Quantum of Solace

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Postby Sabin » Thu Nov 13, 2008 3:02 pm

AMAZING! Roger Ebert actually gives a movie not-four stars!

QUANTUM OF SOLACE
**/****

by Roger Ebert

OK, I'll say it. Never again. Don't ever let this happen again to James Bond. "Quantum of Solace" is his 22nd film and he will survive it, but for the 23rd it is necessary to go back to the drawing board and redesign from the ground up. Please understand: James Bond is not an action hero! He is too good for that. He is an attitude. Violence for him is an annoyance. He exists for the foreplay and the cigarette. He rarely encounters a truly evil villain. More often a comic opera buffoon with hired goons in matching jump suits.

"Quantum of Solace" has the worst title in the series save for "Never Say Never Again," words that could have been used by Kent after King Lear utters the saddest line in all of Shakespeare: "Never! Never! Never! Never! Never!" The movie opens with Bond involved in a reckless car chase on the tollway that leads through mountain tunnels from Nice through Monte Carlo and down to Portofino in Italy, where Edward Lear lies at rest with his cat, Old Foss. I have driven that way many a time. It is a breathtaking drive.

You won't find that out here. The chase, with Bond under constant machinegun fire, is so quickly cut and so obviously composed of incomprehensible CGI that we're essentially looking at bright colors bouncing off each other, intercut with Bond at the wheel and POV shots of approaching monster trucks. Let's all think together. When has an action hero ever, even once, been killed by machinegun fire, no matter how many hundreds of rounds? The hit men should simply reject them and say, "No can do, Boss. They never work in this kind of movie."

The chase has no connection to the rest of plot, which is routine for Bond, but it's about the movie's last bow to tradition. In "Quantum of Solace" he will share no cozy quality time with the Bond girl (Olga Kurylenko). We fondly remember the immortal names of Pussy Galore, Xenia Onatopp and Plenty O'Toole, who I have always suspected was a drag queen. In this film, who do we get? Are you ready for this? Camille. That's it. Camille. Not even Camille Squeal. Or Cammy Miami. Or Miss O'Toole's friend Cam Shaft.

Daniel Craig remains a splendid Bond, one of the best. He is handsome, agile, muscular, dangerous. Everything but talkative. I didn't count, but I think M (Judi Dench) has more dialogue than 007. Bond doesn't look like the urge to peel Camille has even entered his mind. He blows up a hotel in the middle of a vast, barren, endless Bolivian desert. It's a luxury hotel, with angular W Hotel-style minimalist room furniture you might cut your legs on, and a bartender who will stir or shake you any drink, but James has become a regular bloke who orders lager. Who are the clients at this highest of high-end hotels? Lawrence of Arabia, obviously, and millionaires who hate green growing things. Conveniently, when the hotel blows up, the filmmakers don't have to contend with adjacent buildings, traffic, pedestrians, skylines or anything else. Talk about your blue screen. Nothing better than the azure desert sky.

Why is he in Bolivia? In pursuit of a global villain, whose name is not Goldfinger, Scaramanga, Drax or Le Chiffre, but ... Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric). What is Dominic's demented scheme to control the globe? As a start, the fiend desires to corner the water supply of ... Bolivia. Ohooo! Nooo! This twisted design, revealed to Bond after at least an hour of death-defying action, reminds me of the famous laboratory mouse who was introduced into a labyrinth. After fighting his way for days through baffling corridors and down dead ends, finally, finally, parched and starving, the little creature crawled at last to the training button and hurled his tiny body against it. And what rolled down the chute as his reward? A licorice gum ball.

Dominic Greene lacks a headquarters on the moon, or on the floor of the sea. He operates out of an ordinary shipping warehouse with loading docks. His evil transport is provided by fork lifts and pickup trucks. Bond doesn't have to creep out on the ledge of an underground volcano to spy on him. He just walks up to the chain-link fence and peers through. Greene could get useful security tips from Wal-Mart.

There is no Q in "Quantum of Solace," except in the title. No Miss Moneypenny at all. M now has a male secretary. That Judi Dench, what a fox. Bond doesn't even size her up. He learned his lesson with Plenty. This Bond, he doesn't bring much to the party. Daniel Craig can play suave and he can be funny and Brits are born doing double entendre. Craig is a fine actor. Here they lock him down. I repeat: James Bond is not an action hero! Leave the action to your Jason Bournes. This is a swampy old world. The deeper we sink in, the more we need James Bond to stand above it.


...so naturally, Armond White loves it.

Daniel Craig’s Bond doesn’t mind getting dirty on his killing spree
By Armond White

First, it’s got a great title (?!?). Quantum of Solace is worthy of the best Bond movie labels (From Russia With Love, Dr. No, Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, Octopussy) because it transfers the series’ familiar sexual innuendo into droll morality. When we last left Daniel Craig’s hostile, spiteful 007 in 2006’s Casino Royale, he was expected to exact extreme vengeance for the murder of the women he loved. Representing the world’s most popular and longest-running movie serial, Bond must also be scrupulous (his legendary “license to kill” should be used judiciously). We expect adherence to a personal moral code that matches political expediency. At stake in Quantum of Solace is whether or not the series can grow up.

Bond’s pursuit of nefarious industrialist Dominic Greene (Mathieu Almaric) uncovers the usual international subterfuge—Greene’s plan for world domination involves an ecological crisis. But this topical angle is merely embellishment, like director Marc Forster’s studied attempt at thrill-ride filmmaking. He seems to have studied only the Bourne movies. Quantum’s action-scene overture is Bourne-blurry with none of the visual elegance and physical wit of the parkour fight sequence that opened Casino Royale.

No matter, the series’ growth happens more subtly. Toward the end of the globe-trotting escapades (each new locale is announced with distinctive eye-catching graphics), it’s possible to assess Bond’s personalized course of action. Paired with Camille (Olga Kurylenko), a questionable enemy/ally with her own motives for pursuing Greene, Bond’s vendetta comes into clearer focus. And here’s where Daniel Craig’s acting prowess makes a difference.

In movies, physiognomy is often character. Craig has a flat, round English face like Ringo Starr or Thom Yorke but with a fighter’s toughness. Even when he wears a tuxedo he doesn’t have Sean Connery’s elegance. Casino Royale may have made Craig an S&M pin-up of the new male-model era but Craig’s on-screen power is as working class as his strong performances in Infamous, Munich and Love is the Devil proved. Through old-school international film-industry apparatus Connery was groomed to cross British imperialism with Playboy magazine upward mobility, but Craig’s Bond represents the Empire’s undisguised crudeness. One minute into Quantum, behind the wheel of his Aston-Martin, he’s already scratched. When he’s shirtless, scars decorate his muscled torso like tattoos. It’s instructive to see this rough-trade Bond prioritize privilege, telling a budget-conscious M1 operative “I’d rather die” then hide in a flophouse—he registers at Bolivia’s Andean Grand Hotel instead. Killing has been the source of Bond’s class advancement and refined taste. Because he’s a soldier and not an etiolated British noble, his guttersnipe aspect gives the series a sociological back story. It’s now a socially and emotionally resonant myth.

