12.10.2008

A Quantum of Solace: AYB Review

A couple years ago, in anticipation of Casino Royale, I ranked all Bond films relative to one another. This year I wasn't able to catch A Quantum of Solace right when it premiered, but I have finally seen it and here's the breakdown:

A Quantum of Solace (2008)
The first ever direct sequel in Bond film history -- you can get by with not having seen Casino Royale since it came out, but you'll enjoy AQoS a little bit more if you do.

Plot: James Bond balances his desire for revenge and his his desire to be MI6 Employee of the Month as he investigates the organization behind the events of Casino Royale.

Villain: Mathieu Amalric plays Domenic Greene, one of the most nondescript villains Bond has ever come up against -- his eyes don't even bleed!

Henchman: Like in Casino Royale, a few thugs here and there, but none have superhuman strength or metal teeth, and thus are no match for James Bond and his wits.

Girl: A relatively low Bond Girl count with just two: a rogue Bolovian agent played by tanned Ukranian Olga Kurylenko and the deliciously named Strawberry Fields played by Gemma Arterton. Miss Aterton should have played a henchwoman -- she was born with six fingers on each hand.

Gadgets: Bond gets his Bourne on with not even a holiday card from Q Branch.

Locations: Two visits to Italy, a ride through the slums of Haiti, an opera in Austria and the Bolivian desert.

One-liner:
James Bond: [at a dirty, small motel] What are we doing?
Strawberry Fields: We're teachers on sabbatical. This fits our cover.
James Bond: No it doesn't. I'd rather stay at a morgue. Come on.
[they go to a nicer hotel]
James Bond: [to the hotel receptionist] Hello. We're teachers on sabbatical and we've just won the lottery.

Good: The opening credits sequence, taking place within an astral globe is cool (not to mention the pre-credits car chase and the post-credits foot chase on the rooftops of Siena, which are even cooler). Feminists will cheer this film because Bond does not bed Olga Kurylenko's character -- he does bed Miss Fields, but she ends up dead for her promiscuity. The floating opera scene is an amazing spectacle that I hope to one day see in real life.

Bad: Most of the movie just feels subdued. The final fight has some cool explosions that are set off, but it boils down to a fistfight between Bond and Greene. Bond staples Moneypenny and Q are still not in the picture -- a lot of critics are claiming the Bond franchise is intentionally losing its identity; reintroducing these characters would go a long way towards putting the Bond "stamp" on this film. The character of Villers (M's assistant in Casino Royale) is nowhere to be seen despite the events of AQoS taking place just hours after Casino Royale ends. The prospect of several movies chronicling Bond's fight against a secret international organization of businessmen is as exciting as it sounds.

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So where does it rank? It's a tough call -- it's a slick production, but the actual story is "meh" enducing. The luster of the "new" Bond has worn off already -- better than Thunderball but not as good as The Spy Who Loved Me. Impress me in 2010, James. Now, on to the Star Trek reviews for next May.

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