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Quantum of Solace

Going to a Bond cinema is like going to a magic show. I don't look at the magician's unused hand or his benignly silent assistant or the floorboard which might open up and gobble. I just look at the beautiful girl who's been pulled from the audience who's going to be toyed with. Nothing overwhelming, exhilarating or pulse-pounding but plain old entertainment value. When I step into the cinema hall, I'm allowing myself to be tricked into believing that even if a nuclear missile landed on Bond's back head he would some how survive it, dust off his clothes, adjust his shirt crease and walk away with his super sexy girl friend. But with the advent of Daniel Craig as James Bond, the equation has altered.

'Casino Royale' gave birth to Craig's Bond. He kills a couple of people, gets a double-O status, falls for a clerk from treasury, runs high on emotions and cries at the loss of his love. Well, for someone who's fed the franchise as a cool guy with an attitude, who hates to kill but does so because of his sense of duty, who enjoys bedding and then betraying the villain's foxy assistant, who quips gracious one-liners that make teen-girls want Bond and teen-boys want to be Bond, Daniel Craig sure quakes the earth. It has become a problem of expectations for me: Daniel Craig as a man who's lost his identity, savagely searching and destroying with ruthless efficiency, as observed by a couple of others, is proximate to Jason Bourne than James Bond.

Not just the characterization, but the narration and visual style seems heavily borrowed from the Bourne series. Super-small shots, intense chases, hand-and-leg street fighting, a plot that's not fully comprehensible, a villain whose motives and actions aren't fully explained … when I walked out of the theater I was as exhausted as Bond, at least he had a girl standing next to him. I just hope that when the character matures in the next two outings, Bond will be what one has known him to be. If there isn't a revival, for the magnificent job Craig does he deserves credit; but we'll call him something else, like John Doe and start restoring James Bond with the hunt for a new face.

The leading girl here, Olga Kurylenko isn't smooth skinned, (has a fire scar on her back) is unnaturally tanned for the movie (to look Bolivian where most of the story unfolds) and she doesn't bond with Bond. In other words, the sexy juice usually associated with Bond girls is sucked out in order to fit into a weak screenplay - an atrocious insult to the series. There's no Q, which means no high-tech gadgets that Bond gets to use. M, played by the immaculate Judi Dench is as good as she has been. I've always sensed an inexplicable sexual energy between Bond & M where M has always had an upper hand. Had she been 30 years younger, she would have ravaged Bond. And the wonderful French actor Amalric who plays the villain has been asked to put his acting gifts into a safe until post-production.

The less said about the story, the better. Either I didn't understand it or the writers/director have intentionally kept it that way in order to develop it in the next installment. Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a celebrated environmentalist, seeks power by destabilizing destabilizable countries, replacing their governments with friendlies and taking control of their water resources. Why that? The movie didn't answer or I didn't get it. Bond, who's on a top gear pursuit of the men who killed Vesper, (rather caused her death because she killed herself) through a series of jumbled links is led to Greene and from there through a series of rushed and chopped story-telling to a secret organization of top-class villains called Quantum. What does Quantum do? Somebody please throw some light.

If the producers wanted a super-hero who would bleed when pricked they should create one instead of redefining one of the most successful secret agents in movie history.

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2 Responses to “Quantum of Solace”

  1. # Blogger ohmsdeeps

    Prasad
    Interesting write up as usual.
    I loved your analogy of Magic show and Bond movie. Very hilarious.
    I very much second most of your thoughts about the movie.
    I do agree that Daniel's characterization is trying to alter the typical face of 007.
    But I feel that the change is inevitable. I was watching a couple of Sean's classic bond movie recently and felt it was
    awfully boring. The slow moving style and seductive looks of old bond is not so enjoyable anymore.
    In fact that would add more ideas to Mike Meyers for his next Austin Powers.
    Honestly , I kind of liked this change they brought in this movie.
    I do agree about the fact that it has the essence of Bourne movies. I would say Jason Bourne has set a trend in action and I would be surprised if these guys do not take up that trend for few years.
    I also felt the weak story and incomplete feeling at the end.
    I did realize the juice suction from the bond gals as well.:-)
    Overall I think the folks intentionally wanted to avoid the classical bond style and introduce a new version of Bond. Which may not be completely accepted by everyone.  

  2. # Blogger Prasad Venkataramana

    Ohm,
    I'm not sure which Bond movie you have in mind when you say that they're boring. But most of the movies have been well received for Bond's attitude/style/action at the time of their release. In fact, there were clashes with theater officials in Lebanon for pricing the tickets too high. Action scenes may seem a bit dated today, just as how today's movies will seem dated 20 years from now.

    I agree with you when you say that there's an effort from the producers to reshape the character. Only that I'm not comfortable with that.  

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