When Bond fights a guy on a balcony and coldly watches him die—with his hands still on him—it’s imperative that Quantum take Bond absolutely seriously. Nodding toward environmentalism is less significant than this personalized study of vengeance. Quantum forces us to consider what revenge will do for Bond—and for us. In Dr. No Ursula Andress gasped at a man’s death as Connery looked the other way. The 1960s Bond didn’t need to ponder moral rectitude because his political battles were clear-cut—we knew what espionage meant. But when Quantum gets politically explicit it’s as morally confused as most contemporary political films. (Jeffrey Wright’s CIA agent asks “What would South America be like without coke or Communism?”—rather disingenuous for a global brand-name serial that trafficks in mayhem.)

These complications confound the series, which may explain why Quantum evokes the great Shirley Eaton icon from Goldfinger in a mortifying way. Reworking the Bond imagery keeps the franchise going, but it must be meaningful. Recent action pictures like Xavier Gens' Hitman have already stolen the series’ chic, just as the Indiana Jones films have usurped its fun. Craig takes Bond beyond fun. Quantum offers the in-process restructuring of a pop myth
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby MovieWes » Wed Nov 12, 2008 7:44 pm

The Spy Who Bored Me

What have they done to our 007 in Quantum of Solace?

By Rex Reed, The New York Observer

Quantum of Solace
Running Time 106 minutes
Written by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade
Directed By Marc Forster
Starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Mathieu Amalric, Olga Kurylenko

James Bond movies long ago outgrew the original fun and thrills invented by Ian Fleming, and they’ve been coasting on noise and luck ever since. Quantum of Solace, the 22nd entry in the interminable franchise, is one of the most pointless, chaotic and forgettable of them all. It is also one of the dullest.

The Bond checklist is always a bit like Mexican food—spicy and bloating for the moment, promising exotic locations, tech toys, outrageously expensive cars ready to be demolished at random, outrageous villains thinking up inhumanly monstrous tortures, secret agents navigating humanly impossible escapes, sexy girls wearing Band-Aids, and mindless satisfaction guaranteed. It’s not until later that you realize the ingredients are the same, you can’t remember what you had the night before, and no matter how they dress it up, an enchilada is just an enchilada.

With Quantum of Solace, which sports a senseless title destined to be forgotten before it even reaches the shelves at Blockbuster, you juggle the staples in Column A with the extras in Column B and you still come up with the same cogitation—a shabby, humorless disappointment with little to offer besides lazy setups with no story, character development or plot, and what thrills it has are stolen from old Bond films. Instead of the girl dipped in gold and left on the bed to die in Goldfinger, we get the girl dipped in crude oil and left on the bed to die. The boat chases are from Live and Let Die, and the opening eight-minute stunt-filled chase across the construction gangplanks and collapsing rooftops of Siena is like Casino Royale on rewind. And while you’re wondering what happened to imagination and originality, you might ponder the sad puzzle of what they’ve done to Bond himself. The 007 of ’07 introduced by newcomer Daniel Craig was a hunk with heart. Now he’s been morphed into a killing machine with a gene-spliced heart transplant, reduced to pure marble. Mr. Craig is a versatile actor who can play pretty much whatever they throw at him. But when there’s nothing to play, he’s an action comics wind-up toy with a furrowed brow.

Start with a premise instead of a plot. Bond is still smarting emotionally from the betrayal of Vesper Lynd, the woman he naïvely trusted and unwisely loved, who came to a particularly long, drawn-out and painful end in Casino Royale. This one picks up one hour later, and you better remember what happened. Questions will be asked. The evil organization that blackmailed Vesper is so complex that it spreads across the globe like Dijonnaise. Without an official assignment, Bond, heads in every direction, fueled by revenge. All roads lead to bug-eyed arch villain Dominic Greene, a phony environmentalist played by a wasted Mathieu Amalric from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Unafraid of dictators, military juntas or rampaging armies, this arch villain’s goal is to control the water supply of South America, so naturally Bond’s pursuit comes with a boarding pass. First stop: Haiti, where Bond smashes up a marina of speedboats and breaks the neck of another agent between rum fizzes. On to Austria, where he wipes out an important member of the special branch of Her Majesty’s Secret Service at the opera, during a performance of Tosca. Infuriated, M cancels his credit cards, secret IDs and travel permits, but Bond is now a lunatic unhinged, offing enemies, allies, Americans, even the secretary of the British prime minister. In Bolivia, the pretty agent dispatched to put him on the next plane to London ends up in his bed before sundown and in the morgue before dawn. Enter a new Bond girl played by curvy Olga Kurylenko. She’s as tough and cold-blooded as he is. They seem like sang-froid ciphers. He wants Greene. She wants the military general who raped and killed her mother and sister. What a fox. One minute she machine-guns an entire regiment in military fatigues, the next day she walks across the Bolivian desert in a cocktail dress, barefoot. Bolivia is played by Panama.

M is once again played by Judi Dench. The Bond films finance the serious part of her career, but this time she does more than drop by to lend a bit of class to the sweat and carnage. Unexpectedly, M develops a maternal instinct, forgiving Bond’s renegade revolt, and offering no stronger reprimand than “If you could avoid killing every possible lead, it would be deeply appreciated.” The new M stands for Mummy.

The new 007 is somewhat less tolerable. He’s gone through a lot of changes since he made his first appearance, in Dr. No (1962). He was so suave as Sean Connery that purists have never accepted anyone else. He was nothing anybody remembers—a zero—as George Lazenby. (Say who?) He was prettier in a tux than anything off the rack at Marks and Spencer as Roger Moore. As Timothy Dalton, he was just passing through. He was handsome but limited as Pierce Brosnan. If the scripts improve, he’s got a future as Daniel Craig, who does hard drinking, knuckle-slugging and slut-shtupping with equal aplomb. He’s the first actor who makes Bond look like a street punk. But the glamour is on hiatus, and all that’s left are the fists. I’m not craving much, but is it too much to ask for a small shred of what we used to call … purpose?

James Bond without wit and charm has a chromosome missing. With so much tightrope balancing, exploding vehicles, biplane dogfights and avoidance of hanky-panky in the Porthault, there’s no time for the sex, humor, style and gimmicks that have always been part of the Bond appeal. The new Bond is mean, lean, flavorless as green tea and too arrogant to be much fun. Daniel Craig is brutal, nasty and as short as Alan Ladd (who did love scenes with tall women as they stood in a ditch). In Quantum of Solace, there’s no time to even show off his artillery in the latest Speedo. Even with the furious pacing, Marc Foster’s direction is curiously without any kind of edge or tension, and where are those famous James Bond one-liners? The screenplay is deadly, despite the fact that it was partially written by Paul Haggis (Crash). I’ve been as happily distracted by the 007 movies as the next guy, but this time Bond really does seem bound. Let’s hope the bondage is temporary.

rreed@observer.com
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)

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Postby MovieWes » Wed Nov 12, 2008 7:28 pm

Movie review: James Bond 007 -- Quantum of Solace -- 4 out of 5 stars

By Roger Moore | Orlando Sentinel Movie Critic
November 12, 2008

Brevity is the soul of Bond. That's a truism producers mercifully remembered for Daniel Craig's second outing as 007. Quantum of Solace may have the most cryptic title of a Bond film. It may be so action-packed as to give the "This is more Bourne (Identity) than Bond" critics more ammo.

