November 15, 2008

The Epitome of Masculine

Oh my. It's been awhile, hasn't it? Yeah, sorry about that. It's been a busy few weeks, and I have been kept away from the theaters to see movies like Changeling and Zack and Miri Make A Porno. But, c'mon. There is only one movie out this month that you, or anyone else, cares about. Well, here's the verdict. 
Quantum of Solace, being the first true sequel in the James Bond saga, starts off about 10 seconds after Casino Royale ended, with one of the most ball's tightening awesome car chases ever. After shaking off his pursuers, Bond meets with M and the hostage he was transporting, Mr. White. After a quick interrogation, we learn that the organization that Mr. White works for is everywhere, prompting Bond to go globe trotting trying to find out who they are. The organization is kind of like SPECTRE, only more nefarious and more eco-friendly. Bond himself, however, is not motivated by finding the organization, but rather finding the people who killed his lover in Casino. Soon, he stumbles upon a plot involving eco-titan Dominic Greene and a Bolivian general. They want to stage a coup so they can seize a valuable resource somewhere in the desert. Bond's female ally in this one is Camille, a sexy and tough woman who undercover in Greene's organization for her own goals. Crazily brutal violence ensues. 
Daniel Craig is back as Bond. He has really come into his own as the British super spy, bringing a Bourne-esque realism to the role. This movie doesn't really let him explore the character of Bond as much as Casino Royale did, but he still manages to get some human emotion out of the character; much more then Pierce Brosnan ever did. Olga Kurylenko is Camille, and while she doesn't hold a candle to the wit and sexiness of Eva Green, she does a fine job as the feminie badass, and I believe she is the first female lead in a Bond movie that does not go to bed with the man. Mathieu Almaric plays nefarious baddy Dominic Greene. The first thing you notice about him is that his eyes bug out of his head to an alarming point. I guess it's to make up for the fact they were mostly closed in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. He is more of a creepy villain along the lines of Gustav Graves rather then a truly evil one, a la Goldfinger. He's not the best, but he's not the worst, certainly better then that media tycoon in Tomorrow Never Dies. Judi Dench is back as M. She does the same thing she has done in the last five movies. But, that doesn't matter. She was great in those, and she is great here. There are two returning characters from Casino as well as some new ones that I didn't deem important enough to discuss. 
Director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, of all things) is absolutely frenetic with his action scenes. The camera jumps around like it's just had ten double espressos, the stars perform crazy physical feats, and the body count is about double that of Casino. This is an action movie, through and through, and therein lies Quantum's main issue. It relies too heavily on the action instead of the characters to forward the plot. This is not an uncommon thing for this franchise, but after the Casino Royale did character growth so well, it's a little disappointing. That's not to say that the amount of action should dissuade you from seeing it. Far from it. The action is so well done that it almost makes up for the lessened attention to characters. There are tons, literally tons, of "OMIGOD DIDYOUSEETHAT!!" moments in the film. Some action scenes seem like they were thrown in for shits and giggles, like an uninspired plane chase, but the rest are really well done and exciting. They make the movie entertaining, and that's the most you should expect from it. 
On a side note: The new theme song, "Another Way To Die," performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys, and written by White, gets a resounding "eh" from me. It's not that it's a bad song, it's just it's hard rock roots don't fit well with Bond mythos. It's certainly not as good as Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name," but, I guess it gets the job done.
Is Quantum of Solace the best Bond movie ever? Hell no. That will always be Goldfinger. Is it the best of the Daniel Craig Bond movies? No. What it is is a coldly efficient and hardcore action movie that further cements the new Bond into the bottom of our hearts. You walk out of the theatre feeling as if you senses have experienced a thrill ride; you will understand where the confusing title came from; and you will be eagerly anticipating the next foray in MI6 espionage. Daniel Craig hasn't dethroned Sean Connery yet, but, if he keeps up the way he is going, he is well on his way.     

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