Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Quantum of Solace

So the title isn't the greatest and the theme tune may well feature two of the most mis-matched voices in movie history but I seem to remember some rather sniffy reviews when Daniel Craig's second outing as Bond hit the big screen and I find myself a little confused. It's a Bond film. It contains all the elements you would expect (action, beautiful women and action) and really isn't that bad.

Director Marc Forster throws us straight into the action with a high-octane car chase which is filmed in such a way as to have almost no coherence which is a slight pain in the neck, literally. It feels like it's all too close, and very disorientating, which may well be the idea but it doesn't make for a satisfying viewing experience. What this film has unlike the others in the franchise is continuity. The story-line actually follows on from the previous film with Bond seeking vengeance after the death of Vesper Lynd, the woman he loved. Hopefully you were paying attention in Casino Royale and will recognise the familiar faces, although the script is always on hand to help you out if you're struggling. Unfortunately Forster seems to think that the way to make a plot interesting is to have everybody say their lines very quickly whilst darting their hands about Minority Report style on impressive looking hardware. That doesn't make a relatively simple plot more complicated, it just makes it harder to hear. The theme of revenge covers not just Bond but Olga Kurylenko's Camille who sports a prominent scar on her back, hinting at her back-story (sorry) which involves the death of her own loved ones. Together she and Bond line up against Mathieu Amalric's Dominic Greene a relatively tame baddie whose bite is far worse than his bark (although towards the end he is almost yapping as he trades blows with Bond).

There are some impressive set-pieces, with the bone-shaking real feel of car-chases, boat-chases, motor-bike chases, you get the idea, being pushed to the limit. One of the staples of the Bond film, the baddie boardroom meeting is nicely subverted, taking place this time in the open-air, at the opera in Bregenz, Austria. It's just a shame from the way it's shot that you struggle to see that this extraordinary venue is indeed in the open air on the waters of Lake Constance. The fight sequences are now choreographed with tooth-loosening realism, in keeping with the feeling that even for Bond now there are such things as consequences. As M says to him after the death of another Bond-girl 'How many is that now?'. With Craig's steely eyed portrayal the only worry for the women in his life is that there may be many more.


John Self 10 April 2009 at 00:06  

Didn't like Casino Royale so won't be bothering with this.

But what I wanted to say was, let's have some music reviews, William! We haven't had one since Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion in January (an album I still don't like as much as you or James Ewan do, but am glad I bought).

This week I picked up the new albums from Doves and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I only get to listen to music in the car or gym these days so I have only managed to get through a couple of listens of Doves and half a listen of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but on that evidence they both seem pretty good.

I was a little disappointed that the singer from Doves didn't have the rich, resonant voice I remembered. Then I realised I was confusing them with Editors. Both members of that great group 'bands whose names should really have the definite article in front of them'.

William Rycroft 10 April 2009 at 07:47  

Definitely don't bother with this if you didn't like Casino Royale.

As for music reviews, I wish I did have more for you but finding the time to listen to music, let alone review it, is proving a hard task at the moment. That said however, as if by magic, your wish is my command.

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