But it fairly races by, a sexy, sadistic, cruel and crackling thriller that is the shortest Bond film since Goldfinger, and certainly the most brisk. Craig coolly settles in, Mathieu Amalric reminds us of the old Hitchcock saying, "Good villains make good thrillers," and the maternal love affair between Bond and his boss, M ( Judi Dench, in her glory) comes to full flower. The direction, by Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland), is breathless, with lovely grace notes — he uses silences to end his action beats. And if this incarnation of Bond still doesn't inspire affection, he does command respect, awe, a sense that a real man is risking life and limb for queen and crown.

As in the Bourne movies, Quantum picks up our story very close on the heels of the climax to Casino Royale. Bond is hunting down the folks who set up his beloved Vesper, the woman who betrayed him, and died. He's not in a rage. But he's not pausing long enough to ask the questions that would quickly unravel the vast conspiracy of industrialists who seem to be behind it all.

In one memorable moment, the killing machine that is 007 averts his eyes as a man whose neck he has snapped gasps, sputters and breathes his last. Chilling.

The hunt for masterminds takes Bond from Siena, Italy, to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Bolivia and Austria. He seeks the aid of an old foe (Giancarlo Giannini from Casino) and a future friend, the CIA agent Felix Leiter, played by Jeffrey Wright with a sneer of distaste over what his boss and his government are up to in South America. That's where industrialist Dominic Greene (Amalric, of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Munich) of Greene Planet is plotting land grabs and luring a former dictator back to Bolivia to put him in charge.

"You want your country back. My company can give it to you."

Amalric is a pale, iguana-eyed ogre, something reinforced by a shot of a real lizard in the desert where Bond and the former Bolivian agent Camille (Olga Kurylenko of Max Payne) go for clues.

The viewer is probably three steps ahead of Bond at this point, catching that phrase "the most precious substance on Earth" from Greene, spying the little "Q" lapel pins he and his fellow robber barons sport.

But no matter. Bond goes "off the reservation," dodges even his own MI6 agents (and beats down a few), flies an ancient DC-3 through a dogfight, grabs a motorcycle in a gesture so effortlessly cool it recalls Sean Connery, gives chase over rooftops and is chased in boats and an Aston Martin.

"There is something horribly efficient about you," Camille purrs. But it's not what you think. He's too busy for that. Well, almost.

Bond films are all "greatest hits" packages these days, and Quantum references Goldfinger, Live and Let Die and For Your Eyes Only. But it's not the solace of the past that makes the heart race here. It's the realization, with every bit of derring-do, that someday, if he learns how to deliver a pithy one-liner, this blond could become the best Bond ever.

Roger Moore can be reached at rmoore@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5369.
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)

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Postby MovieWes » Wed Nov 12, 2008 4:40 pm

From the Village Voice...

Marc Forster Has a License to Confuse and Bore in Quantum of Solace

Neither shaken nor stirred

By Robert Wilonsky
Tuesday, November 11th 2008 at 12:57pm

Those of us who adored Casino Royale, the 2006 reboot of the haggard, self-parodic James Bond franchise, had some trouble trying to decide where to place it among the series' finest. Was it better than Goldfinger? Probably not, but close. The Spy Who Loved Me? Maybe so. From Russia With Love? Nope—missed it by this much, to quote another secret agent. Granted, it's all shades of bullet-gray when it comes to Bond, historically riddled with silly, soporific misfires that looked the same regardless of who wore the tux and gulped the gin and gave the girl one last gasp before she drew her last breath.

But Casino Royale was a welcome break with a wearying tradition: It was the first James Bond movie since On Her Majesty's Secret Service to portray 007 as something more than a suave, Kennedy-era caricature—a handsome head perched upon a tailored suit and a martini glass. Daniel Craig, an art-house bombshell if there is such a thing, brought to Bond warmth, humanity, and, above all, gives-a-damn decency heretofore lacking since George Lazenby's sole stint as Connery's stand-in. More than just a good time spent riding shotgun in a tricked-out ride with a bad boy, Casino Royale was a love story masquerading as a spy thriller, with Bond falling for his collaborator and eventual betrayer, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), who was working for . . . ?

That, alas, is the question allegedly answered by Quantum of Solace, the first Bond film not named after an Ian Fleming novel (the title comes from an inconsequential short story) and the first to serve as a direct sequel. Allegedly, because Craig's second outing as Bond is as frustrating, sloppy, and brusque as its predecessor was engaging, sleek, and unhurried. At 106 minutes, it's the shortest of the Bond films, but it feels like one of the longest as it bounces hither and yon only to wind up stranded in a Bolivian desert, where baddie Dominic Greene (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly's Mathieu Amalric) is sucking the sand dry of its underwater river. Yawn. Used to be, Bond villains were larger-than-life Evil Geniuses who at least had Grand Aspirations to take over the world, bwah-haw-haw. Now, the bad guy's just a phony environmentalist with a thing for deposed dictators and dry wells.

At least, that's what Quantum of Solace seems to be about, though most of the time it's simply too hard to tell—or too pointless to care about—courtesy of the haphazard direction of Marc Forster, who demonstrates by negative example why Bond movies are best served by journeymen with something to prove rather than would-be A-listers slumming it. From its very first moments—we enter the film mid–car chase—Quantum is a spastic, indecipherable, unholy, and altogether unwatchable mess. Between swerves and smashes, we simply have no idea who's doing what to whom, where they're doing it, or why. What's meant to be kinetic and cathartic serves only to disorient, to keep the audience at a head-scratching distance.

It's as though Forster (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland) and his two editors (longtime collaborator Matt Cheese and, get this, Get Smart and Bourne Supremacy vet Richard Pearson) filmed Quantum on a roller coaster and cut the movie with a food processor set on "indecipherable." Consider the scene, only moments after the car chase, where Bond and M (Judi Dench, even more disagreeable than she was in Casino Royale) question the mysterious Mr. White (Jesper Christensen, reprising his role from the previous film) about his role in Vesper's double-cross and death. The interrogation, but of course, turns into a shoot-out, with Bond chasing the assassin across rooftops and through broken glass ceilings—a reprise of Casino Royale's thrilling parkour sequence, perhaps the franchise's singular Great Moment. But Forster, whose biggest action sequence to date involved Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton getting it on, interrupts the action with needless, irritating cutaways to inconsequential doings (dunno what, can't say, wouldn't matter anyway) elsewhere that render the entire scene a confounding, alienating muddle. Which is to say nothing of the klutzy opera-house shoot-out stolen from The Godfather: Part III only moments later.

