Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bond, Bond, bang, bang

Quantum of Solace (2008)
Directed by: Marc Forster
Writers: Paul Haggis,
Neal Purvis
Starrting: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini, Gemma Arterton

The first thing that surprised me about the latest James Bond adventure is the presence of Paul Haggis (of Million Dollar Baby, Crash fame) as one of the screen writers. What's in Ian Flemming's name is he doing here, an avowedly action fare. Then, it gives me some hope. Probably, we will see some subtleties in Daniel Craig's second outing. But that was not to be. This bond, as expected, is all bang, bang, from start to finish. And in between, there's close to nothing.
To begin with, it was not a very good idea to do a sequel to Casino Royale. Each Bond movie exists on its own terms, from film to film; each Bond girl is singular to Bond. That's the allure of the character from the days of Sean Connery. This time, however, Bond is on a rampage to avenge the death of his beloved from the last film, the beautiful Eva Green aka Vesper Lynd, and he would stop at nothing.
While we are at it, fasten your seatbelts tight, it's going to be one hell of a bumpy ride, around the world at that, from Spain to Haiti to Austria to Bolivia to Russia...
Here's is the story, written by Paul Haggis et. al. (you wonder why you need three screen writers to come up with a story like this; it's a film of an action director). Anyway, to begin with, there is nothing Fleming about the new bond, except for the title — Quantum of Solace. The story, itself, is convoluted at its best, creating space for one action set pieces after another. And, you don't really care. It was supposed to be a revenge drama, isn't it?
Not really. Despite moving considerably from the typical Bond fare, we will still need to have coherence. So, we have a new Bond villain, a man called Greene, who, under the garb of being a green crusader, is actually is a political mover and shaker, who wants to cash in on the water crisis in Bolivia; everyone's talking about global warming, shouldn't our Bond too? Then there are the Bond girls, two of them, as usual. But... Bond is in mourning remember, so he hardly gets the time to sleep around, except for a brief sequence with Gemma Arterton, or whatever her name is. She has such a minuscule role that you forget about her before the movie ends, this despite, she is used to reconstruct one iconic scene from a earlier Bond film, Goldfinger, even though it's black gold this time around. And how sadly the scene is executed!
Okay, our director is more interested in showing the action scenes. Yet...
The other girl, Camille in the film, gets to kick some ass. As a revenge drama, she complements Bond well, she too have some revenge to take, the killing of her family by a Bolivian general. So, we travel in Bolivia for the climax. Before that, a tour around the world. Oh, I forgot to mention, Italy too, where Bond hires the expertise of his friend and in the process get him killed. There are deaths galore in the film. Bang, bang... And unlike the previous Bonds, Craig does not wear his gadgets in his sleeves. In all likelihood, Q is dead and the new Bond is on his own. But his well-toned muscles are enough.
Writing about the movie, the critic in goes all orgasmic about how Craig brings out the nuances of emotions to the Bond character. When reading the review, you almost agree with her. Craig is actually a great actor, despite his deadpan; his agility is marvellous; you almost believe all those punches he gives to his nemesis. Only if, we had a credible story.

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