Thursday, 25 October 2012

Countdown to Skyfall: Quantum of Solace Assessed Acrostically

So just 1 day until Skyfall and it's important to remember how we got here and what came before.

Unfortunately, what came before was Quantum Of Solace. And it ain't great.
"Quit now", I thought, when the credits rolled at the end of this film.  
Bond has had an excellent 46-year run but if *this* is the direction we’re heading in, let’s just call it quits. We're all fucked. The film is one of the oddest in the entire series: jumpy, uneasy, convoluted, part-character story, part-action movie. All in all, a bit of a mess.
Uninspiring locations punctuate this film. I mean, Bolivia? Really?
And the Paleo in Siena? It looks alright I suppose, but it's no Rio carnival or Junkanoo, is it?! Long gone, it seems, when they actually planned to have exotic locations.
Arterton cannot act. She is embarrassing in this film.
Her character is so weak and does absolutely nothing to stand in Bond's way which it is HER JOB to do. And then she shags him. It's as if she's been transported from a 1970s Roger Moore Bond film. And that raincoat makes her look like a hooker. And that stupid name...
Not even 20 minutes in to this and I was lost; yes, the plot.
So all it’s going along nicely at first: furious car chase, bit o’ business with M in a sewer, rooftop chase, quick stop at The Barbican. Then, (almost) suddenly Bond is beating the shit out of some guy in a Bolivian hotel room, getting into a car with a strange woman and - what - is he supposed to kill her? Then there are some docks, the first look at our villain and then a general arrives in a speedboat. All this while Dame Judi is trying to act in front of bafflingly twatty white-on-white computer graphics. And THAT's just the first 25 or so minutes. Crazy.
The chase, fight and action sequences are almost top-notch.
In fact, I found them much better on my most recent viewing than I remember. The stand-out ones are the rooftop chase in Siena and the final fight in the hotel. The opera scene features below.
Uh-oh, someone’s been playing too many video games.
And, yes, that's you, Marc Forster. I absolutely loved Finding Neverland but QoS does not paint him in a good light. At times his direction is amateurish and his editing too abrupt. Without wishing to sound too old-gittish about it, the camera was moving about too much. No wonder this film is the shortest one of the series... if he'd have kept a few more milliseconds in every shot the damn thing would last over 3 hours.
Mathis. What a waste. I know Bond's a killer and all that jazz but poor old Rene.
Used as a human shield and dumped in a bin. With friends like that...

Olga Kurylenko is what makes this film worth watching.
Camille's back story - as tortuous as it is to follow - is at least credible and provides her with sufficient motivation to pursue General Medrano. Her performance is tough and vulnerable. And I quite like the fact that she doesn't sleep with Bond at the end. It would have been too easy.
Follow this link if you want to know about the theme tune (it’s no. 9)

Some of it I liked, in particular the way Bond and Camille's stories intertwine.
When they arrive in the desert towards the end, they are both within reaching distance of their prey. And after the big fight, I really enjoyed the car scene where they're coming to terms with their futures. Lots of dramatic pauses. Juicy stuff.
Opera is not Bond’s usual cup of tea, but the scenes at Bregenz are pure class.
Bond looks extra suave in his tuxedo and I love when he and Greene's entourage lock eyes and there's a momentary silent stand-off before the action resumes. It's a decent shoot-out too.
Looking uncomfortable, Mathieu Amalric is creepy but unconvincing as Dominic Greene.
He's a callous shit but it's hard to swallow that anyone would believe his story of being an environmental entrepreneur. Hardly a classic Bond villain, more in your Mr Big/Brad Whittaker territory.

A couple of nice nods, I noticed, to The Spy Who Loved Me in this film.
I don't know why Spy was singled out for homage, and it's not entirely unwelcome. The first is Bond's Universal Exports cover name at the docks - Robert Sterling - the same as in Spy. The second one comes at the opera in Bregenz when a henchman is hanging off a building clinging to Bond. Bond ruthlessly knocks his hand away sending him crashing down. I liked that.

Call me old-fashioned but I like my Bond title sequences to at least be legible.
And designed by Daniel Kleinman. Apparently, director Marc Forster wanted his title people of choice, MK12, for this film. And there, ladies and gentlemen, you have the perfect metaphor for this whole film: Marc Forster wanted it his way and his way was crap. I mean, really crap. Thankfully, Mr Kleinman is back for Skyfall.

Ending strongly with the Vesper storyline, Quantum Of Solace is really up and down.
After Casino Royale, the franchise needed continuity but instead Marc Forster got carried away; he tried to reboot the already-rebooted. In wanting to give Bond another shot in the arm, he instead shot him in the foot. And there he is, metaphorically limping across the screen for everyone to see while diehard Bond fans cringe with embarrassment.

No comments:

Post a Comment