the realism. As someone said in an interview about Casino Royale, Die Another Day had a freaking INVISIBLE CAR. Once you’ve gone that far, where else can you possibly go? Possibly the smartest decision that franchise ever made was to reboot and go back to basics.

    And I’m given to understand that it’s “basics” in more respects than just the no-gadget realism. I was surprised to learn that in the novels, Bond is blonde-haired and blue-eyed; moreover, Fleming apparently describes him as “ironical, brutal, and cold.” Now, I haven’t seen a lot of the classic Bond films, but I’ll say that I think Brosnan was fine for the type of Bond they were running — the slick, pretty playboy with the cheesy one-liners. He could never in a million years have played the right Bond for this reboot, just as Craig would have been painfully out of place in the previous films. But “ironical, brutal, and cold”? Craig’s got that down.

    The plot . . . was confusing. I failed to catch most of the villain names other than Dominic Greene’s; they tossed off the others too quickly and too rarely for me to get the foreign syllables in my head. The whole thing around Camille’s plot was way too muddy — but I have to say that I appreciated the existence of that plot, and the way she got to resolve it on her own before (plausibly) needing to be rescued by Bond. It’s a tough balance for this franchise to strike, playing fair with Bond’s hero/lady’s-man requirements while still giving the women a chance to be worthwhile. I think this was one of the more successful examples.

    Random note: I very much like the fact that they never once gave Strawberry Fields’ full name in the movie. I cringed when I heard there was a character by that name, but then the film was like, yeah, yeah, we’ll make a nod to that tradition but we are so not going to embrace it.

    (You’re right, though, that her seduction was completely implausible. And, I might add, slightly annoying.)

  11. edithspage says:

    I concur that the movie makes no sense. I don’t think multiple watchings will explain it.

    • ogier30 says:

      In summary, it would make some sense. However, up on the screen it really felt disjointed and staccato in presentation (something that, for all its strobe-editing, I rarely found in the Bourne films). Things just happened, or were presumed to have happened, without any connection to time and space.

      Which led me to think that the editing and pace of the picture isn’t to service the plot or the characters, but to try and overwhelm us, the viewer, so we don’t have time to notice the problems with what’s going on.

      Casino Royale, at least, held together pretty well on a first (and subsequent) viewings. I don’t think Quantum of Solace will (and expect a fairly big drop in box office next weekend).

  12. pjamesharvey says:

    The song Live and Let Die reminds me more of the film Grosse Pointe Blank than the Bond film.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Camille’s revenge plot

    Long-time reader. First time babbler. Hopefully some of this makes sense.

    I think you absolutely need the revenge plot in there. Maybe it should have come to head in a different way in a different place, but it’s essential to the movie. It’s important she gets that revenge

    A lot of the movie, in my mind, hinges around the question of whether Bond is really acting out of vengeance or out of duty and whether it really matters at all either way. Duty is shown to be a bit of a joke, given that he won’t follow orders and that his government (and not just the Americans) is quite willing to work with the “villains.” Sure, he’s exposing the fact that the deal with Greene is a sham and that there’s no oil, but even if it wasn’t a shame, would that really make it better for the countries (US/UK) involved?

    What’s really interesting to me is that after Camille achieves her revenge, she asks Bond if the dead will be at peace now, basically if it was worth it. The person who got her revenge asks the person who is presumably still looking for his if it’s all worth it, and he replies that the dead don’t care one way or another.

    The movie therefore seems to take out the higher ground for both revenge and duty. By Bond’s own admission, revenge is selfish and personal (and repeatedly shown to be wasteful considering he can never interrogate anyone). Duty is a joke considering what the governments are up to. My feeling is that, by the end of the movie, Bond is put up on his own platform, above and outside conventional morality itself, placing him one step closer to the force of nature that he will become when he’s fully developed.

    Or I could be way off, but that’s what I was thinking about when I left the theater. I really enjoyed it.


    • johnnycrulez says:

      Re: Camille’s revenge plot

      For what it is worth Daniel Craig said something about how all of the other characters think he is doing it for revenge but really he is just doing his job.

  14. adam_0oo says:

    As a person who lived in the desert for a decade, I want to just let you know, as per the opening credit sequence, the desert is indeed full of naked women writhing around under the sand. It is exactly like that.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Aside from the whole thing looking a bit too much like a car commercial, and the sadly extraneous Miss Fields, I liked QoS a hell of a lot. Liked the opening song. Liked the title sequence (I’ve been an MK-12 fan since their superb work on the same director’s “Stranger Than Fiction.”) Liked the almost brutal narrative economy, and how the action sequences were pared down to the bare minimum information needed to keep you more or less understanding the action. (I could have done with a bit more sense of the geometry of the scenes, and I did miss Martin Campbell’s knack for revealing character through action.)

