Quantum of Solace

First, I want to preface that I absolutely loved Casino Royale.  I had expected not to like it, being skeptical of Daniel Craig and the apparently trendy substitution of Texas Hold'em for Baccarat.  But the movie was fabulous, easily the best Bond ever, and a long-overdue retooling of the franchise.  In comparison, the campy Roger Moore 70's Bond movies are almost embarassing.

All that said, I was disapointed in Quantum of Solace.  The movie was entertaining and worth the price of admission, but two aspects really hurt the movie for me:

  1. The directors have adopted the currently popular edgy filming style of action sequences which involve lightning quick cuts and jerky camera pans (used in the Bourne movies, for example).  The style really increases the confusion of the moment, and has its place in creating tension and giving a first person feel to the action, but it gets tiring and confusing after a time.  Compare the opening chase sequences in this movie to the absolutely fabulous chase scene through the construction site near the beginning of Casino Royale.  I thought the Casino Royale sequence was much a better, but I must admit I am a big fan of long tracking shots over quick cuts, so I guess your mileage may very.  There was one shot I thought really cool in the new movie.  Bond and mystery villain #3 or 4 fall through a glass ceiling, and you fall with them POV-style. 
  2. The movie seems to be a return to the WTF-style plot of a lot of modern action movies, especially sequels, that put one-upping the action sequences of the previous movie over having a coherant plot.  I don't mind twists and turns, but in the end, all the motivations have to make sense.  I mean, how many mystery guys can Bond chase, kill, and then say, well, I guess we'll never figure out who that guy was.  The early parts were like the Seinfeld version of action movies -- they are not about anything, they are just chase scenes.  And, I still don't understand why the bad guys in QoS are doing what they are doing.  Its another one of those "spend a billion dollars in a vast conspiracy to make $100 million" Bond villain plans.  In contrast, Casino Royale was anchored to what I think was the best Ian Fleming book, and it stuck close to the book.  Even when it deviated, for example with the shift from bacarrat to Texas Hold'em, it actually improved the plot, as it shifted to a game that at least involves some skill.

Update:  I feel I need to clarify one thing.  I am a huge fan of the old Bond movies.  Goldfinger, Thunderball, Diamonds are Forever, Goldeneye -- all great.  Despite my comments above, I even like most of the Roger Moore films, though you have to take a different approach to them.  But the formula was tired.  The Survivor formula was hugely popular at first, but in season 9 or 10 or whatever, it's just done.  You either are repeating the same tired cliches, because you feel locked into a formula by your fans who will get pissed (as they did with Casino Royale) when you violate the formula, or you fall into the trap of trying to top yourself with goofier and goofier plots.  I actually thought the series was dead around about View to a Kill, but Pierce Brosnan really brought new life to the series for a while. 

Update #2:  Tigerhawk has similar thoughts

  • ErikTheRed

    I mostly agree, but I'll go a bit further on point 1. I saw the movie with my wife last night, and we also disliked the "vomit-cam" fight-scenes. I'm going a step further and saying that this style of action is exclusively for hack directors that don't know how to choreograph and / or shoot a fight scene. It's impossible to follow what's going on - there's just a bunch of visual confusion. Somebody once said that you might as well put up some text on the screen for a few seconds: "And then, a fight took place!"

    The ending made no sense on any level. I'm going to try to keep things spoiler free, but I'm reasonably sure that the engineering of the building in the final action sequence is pretty much impossible - even in the third world. The sudden shift of M's opinion of Bond's actions didn't do much for me, nor did the lack of follow-up on the new mystery organization (the replacement for SPECTRE?).

    The interesting thing is that they got a director who's had three Academy-Award winning films, all of which were dramas, do a Bond flick. The guy had no eye at all for action (or script), and wound up cribbing Paul Greengrass. I give it a 6/10. Casino Royale was much stronger.

  • Sol

    I think the first time I can remember noticing that quick-cutting action scene crap was in Goldeneye -- there's a chase scene with a tank that I found utterly incomprehensible on first viewing. Alas, probably won't get to see Quantum until Thanksgiving break (if even then).

  • NASCAR Wife

    The mystery organization was trying to corner to world market on water - oil was a red herring.

    I agree with point #1, but unfortunately that is the style prefered by Hollywood right now. So I am afraid we are stuck with it for a while.

    As to point #2 - The script totally sucked. To say that there were holes is to say that the Pacific ocaean is a large body of water. Here is how i imagine the script writing went.

    Director: "Here is how I envision my movie. I want seperate car, boat and plane chase scenes. Bond will chase a guy across some roof tops eventually falling through a glass ceiling. Add in at least three hand-to-hand fight scenes. The finale will be an exploding/burning hotel in the desert. Those scenes will take approximately 1:30 of the movies. Please fill the remaing time with plot. Oh and inculde two hot Bond girls."

