• The Most Artful of Dodgers

How Could People So Cool Look So Toolish?
How Could People So Cool Look So Toolish?

Thursday night, I got to see a preview screening of the new Bond flick, the inexplicably named and once vaguely referenced Quantum of Solace. Inexplicably, because, well, most Bond titles have a direct link to the plot, as in a villain or some such. The title’s obscurity was, in fact, the first sign that the Daniel Craig led Bond-verse is going to be a very good one. The OED in my computer claims that the Quantum’s second definition, which is by far the most easy to parse and relate to this film, is:

a required or allowed amount, esp. an amount of money legally payable in damages.

And there we find that a “Quantum of Solace” is comfort and peace found in revenge earned, which is the point of the film. Yes, the latest Bond movie is about revenge, and it can be about as much very well, because, it is a direct sequel to Casino Royale, the previous Bond movie, one of two actually fiscally and artistically successful franchise reboots of this decade (which places James Bond on a pedestal only Bruce Wayne is perched on at the moment). Will I go further into the plot? No. I’d rather not spoil anything here as I actually had some respect for the film.

The film is for the most part just as beautiful and balanced as Royale was, yet one scene is still annoying me in thoughts about the way it was shot. There’s a boat chase early on in the film that suffers from either piss poor coverage or lazy editing. The climax of the chase isn’t earned at all or well explained within the Bond Film laws of physics.

From the opening credits, you’d have thought the problems wouldn’t be confined to the editing of a single scene. The already publicly trashed Jack White & Alicia Keys opening number “Another Way To Die” is the precise nadir of the film, and it also helps me prove a point. Alicia Keys is god awful and has been such for a long long time now. Maybe her first single was good for the time, but that’s about it. Remember my post about coworkers with way too loud radios? Well, the other song I keep hearing coming out of that contiguous cubicle is the Alicia Keys track, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” which I can summarize as best: It’s What Depressed Single Parents Break Down And Cry To When They’re Pushing Their Idiot Spawn Around In Target. Find the track and tell me it’s not that song. I’ve heard it enough to condense it down to that brief description.

The other red flag that comes up during the opening credits is one of the names in the writer credits: Paul Haggis. Paul “Crash” Haggis. Paul “I-Suck-&-Stole-The-Oscar-From-Brokeback” Haggis. But then I realized he had been on the writing staff for Casino Royale, so I sort of accepted it, as the movie had a lot of great dark comedic touches that I was kinda sure Haggis had his hands in.

Now, when it comes to the ladies, y’all were on point. Supposedly Olga Kurylenko, left in the top photo, has been doing this whole object of interest of the stoic pissed good guy for a while now. But seeing as I don’t go to see video game adaptations like Hitman and Max Payne, I wouldn’t have known. It turns out though, that whatever practice she’s had in this kind of role prepared her well. Hers and Bonds plots tie well together, as they’re both on a vengence beat. Judi Dench, you continue to rock M out with your metaphorical cock out. And Gemma Arterton, who played the wonderfully named Strawberry Fields, right in the top photo, your role in this movie was small, but you did manage to stay memorable in quite a long drawn out memorable Bond flick. Sure, Eva Green was amazing and we’d all love to see her again, but hey, her absence makes the revenge plot all the more strong.

But the real gem of the film is the performance from Mathieu Amalric, who I think I remembered from Munich, playing Dominic Greene, a fancy schmuck you want to see fail and fail hard. Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) from Royale wasn’t really the villain you thought Bond deserved, more gimmick than character, even though gimmick is seemingly always a part of the Bond villain mold. But with regards to Dominic Greene, this slimy shite, the audience delights in his fall, and he’s also particularly handy with melee weapons, which makes things fun.

All the other tropes of the film are finely handled, with the film being a tad light on gadgets, though. Cleese wasn’t in Royale either, though, so maybe in our ultra modern times, the franchise is going to try and limit 007 to more conventional weaponry and leave the gadgets to the functionality of plot devices. The film is beautiful and well rounded in terms of epic locales, along with a great taste in typography to further announce each new city Bond hops to.

On the last note, I’d have to say that the Felix Leiter character continues to be perfected by Jeffrey Wright, who I hope to see continue to survive the series for as long as the actor so wants. The disgruntled American, angry with his toolish government fucking everything up, is expertly handed by Wright, and really helps the film fit this time period it’s being released in, even better than the evils behind Going Green plot that is almost lost in the horrible Greene pun of the Amalric character.

All in all, Quantum of Solace is more than worth the now exorbitant price of admission.


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