    I liked the way Daniel Craig makes James Bond feel at all times like a loaded gun; you’re waiting for him to go off, and slightly nervous thinking about who might get hurt. I liked Camille, and her motivations; Olga Kurkenko didn’t quite have the chops to make the character as interesting as she could have been, but she did surprisingly well. I liked the bad guy’s plot, which is not only plausible, but something that has actually been done by real corporations to real South American countries, if my memory serves me correctly.

    And I really, REALLY liked that for the first time ever, James Bond and The Girl part ways with more or less a friendly handshake and mutual respect, rather than hopping into bed just because that’s what James Bond always does in the end. That may have been my favorite part of the movie.

    As for Miss Fields’ seduction, I imagine her pulling up James Bond’s file during her long, dreary hours of desk work at M-I6, and envisioning decidedly non-bureaucratic scenarios. I mean, she did show up to meet the guy in what more or less looked like a trenchcoat and hello-nurse boots, and nothing else. So, yeah, I can buy that.

    — N.A.

    • peter_erwin says:

      And I really, REALLY liked that for the first time ever, James Bond and The Girl part ways with more or less a friendly handshake and mutual respect, rather than hopping into bed just because that’s what James Bond always does in the end.

      I seem to recall that something similar happened in Tomorrow Never Dies, where The Girl was Michelle Yeoh. (Who was about the best thing in an otherwise mediocre movie.)

      I confess to not being able to take the exploding hotel in QoS very seriously, partly because the rationale sounded so flimsy. (Fuel cells? Really?) And partly because it seemed like a cheapskate way of trying to slip in the old Exploding Villain Headquarters cliche.
      (Well, and partly because I’ve been in that hotel, and I know it can’t explode ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • laminator_x says:

        So your mission was a failure then?

      • Anonymous says:

        I seem to recall that something similar happened in Tomorrow Never Dies, where The Girl was Michelle Yeoh. (Who was about the best thing in an otherwise mediocre movie.)

        Agreed, and I was hoping that she’d be the one to break Bond’s, er, streak in that regard. But no — at the end of the movie, for basically no reason, she’s all helpless and chained up, and then they start rolling around and making out. I mean, come on, Michelle Yeoh is definitely someone any straight man in his right mind would totally want to make out with, but she was just too awesome to suddenly become Just Another Bond Girl.

        I love that reality has finally caught up with Ken Adam, and that people are actually building real James Bond Villain Headquarters. (I heard that the location in the movie is actually a residence for astronomers using the nearby observatory. Which, awesome.)

        — N.A.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Since I came in very late to this discussion, here are two random thoughts:

    1) This was nonstop architecture porn. That’s a Bond tradition. I wonder how long it will take for these sets/locations to feel dated. A hell of a lot longer than the ones in, say, Goldfinger is my guess.

    2) Mr. White. Mr. Greene. Will Mr. Pink show up in the next one?

    That is all.


    • Todd says:

      Ken Adams will never get old.

      Good catch on the Tarantino reference. If Mr. Orange shows up in the next movie, I’m betting he’s really an undercover cop with a really bad American accent.

      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t forget Mr. Slate, which could also be considered a color. Although I didn’t catch colors in the names of any of the other Quantum members.

        — N.A.

  17. mimitabu says:

    I saw QoS a couple days ago, without having bothered to catch casino royale (wasn’t interested; i loved connery-bond as a kid, and i returned to you only live twice later in life out of love for donald pleasence, but the later bonds killed it for me. i wasn’t interested in QoS either, but some friends asked me out and i had nothing better to do). i also went in having read several “it sucked/bond is over,” sentiments on the internet.

    i don’t think i could have been better served to appreciate the new face of james bond. i went in expecting overly-plotted, nostalgically irrelevant crap, and ended up seeing an entertaining action movie starring the most charismatic, believable bond since connery (probably surpassing him). the action worked, the main character was completely true to the anime-esque, “superman” + “i kill people all the time and don’t give a shit” nature of james bond, and the plot was shallow but easy enough to follow.

