FILM - Quantum Of Solace - The Bond Supremacy

Synopsis
Betrayed by Vesper, the woman he loved, 007 fights the urge to make his latest mission personal. Pursuing his determination to uncover the truth, Bond and M interrogate Mr White who reveals the organization which blackmailed Vesper is far more complex and dangerous than anyone had imagined. Forensic intelligence links Dominic Greene, a ruthless business man, to the mysterious organization. On a mission that leads him to Austria, Italy and South America, Bond discovers that Greene, conspiring to take total control of one of the world’s most important natural resources, is forging a deal with the exiled General Medrano. In a minefield of treachery, murder and deceit, Bond allies with old friends in a battle to uncover the truth. As he gets closer to finding the man responsible for the betrayal of Vesper, 007 must keep one step ahead of the CIA, the terrorists and even M, to unravel Greene’s sinister plan and stop his organization.

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Followers of this blog, probably know I'm quite a fan of the Bond franchise. After the success of what probably is the most (commercially & critically) successful Bond movie, Casino Royale (CR), this one is a must-see for all Bond fanatics.

Quantum of Solace (QOS) picks up moments after the credits rolled at the end of CR so this is the first actual Bond sequel. So it was almost inevitable for this movie to be viewed with high hopes and expectations. But I'm trying very hard to watch QOS with a fresh look, taking into account that this movie has a different director with Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland). But after the end credits rolled, I couldn't help but thinking that QOS is actually a footnote to CR and that there is more to the adventure of the so-called 'new' Bond.

The Action
I have to start off this review with the action sequences because, well.. QOS started with one. Almost a minute into the film, action fans will be treated to a high octane car chase through the streets of Siena in Tuscany, Italy. And that scene really sets the tone of the film, sort of a welcome note by Forster that says 'You want action, I'll give you action!'. Kudos for Forster and his action direction team for staging wonderful action sequences in this movie that involves cars, foot, bike, cars, boats and planes - you name it they got it.

Watching all those wonderful action sequences, I did get the deja-vu feeling of "..have I seen this before?''. It turns out that the editing and the second unit team of the 'Bourne' movies are also involved in QOS as well. So expect that kind of gritty, fast cut editing action in this one too. High marks for action and suspense.

Story/Script
While the action in QOS does up the ante from CR, here lies the problem for QOS storytelling. Sometimes I do get the feeling that the writers (Haggis and team) are set out this time to make an action-packed revenge movie and neglecting any plot points and character development. Viewers will be transported from one exotic locations to another (complete with Heroes-like titles), and jumped to another action sequences as the story goes, at times seems a little too fast-paced and forced. The film jumps around constantly, leaving you wondering what is happening. What's the deal with this SPECTRE-like secret organization called Quantum? What do they really want? Oil? Water control? World-domination, of course.

The originality and the smooth dialogue of CR are not present in QOS. Sometimes Bond looks like a mute vengeful assasin rather than a cunning British spy. I do understand that he's pissed and out for revenge, but.. this is James Bond. Without the humour, flirtation and sexiness, he's no different from any other character from any spy thriller (Bourne again?). This is not a movie about a sexy British spy but about an embittered killing machine who has lost the woman he loved and still doesn't know whether she actually betrayed him. It’s tough stuff — but a Bond in permanent emotional travail is a Bond oddly diminished. In my opinion, the film's grim and downbeat nature precludes either the sexiness or the humour that are part and parcel of Bond’s appeal.

Bond & Co
Daniel Craig performance is solid as a lean, mean killing machine. He's looking set to continue to redefine 007 for the modern era. It doesn't help that the script requires him to tone down his charm and be pissed al the time, but I can see him outshining some previous Bonds when the time comes. His performance in QOS reminded me of Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights - cold and heartless. But Dalton doesn't fit the Bond persona he's creating with the cheesy plot of Living Daylights. Eon productions got wrong back then and have got so very right this time around: if you're going to reinvent Bond, reinvent everything. Don't just fit a serious actor into a traditionally campy plot - make sure the entire world that Bond inhabits fits a more realistic take on the character.

Mathieu Almaric is decent as the enigmatic environmentalist Mr. Greene (enviromentalist, Greene - Geddit?) although I wished he had more banter with Bond especially during the final scene. He kinda looked like a bad-teethed version of Roman Polanski though.

Returning from CR, Giancarlo Giannini as Mathis is very good, providing a little bit human character in his brief scenes with Bond. Jeffrey Wright also return as CIA agent Felix Leiter; the coolest cat of them all, although he could use a little more screen time in the future.

