I was initially planning to review Quantum of Solace simply by saying “rape victim panty shot” and leaving it at that. That’s a bit of a harsh thing to say on its own, though, and to be fair it was the nadir of a movie that also had some really fantastic scenes. Two of them, I think.
And yes, I’m not being terribly fair. I’ve seen plenty of worse movies in my time, and if I hadn’t let my hopes get so high after Casino Royale I might have enjoyed the film a lot more. I really only have a couple of serious objections to the film: that they obviously decided that strong female characters were not a marketable hallmark of the James Bond franchise, and that they made a movie that is just as gritty as Casino Royale, but not half as much fun.
As you well know if you read my 'blog entry about Casino Royale or if, indeed, you said as much as “hello” to me in the past week (that movie has been much on my mind of late) I liked Vesper Lynd an awful lot. Admittedly, I’m not sure what she was like during the final twenty minutes that I Eberted, but throughout the rest of the movie she was great—a very creditable equal for Bond, while at the same time being a creditable accountant and not a trained killer / super spy. She gave Bond as good as she got, as was completely immune to his surface charm—he never actually seduces her in that movie; they fall in love with each other* instead.
Well, so much for that! There are two Bond Girls in Quantum of Solace, a quirky secretary named Strawberry Fields** that Bond seduces and who is then grotesquely murdered; and Camille, the plucky Russian-Bolivian agent who is sleeping her way to the top of a criminal organization in order to get revenge on the man who tortured and murdered her family. Very standard, very irritating, very disappointing.
One thing I loved about Casino Royale was how they handled the violence—it was brutal, and it made me feel uncomfortable. It wasn’t the sort of stylized choreography that I’m used to—it looked more like two people who were trying to kill each other using their fists, the stairs, and whatever else they could find. That particular stair scene was followed by the beautiful scene of Vesper, fully dressed, in the shower*** trying to deal with its emotional aftermath. I thought that, for a Bond movie, it was a pretty sensitive treatment.
The fight scenes were just as gritty in Quantum of Solace, but the human element was completely lacking. On striking example is the aforementioned panty shot—a cinematic choice that still boggles my mind. Another example is the death of Fields—a clear reference to Jill Masterson’s gold-plated death in Goldfinger, Fields is drowned in hot oil and then dumped on Bond’s bed. In my hazy memories of Goldfinger, though, I don’t remember the gold-plating as being especially horrific. It just seemed like another fantastical bit of exotic evil, like killing people by throwing your razor-hat at them. Field’s death seemed much more real, and correspondingly less pleasant.
Bah, I realize now that I’m wasting time writing about a bad James Bond movie. It had a confusing plot, and a super-lame villain (Dorian suggested that this movie was made for the henchmen and second-in-commands in the audience—see? If Dominic Greene can be a super-villain, so could any of us!). There was a pretty sweet advertisement for Microsoft Surface, and there was a whole lot of Dame Judy Dench (who is awesome) but that’s really about it. The fight scene set to Tosca was an interesting idea, but they didn’t really commit to it.
It certainly wasn’t a waste of $5.50 or anything, but I was hoping for something better after seeing Casino Royale. I guess that was a fluke, then.
Random trivia from IMDB:
This is the first James Bond movie to have both a boat chase and a car chase since Live and Let Die (1973). This film is the only Bond movie that has a foot chase, a car chase, a plane chase and a boat chase.
With the use of this original Ian Fleming James Bond story title for this movie, there now remains only four original Fleming titles that haven't been used as movie titles. These are "The Property of a Lady", "The Hildebrand Rarity", "Risico" and "007 in New York".
(Oh good, something to look forward to. 007 in New York, indeed.
* Again, bear in mind that I reject everything after he says, “That must be why I love you” and they agree to travel the world together. I didn’t see the rest of the movie, and as far as I’m concerned it never happened. Like Terminator 3.
** Who yes, I have to admit, I found staggeringly attractive.
*** And since then I’ve found out that the scene, as written, called for Vesper to be in the shower in her underwear, which would have totally ruined it. Apparently it was Daniel Craig who pointed out that having her strip down to Rated R apparel before taking a shower just didn’t make any sense.