Friday, November 14, 2008

Who? What? Where am I? Take me back to the casino!


Following the betrayal and death of Vesper Lynd, James Bond (Daniel Craig) makes his next mission personal in Quantum Of Solace. The hunt for those who blackmailed his lover leads Bond to ruthless businessman Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a key player in the organization which coerced Vesper. Bond learns that Greene is plotting to gain total control of a vital natural resource, and must navigate a minefield of danger and treachery to foil Greene's plan.


QUANTUM OF SOLACE, which has possibly the worst title of a major motion picture this year, is the latest in the long running and extremely successful Bond series, of which I am a big fan. Sure, the franchise has had its ups and downs, but QUANTUM OF SOLACE has the dubious honor of being the first Bond film that manages to be downright boring. Previous Bond movie disappointments, such as ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, had enough good parts and characters to keep our interest. But there isn't anything worth seeing in QUANTUM OF SOLACE, save the traditional Bond theme music, which is relegated to the closing credits. Don't even get me started on the disastrous opening credits, which features the blandest and worst Bond song ever. Elevator music makers would reject it as too pathetic. The problems with QUANTUM OF SOLACE, which are many, can't be blamed on Daniel Craig's second rendition of James Bond. In CASINO ROYALE, Craig proved that he was a terrific choice to be the latest actor to play the super suave 007. Indeed CASINO ROYALE was so good that I ranked it as one of the best films of 2006. While QUANTUM OF SOLACE probably isn't quite bad enough to make my worst of the year list, it would undoubtedly top any list I might make of this year's most disappointing movies. Although I went into the theater fully expecting to love QUANTUM OF SOLACE, or at the bare minimum, to at least like it and be entertained by it, I should not have been so naive. I should have remembered my own trailer rule. As I have said in many other reviews, the trailer for a movie can be a dead giveaway. If the trailer is good, it reassures you of very little. The movie itself may or may not be worth seeing. It's actually pretty easy to make an exciting trailer by using the best bits from any movie. But, if the trailer is bad, as QUANTUM OF SOLACE's trailer certainly is, one can be reasonably sure that the movie will stink. After seeing this film, I am surer than ever of my trailer rule. So what is wrong with QUANTUM OF SOLACE? A lot. I'd start with the director, Marc Forster. He appears clueless as to what he is trying to attempt. As the movie starts, it doesn't even appear to a Bond movie at all. In a dizzying series of blurry shots, cut to a spastic microsecond metronome, we watch an action hero who wants badly to be the next Jason Bourne. Although I hated seeing Bond transformed into a cliched knockoff of an action hero from another series, this turned out not to be the worst part of the production. Eventually, the film slows down enough to let the actors speak. It was at this point that the film really began to sag. Normally, Bond movies feature wonderfully outlandish villains with great diabolical schemes to destroy the world. This time, however, the movie's villain is as bland and his aspirations are as pedestrian as his last name, Greene (Mathieu Amalric). Trying for pseudo relevance, something Bond films normally and wisely eschew, the villain this time just wants to secure controlling interest in the oil field of Bolivia. Ho hum. Besides being saddled with an insipid villain, Bond is also paired with a lifeless Bond girl. Not all of the women in Bond films have been good, but, at least they have all been fairly alluring. Olga Kurylenko's Camille brings nothing to the movie. She isn't particularly tough, smart or sexy. She is just there -- the token female opposite Bond. I had high expectations, but this time I was let down. A saddened 2 on my "Go See" scale.

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