Bond Girls
I'm not sure if Camille (Olga Kurylenko) is fitting to be called a Bond-girl simply because she doesn't connect at all with Bond. It seems that her own agenda back story (which is obvious right from the beginning) potrayed her as a supporting cast rather than a classic Bond girl. Gemma Arterton fits the bills more rightly, as Agent Fields (wait for the end credits to catch her real name), a throwback to the classic Bond girl right down to the manner of her demise on screen. (black-Goldfinger?). I felt there's more connection and chemistry between Bond and Fields although very brief.

The real Bond girl this time, is probably M, played ever so convincingly by Judi Dench. M have more screen time than ever in QOS, finally showing what might in fact be a kind of mother figure, never quite giving up on her favourite son’s persistent capacity to do the wrong thing by killing those he should be bringing in for questioning. Dench is magnetic, projecting the kind of charisma that only she and Helen Mirren could (both of them, GILF in my book, there I said it!)

Bond Theme Song
It's a Bond film - you have to talk about the theme song. As much as I loved Jack White and Alicia Keys, the theme song is rather forgettable. There's no chemistry at all in what supposed to be a rock-soul duet (first time duet in any Bond film). 'Another Way To Die' simply just - died. To think that Amy Winehouse nearly got the nod for doing the theme song, imagine what could have been..

Verdict
Quantum of Solace isn't as good as Casino Royale: the smart elegance of Craig's Bond debut has been toned down in favour of action and grit. But Daniel Craig powers this movie; he carries the film. As a big budget action thriller, QOS pass with flying colours. I had a very enjoyable time watching it, explosions and all. But this time around the biggest hurdle is the script, which is working against Bond every step of the way, making victims of character and plot.

But I do have a feeling that QOS is actually a promise of more things to come. In the next Bond picture this 21st-century spy will gain greater access to his own character strengths. And we will eventually see Bond enjoying himself more. But right now, let Bond settle his score - he's in anger management.

6 comments:

  1. Nazim Masnawi said...
     

    It's not a bad movie for Bond, but as a successor to Casino Royale, it blows.

    Aku macam mana pun tak frust sangat, mengenangkan aku dah predict the outcome ever since they announced the fucking director*. I have to disagree with you, Edd. His action scenes are horrible. Walaupun ada keunikan yang cuba dibawak, I can't stand the arty stuff bullshit. Contohnya, masa scene Bond escape dari opera - everything just turn into a fucking trailer. Bond yang terkenal dengan coherency action scenesnya tetiba jadi macam ass.

    As for the script, susah nak blame sapa-sapa. We all know yang ia belum siap waktu writer's strike melanda (don't believe the imdb's trivia). Diharap, tak berlaku lagi masalah ni di episod akan datang. And as for Quantum, I'll just take it as Bond's own version of Tartakovsky's Clone Wars sebelum filem seterusnya kelak.

    PS: Oh, dan aku suka lagu dia. But sebelum ni aku tak suka You Know My Name, so...

    *You're a hack, Forster. Always will. Plus, dengan Haggis lagi. Memang kenalah korang duorang.

  2. Edd Vedder said...
     

    Aku faham maksud kau ttg coherency action scenes Bond. Selepas Casino Royale, aku lebih bersifat terbuka ttg action scenes Bond. Tak salah bagi aku kalau Forster nak inject some art dgn scene actionnya. Kecuali scene escape dari opera tu, aku rasa action scene lain (especially that rope scene) is good. Cuma aku kurang berkenan dgn editing utk scene boat dan kapal tu.. dh macam Live N Let Die plak.

    Haggis & Forster - aku rasa tak ngam. Maybe banyak sangat tengok siri filem Bourne kot..

  3. Nazim Masnawi said...
     

    "...dh macam Live N Let Die plak."

    That's another problem. Dari aspek consistency. The car chase in the beginning is ultra-realistic, yet masa scene kapal terbang tu? Fucking Bond jumps from the airplane and tries his best to stay a float by grabbing Olga Kurylenko's tits? Whatta fuck, man?!??

  4. Ajami Hashim said...
     

    1. Opening sequel kejar-mengejar kereta yang berlagak dan layak untuk berlagak! Cuma lepas tu, aksi-aksi lain; boat and plane chase macam sedikit boooring dan cliche! ops!

    2. Gunakan banyak subtext? intercut aksi kejar-mengejar dengan jalinan imej silih-berganti buah ceri terpelanting (ceri or strawberi erk?), lumba kuda, keranda bertaburan di jalanraya, persembahan opera Tosca? (yang aku suka sebab muzik latar dari Tosca itu bersulam dengan aksi James Bond dah jadi ost yang kena!) dan paling sentimental bila James Bond mencampak rantai milik bekas kekasihnya Vesper Lynd yang dah mati (baca: James Bond dah lepas fasa jiwang! now move on to the next sequel bro!)