Written by Neil Purvis and Robert Wade (whose association with Bond dates back to 1999's The World Is Not Enough—yes, the one with Denise Richards) and Casino Royale pinch hitter Paul Haggis, Quantum of Solace may ultimately prove Bond's worst enemy to date. It's both frantic and boring, a surprising and wholly unnecessary attempt to gin up the revived franchise by turning Bond into Bourne. If Bond is to bound again (which, given the box-office tracking for Quantum, is all but assured), it will have to be with a different director; Forster has done the seemingly impossible to this director-proof series, treating Bond with such disdain as to render him pointless in his own movie.

Craig, stripped naked (literally) and revealed as little more than a "maladjusted young man" in Casino Royale, is still a rookie making clumsy mistakes here, but what seemed human in the relaunching already feels stale the second go-round. Bond does little more than sulk through the picture—Forster doesn't allow him so much as a grin—while even Jeffrey Wright, back as FBI ally and comic relief Felix Leiter, seethes his way though his handful of scenes. (He's more menacing toward Bond than Amalric, a non-entity.) If nothing else, there's no need to worry about where Quantum of Solace fits in the Bond pantheon—it's easily one of the worst.
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)

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Postby MovieWes » Tue Nov 11, 2008 5:10 pm

New James Bond entry 'Quantum of Solace' feels too slight to remember

By Christy Lemire, Associated Press

1 day ago

"Casino Royale" came along just as the James Bond franchise was sinking into a lazy rehash of all that had gone before. It jump-started 007 with its seamless mix of action and emotion, and now "Quantum of Solace" keeps it humming along — in a familiar, but forgettable, gear.

The car metaphor is appropriate: "Quantum of Solace" starts out with a thrilling chase through the winding, mountain roads of northern Italy that's one of the film's few highlights. But this is a very slight Bond movie, and it feels especially so compared to "Casino Royale," easily one of the best of the long-running series.

And it's unusual in that it's a sequel - that's never happened before. Director Marc Forster's film picks up right where "Casino Royale" left off - literally, an hour or so afterward - with Daniel Craig's Bond trying to avenge the death of the only woman he ever loved, Vesper Lynd. (The smart and sultry Eva Green, the rare Bond girl who was truly the super-spy's equal, is sorely missed here.)

He's also trying to pin down the mastermind behind a plot to control the water supply of Bolivia and, maybe someday, the world! Mathieu Amalric, star of "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," plays the role of Dominic Greene with a calm, cold-eyed creepiness.

Yes, "Quantum of Solace" is about water and as convoluted as "Chinatown." In theory, it could have had a relevant ecological message. Instead, the water angle feels like an afterthought in the surprisingly thin plot from writers Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who also wrote "Casino Royale."

"Quantum of Solace" suffers from an awful title but marks yet another intriguing entry in Forster's eclectic filmography. He's found success with small character studies such as "Monster's Ball," "Finding Neverland" and "Stranger Than Fiction," but he might not have been prepared for the enormity of a 007 actioner.

Along the many elaborate adventures Forster lays out for him, Bond hooks up with the leggy, mysterious and dangerous Camille (Ukrainian model Olga Kurylenko), who is on her own revenge mission. Then again, you'd have to be leggy, mysterious and dangerous to be a Bond babe - except for Denise Richards, the worst Bond girl ever, in "The World Is Not Enough." Kurylenko holds her own here just fine.

Craig is, of course, sexy and masculine and formidable as always and he plays beautifully off of Judi Dench, who blissfully returns as M, the head of the British secret service. They share scenes that are both teasing and meaty and their exchanges provide the movie with some much-needed substance. They're enough to make you wish the two could spend the entire movie together, solving problems and sparring.

But despite his innate intensity, Craig seems a bit . . . bored, maybe? Underutilized, despite appearing in nearly every frame of the film. His visceral combination of physicality and acting ability, which allowed him to practically burst through the screen in "Casino Royale," seems somewhat subdued here.

Part of what made his first outing as 007 such a thrill was its back-story nature-the fact that it was a prequel, that it showed the iconic character before he'd ever driven an Aston Martin or ordered his first martini. This time, though, there's little to connect the character with his beloved history. Sure, he kills indiscriminately when duty calls, loves brazenly without having to make booty calls and looks great in a tux. But it almost feels as if he functions in a vacuum, as if character were as secondary as plot.

It certainly isn't Craig's fault, though - he's more than up for the challenge. It's the material, which seems simultaneously truncated and too action-packed. Similarly, Jeffrey Wright and Giancarlo Giannini, both returning from "Casino Royale," bring grace and class to their few scenes but get woefully little to do as Bond's CIA counterpart and his old MI6 colleague, respectively.

Forster's film has a couple of standout action sequences as it bounces in obligatory fashion across Europe and South America. Besides the opening car chase, there's a wild fight in which Bond and a bad guy are beating the hell out of each other while hanging upside down from scaffolding. There's also a coolly suspenseful cat-and-mouse scene in the middle of a stunningly inventive performance of Puccini's "Tosca." (If you've never been to the opera, it may actually make you want to go.)

But the climactic showdown - at a completely empty boutique hotel in the middle of the Bolivian desert - merely feels like an excuse to blow up a boutique hotel in the middle of the Bolivian desert.

Two stars out of four.
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)

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Postby MovieWes » Tue Nov 11, 2008 5:03 pm

Quantum of Solace

Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Gemma Arterton, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench

Directed by: Marc Forster

** 1/2 out of ****

So shoot me. I left the action rush of this follow-up to the terrific 2006 Casino Royale feeling bummed out by James Bond. Well, not by the Bond of Daniel Craig — he's still one nasty-ass dude, with the kind of rough-edged style that the 007 franchise hasn't seen since the glory days of Sean Connery. But the character fun seems to have gone out the window in Quantum of Solace, a fancy-shmancy title (the only thing borrowed from Ian Fleming's short story) for a movie that pours crude oil all over the subtle pleasures and sexy beats that came before.

The new movie picks up a few minutes after the last one. Big car chase (all together now: eww!) as Bond, barely recovered from the death of his lady love Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), burns rubber all over Italy with the wiggling body of Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) in the trunk of his Aston Martin. Cut to Mr. White's interrogation by M (Judi Dench), who finds herself surrounded by traitorous MI6 agents now working for Quantum, an agency bent on (what else?) world domination. So it's Bond on the march, killing everything that moves.

I know, it sounds juicy, but it isn't. Things go on the fritz early — even the new theme song, "Another Way to Die," sung by Jack White and Alicia Keys, sucks. Bond seems to have come down with a serious case of Jason Bourne penis envy, leaping across rooftops from Bolivia to Haiti like a jug-eared Matt Damon.

Put the blame on Marc Forster, a sensitive filmmaker (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland) who has no experience as an action director and appears to be seriously overcompensating. In Casino Royale, Martin Campbell — a real action man — stopped to savor the distractions in the script co-written by Crash Oscar winner Paul Haggis. Remember the poker game and the sexual teasing in that train scene with Craig's Bond and Green's Vesper trying to guess each other's past histories? Haggis is back, but the mischief is gone. There's a flicker of interest when redhead Gemma Arterton shows up as Fields, an MI6 agent not averse to bonding with Bond, but she's soon gone like the ghost of good times past.

