Thursday, November 27, 2008

Review: Quantum of Solace

Q's parting advice to James Bond before setting off for his retirement in "The World is Not Enough" was 1) to always have an escape plan and 2) never let them see you bleed.

It appears James Bond didn't take this advice and it has worked out for the better. Bond appeared to have wrapped up the entire series with Die Another Day's array of homages and outlandish gadgets, and most importantly, the end of Bond's contract.

But in a decade where sequels are money, Bond didn't adhere to exiting at what would have been an opportune moment. Like Batman Begins and Superman Returns, the dapper British agent got a remake. While I tend to see this later trend of reinventing franchises as a commercial ploy more than anything else, there's been a distinct change in Bond that I've come to enjoy: Mainly, the Daniel Craig incarnation of Bond is one who bleeds.

Pierce Brosnam would rip through armies of henchmen, without even messing up his hair or spotless tuxedo and frankly it was getting a little old.

The new James Bond series injects something that makes the series consequential: risk. Bond is capable of getting hurt, he feels remorse, he's capable of learning, and he's got room for improvement.

I have watched every James Bond films and I enjoy them as I do a film genre where I can see how every film deals with each of the checkpoints: Beautiful scenery, sexy girls, elaborate lairs, megalomaniacal villains, and cool-looking gadgets. I do wish Quantum of Solace had more gadgets and the villain was a little more distinctive, but I have gotten a little tired of seeing Bond bed every woman and shoot every villain just because it was some protocol for the scriptwriters to follow and it was great to see the screenwriters actually approach these issues. Furthermore, it has started to get a little jarring to see what has happened in the news with Guantanamo Bay and the Blackwater scandal to still have one of our iconic heroes on screen taking lives first and asking questions later.

So that's what Quantum of Solace bought to the table, even further expanding on the direction that Casino Royale was taking the franchise. The action occupied, perhaps, a little too much time on the screen, but it was excellently choreographed. The Bond girls were striking and exotic, Jeffery Wright nailed his role as Felix and Mattheiu Almahric does what he can with a limited role. The film also takes us to some beautiful locations: Haiti, Italy, and Bolivia. Most importantly, however, Daniel Craig gives us a Bond who feels like a real person, flesh and blood, and that is a massive improvement.

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