A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 548 – James Bond: Quantum of Solace

James Bond: Quantum of Solace – August 30th, 2011

Imagine my relief when we put this in and I realized that it was indeed picking up where Casino Royale left off. Andy had mentioned that he suspected that would be the case, but I wasn’t sure just how much would be carried over. Turns out the two are very closely connected, with some questions and issues from the first movie being answered and dealt with in the second. Alas, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but I will allow that an effort was made. I would also like to brag a little that I had this movie’s two plot twists nailed from exceedingly early on. These aren’t bad things, I’m just amused by them. Also, it helps that we’d recently watched Rango. And yes, that is relevant.

So we’re back with more Daniel Craig as James Bond, with more women and more car chases and more international conspiracies and more gun fights and more evil villains. More Bond, in other words. This time the plot is focused on the further machinations of the shadowy organization that was involved in Vesper Lynd’s death as well as an attempt on M’s life. They’re up to something and not just something small. They’re up to something big. Huge. Intricate. And, as they make plain by having M’s own personal agent try to kill her, they have people everywhere. The best part about this whole plot, and the part that really works for me on a “this is a super secret spy movie” level is that prior to the big reveal, no one in MI6 and likely none of the intelligence agencies across the globe knew that this shadowy organization even existed. Now that is a good conspiracy.

I’ve got a question about Bond: Does he normally have any angst? Because this Bond has a wee touch of it, which is expressed through his inability to leave anyone alive. In fact, his itchy trigger finger is a running theme throughout the movie. I have to hand it to the writers to set up a reason for Bond to kill everyone he encounters that doesn’t just amount to “That would make it too easy.” Because it would make it too easy. Who knows what sort of information Bond or MI6 would get out of the people he kills? And if he hadn’t killed them, M would have some proof that something was going on, which would make for less tension later in the movie. So of course he has to kill everyone and end up making it harder on himself. After all, he’s pissed off (and angsty). I don’t blame M for being ticked with him over it, but looking at it from outside the story, I’m both impressed at the whole question of whether he’s killing for revenge or just out of necessity and also a little skeptical, because really? James Bond is that angst-ridden over a woman? Right.

So Bond is off to find Vesper’s killer root out the source of this conspiracy, which takes him to places like Haiti and Austria and Bolivia, in that order. I guess there’s just a lot of travel in these movies. Which is cool. It fits the tone and all. But I can’t help but think of just how much time this is all taking. Trans-continental flights aren’t day trips, regardless of whether you have a private jet or not. Anyhow, most of the story takes place in Bolivia, where a shady supposed environmentalist named Greene (haha, get it?) is facilitating a government coup. Of course he has other aims than getting a new dictator in power, but they’re left unsaid for quite some time. This is what I was so pleased about figuring out and I will give the movie credit for it because it hints at it without saying it outright. Everything going on points to Greene and his secretive buddies trying to gain control of oil but it’s not oil that’s the resource at hand. There are clues to what’s going on, from the background dialogue of a cab driver to some otherwise unremarkable bits of landscape. And what I like most about it is that this plot isn’t as heavy-handed as it could have been. This isn’t a movie out to make a statement, but by not going out of its way to make a statement it ends up doing so far more effectively than if it had. Because it’s worked into the story and the plot is the important point. It doesn’t feel forced, so the danger feels real, so the non-message doesn’t make me roll my eyes. It’s also the sort of over-the-top manipulation that works for the world Bond inhabits.

So the story works for me, and Bond himself works, though I’m still giving the angst some serious side-eye. M is, as always, super fantastic, and Bond’s allies, Mathis and Felix, have some good moments even if they’re not present for a whole lot of the movie (I admit, I love Felix lots because he is so clearly Not Amused By Shenanigans). The villains are nice and villainous, and I do like that Greene is mostly a slimy bastard who never really gets involved in the action. All the best villains let their underlings get their hands dirty so the villains don’t have to. And that brings me to the ladies. There are two of consequence here: Fields and Camille. We meet Camille first, and she is every bit as kick-ass as I could want. Defiant and strong, with a touch of desperation that works for the character’s backstory. I like Camille. She brooks no shit from Bond or anyone else unless it suits her plans and she’s in a nice gray area for a while. Fields, alas, is more what I expect from a woman in a Bond movie. Pretty, decently capable but not kick-ass, generally perky in a not-necessarily-positive way, and ultimately doomed. Also? She falls for Bond at the drop of a hat. Were I in charge of training female agents who might ever come in contact with Bond, I believe I would devote at least a semester to lectures and workshops titled How To Avoid Sleeping With James Bond, Yes I Know He’s Suave, Really Though, Don’t Sleep With Him Because He Is a Typhoid Mary.

Fields aside, I was really rather pleased with this movie. My only remaining quibble with the movie is the handling of the loose lends left in Casino Royale. It’s not so much that there were loose ends as that I don’t feel that the holes I spotted were ever handled as holes. Yes, in this movie we do find out what happened to the boyfriend and we do get confirmation that Vesper was indeed duped. But we still don’t know what deal she made and whether she knew what the truth about the boyfriend was. And that’s never touched on. I guess I find it frustrating because I really liked Vesper. She was a good character and while Camille is certainly fantastic and I greatly enjoyed watching her in this movie, Vesper was clearly intended to be shown as a match for Bond. I don’t argue with her not sticking around. The series is about Bond, after all, not Bond and Lynd. But if she’s going to be such an integral part of two separate movies and the new Bond that Daniel Craig is playing, then I’d like to think her story would be treated well. Can’t have everything, I suppose, and in the grand scheme of things this really was an enjoyable movie.

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August 30, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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