Instead, we get pouty Ukrainian model Olga Kurylenko as Camille, perhaps the dullest Bond girl ever. Camille treats 007 like he has an STD, but she screws the villainous Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric, bugging the eyes he only blinked in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) to get to Bolivian general Medrano (Joaquín Cosio), who did evil perversities to her and her family.

It could have been a hell of a revenge tale about two people, Bond and Camille, who know you kill most effectively when you don't take it personally but who can't help taking it personally. That story is written all over Craig's haunted face. But Quantum of Solace won't trust its own darker instincts. It delivers the popcorn goods, but it ignores the poison eating at Bond's insides. Killer mistake.

PETER TRAVERS

(Posted: Nov 27, 2008)
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)

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Postby MovieWes » Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:55 pm

Soul Survivor

“Quantum of Solace.”
by Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
November 17, 2008

Who wants to be James Bond? Everyone of the male sex, pretty much, in the old days. Schoolboys dreamed of growing up to be 007, and middle-aged men lay awake, in the small hours, and wondered why they had grown into something else—how it was that their wristwatches merely told the time rather than spewing out metal ticker tape or magnetically unzipping the back of a woman’s dress. To sit and watch Bond’s recent adventures, however, is to witness that reverie in decline. In “Casino Royale” (2006), he had his private parts given a thorough dusting with a hank of rope. Now, in “Quantum of Solace,” we are taken on a journey into the even more private crannies of his soul—an item of specialist equipment with which he has only recently been fitted, and which may come as a shock to longtime fans of the franchise. Sean Connery smoldered like Troy, but that told us nothing about the fires within. As for Roger Moore, he didn’t need a soul. He had a safari suit. These days, though, the outer Bond gets such a rough ride that you have to ask whether anyone, man or boy, still yearns to get in touch with his inner 007. In short, who wants to be Daniel Craig?

Well, I could use his Aston Martin. There was a nasty moment, in the previous film, when Craig, in his début as Bond, drove a rented Ford Mondeo, in ladylike blue, and he rounds off this new installment at the wheel of a Ford hybrid sedan, like a dad on a fishing trip, but we begin, as we damn well should, at the wheel of an Aston Martin DBS. This our hero pilots around a series of stomach-dropping bends, with Alfa Romeos in pursuit and one car diving smartly off the side of a mountain: all in all, a charming snapshot of ordinary Italian traffic. Two details set the tone. First, Bond’s Aston has a door wrenched off in the mayhem, and, once at a standstill, he clambers out of the gap; filmed from the outside, this would look comic, but the director, Marc Forster, shoots it from inside the car, thus making clear that his own contribution to the genre will have the humor stripped from it like chrome. Second, one of the Alfas hits an oncoming truck, while another piles into a house. Quite right, too, except that both are head-on crunches, and you feel them in the judder of your spine. The same thing happens later, in Haiti, when Bond steals one boat and smacks it amidships into another. That sort of impact is what “Quantum of Solace” is about. The title is too frail by far. Someone should have called it “Total of Wreckage.” Or “Batter of Ram.”

There is a vein of masochism running through this carnage, as if Bond would deem it dishonorable to dish out what he couldn’t take. He dispatches people not for idle pleasure, as his more preening enemies have done, but as a way to beat himself up and stun his nerves out of the lethargy of grief. At the end of “Casino Royale,” he lost his lover, Vesper Lynd, who is paid a forlorn tribute here as he downs six of the cocktails named after her. (In the fog of alcohol, those frightening eyes of his mist over, but they still refuse to thaw.) The new movie gives us Bond in mourning—a condition that issues, according to Freud, in melancholy and a general indifference to life, but which causes this particular sufferer to stab people in the neck and toss them from tall buildings. He is no less indifferent to the lives of others, in other words, than he is to his own, and the casual, shrugging quality of his brutishness makes it especially wounding: watch him flip a guy off a motorbike, kick the splayed limbs of guards back into the elevator where he just laid them out cold, and, worst of all, heave the body of a trusted acquaintance into a Dumpster, as if all life ended in the trash. As M (Judi Dench) remarks, in one of her tarter moments, “If you could avoid killing every possible lead, it would be deeply appreciated.”
The leads matter, because they promise a solution to Vesper’s death. She was involved with a secret organization, and only by following a money trail does Bond sniff out its master: Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), whose name suggests a trainee hair stylist—where are the Scaramangas and Oddjobs of yesteryear?—but whose favorite sport consists of toppling the governments of minor nations and pinching their natural resources. The plot follows the familiar, curious pattern that tends to affect every exploit of 007, with the romance of the peripatetic slowly shrinking to a squabble that feels both crazed and touchingly provincial. This time, having hopped lightly around the globe, paying his brief respects to Siena, London, Haiti, and Austria, our hero winds up fussing about with water supplies at the back end of Bolivia. Is Vesper truly avenged because her beloved James gets to butch it out with the flower-shirted Dominic in what looks like a Ramada Inn? The place is so isolated, and frankly so hideous, that there appear to be no other guests, or even room service. Collateral damage is minimal, the world is saved, and nobody even noticed.

The narrative of Forster’s film is certainly sketchy enough, and early viewers reported a dismaying sense of desiccation: no quips, no gadgets, no time to relax. For the aerial dogfight, both planes have propellers, as if Bond were just a throwback to Indiana Jones. He should wear Savile Row suits, but the costume designer puts him in a black blouson and flat-fronted cream chinos, like a slightly precious soccer fan. As for sex, you might as well stay home with a pair of bed socks and a DVD of “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” Bond finds a beauteous comrade-in-arms, Camille (Olga Kurylenko), but she, it turns out, has her own agenda of revenge, and their sole point of contact is the kind of kiss that tennis partners exchange when they win a mixed doubles. I was cheered by the arrival of Agent Fields (Gemma Arterton), an upstanding British redhead, but, after showing Bond her raincoat and her naked back, in that order, she makes an alarming exit. Why, then, days after seeing “Quantum of Solace,” do I find, against expectation, that I can’t shake it off? Given that it seems such a diminution of the Bond legend, boiling him down to the bare bones of aggression, what can it bring to the party?
The James Bond backlist is, like the history of cinema itself, a trade-off between the real and the fantastic. The best thing in Forster’s film is a fabulous sequence in which 007 takes out a few baddies during a lakeside performance of “Tosca”; the intercutting between his own violence and the melodrama onstage, meaner and less swooning than Coppola’s similar set piece in “The Godfather: Part III,” tells you everything about the melding of artifice and pain that has sustained the saga of Bond. I have lost count of the number of times in which we have been offered a darker or dirtier Bond; as M, worried about his sanity, relieves him of duty in the new film, I recalled the unsavory “Licence to Kill” (1989), whose working title had been “Licence Revoked.” The Bond films have nodded to geopolitics but genuflected toward exotica, and the hero is, in himself, a wild concoction—the free-range spy, roaming abroad in the service of a nonexistent empire back home. There may be intakes of breath, in audiences here, when Bond says that American intelligence services “will lie down with anybody,” and when even the temperate M blurts out, “I don’t give a shit about the C.I.A.,” but how can we seriously ascribe topicality to a thriller that pays no heed to actual foes, such as Al Qaeda, presumably for fear of denting the market overseas?