    re: the plot, it’s convoluted, and i still don’t quite know who was “good” and “bad” (relative to our hero, of course), but it was simple. 1) bond wants either revenge, or to see how the guy behind vesper’s death figures into Some Big Plot that might be relevant to MI6. 2) some woman wants to kill some dictator that killed her parents. 3) some guy working for a Shadowy Organization wants to control water to gain power in the world, which may have something to do with the latter part of (1). (1)-(3) are all things we’ve seen in movies like this before, so it doesn’t matter if the details make sense (especially since we’re basically watching pornography).

    the movie worked, primarily, because daniel craig is a fucking awesome james bond. i left the theater thinking, [oh shit i stopped using capital letters, oops] “Meh, not the most involving movie ever, but the people bashing it must be some serious bond fanboys/gals because it wasn’t half bad.” but as the night went on i went back to the movie in my head and thought, “man, that was a compelling james bond. i want to see more of that guy,” and actually downloaded casino royale and watched it (and liked it significantly more than QoS i must say, but that’s no dis… when you discover a great band from a lesser album and then go on to find their masterpiece, you don’t all of a sudden say “man, that first album i heard was shit.”). when i was done, i wanted more still.

    daniel craig is the captivating, murderous, efficient james bond that keeps the franchise alive. i hope they make many more bond movies with him… and while i’d prefer the plots and character relationships be more casino royale than QoS, i really don’t much care if they are or not.

    p.s. i also just now read all of your bond posts, and most of the comments. i’m going to take this space to respond to a comment you made to one reader about each box set having 1 connery installment, where you mentioned the infuriating “best of” albums with that “1 new song”. my comment: the 1 new song always sucks!

    [haha, previewing this post, i see that not only did it start with capitals and then abandon them, i abandoned them before the end of the first sentence. obviously i could edit that now, but i’m leaving it, and this awful note, for personal amusement. in closing, QoS = same shit, different day + best james bond actor + good action]

    • mimitabu says:

      addendum: i liked the woman’s revenge story, and the sort of respect she and bond had for each other as two people with two separate but related (both in terms of details/location and in thematic terms) goals. i thought it was a nice little flourish to color bond’s own possible revenge plot (which was legible even without seeing casino royale).

      i also liked how they occasionally inserted bond silliness without being pie-in-the-face silly (following a Bad Guy into the bathroom, kicking his ass off-camera, then emerging from the bathroom in his clothes is straight up cartoon silly, even if we don’t have anyone with steel-rimmed murder hats walking about). the goldfinger nod was stupid (the whole [strawberry] fields bond girl nod was stupid), but not stupid enough to matter.

      everything worked (to some degree, at least–sometimes a very large degree). the opening car chase was more “epitome of capable” fantasy that holds up the idea of james bond, the roof-chase/fight scene was awesome on its own merits, the locations were interesting enough, the dialogue was fine, the opera scene was entertaining enough, the hotel fight was silly and kind of pushing its luck, but meh. the movie almost overstayed its welcome, but in the end it delivered what you paid for. it ends with bond walking off, clearly in the direction of more hardened, dispassionate and infinitely efficient murder (with some illuminati shit waiting in the wings). my final thought is basically, “alright, i’m down. make another one, i’ll go see it.”

  18. I believe I need to see this film again on DVD to completely embrace it. It had “interesting” action yet too much, was very confusing plot-wise, and I just don’t think they gave Daniel Craig enough of the charisma he had in Casino Royale.

    I agree about the song, I love it.

  19. dougo says:

    I definitely need to see it again with a pause button, and I’m looking forward to your full analysis. Besides the confusing plot (why exactly did Camille think he was a geologist at first? who was that guy who tried to kill him in Port Au Prince? and what exactly was going on with Mathis, anyway?), there’s a whole lot of meta stuff to chew on here. I was particularly fascinated by Bond’s quip that M thinks she’s his mother, and then the very next shot is a giant Freudian hole in the ground. I also appreciated the (presumed) Paul Haggis influence on the script, e.g. the scenes of poor people in the desert losing their water supply, showing that all these crazy supervillain plots actually affect the lives of real people. And I was really amused to see Bond kill Greene the way supervillains always try to kill Bond: not immediately, but by putting him in some presumably inescapable situation that will take a while to actually kill him. (Of course Bond never had fellow double-0 agents wanting to put two bullets in the back of his head before he could escape.)

    The theme song is pretty good as a song, but it didn’t really feel “Bondesque” enough for me. Love the grunge guitar sound, but it didn’t mix well with the piano or horns and overall didn’t feel “cinematic” enough. Or maybe it was just that the sound system in the theater I saw it in was really weak. (And for what it’s worth, I liked “Die Another Day” as a song too, and I never saw that movie.)