Saturday, November 15, 2008
Top 5 Reasons Quantum of Solace is Just "Okay"
Last night I saw the new Bond film, the direct sequel to 2006's Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace. Here's my review, in the form of my Top 5 Reasons it was just "okay".
5. Like many of its weaker predecessors, Quantum of Solace had a few too many "oh, get real" moments. Too many bullets miss by an inch, too many falls are survived with a scrape. Some of MI6's tech seems flashy to a point, instead of the bare-bones practicality that worked so well in the last film. Also, this film's Bond Girl #1 (the one who always dies) jumps into bed with Bond a little too quickly, to the point that it feels like she's thrown in just for the hell of it. A lot of Casino Royale's believability is thrown out the window.
4. The pace of the movie was just uncomfortable. Picking up immediately after the last film, Quantum starts with an exciting car chase, followed immedately by a brief interrogation scene, a shooting, a ground chase, and then more chasing. Throughout the film, the structure is uncomfortable. There will be a lot of protracted action, a drastic change in location, then a little character, then a ton of exposition, then another drastic relocation, and then too much action again. The movie seemed to move too slowly and too quickly all at once.
3. Unlike Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace offered no new memorable characters. Olga Kurylenko's performance, and the size of her part in the film, were very overstated in previews and promotional material. She ended up being just another passerby in the Bond lore. The antagonist, Dominic Greene, was creepy in his own way, but unlike Le Chiffre, offered no menace whatsoever. He was just some guy with an agenda, barely qualifying as a villain.
2. After Casino Royale, it's quite possible that no Bond movie will ever be completely satisfying. 2006's reboot of the Bond franchise was a refreshing, original film, with great acting and a great screenplay, and still managed to feel like a Bond movie. I don't think there's any doubt that it's the best Bond film to date. The question is, can it really be topped? Expectations for this film were extremely high, and I don't think it could possibly have lived up to them. Granted, this year's smash hit The Dark Knight was put in the same position, being the sequel to a startlingly successful reboot of the Batman franchise, and managed to pull another great film out of the fire. This really put Quantum of Solace on the spot, because now there was the expectation that this sequel, too, could best its predecessor. It simply doesn't, which makes it unsatisfying.
1. This addition to the series took a lot of risks, which is particularly admirable in a franchise that spent 40 years in formula-limbo. It was refreshing to not be able to predict what would happen next based on other Bond movies. However, the most notable risk was that this is the first Bond movie not stand by itself as a film. Quantum of Solace does have its own plot, its own villain and its own ending, but it absolutely requires that you see Casino Royale, not only to provide you with the emotional background and connection with the characters, but just to know what the hell is going on. While I enjoyed the movie, it felt more like an epilouge to the last movie and a prolouge to the next one than like its own film.
Again, none of these flaws is fatal. Quantum of Solace is not a bad movie. It's just not a very good movie. I still recommend that you see it if you're a fan on Bond or just of Casino Royale, or even if you just want to catch the new Star Trek or Watchmen trailers. I would not consider it a waste of my money and I still intend to see the next installment.