The truth is that one thing alone lends gravity to Bond, and tethers him down to our shared earth, and that is the actor who plays him. This is where Craig and Connery score, and where the others lag behind. “Quantum of Solace” is too savage for family entertainment, but, as a study in headlong desperation, it’s easier to believe in than many more ponderous films. “Everything he touches seems to wither and die,” Dominic Greene tells Camille, and Bond might well agree. “I don’t have any friends,” he says, more as a statement of fact than as a complaint, and Forster deliberately surrounds Craig with unmenacing beta males: pale and flabby types from MI6, plus a bad Boris Karloff impersonator as Greene’s henchman. Even the cocktail waiter looks weak and watery. None of them can match 007, let alone reach out to him, and I found myself relishing his rare flickers of companionship: with the ever more mothering M, for instance, and with Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini), his rumpled sidekick from “Casino Royale.” “Come with me,” Bond asks him, with a spectre of a smile, on his way to South America: a request echoed, when they get there, by Mathis’s own distress call—“Stay with me.” In the end, though, Bond’s closest encounter is with a traitor, whom he tracks across the roofs of Siena. They crash through a roof, into a building undergoing restoration, and tangle together on ropes—swaying in the void and grabbing for their guns. It is an airy, murderous parody of the scene in “The English Patient” in which Juliette Binoche, in the same part of the country, is hoisted high in a church to inspect the frescoes. Art gives life, and more than a quantum of solace; but James Bond, aloft and alone, is always the bringer of death.
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)

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Postby MovieWes » Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:47 pm

Bond Ambivalence
Daniel Craig’s 007 needs an injection of bon vivant. Plus, a splendidly dark Christmas tale.

By David Edelstein Published Nov 9, 2008

Daniel Craig is a fiercely compelling James Bond, with blue eyes so cold they scorch, but my heart sank a bit when, during a sad moment in Quantum of Solace, he drank himself into a stupor and professed neither to know nor care what he was drinking. Sean Connery’s 007 was every bit as masculine-hard but could still tell you on which side of the vineyard the grapes had been grown; he was an irreducible mixture of brutality, irony, and elegance. That said, Connery’s Bond was an unusually bogus construct, meant to demonstrate the enduring potency of the old-boy English upper class; it was a fine irony that the producers needed a roguish Scotsman to put the whopper over. Craig embodies the new, anti-elitist Bond, the unstable toughie in a world of ever-shifting alliances—a world of neither queens nor supervillains. He looks splendid in a tux, but he’s not at home in it; he’s more in his element when shirtless, his chest and arms so engorged he can barely sit up straight. It’s the body of a brooding obsessive—humorless, forsaken, shaken and not stirred. I miss the erudite, bon vivant Bond, but Craig is a 007 for an earthier, edgier age.

Quantum of Solace is the most cynical of the 007 films, stopping well short of The Dark Knight (the champion popcorn-movie downer) but acidic enough to ask: How can even the most resolute spy make a dent in our despair? Our next president will, with luck, instill in us the audacity of hope—and, not incidentally, bring back the age of optimistic superheroes. For now, we cling to the hope of audacity.

Damaged goods after the romantic tragedy of Casino Royale, Bond here is undermined by his own government and the CIA, both of which agree to look the other way while a multi-tentacled outfit (part SMERSH, part Halliburton) installs a murderous general in Bolivia in return for rights to the country’s natural resources. That the slippery baddie, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), works under the guise of an environmentalist is the ultimate insult: The plunderers have appropriated the vocabulary of saviors. Against this, Bond is icily single-minded. Damn protocol, damn alliances, damn M (Judi Dench), he will chop away at this edifice of evil.

The story line is fast and deliriously convoluted, one scene hurtling improbably (but ingeniously) into the next, Bond’s impulsiveness and calculation working thrillingly in tandem. If the staging were as witty as the plotting, Quantum of Solace might have been a corker like Casino Royale. But when the action starts, art-house-refugee director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball) mashes together close-ups in the manner of The Dark Knight, and every big set piece is borderline incoherent. On the neat side of that border is a battle in which Bond and his foe seesaw up and down on pulleys to reach a gun—a war between gravity and force that might have been conceived by a tipsy physicist. On the other side is a boat chase so bewildering you only know it’s over when something finally blows up. The movie opens with a car chase that’s also a hash, but nowhere near as ghastly as the theme song that follows, an anti-fusion of Jack White’s caterwauls and Alicia Keys’s breathy soul stylings called “Another Way to Die.” Worst Bond theme ever? Let’s just say Madonna is now off the hook for “Die Another Day.”

The screenwriters, Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade, take their cues from two of the best (if not the two best) Bonds, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger—but the differences are telling. Angry and guilt-ridden after his catastrophic Casino Royale love affair, 007 does not put the moves on the distractingly luscious (if tightly wound) Bond girl, Olga Kurylenko, a forbearance which left at least one male viewer in need of a cold-shower equivalent. (Seth Rogen naked on a nearby screen?) The other, related difference is the absence of catharsis. Robert Shaw’s blond assassin and Harold Sakata’s Oddjob had classic comeuppances, whereas the Quantum villains meet their fates offscreen. Granted that modern action filmmakers are over-promiscuous when it comes to avenging “Die, you sucker!” climactic skewerings. But don’t we deserve some release?

Central to the new Bond’s ambivalent universe is the role of M, a scolding mother who dispatches agents to waylay her prodigal son and is quietly (so quietly) pleased when he eludes them. What a mixed message! And what a surrender. As much as I love Dench’s exquisite deadpan—that scowl contains multitudes—it’s a pity M has become another in a line of movie and TV authority figures who tacitly say, “Do what you feel is right. but I won’t back you up. I’ll vilify you to my superiors. I’ll put obstacles in your path. If you succeed, I won’t even give you a hug.” The message is that it’s impossible to do good if you work within the system—the antithesis of the phony old Bond adventures, but possibly in its glib pessimism even more pernicious. Craig’s Bond needs to learn to savor an aged Bordeaux and navigate the tony clubs, if only to infiltrate the ruling class and beat it at its own rigged game. He’s James Bond, for Pete’s sake. Who wants him to be a common malcontent?

Quantum of Solace
Directed by Marc Forster.
Sony. PG-13.




Edited By MovieWes on 1226440079
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)

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Postby MovieWes » Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:45 pm

A Brisk, Brutal Bond: The Quantum of Solace Review

By Richard Corliss Friday, Oct. 31, 2008

How much is a quantum? Less than a little and next to nothing. Ex.: "In high school I studied a quantum of physics." Or, as James Bond might say, "I'll have a vodka martini, shaken not stirred, and instead of a side of pretzels give me a quantum of solace."

The Bond films want to remain faithful, in their fashion, to the Ian Fleming fictions that spawned them. But Fleming wrote only 12 Bond novels and eight short stories before his death in 1964, back when only two of the films had been released and nobody dreamed that the series would reach, as it has now, 22 "official" features over 46 years. (There were two rogue Bonds: a comedy version of Casino Royale in 1967, not to be confused with the one released two years ago, and Never Say Never Again, a Sean Connery solo project, in 1983.) So this time the keepers of the 007 flame went with one of the short story titles, which sounds more suited for an Antonioni film than the highly torqued action adventure that is Quantum of Solace.