  • Dr. T

    Obviously Bond fans think differently. I disliked the new Casino Royale and put it in the bottom third of Bond movies. This Bond was more thug than suave spy and assassin. I also agree with NASCAR Wife about the plot holes: in this movie, even the plot holes had plot holes.

    My favorite Bond movie was the last one made by Sean Connery: Never Say Never Again, a remake of Thunderball. It had a good balance of intrigue, action, and romance. And, you could actually follow the fights, including the underwater ones.

  • xpatUSA

    Haven't seen the movie but your first comment was spot-on re: the jerky camera action, with wild zooms and sub-second video bites. It's not just in movies - it's in trailers, commercials, DIY documentaries, PBS sewing programs, ad nauseam.

    I though I was the only person on the planet that dislikes that style. Yuk!

    T.C.

  • http://www.coyoteblog.com coyote

    I will go ahead and put this spoiler here, since the ground has already been broken above. Did I really just watch a movie where an evil cabal that is powerful enough to place its agents in the inner circles of world leaders has hatched a plot to obtain ... the water utility contract in Bolivia? WTF???

  • Phil in Sonoma

    Bolivia: the next BRIC.

    I enjoyed QoS in the moment, but I was grateful for the exegesis of its Byzantine plot posted (already!) on Wikipedia.

  • Brian

    Since it's been spoiled, I'll ask: Corner the market on water?

    So the Bond films are now borrowing their plots from such cinematic blockbusters as The Tuxedo?

    At least Jackie Chan knows how to choreograph a fight scene.

  • James

    Alright, I thought this movie kicked major ass. However, this was not a Bond movie. This was clearly a Bourne movie feature Bond: same camera work, and they even stole the "We're going to have a fight using household objects" scene. What I thought it actually did better than the first Bourne movie was that at no point did I say, "Oh jesus, another chase scene?" I never really felt the near non-stop action was forced.

    Frankly the Bond series, while mostly entertaining, were always pure camp, and that angle should have been left to die when Connery left. He pulled it off, and none of the successors could even come close to delivering those cheeseball lines. At least they realized this and took it in a new direction with Craig. Yeah, the plot had some major WTF, but as pure action movies go, this was pretty good.

  • Rick C

    I don't think that it was *just* Bolivia, not that that necessarily invalidates the objection.

  • the asset

    QoS not a good sign. i had high hopes for the bond franchise after casino royale: craig makes a excellent bond; no sniggering boobie double-entendres; none of the bubblegum and BS crap that had made the series esentially unwatchable.

    and then i saw QoS. *sigh*. maybe it's just the sophomore jinx - i hope so - but QoS is 15% the movie that casino royale was. gigantic plot holes; glamorous locations like, oh, *haiti*, and the nazca desert (wow!!!); lots of the deadly "plot development is too hard! let's just blow up a big ol' building" incompetent director syndrome; and......right off the bat at the start of the movie....

    they've got craig doing the same tired, stupid, roger moore/pierce brosnan idiocy of "bond manages not to get shot by the guy shooting automatic weapons at him from close range by *ducking the bullets*". baaaaad omen, folks.

  • http://geistbearbrewing.com Thomas

    I am an old school book Bond fan and I enjoyed the film.

    The action sequences I can agree they reflect too much of the Bourne school of movies and too jumpy.

    That said I love how they are slowly playing out the plot and making you pay attention to understand the plot. I like that they are only slow spoon feeding us this mysterious villian group without anything to go on. It is far more believable and logical that they won't suddenly have all the answers and that the audience expects it means you have gotten to used to the spoon feed plots of Hollywood. The Opera scene was great!

    The darker gritter feel is alot closer to a book Bond than we have had and I am really enjoying the ride.

  • John

    Why did they change the director? Casino Royal had a great action director with a great Bond movie previously under his belt (Goldeneye). They replaced him with the director of "Monsters Ball"???

  • PeterGunn

    Saw the movie over the Thanksgiving Holiday with the entire family: four kids and two spouses. I'm so relieved to read that I'm not the only person who didn't enjoy this movie!

    The younger the kid, the more they enjoyed this fast paced series of chases and fights, lacking any plot connection. It felt as though one's head should be on a swivel to be able to keep up with what was going on, even though it didn't make any sense most of the time.

    There could have been so much more development with the plot: M's relationship with Bond, why we found ourselves in Haiti, Bolivia, remote desert resort, flying a DC-3, etc. It was a jumble for the sake of singular events of action... I felt that feeling of a lackluster effort from the opening car chase seen throughout the entire mess.