Posted by: Dr P | October 11, 2008

Quantum of Solace

The name’s P, Dr P. Licensed to review. I like my tea stirred, not shaken.

So, when you think of a Bond film, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Explosions? Hot girls? Daft villains? Outrageous antics? Tuxedos and split-to-th-thigh skirts? Gadgets galore? Pussy galore? And that’s just the trip to the cinema …!

The latest James Bond adventure, Quantum of Solace, left me pretty cold, I have to say. I’ve deliberately held off reviewing the movie for a week so I could try and work out why, but on the surface it’s fairly obvious. The plot absolutely reeks – the villains are neither menacing nor particularly memorable – there’s no hooks for hands here, no steel rimmed bowler hats, no metal teeth. Just a few open necked shirts and dodgy accents. In fact the bad guys are reminiscent of nothing more than the Polish bouncers at Mecca Bingo, Bolton.

I’ve read in a few places that this is more of a Bourne adventure than a Bond movie. I have to agree to some extent, although my personal view is that the Bourne Ultimatum was one of the most stylish action movies in many a year and way outranks this. But the formula is similar – car chase, fight, street chase, fight, new location, fight. Let me say one thing though among the slating – Daniel Craig is once again exceptional in his portrayal of 007. In fact I will go as far as to say he will become THE definitive Bond. He’s tough beyond words, he’s sexy, he oozes charisma and menace in equal measure, and he is by far the “hardest” Bond (though in a traditional Bond sense he is only briefly hard in this movie ;-)).

So what does the film lack so much? Certainly not a good Bond. And certainly not Judi Dench, who is a fine “M” in every film she’s appeared in. There is little charm, humour, gadgetry, daring escapology, or girls … this Bond is still moping over the love lost in the wonderful Casino Royale (now there was a Bond film to surpass almost all others). Whilst St Trinian’s head girl Gemma Arteron provides a very brief “love interest” (well, more afternoon quickie interest really), Bond is quite cold and unemotional, preferring to think of the girl he lost. In that sense, this is a most unusual Bond film – it doesn’t stand alone at all, but follows on quite closely from the last movie – whilst other movies in the franchise have shared themes, it’s pretty unusual for the plots to move from one film to another. This is no bad thing at all, except that nothing much actually happens to drive it along.

The most riveting moments actually come pretty early in the piece. The Aston is trashed in the opening set piece (big mistake) and there’s a superb chase scene among the Italian streets which is truly reminiscent of the Bourne Ultimatum. Which kind of damps down the rest of the movie – Bond meanders from scene to scene seeking answers and vengeance for the death of his girl, and almost accidentally falls in on a plot to deprive South American villagers of their water supplies, thus opening up access to mining land for the baddies. It sounds dull, and I’m afraid it is! There’s also a side story involving an apparently huge ring of baddies that no-one knows about, we hardly ever hear from, and don’t really feature much at all. Most disappointing. They don’t even have a great acronym, like SPECTRE or SMERSH. I think we’ll call them BLAHBLAHBLAH.

The only redeeming feature of Quantum of Solace is Daniel Craig. He is superb. I have a theory about this as well – people who have two first names as their full name generally excel at what they do! Daniel Craig. Craig David. Gary Neville. Phil Neville. Aaron Neville (enough with the Nevilles!!!). Neville Neville (stop it!). Kurt Russell. Jack Black. There’s a reader challenge in there somewhere …

The rest? Nah, I’d rather watch Casino Royale a 100 times over. Very disappointing! Good action film – yes. Good Bond film – not a chance. Oh yes, and what in heavens name was up with that theme tune? Absolute rubbish!

Daniel Craig – 10
Daniel Craig’s shorts – 10
Daniel Craig’s steely glare – 10
Trashing the car in the first scene – 2
Gemma Arterton’s raincoat – 4
The other foreign bint – 2
Gadgets – 1
Theme tune – minus 10

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