The new Bond, starring Daniel Craig in his second spin as 007, had its gala premiere in London Wednesday, with the Princes Harry and William in attendance. The film opens in Britain, France and Sweden today, in 61 Asian, European and South American countries next week, and in the U.S. Nov. 14. So this review is for TIME.com international readers' eyes only. The rest of you, no peeking for two weeks. For now, we'll just say you have some thrills and rough fun in store.

Our overseas readers will recall — they'd better, if the plot and emotions of this film are to make any sense — that the 2006 Casino Royale was a conscious return to the young agent on his first big case as an operative of Her Majesty's Secret Service. While dispatching the usual number of foreign villains, he falls for the lustrous Vesper Lynd (as in West Berlin; Fleming was addicted to pun names for his Bond girls), an agent for the British Treasury Service. A misunderstanding about Vesper's motives leads to her death, for which Bond blames himself. Quantum of Solace begins an hour after the end of Casino Royale.

The 2006 film had the longest running time in the series: 2hr.24. This one, the first true Bond sequel, is the shortest, at 1hr.46, and it wastes no time shifting into high gear. It begins in the middle of a car chase, with Bond's Aston Martin being pursued by a convoy of nasty cars on the hairpin turns of a mountain road outside Siena, Italy. Doesn't matter if the bad guys have enough artillery to stock a Third World uprising; Bond's superior driving skills, and the series' reluctance to kill off its hero in the first reel, make him the victor and survivor. At one point on that narrow winding stretch he negotiates a 360-degree turn, maybe a 720 — with all the flashy editing it's hard to tell — and makes his way safely to a hideout where his boss M (Judi Dench) awaits. He has a lovely gift for her in the boot of the Aston Martin: a suave crime boss, Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), brought in for MI6's brand of extreme rendition.

Fleming's idea of Bond villains was that they were inbred, disenfranchised Euro-aristocrats, their vocation twisted from nation-building to world-conquering; and the movies have honored that antique notion. The baddie conglomerate, once known as SPECTRE, is now Quantum, but their role is the same: to spit out snide threats in an upper-crust accent of indeterminate nationality.

One of these is White, who tells M and Bond a little secret; that Quantum has people everywhere. That's the cue for M's trusted bodyguard to pull a gun on her and reveal himself as a Quantum hireling. More fighting and chasing and leaping, intercut with the running of Il Palio, the famous horse race held in a Siena's main piazza. Director Marc Forster — known for gimmicky art-house films like Finding Neverland, Stranger Than Fiction and The Kite Runner — turns out to be a natural as the helmer of a high-energy, high-gloss action film. He also holds the viewer's powers of concentration and retention in such high regard, he often has two action scenes going at once.

Vesper's death hangs over Bond like black crepe, spurring his sense of revenge and most of the plot. His chief nemesis is Dominic Greene (French star Mathieu Amalric, of last year's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), a zillionaire member of the Quantum board who uses environmental philanthropy to mask his sick dreams of diverting water from the peasants of South America. (Bolivia is the new Chinatown.) Greene passes along one of his plaything-victims, the seductive Camille (Olga Kurylenko), to the Bolivian strongman Gen. Medrano (Joaquín Cosio). Turns out Camille, like Bond, has a score to settle. This time, for both of them, it's personal.

Bond Bourne Again

The Bond films carry such baggage and have been imitated so many times that during any scene there'll be another playing in your head: one from some other movie that scriptwriters Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (all of whom worked on Casino Royale) are either citing or borrowing from. Bond films, for a start. Q's gone missing, but M's there, and the sympathetic CIA agent Felix Leiter, making his ninth appearance in the series (played here, as in Casino, by Jeffrey Wright). And a rooftop chase that's the stunted little brother of the terrific parkour exertions in Casino Royale. And the startling image of a dead nude woman painted head to toe in black oil, a reference to poor gold-plated Shirley Eaton way back in the 1964 Goldfinger.

You'll feel reverbs from other old movies, like Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (whose climax of an assassination attempt in the Albert Hall gets an update here) and Jackie Chan's Police Story (jumping from a building to the top of a moving bus to another building across the street). The globe-hopping itineraries of our favorite secret agent and his targets — Italy, England, Austria, Haiti, Bolivia — will remind you of the geographic restlessness on display in Syriana, Body of Lies and other war-on-terror spy capers. And like hundreds of action-film thugs, the marksmen in this film are fatally slow on the trigger

The major touchstone is Paul Greengrass's Bourne Ultimatum, surely the most influential action film of the decade. Quantum appropriates Bourne's tilt-a-whirl camera and ADD editing, not to mention the vigorous skirmishes on roofs, in cars and hotel rooms. But the big similarity is in the two films' heroes. James Bond and Jason Bourne are both company spies whom their governments want dead, and both are coping with their girlfriends' violent deaths.

From the first moment of Casino Royale, Craig was a different sort of Bond. Instead of the 007 of the Fleming canon — a tough but smooth gentleman spy, schooled at Eton and Cambridge, radiating wit and warm sensuality — Craig seems a cyber- or cipher-Bond, with a loyalty chip implanted in a mechanism that's built for murderous ingenuity. ("If you could avoid killing every possible lead," M tells him in this installment, "it would be deeply appreciated.") In lieu of the double-entendre bons mots assigned to Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan, Craig communicates in grunts and sullen, conceivably soulful, laser stares. Spying is no game with this 007; it's a job that's become a compulsion. Craig's Bond is a brute, Rambo with muscles bulging through his tux.

Appealingly sturdy in Casino, Craig is near-mute here. This Bond is a crippled titan, "blinded by inconsolable rage," as M gently puts it; he shows as much emotion as a crash-test dummy and endures nearly as much damage. But since MI6 currently has more turncoat agents than a Whack-a-Mole game, and Bond is the functioning spy M can trust, he's obliged to save the world on his own, while other branches of the government want him captured or killed.

Every Bond movie needs two Bond girls. One is a British operative (Gemma Arterton) named Miss Fields — in the credits she's ID'd as Strawberry Fields — and her job is to relieve Bond's sexual tension and add to the body count. The other is Camille, who has lost her mother and sister to one of the chief brigands. For Bond, then, she is both a mortal threat and an emotional tonic. Silently sulfurous with vengeance scenarios, she and Bond can purge their demons in the only acceptable action-movie fashion: by killing the men who were in some way responsible for the deaths of their loved ones.

The movie suffers from the absence, even in flashbacks, of seraphic-satanic Eva Green, who played Vesper in Casino. But Kurylenko, a lovely Russian-Ukrainian hybrid who is oddly duskied up to look vaguely Latina, is a whiz at raising Quantum's temperature and gradually luring Bond out of his stolid shell. It's a pleasure to watch this model-turned-actress, also seen briefly illuminating Max Payne, turn into a model actress. Here's one Bond girl who's a richly appealing woman, with or without Bond.

