October 31st, 2008


Quantum of Solace

Craig's Bond continues to be the brutal maverick that I had always found in the books and Judi Dench's M echoes the codependency that Fleming trailed in the For Your Eyes Only short story. Both performances are magnificent in this competent sequel exploring Bond's search for vengeance against the organisation that forced his lover Vesper to betray him. This episode lacks the impact of Casino Royale but it is exciting and largely credible. The car chase that precedes the opening credits is fast and thrilling (although it is pedestrian compared to the ferocious pace of the Eagle Eye chases) with a charcteristically droll punchline. The credits themselves are original while conforming to the established Bond brand but it is some way into the film before the significance of their symbolism becomes apparent.

With the credits done, the story bursts into a shocking new direction and we are hurled into the mixture of suspense, thrills, and international complexity that are the hallmarks of the franchise. Nobody can be trusted; not even established characters. We even doubt Bond's loyalties and motives while remaining confident that he will win through. For all that this is a reengineering of the traditions of the past forty years, there are a host of acknowledgements of past features and reprise is apparent at even the most trivial level.

The film is not without some glaring flaws: if Fields (Gemma Aterton) is just an office filing clerk, why does she appear to be wearing nothing under her short mac when she goes to put Bond back on his plane? How does an office filing clerk afford such an expensive dinner gown when she accompanies Bond to the villain's party? Collapse )

For me, the most uncomfortable aspect of the film was the clownish CIA South American Head of Section, Gregg Beam. Would any US espionage agency recruit such an appalling nitwit? And having got him, would he really be better than enough other agents to be promoted to this level. His idiocy seemed not to be some comic foil; I really do not understand the basis for his character.

On the whole, however, I enjoyed this hard-edged Bond. His maudlin boozing in Virgin Upper Class did little to soften his brutality but he was not uncaring. This really is a new character that is close to my original imaginings. Short, sharp, fierce, and funny; roll on episode 23.