    3. Touch screen LCD besar gedabak yang melampau digunakan di pusat Mi6! Hebattt!

    4. Penjahat Dominic Greene yang tak evil sangat katanya sebagai 'corporate villains'? dah tu dia punya right hand man si Elvis pun macam tak semenggah mana pun!

    5. Bond girl BUKAN macam Bond girl? Camille yang seboklah nak kejar misi dia sendiri? (kau dah terangkan dalam posting di atas kan?)

    6. James Bond bertumbuk bagai nak rak dengan Craig Mitchell kat awal cerita dimana banyak pecah-pecah kaca, bersepah-sepah besi, main gantung-gantung ala bungee jump bla bla bla.. akhir sekali 'pistol' juga yang dicari sebagai senjata! hahaha!

    7. Font yang digunakan untuk nama (location title) setiap negara menggunakan font yang sesuai menggambarkan ciri-ciri setiap negara! hahaha!

    8. M banyak kali enter-frame nak halang James Bond daripada ikut suka hati dia!

    9. Ada babak sedih ala cerekarama bila Mathis mati di pangkuan James Bond! ayooo!

    10. Act 2 filem ini terasa agak draggy dan aku hampir menguap! lalala..

    11. Anti-climax? penutup aksi bakar-bakar dan letup-letup hotel mewah di tengah gurun Bolivia yang duh!!! itu jer? aku harapkan James Bond akan bakar satu kampung di Bolivia misalnya. Tapi oklah! Letupkan hotel yang tak ada orang sewa tu pun kira hebat laaa!..

    12. Kesimpulannya: aku terima Quantum of Solace ini seadanya tetapi memang terasa James Bond sangat tone down kerana ia adalah prekuel siapakah backstory James Bond masa awal-awal dia jadi agent 007 sambungan dari Casino Royale. Memang James Bond ada ketikanya nampak fragile dan emotional kerana dia nak cari punca sebenar kematian bekas kekasihnya Vesper Lynd dulu. Tapi di babak terakhir filem ini, aku dapat rasakan bahawa ia adalah titik mula James Bond menjadi James Bond yang se-macho itu dalam filem-filem terdahulu (baca: Casino Royale & Quantum of Solace adalah asal-usul backstory James Bond) Babak itu juga membuktikan kepada M bahawa James Bond hanya 'bunuh' orang kerana bersebab terpaksa dibunuh bukannya dia membabi-buta suka hati mak bapak dia jer apabila dia tak bunuh pun Yusef kerana dia cuma nak tahu kenapa Vesper Lynd mati (mcguffin untuk penonton) James Bond next sequel harapnya akan tambah melampau lagi maha terlampau pls pls pls!

    p/s: mulai sekarang aku nak tumpang blog orang jer buat rebiu.. boleh?

  5. Edd Vedder said...
     

    Ajami.. hehe. Bagus2. Ko nak tumpang blog aku buat kenduri pun aku tak kisah..

    1. James Bond mmg berlagak..hehe.

    2. Hanya scriptwriter yg selalu akan perasan pasal subtext.

    3. mengingatkan aku pada Minority Report. Teknologi tu mmg sebenarnya dah wujud.. aku rasa penggunaanya pd QOS mmg tepat dan kena.

    4. Marc Forster ckp dia cuba nak create villains jenis baru.. utk mengatakan yang 'hei.. tak semua environmentalist itu agendanya baik'. Sadly, dia tampak sedikit lembik.

    5. Like I said, aku lebih suka Agt. Fields.

    6. It's so typical James Bond

    7. sampai font pun ko reviu..hehe.

    8. I heart Judi Dench.

    9. The only way Marc Forster boleh tunjuk kekuatannya dlm scene melodramatic (baca : Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland, Kite Runner)

    10. ..err. Lain kali tgk siang. hehe.

    11. James Bond bakar kampung? Tak mungkin terjadi. Aku pernah terbaca, the only thing yang tak pernah berubah pasal Bond ialah dia tak akan dan tak pernah bunuh somebody tanpa sebab. Even Marc Forster cakap, benda tu adalah satu-satunya syarat yg diberikan oleh produser kpd dia dan the writers.

    12. Kita tunggu Bond yg suave dan playboy lepas ni..!!

  6. PakciQue said...
     

    Babak awal lumba kereta di dalam terowong adalah menarik dan sangat cantik. Kalau berdasarkan temubual Daniel Craig di sebuah rancangan, beliau kata 6 buah Aston Martin telah diranapkan. Memanglah, habis semua kereta kau cabut pintu bahagian pemandu. Dan teknologi dan kelengkapan semasa membuat pengambaran tersebut, memang sangat tinggi. [Berdasarkan tontonan di belakang tabir].

    Bacaan Lanjut DI SINI

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