I could go on, but who am I kidding? Critics aren't expected to review Bond films so much as test-drive them. In that spirit, here's a quick rundown, on a scale of 0 to 10. Opening credit sequence: 5 — the usual semi-abstract woman's form, liquid and monumental. The song: 4 — Jack White and Alicia Keys duet on a power-pop number that's tenacious but not delightful. Chief villain: 6 — Amalric, who normally plays underdogs, hasn't the stature of a Dr. No or a Salamanca, but he's got the evil sneer down pat. Bond girl: 9 — Olga Kurylenko is more than OK. Fight scenes: 9 — frenetic, if familiar. And Bond — 7: Craig certainly fills the frame of a modern, wounded action hero; but, just once or twice, could he, and this mostly knuckle-cracking, often crackerjack film, crack a smile?
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)

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Postby MovieWes » Sun Nov 09, 2008 3:31 pm

Entertainment Weekly gives it a B.

Quantum of Solace (2008)

By Lisa Schwarzbaum

Agent 007 (Daniel Craig) is a very mad man in Quantum of Solace, a cold and vengeful chapter in the James Bond saga with little interest in coherence, and even less in the kind of sensual pleasures and vicarious high-life thrills once anticipated from movies about Her Majesty's best-dressed secret service agent. A virtuoso action sequence is de rigueur at the start of any Bond film, of course. But the bullet-spraying car chase in Siena, Italy, that opens the 22nd edition — the second foray starring Craig as a Bond as bleak as his eyes are blue — is a Sunday drive compared with the intensity of the fury coming off that complicated British secret agent.

Quantum picks up more or less where Casino Royale left off two years ago. Stinging from his presumed betrayal by the late (alas) Vesper Lynd, the one babe Bond truly loved (adieu, sultry Eva Green!), 007 is hell-bent on uncovering the truth about QUANTUM, the maxi-secret international organization that blackmailed her. Applying enhanced interrogation techniques to the Euro-creepy Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), who was reeled in at the end of the last picture, seems like a good place for Bond and his impeccable boss, M (divine Judi Dench, crisp and tart as a Granny Smith apple), to begin. But it's not long — it's instantly, actually, after the revelation of a mole in MI6 erupts into a gigantic glass-shattering, oof-and-wham, parkour-influenced action scramble — before we're relying on screen titles to update us on Bond's busy itinerary. First he's in London, reporting for a less-than-satisfactory performance review (M, egged on by the CIA, wonders whether her man is even-keeled enough for his job). Then he's in Haiti, crossing paths with a sleuthing beauty named Camille (Olga Kurylenko) while searching for a nefarious Monsieur Greene (Mathieu Amalric, both eyes wide open after The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), who's a QUANTUM baddie with plans to mess with global natural resources. Next he's in Austria, he's in South America, he's...well, with the biggest budget in Bond movie history, he's wherever the producers and director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland) want him to be.

The point is, wherever he is, this James Bond is pissed. And that ceaseless anger begins to curdle every sequence that might otherwise bring a little happiness. I mean happiness for us, the viewers — whether we're watching a scene at an avant-garde opera, a seduction, or a showy action sequence shot in a smeary color palette of browns.

With his assumption of the role in 2006, Craig triumphantly announced that there's a new 007 in town. Through his very physicality, and through his fresh interpretation of James Bond as a potent man with little interest in the silly stuff of shaken-not-stirred rituals, the actor scoured the iconic character of plaque and mannerisms. But having created such a tiger, this dark fellow needs a suitable jungle in which to prowl.

I mean it as a cockeyed compliment to the reborn Bond franchise, then, when I say that Quantum of Solace is an unnecessarily cramped arena for such an interesting cat. Bond chases Greene with grim determination (Amalric himself is a villain of mild physical proportions, with flourishes of evil limited to a glittering hardness in the eyes). But 007 turns that same ray-gun attitude of mirthlessness on practical conversations with Camille (the beauty doesn't have time for bedroom thoughts since she's plotting a vendetta against a South American baddie of her own); on office updates with M; and on intelligence gathered from the wily CIA agent Felix Leiter (as played by Jeffrey Wright, the coolest cat in the story). Working with a screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis, Forster (the German-Swiss director who titrated the chemistry between Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry in Monster's Ball) offers little cinematic distinction between scenes of rage, jet lag, and the drinking of those iconic cocktails.

I have a feeling, or at least a wish, that in the next Bond picture — Craig's committed to two more — this 21st-century spy will gain greater access to his own character strengths; I hope the director will allow his star to play. For now, we can take solace that 007 is working on anger management.
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)

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Postby MovieWes » Sat Nov 01, 2008 11:17 am

'Solace' makes quantum leap in U.K.
Bond film takes $8 million on first day
By ARCHIE THOMAS

LONDON — Bondpic “Quantum of Solace” got off to a lightning start on home turf Friday, taking $8 million (£4.94 million) on its first day at U.K. wickets.

Socko day one haul, which was powered by lots of advance ticket sales, makes “Solace” the biggest Friday opening of all time in the U.K.

Previous Friday best was “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” which bagged $6.5 million (£4 million). “Casino Royale” did $4.7 million on its opening Friday but, unlike “Solace,” it had Thursday previews.

Sony has launched a massive promo campaign for Daniel Craig topliner “Solace” in Blighty. Pic received lots of media attention all week with the starry Wednesday Royal World Premiere attended by Prince Harry and Prince William garnering page one coverage in the nationals.

As of Thursday, booker’s pre-release opening Friday-Monday expectations were $21 million (£13 million). Given the opening day numbers, “Solace” may well end up bettering those upbeat forecasts. Largely mixed reviews do not seem to have dissuaded Bond fans from rushing to their local hardtop on opening weekend.

Pic does not open Stateside until Nov. 14.
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)

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Postby Penelope » Thu Oct 30, 2008 11:14 pm

OscarGuy wrote:Take it as a sum of its parts. Quantum is an incredibly small unit of measurement. Solace is comfort, succor. So, Bond is searching for a small amount of comfort, thus a Quantum of Solace.

At least that's my interpretation. I'm sure there are probably others.

That's exactly correct. The Ian Fleming story "Quantum of Solace" is unusual in the Bond canon in that it's not an adventure or thriller--in fact, Bond himself is only a minor character, listening to another person tell a story about a marriage that falls apart--and discovering that the wife was a woman he'd met earlier in the evening at a party.




Edited By Penelope on 1225426502
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Postby OscarGuy » Thu Oct 30, 2008 9:42 pm

Take it as a sum of its parts. Quantum is an incredibly small unit of measurement. Solace is comfort, succor. So, Bond is searching for a small amount of comfort, thus a Quantum of Solace.

At least that's my interpretation. I'm sure there are probably others.
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Postby cam » Thu Oct 30, 2008 9:14 pm

Then please tell me what it MEANS

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Postby Penelope » Thu Oct 30, 2008 5:34 pm

No, I love the title as well. It certainly makes more sense than Tomorrow Never Dies.
"...it is the weak who are cruel, and...gentleness is only to be expected from the strong." - Leo Reston



"Cruelty might be very human, and it might be cultural, but it's not acceptable." - Jodie Foster


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